Mandaluyong City is so rich, modern and high-tech that you would not think a Christmas village hides within its confines. Oh, but there is one, and it sits right next to Maysilo Circle, which is the seat of the city’s local government. The Christmas village covers the entire 150-meter stretch of Policarpio Street in Barangay New Zañiga, Mandaluyong City.
Policarpio Street is a quiet neighborhood near Boni Ave., framed by Primo Cruz and F. Ortigas streets. Every Christmas, it transforms into a magical Christmas wonderland full of bright, colorful lights, breathtaking décor, delicious street food and bargain items from tiangge stalls. People from all walks of life, near and far, come to watch the mesmerizing flickering lights and spectacular displays.
An annual tradition of lighting up the street in festive yuletide fashion for the entire month of December extending to the first week of January, Policarpio Street has become a popular tourist attraction every Christmastime. Crowds flock to this place every night to see the fully decorated houses and savor the spirit of the holiday season created by the festive environment in the neighborhood.
The tradition began in 1996, exactly 20 years ago, spearheaded by three of the most prominent families living along Policarpio Street—the Lim, Dalisay and Suva families. The idea of decorating their houses with pomp and gaiety was to promote community spirit particularly during Christmastime.
There was no plan to make the neighborhood a tourist attraction. But despite the semi-hidden location of Policarpio Street, more and more people ‘discovered’ it and the local government of Mandaluyong eventually caught on to all the attention being heaped upon this particular quiet neighborhood, saw its potential at drawing crowds, and declared it as a tourist attraction.
Three of the biggest crowd-drawers in Policarpio happen to be houses owned by the three families who pioneered the Christmas tradition.
Restaurateur and businesswoman Norma Lim, who owns PVL Restaurant and the Edison brand of plastic ware, among others, has once again put up a life-sized Nativity Scene or Belen on the second floor balcony of her house. It comes complete with a manger, the Holy Family, shepherds, sheep and even the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Magi to where the newborn Baby Jesus was.
Right below the Nativity Scene is a food stall that covers the entire expanse of the Nativity Scene. The food stall belongs to Lim, who sells a wide range of street food that visitors are sure to enjoy.
Beside the house with the giant Belen stands a three- to four-storey building also owned by Lim. It is outlined in colorful LED lights that change color and is a delight to behold.
Not too far away is the House of Lights owned by businessman Domingo Dalisay, whose family distributes the D’Airplane brand of cooking pans and casseroles. The house got its name from being not just outlined by colorful lights but covered entirely by lights—from the roof to the windows, wall and ceiling all the way to the gate and concrete fence.
For their part, the Suva family has put up the House of Santa Claus, which is brightly lit in colorful lights and presents a spectacular display of Santa Claus figures, both big and small. They are everywhere—standing in the garden, having fun by the balcony of the house, standing guard by the gate entrance, climbing the chimney and rocking away on a New Moon at the rooftop. Lovely, indeed! No wonder sightseers love to pose in front of the house for picture-taking.
Adding excitement to the Christmas sightseeing experience at Policarpio are food stalls selling different kinds of edibles, including shawarma, barbecue, hotdog, taho, ham, siopao and samalamig. There are also stalls selling Christmas paraphernalia and clothes at bargain prices.
Policarpio Street’s Christmas displays are on until first week of January, so catch it for a different kind of thrill. It is easy to get there. From Shaw Boulevard corner Acacia Lane, take a P.Victorino-Hulo or Pinatubo-Boni jeepney and get right down in front of Policarpio Street. It is always nice to get into the Christmas spirit at this festive time of the year.