MANILA, Philippines – I walked in and a life-sized painted cherub welcomed me, with a palm up as though in invitation.
Behind this angel were Christmas star lanterns, waiting for nightfall to be lit.
More cherubs and Christmas lanterns greeted me as I walked along, until I came to a colorful Christmas cottage that looked so much like the ones I saw in story books I read and cartoon shows I watched as a child.
Santa Claus on a sleigh with his reindeer was on one of the roofs, poised for flight.
The place certainly looked a lot like Christmas, although when I went here it was nowhere near the -ber months, and definitely long before I could feel the slightest holiday nip in the air.
I was at New Washington, Aklan, around 20 minutes from Kalibo, the well-known jump-off point to Boracay.
I only found out from locals that there was a “Christmas village” I should check out in this province otherwise known for its beaches.
The child in me who loves Christmas was curious enough to go to Sampaguita Gardens whose name, oddly, does not sound like Christmas.
I walked inside the storybook cottage called “Jojo’s Christmas Cottage” and was treated to Christmas trees big and small, smiling Santa Clauses, and hundreds of Christmas ornaments — baubles, stockings, figurines, tinsel and more.
Prominently displayed on tables, Christmas trees and just about everywhere were different angel and doll figurines, as these were from the owner’s Precious Moments collection.
Also inside the Christmas cottage was a miniature snowy Christmas village with houses, mountains, trees, a train and railroad!
Other knick knacks and decor that caught my eye were Christmas stockings in different colors and designs, and framed texts of “Merry Christmas” in different languages.
Leaving the museum and going to the side of the cottage, I happily stumbled upon the workers’ area where they sew the clothes of different dolls and angels similar to the ones in the museum.
When I finally left the cottage, I made my way to a towering Christmas tree which seemed to be the center of the property. Other guests were seated around the tree, relaxing.
Beyond the tree was already the sea, a great view any day of the year, Christmas or not.
I walked around the property and found more to delight the child in me — a carousel, a chapel and even “The Mansion,” which the staff mentioned was the owner’s house.
It had a very noticeable Christmas tree at the entrance and colorful Asian furniture.
I stayed in the “Christmas Village” until nightfall, and was treated to yellow lights from Christmas lanterns.
While it is Christmas all year round in this place, the staff told me that the place is more festive and brighter with lights during Christmas (of course!).
So if you find yourself and your family or friends Boracay-bound this season, make time to visit the Christmas village. You will surely be brought back to your happy — and carefree — childhood. -Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is an adventurer who believes in traveling light both in the outer and inner journey. She has backpacked for 7 weeks around Visayas and is now traveling as much as she can. Follow her adventures at www.iamtravelinglight.com.