Pets are born with stardom glow.
Pets are born with stardom glow.
By Alma J. Buelva
THE appointment was for 2 p.m. but I was already at the door 30 minutes before. I was to interview the company CEO. I've done this kind of high-level interviews many times before, but this one was different. I had no idea how this CEO would like to be approached, how he would take to questions, how he would react to being photographed and, most of all, if I would be able to shake his paws.
The CEO, after all, was a cat.
Oreo, a black-and-white Persian and Siamese mix, is the Cat Executive Officer (CEO) of Papemelroti, the country's well-loved gifts, decor and trinkets shop.
Mr. Oreo holds office at the third floor of Papemelroti's main branch along Roces Avenue in Quezon City. He goes to work with his dutiful owner Peggy Pilapil-Lasa, one of the siblings behind the creative Papemelroti enterprise. On the day of the interview, Oreo put on a crisp white collar and plaid necktie to match the air of authority about him.
“Oh he's so cute,” was the first thing I said, which probably didn't sit well with the whiskered CEO who threw me a cold gaze with his amber eyes.
Weighing almost 7 kilos, Oreo is quite a big cat. To prove that he lords it over everyone in the office, he jumped from a low chair to the top of a cabinet to shoot a disapproving glance at mostly everyone that he'd soon ignore.
Although Papemelroti's catty head honcho was only halfheartedly cooperating during the interview, the mood in the office was cheerful as Peggy along with her daughter Elyse and siblings Patsy and Meldy eagerly talked about him. They said they felt more excited for Oreo's first “interview” than when they would do strictly business interviews.
The family has three other beautiful cats, but Oreo is the boss.
“He used to come to office with us everyday as CEO, but ever since we got a new cat he doesn't seem to want to come along much,” said Peggy.
Becoming more independent as he grows older, Oreo (who is turning three in August), probably learned to delegate. Or maybe he just didn't want to be overexposed as more Oreo-themed merchandise find their way into Papemelroti stores.
Tote bags, postcards, stationeries, pencils, coin banks, paper mâché items, doodads and what have you bearing the face or likeness of Oreo have become shop staples. Elyse said Oreo merchandise are very saleable.
Elyse added that Oreo's popularity extend online among followers of Papemelroti's Facebook page where they once had a highly successful “Draw Oreo” contest.
Destined for greatness, Oreo then moved to having his own floor-to-ceiling mural done by Peggy's brother, Robert Alejandro, somewhere on the second floor of the UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City.
“Oreo is very photogenic. His black-and-white marks are so distinctive,” said Peggy who also recalled how her bossy cat changed her view of pets.
“I was not an animal person. I didn't really want pets inside the house, but Oreo converted me,” she said.
A gift from Elyse, Oreo got his name not only for his color but also because he fitted in an Oreo box the day they took him home. He became the family's dearest cat since then, sending everyone into panic the day he got lost.
“We announced in Facebook that he went missing and my sister Patsy prayed to the Blessed Sacrament and I cried like someone died,” said Peggy.
Their anguish ended when Oreo was eventually spotted hiding at someone else's garage nearby—shaken but not quite stirred by the experience unlike his humans. How long was he gone? Overnight.
“But he was hurt. The veterinarian said he probably got into a fight (with another cat),” said Peggy sheepishly.
Oreo's been neutered, so forget about Mini Oreos. The Cat Executive Officer wants to keep his business strictly professional so he still goes to office from time to time to oversee things and be proactive by participating in activities like an earthquake drill with Papemelroti's officers and staff.
As the company celebrates its 50th anniversary, it is only fitting that Oreo is the subject of a collector's item—a complimentary postcard given to loyal customers.
Peggy said Oreo is a very good ambassador for their brand. Oreo agreed by squinting his eyes at me. It was a purrfect interview.