SANTA'S GARDEN. Early birds take a peek at Baguio Country Club's famed Christmas Village during the soft opening of the yearly event on Oct. 27, 2018. This year, the Christmas Village carries the banner 'Santa's Garden,' as it adopts the concept of Singapore's Gardens by the Bay and the Dubai Butterfly Garden. It will open on Nov. 9 with longer operating hours. (Photo by Pamela Mariz Geminiano)

BAGUIO CITY -- The Baguio Country Club (BCC) has never failed to amaze locals and visitors in bringing world-class attraction closer to Filipinos in its famed Christmas Village that comes alive at this time of year.

“This year's theme is inspired by Singapore's 'Gardens by the Bay' and Dubai’s Butterfly Garden," said Andrew Pinero, BCC communication officer and client relations manager.

Pinero said not everyone can go to Singapore and Dubai, so they brought the beautiful attractions for Filipinos to experience it here.

Featuring these world-class attractions, this year's Christmas Village bears the banner “Santa’s Garden.”

Eco-friendly village

"The original concept of using recyclable materials is still here, complemented with lights," Pinero enthused. "Take for example the Santa Claus, which is made of 100-percent mineral water bottles.”

They also used damaged room key cards for the "Wishing Wall" beside the huge Santa.

Since Baguio is known for its Flower Festival, a mixture of artificial and real flowers was used to decorate the area across the main gate of the country club.

A total of 10,000 pieces of artificial flowers and plants like sakura trees, sunflowers, tulips, fioni, various orchid species, stargazers, roses, carnations, and Malaysian mums are combined with about 5,000 pieces of real plants with fresh blooms.

Pinero said they made use of artificial flowers in some parts of the garden, especially near the snow machine area.

"It would be difficult to maintain the freshness of the flowers, considering that the city has a very unpredictable weather, and we have an artificial snow, which will drench flowers and cause them to wilt,” he explained.

The snow machine is among the main attractions in the annual event that has become the children's favorite, giving them enjoyment whenever it sprays snow in the area.

Adopting the concept of the Singapore's Garden by the Bay and the Dubai Butterfly Garden was the idea of BCC General Manager Anthony De Leon, who recently arrived from a trip to Singapore and Dubai.

Pinero said the total cost of the production for the Christmas Village was just over PHP700,000, excluding labor cost.

The country club executive said the BCC financially sustains the annual Christmas Village to provide enjoyment to thousands of locals and tourists at the most cheerful time of the year.

Last year, around a hundred thousand visitors flocked to the "enchanting" Village, especially on weekends.

More jolly-making time

This year, the Christmas Village will be open seven days a week from Nov. 9, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019.

"This year we are operating from two 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. for weekdays, and from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, so that more people will be able to enjoy and experience it," Pinero said. Last year, the Christmas Village started to operate at 5 p.m.

Entrance fee remains the same as last year—PHP120 for adults, PHP85 for senior citizens, and PHP50 for four up to 12 years old.

Toddlers three years old and below, as well as Persons With Disabilities (PWD), are free of charge.

BCC resident manager Malou Galiste executed the concept and saw to it that the idea would come out in the design as conceived.

Galiste said the proceeds they get from the operation of the Christmas Village are used to help the surrounding barangays and the club's beneficiaries.

BCC conducts community activities for the locals, such as distributing “mobility” equipment for the PWDs and donating to calamity-stricken communities.

Prelude to Panagbenga

Galiste said it took them over a month to finish this year's Christmas Village.

"We, the managers, are always hands-on with the production and the operation itself. We don’t just let our ranks do everything we need to be hands on. In everything that we do in the club, it's always been a collaborative effort," she said.

Galiste said since this year’s concept is garden and flowers, the club has decided to let the decoration and the Village stay even after Christmas, ready for the Panagbenga festival that opens every Feb. 1.

This is meant to be an added attraction for those who will visit Baguio for the Flower Festival next year but could not come this December. (PNA)