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I was born in Barangay Padre Zamora, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental on February 6, 1949. I am the eight of 20 children of James Jesus Mercado, 37, a Filipino mestizo, and Lesair Kiana Klaws, 37, an Irishwoman. My father was a civil engineer and my mother was a doctor.

I am the only natural-bearded half-Filipino in the Philippines with the name Santa R-Kayma Klaws, or Santa Klaws, which is nearly identical to the name of the popular Christmas icon Santa Claus. I am also the only half-Filipino in the Philippines who has played the role of Santa Claus every year for the past 54 years, and the only one to have set up a company, Pacific Santa’s Inc., that is devoted to spreading Christmas cheer throughout the Philippines 365 days a year.

I first publicly portrayed the role of Santa at the age of 15. It was during my visit to a leper colony on the island of Cebu that I realized that I could make a difference in the lives of others, especially children and the poor.

Today I make use of a lot of suits. One of them is in the very popularized by Coca-Cola red and white, another is in blue and cheetah fur, another is in black, red and gold, and even one white, black and gold the suit of the very first Santa, St. Nicholas himself.

I have come to believe that the man doesn’t pick the suit. The suit picks the man. And when I first wore the Santa suit, something changed. It just felt right. It was as if I knew exactly what I had to do.

To this day, whenever I see children, especially in poor communities, I see myself in them. I remember how sad and difficult my childhood had been, and I promised to do what I can to help children everywhere in the Philippines.

So spreading cheer to kids all over the Philippines for 365 days a year became my lifelong mission.

To help me carry out my mission, I formed a group. This group includes men with real beards who also portray the role of Santa. It also includes Elves who help me prepare and deliver gifts to children, make suits for myself, my Santas and themselves, and take pictures during charity missions and special events. I named this group Pacific Santa’s. I created Pacific Santa’s Inc. on February 6, 1964.

I completed two master’s degrees in child psychology and business administration at University of the Philippines.

I have 15 children: eight by my first wife, who was killed, along with seven of our children, in a car crash; five out of wedlock and the last two by my third wife, Edelin Toquero.

But on my 42nd birthday, on February 6, 1989, as I was traveling to Sydney on a flight from Manila, my 1st wife and seven of my children were killed in a car crash on a highway in NSW.

Today, I host charity missions for children, senior citizens, the disabled and even pets in various parts of the Philippines. I carry out many of these missions with the help of both government and non-government organizations. I also appear at special events organized by private companies, including clothing, food and drink makers, shopping malls and radio and TV stations.

I am part of the only reindeer farm in the Philippines, near Mount Isarog in Ocampo, Camarines Sur. It is open to the public for free.

I have also built a huge and powerful motor sleigh (KIA Granbird) that can take me, my Santas and my Elves to any part of the Philippines for special events and charity missions.

 

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