Getting to know us
Read what Linda de Leon has to say
on the November
2003 issue of Woman Today:
If you happen to pass by the corner of F.Jhocson and A.H. Lacson (formerly Gov. Forbes) streets in Sampaloc, Manila,
Philippines, it’s impossible to ignore the Christmas Factory. From afar, the
season’s colors (red, green and gold) will attract you and as you get nearer,
you will marvel at the biggest assemblage of Santas. There’s Santa Claus going
down from the roof, a huge santa by the door with a big, welcome smile and a
playful Santa on a swing. And if you have time to take a closer look, you will
meet Santa from the smallest (about an inch) to the biggest (6 feet).
Yes, St. Nick, Santa Claus or the Jolly ‘Ol Father Christmas lives there. He has
been a part of the Santos family since Jo S. Santos decided to share her
fascination with Santa Claus to the public six years ago. “young and old alike
come here, the stream of visitors and buyers as well the plain curious start
pouring September ,” joyfully says Jo.
Married to Mr. Tony Boy Santos, Jo is mother to four children (Mark, Jeannie,
Joy and Michael) and a grandmom to two (Kurt and Tristan). “My husband is so
involved and committed to us all” relates Jo.
She admits that the Christmas Factory was not her first business.
“ I was not
even thinking business before. In fact, I finished BSEEd at National
University. I really would like to be in Fine Arts but my parents did not
agree. Coming from a family of teachers, a classroom career was my next choice”.
Jo does not show any regret about her course saying that it enhanced her
interest in arts and crafts.
Even as a young girl, Jo admits “I like doing things with my hands, from cooking
sewing to making decors – and I can honestly say that back then, Santa Claus
started catching my attention." Nevertheless, the needs on her growing family
prevented her from persuing any major art or craft-related activity. “Tony Boy
and I initially built a small bakery, exactly here were our store is located. It
was doing well but it was too demanding, we did not have time for ourselves. We
were only closed on Good Friday, so our work is non-stop.”
From the sale of the bakery, the hardworking Santos couple acquired a vehicle
and used it as a school bus. Jo recalls, “Anyway, we had to take the kids to San
Beda College so we might as well encourage other parents to let their children
ride with us. “One van became three with me personally driving one of them.”
In between driving and home making, Jo would do her crafts and once more, she
went back to Santa Claus. “Once, I made two of Santa with the reindeers. I was
surprised when a friend insisted to buy one set; I’m glad she did for that
encouraged me to do more Santas”. Jo used papier mache and later experimented
with plaster of paris. From there, she graduated to her present raw material
which is resin and over a hundred Santa designs. “I wanted all my Santas to be
happy, I painted all eyes from the smallest to the biggest Santa. I personally
do the quality control,” remarks Jo earnestly. Her own collection of Santa Claus
is remarkable and there are quite a number for every part of the house from the
living room and bathroom! You’ve really got to see it to believe it.
Since opening Christmas Factory, Jo said that they now have a few regular
workers. Informs Jo, “In summer, we give jobs to students on vacation. They do
the painting for the small Santas used mostly as holiday tee hangings. The
part-time job gets them off the streets and allows them to save for their
tuition fee.” They also have subcontractors based in Antipolo and Angono.
When they are not doing Santa designs, Jo and Tony Boy (he takes care of
production and delivery) are busy with other figures like cartoon characters,
Movie heroes, silver screen idols and those you see in restaurants like the big,
fat chefs or waiters holding up menu. Jo confides, “I do the designing but there
are collections specified by clients. We do those lines exclusively for them.”
The local market alone is enough to keep them happy but Jo says that a few buy
from them for resale in Kuwait,Saipan,Japan,Australia,Sweden,U.S and some parts of Europe.
In the future, Jo and Tony Boy hope to put up a 365-day Santa shop showcasing
all their designs. “It’s not only for my family,” remarks Jo, “it’s also for our
workers. If the shop is big with continuing orders, then we can employ more. One
more, is we would surely like to help the street-children and for the better
world.” Whatever blessings the Holy Child of Christmas and Santa Claus bring
them, Jo’s family together with friends, shares the joys with kids on Christmas
A bigger Christmas Factory will certainly bring more happiness to young boys and
girls. “I hope Santa hears my prayer,” Jo beams.
For More Information Contact:
565 AH Lacson cor. F Jhocson Sts. Sampaloc, Manila Philippines 1008