Puzzle Mansion: Tagaytay's newest attraction

Posted at 12/10/2012 6:02 PM | Updated as of 12/10/2012 6:05 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A woman’s love for jigsaw puzzles has given birth to a bed and breakfast inn, the newest tourist attraction in breezy Tagaytay City.

Aptly called Puzzle Mansion, the 11-room bed and breakfast facility houses the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle collection owned by Gina Gil Lacuna, a retired businesswoman.

Lacuna has a total of 1,028 puzzles in different sizes, colors, themes and dimensions (she also has 3D and 4D puzzles) on display at the Puzzle Mansion, which is located on Cuadra Street in Barangay Asisan in Tagaytay City. Several others are left unfinished, with a handful of them available for sale.

She plans to finish a 32,000-piece puzzle by February 12 as a gift for her son’s birthday.

“I want to finish the largest puzzle in the world, it’s 32,000 pieces,” Lacuna told members of the media before she was given the Guinness World Records certificate for having the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle collection. “That will be my gift to my son.”

“Every puzzle I learn of, I buy,” added Lacuna, 61, who travels the world in search of new puzzles to piece together. “I am so passionate about puzzles.”

Lacuna shared that the Puzzle Mansion started out as a resthouse for her family and a place where she displayed her finished jigsaw puzzles.

“We just decided to open this to the public because some people wanted to see the puzzles, they wanted to spend almost the whole day looking at each painting,” she said.

Aside from Lacuna’s huge jigsaw puzzle collection, the Puzzle Mansion also has hotel-like amenities such as a swimming pool, a 400-square-meter function room and a 24-hour café.

Nestled between hills of grass and wild flowers, the place is expected to attract not only foreign tourists but also students and art enthusiasts.

“This is a great area for everyone to see. The jigsaw puzzle collection here is world-recognized and we will surely promote the mansion as a tourist destination,” said Tagaytay Mayor Abraham Tolentino, who congratulated Lacuna for giving the Philippines its ninth Guinness World Record this year.

Rags to riches

But before she was able to afford collecting puzzles and building a bed and breakfast facility, Lacuna struggled to make ends meet.

A high school graduate, Lacuna peddled goods in Divisoria and eventually started a garments business.

“God is so good to me. I was able to put up a garments business and there was a time when…actually up to now, we are the largest manufacturer of maternity wear in the Philippines,” she said in tears.

“My niece and my son, I passed it on to them and they are doing better than me. My taste is already old-fashioned,” she added.

Lacuna’s first jigsaw puzzle, which she pieced together 26 years ago, had 5,000 pieces and featured Disney characters. She bought it during her trip to Hong Kong.

The Guinness World Record holder then shared her approach to building puzzles: piece together the puzzles forming the border, then move to the dominant colors.

“One, open lahat. While opening, I could see the gilid. So, tabi nang tabi nang gilid. Na-join ko ‘yung gilid, ‘di mabuo, pupunta ako doon sa pinakamaraming kulay na prominent. Red, for example, bibirahin ko ‘yung red without the gilid. Tapos kasunod na ‘yun ‘dugtong dugtong na 'yun.

“Minsan you have to see the technique also. With the painter, kunyari bulaklak, sundan mo na yung linya. Many strokes,” she added.

Asked how she will finish the dozens of puzzles she bought from her travels, she said in jest: “That’s puzzling.”