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Gingerbread house in Cavite is the stuff of sweet dreams

Photos and text by Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2020 03:00 AM | Updated as of Dec 05 2020 08:43 AM

Who would ever think that amid the lush greenery of Alfonso town, Cavite is an actual, giant gingerbread house?

Filled with all kinds of sweets and pastries, this gingerbread house is every child’s dream come true.

The Gingerbread House, the largest standing in the country, is a sweets-themed park reminiscent of the one in the fairy tale story of "Hansel and Gretel."

The four nieces and son of owners Jing and Jun Canlas had that story in mind during one sleepover when they were asked what then was just thought to be a rest house for the kids in the highlands.

"Sabi ko, 'Sige, what kind of house is that?' So they started saying na they wanted giant cupcakes in front of the house, then a giant ice cream, candies everywhere, parang ganun. And they were so ecstatic and excited, so niride ko lang," says co-owner Jing Canlas in a video call with ABS-CBN News.

She then asked the children to put their designs for the rest house on manila paper and was shown to the architect. Up to this day, the manila paper with the children's design remains framed inside the gingerbread house.

As the Canlas family hosted dinners for relatives and friends at the then-rest house, their guests would post pictures that started to attract outsiders. Eventually, they opened the house to the public in December 2015.

Aside from the centerpiece gingerbread house and dessert-themed displays, the park features a bakery, a restaurant, and a small ginger field.

Visitors can also buy in-house do-it-yourself gingerbread men and houses, made in part with locally grown ginger and other sourced ingredients, with base sweets decorations included.

Aside from the sweet attractions, a dream-catcher section stands where visitors can write their dreams on a wooden tablet and place them in a designated wall.

"The dream catcher is the embodiment of our vision, which is live the dream. Kasi what we're saying is that if our kids dream of having something like this out of the book could happen, your dream could also happen to you. Ang goal namin talaga when we opened is that to encourage our patrons to believe in the power of dreaming," says Canlas.

She also shares that they have a lot of repeat customers, most of whom have had their dreams fulfilled by the time they came back. "Ang dami naming return customers na nagpapicture ulit doon sa dream boards nila and would really write us notes na thank you very much. Our dreams came true, I'm now a registered nurse, I passed the LET, I'm an engineer, I'm a doctor now, tapos my dad came back, yung mga ganun, all sorts of dreams."

Despite two major setbacks in the form of the Taal eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted their operations, the venue had enough savings to keep afloat and found ways to support their workers amid the lockdown.

The house recently resumed operations only this November despite other establishments reopening last June, waiting for the time that it would be safer for everyone.

In preparation for their reopening, minimum IATF safety protocols were established such as face masks and face shields for visitors, automatic thermal scanners at the entrance, wash areas or alcohol scattered around the venue, and visual and audio reminders of protocols and physical distancing.

Filling out health declaration forms, booking, and payment have been migrated to online platforms as well.

As the Christmas season arrives once again, Canlas hopes to remind patrons to keep their dreams alive amid the series of unfortunate events, by keeping the faith and in what you believe in.

The positive quotations and Bible verses scattered in the venue aims add courage for people to face the trying times.

"That the dream is never cancelled. It doesn't cost you a single cent to keep believing. Our dream should keep on. Yun yung gusto namin sabihin, pangarap natin hindi nakakancel ng pandemya," Canlas said.

"And when you remember the spirit of Christmas, we are always reminded of the real meaning of Christmas is Immanuel, you know God is with us, no matter how difficult the situation is, nabubuhayan tayo ng pag-asa e. Na kakayanin natin yan. We anchor our belief to the Lord to see us in the most difficult times."

The Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Gingerbread paintings adorn the walls of the house. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Do-it-yourself gingerbread houses and gingerbread men cookie kits go for sale. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Co-owner Jun Canlas shows the original drawing of the Gingerbread House by their nieces and son framed in the restaurant. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

An employee makes a gingerbread house. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

All the ingredients needed are included in the do-it-yourself kits. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The Gingerbread House also serves other food. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The Dream Catcher area in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays can be found all over the Gingerbread House. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Visitors in the dream catcher area can write down their dreams and wishes in a dream board and hang it on a wall. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Reminders of health protocols are scattered around the park. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Visitors take a photo of themselves in one of the attractions. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Visitors check out the wishing well near the dream catcher area. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

A candy-themed arc welcomes visitors to an area of the park. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The park also features a Ginger Field, where visitors can learn the benefits of ginger. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The park also features a Ginger Field, where visitors can learn the benefits of ginger. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The facade of the Gingerbread House. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Reminders of health protocols are scattered around the park. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Colorful displays and various attractions are scattered around in the park. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

A visitor takes a photo of the Gingerbread House. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

A sign welcomes visitors to the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The park also features a Ginger Field, where visitors can learn the benefits of ginger. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Candy-themed displays in the Gingerbread House in Alfonso, Cavite. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Various quotations are scattered around the park. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The facade of the Gingerbread House at night. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News