In Aklan, there is a place where you can enjoy Christmas atmosphere anytime of the year. Blissfully tucked in New Washington, about 25 minutes away by land from Kalibo town proper, is Sampaguita Gardens.
Upon entering the 2.6 hectare boutique resort, an army of life-size cherubs will greet you. This lovely place is actually owned by the illustrator Samuel Butcher, creator of the iconic Precious Moments. Based on anecdotes, it was in 1981 when Butcher traveled to the Philippines with Bill Biel to provide financial assistance to a Bible College in Iloilo City.
Lording over the resort is the eye-catching Jojo’s Christmas Village that will make your childhood storybooks come alive. Walk inside and catch a glimpse of their Christmas Museum at the upper floors which will treat you to a staggering variety of Christmas knick-knacks and décors. Showcased here is a miniature snow village replete with houses clad in Christmas decors, snowy mountains, pine trees plus a train on a railroad. You will also meet different sizes and faces of Sta.Claus. Also noteworthy to explore is their shop downstairs brimming with Precious Dolls collections for sale – from angels to Ati-atihan dolls!
Just a stone’s throw away from the Christmas cottage is a beautifully manicured garden with Precious Moment-themed displays, a great spot for picture-taking. Nearby a forgotten merry-go-round seems to tempt kids for a ride. Walk a few meters further and you will stumble on Jojo’s Poolside Grill and Restaurant. As you might have surmised, you can actually take a refreshing swim here or simply enjoy their grilled meals at the restaurant.
Sampaguita Gardens also boast of a beach-front boutique resort. The beach is ordinary but you may feel the urge for a quiet contemplative stroll here. Meanwhile, a charming chapel fringed with colorful paintings and Bible verses – said to be painted by Butcher himself when he lost one of his sons, one of the lowest times of his life – will truly inspire you and make you appreciate life more.
Not to miss while inside the property is the ostentatious Sam Butcher Mansion. Inspired by Thai architectural flair, this grandiose structure is overflowing with precious antiques, family photos and varied collections of Butcher. The opium bed located at one of the rooms downstairs as well as the dining area is a favorite spot for photo ops by tourists. Upstairs is the luxurious master’s bedroom fringed dappled with Japanese Ningyo dolls.
A visit to Sampaguita Gardens Precious Moments in Washington, Aklan will not only bring out the child in you, but will also remind you of wonderful thoughts and of the many blessings in life that we should be thankful for.
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How to get to Precious Moments (Sampaguita Gardens) in Kalibo, Aklan
From Kalibo town center, ride a jeep en route to New Washington. Tell the driver you are getting off at SampaguitaGardens. Travel time is about 25 minutes, fare is Php 15. Entrance fee is Php 50, consumable; can be used to purchase food or souvenirs inside the resort.
Sampaguita Gardens Resort
506 Rizal Street
Poblacion, New Washinton