The Inbox

Time matters little to world’s fastest jigsaw puzzle maker

Georgina Gil-Lacuna: World's fastest jigsaw puzzle maker

By Maria Feona Imperial, VERA Files

Perhaps for breaking a world record, she has already found the answer to every jigsaw puzzle ever made. But Georgina Gil-Lacuna has one more left unresolved: the puzzle of time. And she likes it that way.

Sharp enough to be the world’s fastest jigsaw puzzle maker, the 61-year-old retired businesswoman confessed, “I don’t wear a watch. I don’t mind if it’s too late already.”

Every day, she devotes three to four hours of alone time completing her puzzles, usually while watching television. She has developed a scheme of sorting out the pieces: first by color, then by their monotone shades. With utmost concentration, she fits them together meticulously, adding up to her Guinness-awarded collection of 1,028 puzzles. And just like 1028, 3 a.m., at the end of the day, becomes nothing but a number.

Like the drooping pocket watches in Salvador Dali’s La Persistencia de la Memoria (The Persistence of Memory), the puzzle Lacuna best identifies herself with, the ticking of clocks doesn’t matter to her anymore. “When I love something I’m doing, I don’t stop,” she said.

Her patience and perseverance, her secrets to enduring the painstaking process, were built on humble beginnings. Before she had the money to travel and pursue such expensive hobby, she had her own “struggle for survival.”

She remembers how she used to peddle goods in small department stores and Cubao streets.

“After I graduated from a private high school, life began to be miserable when my parents could not afford to bring me to college anymore,” she said. As the eldest child, she had to earn a living at 16.

But the struggle was short-lived for someone who never gave up walking and working even until dawn. Lacuna was able to start a clothing line that soon became “Buntis,” the leading manufacturer of maternity dresses in the country. “At 27, I was already able to buy a house,” she said.

How she got into collecting puzzles was inspired by a mother-and-son bonding experience. During one of their travels to Hongkong, she bought and completed what turned out to be her all–time favorite, a 5,000-piece Disney jigsaw for her only child Gino who was then 2 years old.

Lacuna’s discovery: “When I started my first puzzle, which, for a beginner was a large amount of pieces, I realized I can do the challenge. From there on, I kept on traveling around the world, collecting puzzles.”

In the early years of her collection, she opted for the masterworks of Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh and puzzles that bore images of the places she traveled, especially those that resembled her spiritual faith such as the Sistine Chapel.

“My collection was getting bigger yet I had no plans to compete back then,” she said.

Ravensburger puzzle for the next GuinnessLacuna’s collection is no longer limited to the classics—it now encompasses colorful globes, crystal pandas, Coke collectibles, underwater adventures, royal castles, the Vampire Diaries, 3D, and even 4D or puzzle-on-puzzle miniatures of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Mayan Pyramids.

Lacuna cited the benefits of completing jigsaw: “The good thing about jigsaw is it enhances mental ability to work and be organized. Your left and right brain functions, and you become sharper.”

And, prodded by the businesswoman in her, she said, “Unlike other puzzles, such as crossword, you can sell it upon completion and make more money.”

If it hadn’t been for the Guinness she was awarded last year, Lacuna might never have opened her collection for public viewing.

“My puzzles used to be for my eyes only,” she said. It was due to popular demand that Puzzle Mansion became a tourist attraction in Tagaytay.

“Upon learning through the news that I’ve been awarded a Guinness record, the next day, people started coming by. It became an overnight sensation,” she said.

Clad in a long dress and adorned with a good amount of make-up, on weekends, she transforms into the Puzzle Queen who personally tours visitors around her mansion and thoroughly explains to them the history behind every work of art.

“I let children touch my puzzles so they can probably aim for something like this, so they can bring honor to the country and legacy to their families,” Lacuna said.

She believes that someday, these children will find themselves looking no longer on the puzzle but on the actual place itself. “While you are fitting puzzle pieces together, you might be building up your dream,” she added.

Lacuna’s greatest realization: “It pays to be hardworking and focused. It pays to be a good person that does not lie. You could be a businesswoman without being rude.”

Her businesses are now manned by workers and relatives who have stayed with her for almost 35 years.

“I must have been a good boss,” she said. She plans to pass on her collection to the same people someday, hopefully in a bigger museum by that time.

Ravensburger puzzle for the next Guinness
The world record doesn’t stop her from making another history. Lacuna is working on a 32,000-piece puzzle measuring 17 by 6 feet wide which features retrospective brightly colored images of Keith Haring’s artwork. She is keen to finish what will be the largest puzzle in the world before July 2013, in time for the Guinness.

Said Lacuna: “I never knew that at the age of 61, I’ll be Guinness record holder. I never knew that a high school graduate can later live a comfortable life. God is good to me.”

(The writer is a journalism student at the University of the Philippines-Diliman who submitted this story to her Journ 101 class under VERA Files trustee Yvonne T. Chua. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low
    Philippine economic growth slows to three-year low

    Philippine economic growth in the first quarter slowed to a three-year low of 5.2 percent, well below forecasts, due to lethargic government spending and weak exports, officials said Thursday. "While growth in the private sector remains robust, the slower than programmed pace of public spending, particularly the decline in public construction, has slowed down the overall growth of the economy," Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters. "Exports were the other source of the …

  • EM ASIA FX-Won near 2-month low on plunging yen, peso pares gains as growth weakens

    * S.Korea intervention spotted, won hits 7-year high vs yen * Philippine peso briefly weaker after Q1 growth disappoints (Adds text, updates prices) By Jongwoo Cheon SEOUL, May 28 (Reuters) - South Korea's ... …

  • Britain's tied visa rules fuel abuse of live-in maids, nannies

    By Katie Nguyen LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Susi, a single mother from the Philippines, left for a job in Qatar, she convinced herself it was a sacrifice worth making for her children at home. For more than a year, Susi's sacrifice involved waking before dawn and working past midnight, cooking, cleaning and looking after a Qatari family. Conditions deteriorated when Susi was brought to Britain by her boss. …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Philippines at four-month low after Q1 GDP miss

    BANGKOK, May 28 (Reuters) - Philippine shares hit a more than four-month low on Thursday after economic growth in the first quarter was slower than expected, while Thai stocks retreated after disappointing ... …

  • Philippine economic growth slows to 5.2 percent in 1Q

    Sluggish government spending slowed Philippine economic growth in the first quarter of this year, officials said Thursday. The country's gross domestic product grew by 5.2 percent in the first quarter, ... …

  • PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices
    PSE to sell Makati and Ortigas offices

    Set to move to a unified headquarters in Bonifacio Global City in 2016, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) has issued plans to sell their offices in Makati and Ortigas. PSE President Hans Sicat issued that PSE means to sell the offices, but that they may also opt to rent them out instead. …

  • ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’
    ‘Inland areas could be exposed to tsunami-like waves’

    While strong earthquakes cause tsunamis in coastal areas, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that inland areas could also be exposed to tsunami-like waves, or seiche, if located near or around bodies of water. In a recent earthquake awareness seminar in Muntinlupa, Phivolcs supervising science research specialist Joan Salcedo explained that a seiche is a large wave similar to a tsunami, triggered by strong ground shaking from an earthquake or volcanic …

  • China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations
    China gives ‘gentle reminder’ to Phl, warns small nations

    China gave the Philippines a “gentle reminder” last Tuesday that Beijing will not bully small countries but warned these nations not to make trouble willfully and endlessly. “Here is a gentle reminder to the Philippines: China will not bully small countries, meanwhile, small countries shall not make trouble willfully and endlessly. The Chinese Foreign Ministry also said that China would continue to build other civilian facilities on relevant maritime features in the disputed Spratly Islands …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options