GMA 7 child star Jillian Ward is a devoted “Hello Kitty” fan. “She’s so cute! I love her!” she says of the feline character popularized by the Japanese company Sanrio.
Family and friends have encouraged Jillian’s passion and gifted her with all sorts of Kitty toys and trinkets. On her 6th birthday last February, GMA Artist Center gave her a Hello Kitty set complete with tote and microphone and tiara. “She wants a Kitty party theme for her next birthday,” mom Jennifer reveals.
Actress Marian Rivera, who was in the cast of “Jillian: Namamasko Po,” contributed a Louis Vuitton-inspired Hello Kitty bag to the kid’s collection.
Manager Joe Barrameda has given her all sorts of Kitty collectibles, too.
The most expensive of the stuffed toys is from Jillian’s godfather, says Jennifer: “It’s a limited-edition doll with feathery fur. There were only five of its kind in the Philippines when it came out.”
Fastfood chain McDonald’s gave Jillian a 35th anniversary commemorative collection of Kitty “Happy Meal” toys. Now she also has Kitty blankets, pillows, towels, pencil cases, utensils, Band-Aid, shades, purses, cups and mugs, wallets, jackets, camera and tent.
Yes, a tent! From a family friend, the Hello Kitty Hideaway tent is set up in the kid’s bedroom. Even the family car’s seat covers bear the familiar designs.
The “Daldalita” star also collects Barbie and Baby Alive dolls. Mom recalls that Jillian’s first Baby Alive, Sophie, was a reward for shooting her debut TV commercial for milk brand Promil when she was 4.
Last year, after the run of the Christmas series, “Namamasko Po,” TV director Mark Reyes gave the little star a Baby Alive doll named Chloe. Now Jillian has Baby Alive dolls ranging from Changing Time Baby to Baby All Gone. The most recent additions: Bounce & Babbles and Splash & Giggle.
Mom says the girl is truly lucky to have generous friends and fans. Another “Namamasko” costar, Claudine Barretto, gave Jillian a job necessity: a makeup box.
“Captain Barbell” costar Lovi Poe introduced Jillian to Bulgari Petit et Mamans, now the kid’s favorite scent.
Isabel Oli, who currently works with Jillian in “Daldalita,” gave her a trio of rag dolls from the animated flick “Despicable Me.”
Apart from the Kitty bag, Marian gave Jillian a Barbie doll. “It’s a Barbie Pizza-Maker doll, available only at S&R,” said Marian.
GMA exec Lizelle Maralag got her a Barbie Fashion doll as well. Singer Regine Velasquez, wife of Jillian’s “Daldalita” dad Ogie Alcasid, sent her a Lalaloopsy doll from Britain.
Even complete strangers seem compelled to shower Jillian with gifts. On the last taping day of “Trudis Liit,” her first TV series last year, the staff of Taal Lake Hotel gave Jillian a turtle night lamp as souvenir.
When she watched the musical “Kaos” with “Barbell” costar Solenn Heussaff, Resorts World Manila staff gave her a white lion stuffed toy.
A fan from Las Vegas sent her a porcelain doll, which now stands in the living room. Another porcelain doll displayed in the sala is made by Unique Collections in the United States.
To house Jillian’s collectibles, mom bought a Dream Mansion, “a huge dollhouse from S&R, which we had to order from the US.” Jillian spends lazy afternoons playing with the dollhouse, installed in a corner of her bedroom.
From a visit to Hong Kong Disneyland, Jillian brought home Minnie Mouse stuffed toys, The Little Mermaid dolls and figures, and Snow White and The Little Mermaid snow globes. Plus, she recently added Bratz Hot Summer dolls to her collection.
“I have to vacuum constantly because the toys gather dust easily,” mom says.
Jillian is a budding fashionista, adds mom. “After I got a pair from Bangkok, she started wearing sandals with heels.” But she also has regular sneakers from Skechers and, of course, Kitty shoes.
The living room is decorated with show biz mementos. Centerpiece is an autographed picture of the original “Trudis Liit,” Batangas Governor Vilma Santos. In the framed photo, Gov. Vilma called herself “Trudis Laki.”
There are also framed Jillian caricatures from the old GMA 7 chat show “Love ni Mister, Love ni Misis.”
Two trophies, from Lingkod TV and Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Foundation, have been given a place of honor.
Saving up for a van
“We deposit part of her earnings in the bank,” mom says. “We’re saving up for a new home. Jillian also wants to buy a van, a Grandia. She wants a big vehicle so she can sleep between takes on the set.”
Jennifer says she tries to give Jillian a normal childhood. “At home, she plays with older sister Jermaine Anne and takes care of her younger sister, Jenel Annika.” The family makes sure that the kids are treated equally, mom points out.
When Jillian got an iPad, big sis also got her own. Among Jillian’s favorite games are The Sims 3 and Monkey Preschool Lunchbox.
GMA 7 program manager Redgyn Alba gave her a Leapster 2 learning game system.
Jillian is computer-savvy and surfs the Net like a grownup. “She learns about the latest Barbie and Baby Alive dolls online,” says mom, who adds that Jillian, a prep pupil in a Quezon City Montessori school, is quite diligent.
“A tutor works with Jillian for at least two hours when she’s free from tapings and shootings,” says Jennifer. Aside from “Aswang,” Jillian is in the cast of the Joel Lamangan comedy, “Ded na Ded sa ’Yo.”
The young actress has other artistic streaks. She’s always doodling and coloring activity books, says Jennifer, who was surprised when Jillian got near-perfect scores in all her school subjects.
“Math is my favorite subject,” says Jillian, who dreams of becoming a doctor someday. “I will treat patients for free.”