Kalibo, Aklan 2015: Sampaguita Gardens

Sampaguita Gardens was my first Kalibo destination, home of the creator of the famous Precious Moments brand–Samuel Butcher. The place is located in New Washington, Aklan, about 45 minutes away from the town of Kalibo.

After having breakfast during my first morning, I went straight to the jeepney terminal. There are several terminals in Kalibo, and one of them happened to be within walking distance from where I was staying (La Esperanza). The 45-minute travel time (Php15) could be longer because jeepneys don’t leave the terminal unless they’re almost full. If you arrive and you’re among the first passengers, you might need to wait a while for more passengers to arrive until the jeepney is full.

Travel to New Washington was fun because of the scenic view. The town is near the ocean, and there are long stretches of road that overlook the ocean on one side and either rice plains or oyster farms on the other side. The wind was cool, so the heat was not a problem even if the sun was up.

Sampaguita Gardens is located at the far end of New Washington, and I was the last passenger to disembark–good thing the jeepney driver was kind enough to drop me off exactly at the site. I arrived around 8am, and the security guard let me in. There’s a Php50 entrance, but it’s consumable–I used mine to buy souvenir in the gift shop.

Here are the things to see inside Sampaguita Gardens:

sampaguita gardens mansion (kalibo, aklan)

This is Samuel Butcher’s mansion, located in a compound with a grass-covered lawn and various animal sculptures. Unfortunately, it was currently inaccessible during my visit due to damage caused by Typhoon Yolanda. According to one of the caretakers, there was no electricity inside during that time.

sampaguita gardens playground (kalibo, aklan)

They have a playground that features different Precious Moments creations.

sampaguita gardens circus ride (kalibo, aklan)

One part of the park is called Sammy’s Circus Rides. It features a merry-go-round and a mini roller coaster (both non-functional at the time, unfortunately).

sampaguita gardens jojos christmas cottage (kalibo, aklan)

This is Jojo’s Christmas Cottage, a two-storey building where I bought my souvenirs. The first floor displays Samuel’s Precious Moments dolls and other items for sale, while the second floor houses Christmas items–Christmas table arrangements, life-size Santa Claus sculptures, and other Christmas-y stuff.

sampaguita gardens jojos christmas cottage dolls (kalibo, aklan)

Jojo’s Christmas Cottage is a doll collector’s dream.

sampaguita gardens chapel (kalibo, aklan)

This chapel was closed and also looked damaged during my visit.

sampaguita gardens beach (kalibo, aklan)

The beach located at the back of Sampaguita Gardens was a welcome surprise. It’s an open area behind the cottages, and there are a couple of shaded benches facing the sea where visitors can stay and just enjoy listening to the waves. I was the only person here at the time, and I stayed for around 30 minutes to just be at peace. It felt divine.

I left Sampaguita Gardens at past 10am. There are tricycles parked in front of the site, waiting for passengers to take either to Kalibo town proper (Php150) or to New Washington town proper (Php10). I asked the driver to take me to the town proper to see the New Washington Church and town plaza.

The church was a simple structure. It was a Sunday, and I initially planned to attend mass there. Unfortunately, they only hold 2 mass celebrations, and I already missed the first one (the second one was to be held late in the afternoon). I was advised by the lady I approached to just attend the mass in Kalibo. Their town plaza was also a simple one with a solo monument and a few benches, exuding a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. 

After some minutes of exploration, I looked for the jeepney terminal to head back to Kalibo. It was within walking distance from the church and plaza, and I encountered a rather interesting local during my commute. There was a middle-aged man in the jeepney who looked drunk, and he was speaking (at times mumbling) to the passengers in fluent English. I remembered him posing a question that seemed something like, “what is the meaning of the ati atihan?”–this asked in a somber and almost philosophical tone. The man looked like he is already known to some of the passengers, and they were simply smiling at him. It was an interesting ending to my Sampaguita Gardens trip.

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