Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Jojo’s Christmas Cottage

Its an OMG wonderful house inside the Sampaguita Gardens Resort.

Even just from the outside, it already looks like a house from a fairy tale book. But this one is a real house, its just that its not a real home for a family, but home to thousands of Precious Moments dolls, figurines and the likes, that are either for sale or just for display for us to see and marvel about. Your heart will jump at the sight of so many interesting pieces, and you will agree with the owners… its Christmas everyday in this Christmas-colored house!

But something else took my interest. The how and the why of this place. Thankfully, even for that, the staff are knowledgeable and can readily offer any information they know or are allowed to – which is quite a lot in the first place – so all the more that I got interested in asking so many questions! Let’s see what I can recall from these conversations…

Who is Jojo? He is the Jojo Sonillo, president and of the resort and a friend of Samuel Butcher. He is the constant companion of Sam Butcher in his travels all around Asia or when going back home to the US. Who is Sam Butcher? The artist, creator and owner of Precious Moments, Inc. So I asked “as in the precious moments company in the states”? The girl said yes. I asked also what is he (Sam) doing here and the girl told me this place was supposed to be his retirement home but during planning and construction, it just naturally evolved into becoming a resort. Wow! I asked again, why use Jojo to name the house, why not Sam or Samuel or the name of his wife or children. Ah that one the girl did not anymore know hehe!

Still curious, I asked if previous moments cards, figurines and other products are after all made in the Philippines or in Aklan. The staff said just some, since most are still produced back in the states. Of course I asked there in this country are the “some” made. She told me they have a factory in Pasig for the figurines but some of the artsy little butingtings that must still be made by hand are done upstairs at the “Santa’s Workshop”!. Wow again!

I know I asked about many other things as my companions grabbed this and that to buy and bring home. Like the children of Sam Butcher are now managing the precious moments company back in the states, and that they seldom come to the Philippines; that Mr. Butcher is permanently residing here as he calls the mansion his retirement home; that he still sometimes go back to the states to attend events or company-sponsored charities and family occasions.

“How did he come to know about this place anyway?” so I further asked. She told me that Mr. Butcher came to the Philippines originally to attend to business when they started sourcing their vinyl dolls from this country. I even asked what is a vinyl doll and she told me its the likes of what troll dolls are made of! Oh ha! I learned something new hehe! She says she cannot recall anymore how Mr. Butcher got to this area but she knows that the vice mayor of this town was the one who toured him around, and he liked this very spot that originally had nothing but coconut trees and the beach.

Oh, okay, while you can google a lot of info and photos about this cottage, I do have something similar to say. Like… some of the dolls are endearing, some are too big, some are delicate and some of the glass figurines are veeeery expensive you wont even dare touch them even if you can hehe! I liked looking at those “nativized” dolls in Filipiniana costumes or scenes. There are even Cory dolls but with the trademark ‘tear-drop eye’ that precious moments are known for. This is because, they also support some companies in the Philippines in terms of design, development and marketing of various products, precious moments style. Nice!

There are also Asian-inspired cute dolls! But most interesting for me are the tableaux dolls depicting various scenes like nativity, a snowy Christmas village, a full-scale house where there are even cute little furniture where the precious moments dolls perch on, and just so many things about Christmas. Of course, angels of all sizes are also available!

The kid in you will really be rekindled when you go visit Jojo;s Christmas Cottage!


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