Getting Puzzled at Puzzle Mansion

The biggest collection of jigsaw puzzles globally, as formally recognized by Guinness World Records, is currently found in the Philippines. In fact, it lies next door to my hometown in the province of Cavite. A building called Puzzle Mansion, located within Tagaytay city, houses this collection of hobby items owned by Georgina Gil-Lacuna.

Xander Lopez, a fellow blogger, and I paid the Puzzle Mansion a visit on March 25, 2018. First, we arrived at Olivarez Plaza, then took a jeepney towards the town of Mendez. Xander checked constantly his mobile phone GPS app for the closest drop-off point on the highway. A visitor to Puzzle Mansion could choose between two travel routes via public transport. Xander and I came to a road sign where a nearby motor tricycle would take us directly to our destination for Php 60, for up to five passengers. The other route involved a jeepney veering off the main highway, following a road until a massive water tower appeared. The tricycles there would charge Php 40 inclusively for the ride. Driving your very own car to Puzzle Mansion would undoubtedly be the most convenient way.

Disregarding the tricycle, Xander and I took a stroll instead. We passed by verdant lawns of grass and plots strewn with pineapples. A few lodging houses lined the main road. Metal signs led us to Puzzle Mansion, with Xander’s app making sure we would not get lost. My companion and I entered a village. Several residents walked on cemented streets between cozy one-story homes. A group of men had a discussion while two boys rode on bicycles further up. Past the village, tall grass grew unkempt on vacant lots. We turned right on a luxurious-looking house. The path went straight to Puzzle Mansion’s entrance. Our entire stroll took at least 20 minutes. Fortunately, Tagaytay’s altitude kept the surrounding air refreshingly cool and breezy. We were not exhausted.

A steep downhill concrete path lay past the gate. Further below, goats grazed on a relatively spacious plot of land, keeping the grass trimmed. Puzzle Mansion consisted not just the building with the collection itself. The entire place also featured a swimming pool, rooms for stay, and restrooms of course. A statue of Puzzle Mansion’s logo, which were two dark blue jigsaw pieces stuck together, sat atop words bearing the place’s name.

A ticket for entry into Puzzle Mansion costed Php 100 per head. After buying them at a separate booth, we went in. A multitude of paintings greeted us. Yet upon a closer look, crisscrossing lines like on netting or a chain-link fence made up these works of art. These ‘paintings’ were actually jigsaw puzzles. I saw illustrations of animals, people, monuments, and landscapes. At one corner of the huge room, I distinguished famous paintings such as Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez, The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci,  and Guernica by Pablo Picasso. Among them hung a notable portrait by Jacques-Louis David of Napoleon Bonaparte riding a rearing horse. The biggest puzzles could be found near the door. That of the Renato de Santa Columba by Rogier van der Weyden took 1,095 hours, or about 45 days, to be completed.

Other than two-dimensional, flat pictures, the Puzzle Mansion also had three-dimensional small objects. They varied in the form of dinosaurs, famous landmarks, aircraft, and even everyday items such as soda cans. They reminded me of robot and car toys in my childhood that came in pieces and then assembled with the help of a manual. I just learned that Xander also liked puzzles at the present. Additionally, layouts of major cities such as New York, Paris, and Sydney aroused my curiosity.

Xander and I stayed in the Puzzle Mansion not more than an hour. It might have likely lasted just thirty minutes. We did nothing but look and admire at assembled puzzle pieces. A fellow visitor recorded audio and video documenting the place, possibly for a school project or a blog. She kept on asking the guide, making sure her information was accurate. That Sunday morning saw about 10 visitors.

In my opinion, the Php 100 entrance fee was too pricey. I would suggest lowering it to Php 60 given the current setup. If it would stay at Php 100, I would recommend an interactive activity like building your own puzzles. Free meals and trinket souvenirs could serve as an alternative. Furthermore, some of the puzzle pictures depicted nudity so visitor age and discrepancy could be considered as well.

Despite a room for improvement, Puzzle Mansion remains the biggest collection of its kind and will stay that way by adding even more puzzles. Filipinos have a knack for breaking world records. An achievement by an individual, such as Georgina Gil-Lacuna, carries the prestige of the entire country as well.