MANILA, Philippines - Not many may know that the Guinness World Record holder for the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles is a Filipina and a successful businesswoman at that.
Gina Gil-Lacuna is the "puzzle queen", having made 1,028 jigsaw puzzles which are now on display at the Puzzle Museum in Tagaytay.
"Ang ginagawa naming decor sa bahay ay mga puzzles ko, sa powder room, sa kitchen. Na-realize ko ang dami-dami ko nang puzzles na nakalagay sa warehouse. Sabi ko, aba this must be something. My people did some research and they found out na may Guiness record holder ng pinakamaraming jigsaw puzzles noong May 2010," she told ABS-CBN's My Puhunan.
At the museum, you can find different kinds and sizes of puzzles, such as The Nativity, which is considered the third hardest jigsaw puzzle in the world.
Lacuna showed off the first jigsaw puzzle she finished - a Mickey Mouse puzzle, which took her 70 hours to complete.
"Doon ko na-realize I can do puzzles. Yun ang naging hobby ko from then on," she said.
The secret to doing jigsaw puzzles? Lacuna says it's all about determination and patience.
"Relax na ako when I started doing puzzles. Kung tensyonado ka, di ka naman makakapag-puzzle eh. I realized ang puzzles din nakaka-alis ng stress," she said.
The puzzle queen is also a successful businesswoman. But her success did not come overnight.
Coming from a humble background, Lacuna said she started selling handmade hair accessories and crocheted items when she was 17 to raise funds for her sibling's operation.
A friend suggested she go to a department store to sell her wares.
"Gagawa ang nanay ko ng sample, dadalhin ko sa isang department store. Ang tapang ko nga eh. Akala ko nga pinakamaganda na (ang gawa ko), eh yun pala pinaka-pangit... May isang taon nga, sample ng sample, pero walang order," Lacuna recalled.
But Lacuna did not lose hope, saying it was all about "survival."
Then she decided to start manufacturing maternity clothes in the 1980s.
At that time, not many manufacturers were going into maternity clothes. Her brand Buntis was one of the few selling clothes for pregnant women.
"Ilan lang ang nag-susupply noon. Halos wala. Kasi di nila gusto gumawa ng maternity clothes kasi lousy. Ibig sabihin maluwag siya, basta kumasya, hindi pang-high fashion," Lacuna said.
"Eventually naisip ko na offer-an ang tindahan. Ang sabi ko, puede bang maging concessionaire. Very new noon yun, halos wala. Kung ano ang nabenta yun lang babayaran sa akin. That way I had the freedom to manufacture ng walang tigil."
From just one sewing machine (her mother's), her business has grown leaps and bounds. Her old house is now her main factory with 30 sewing machines.
"Malaki na. Walo ang satellite (office) ko, lahat sila may makina," she said.
The Buntis Garments factories now manufacture 20,000 maternity dresses in a year. The maternity clothes range from casual to formal to office wear.
Taking care of her workers
Lacuna said she wanted to share her blessings with her workers, so she decided to give some of them sewing machines.
"Noong nag-decide ako to share whatever blessings I have, yun mga matagal na sa akin na mananahi na alam ko na kaya magpatakbo ng patahian, yun iba binigyan ko ng 5 makina... Yun iba hinulugan, yun iba binigay ko na talaga," she said.
"Sa amin nangagaling ang samples at cuttings. Pag prinovide mo sa kanila, cut fabric na. Pagkatapos doon, dadalhin nila sa amin at mag-quality control, kami ang mag-packing at mag-distribute sa mga tindahan."
Lacuna's business has P30 million in sales of maternity clothes every year.
"Ang maternity clothes, hindi ito luxury item, necessity ito. Kasi paglumaki ang tiyan mo, definitely bibili ka, pang 3-months, pang-5 months at bago ka manganak," she said.
Her hard work and perseverance paid off. Lacuna is able to indulge in her love of travel, as well as build a mansion in Tagaytay and a resort-home in Batangas, and buy luxury cars.
Asked to share her secret for success, Lacuna said: "Prinsipyo. Wag kang magnakaw. Yun presyo mo dapat reasonable. Wag mong dayain ang damit. Wag ka magtinda ng palpak na damit na hindi na maipapamana sa iba. Mahalin mo ang tao mo, kasi mamahalin ka rin nila."