With the challenges of the past year, many of us are looking for ways to refresh and recharge. Sometimes it takes only one good day, or a fantastic experience to make a positive impact in our lives to help us get right back up again.

And, with borders starting to open up, travel might be the best way to do just that. If you’re looking for a stress-busting weekend, we suggest heading to Cavite where the invigorating air, array of destinations, and close proximity to Metro Manila make it one of the top options for a quick escape.

Puzzle Mansion

Cuadra Street, Brgy. Asasin, Tagaytay

Puzzle Mansion houses a collection of jigsaw puzzles in 2D, 3D, and 4D forms. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Nestled in Tagaytay’s hills, Puzzle Mansion is a record-breaking curiosity owned by the late Georgina Gil-Lacuna. It is home to many completed jigsaw puzzles, around 1,500 sets of varying sizes and complexity. There are so many that in November 2012, the Guinness World Records recognized the gallery for having the “World’s Largest Collection of Jigsaw Puzzles.”

The first set Lacuna completed was a Mickey Mouse portrait she gifted her son in 1986. Fond of traveling, she collected more pieces from every country she visited, and all these 2D, 3D, and 4D sets are spaced out in the two-floor mansion.

On the ground floor, you’ll see puzzle replications of famous paintings like the Mona Lisa, The Birth of Venus, and the Creation of Adam. There are also cityscape puzzles of Russia, Japan, and Las Vegas, among others.

As you go up to the second floor, you’ll see the three biggest sets Lacuna has ever assembled. The biggest in her collection, “Wildlife” by Adrian Chesterman, has 33,600 pieces that took her one year and eight months to finish.

Puzzle Mansion exhibits a replication of Double Retrospect by American artist Keith Haring. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Next to it hangs the mansion’s second biggest piece: “Double Retrospect” by American artist Keith Haring has over 32,000 pieces assembled.

To enter the premises, you are only required to pay Php 100. Visit their souvenir shop and take home puzzle pieces of your own. Each set is priced from Php 200 to Php 10,000.

Museo Orlina

Hollywood Subdivision Road Brgy. Tolentino East, Subd, Tagaytay

Museo Orlina exhibits glass sculptures made by internationally-acclaimed glass sculptor Ramon Orlina. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Upon entering Museo Orlina, you can watch a presentation that shows the craftsmanship that goes into making a sculpture. The Tagaytay gallery is named after (and showcases the work of) acclaimed sculptor Ramon Orlina.

A piece to not miss is “Ningning,” which is named after Orlina’s daughter and symbolizes the sacrifices mothers make, from pregnancy to breastfeeding. The gallery also showcases the maquettes and photographs of the artist’s works here and abroad along with pieces from other contemporary artists.

Art and creativity can be seen everywhere, from the sculpture garden to the carport that houses Orlina’s vintage cars, to the roof deck which has a view of Taal Lake. The admission fee is Php 130, but students and senior citizens can go in for Php 100 if they bring their IDs.

Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm (Note: Closed on Mondays, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day)

Shambala Living Museum

Shambala St., Purok 4, Barangay Pulong Bunga, Silang

Shambala Living Museum pays tribute to the Philippine arts and tradition by installing Cordilleran pieces. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Meanwhile, this destination, dubbed as the “living museum of arts,” you might be able to find your center.

Shambala Living Museum houses different Ifugao sculptures such as Bulols and Hagabi, an Ifugao trunk bench symbolizes wealth and prestige. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Your journey here starts at the Tawid Gallery. Meaning “to cross,” Tawid encourages visitors to immerse themselves in the different art pieces. Together, these works demonstrate the process of going from the secular world to the realm of the divine.

A giant wooden plank at the center of the Gallery, owner Riza Muyot says, serves as the mode of transportation going to heaven, the place of enlightenment. The scattered orange bulbs and antique floaters, on the other hand, symbolize fire and planets.

During the crossing, you’ll be transported to different altars containing poetry written by Muyot herself. Once the Pagtawid is done, you’ll arrive at the Hagabi, an Ifugao trunk-made bench that signifies wealth and prestige. This piece fetched for around Php 18.5 million in a Leon Art Gallery auction.

The museum also has obra (“works”) by the likes of Richard Buxani, Kublai Millan, Danny Rayos Del Sol, EJ Espiritu, and Agi Pagkatipunan.

Outside the main gallery, there are corners that offer a relaxing view of the Tagaytay sunset. There are also huts with fixtures made from indigenous materials and gardens to dine and commune with nature. At night, you can have a bonfire at Dap-ay, a small, amphitheater-like site made with stones and surrounded by water.

To schedule a visit, reserve at their Facebook page. There are packages available for Php 800, which includes the entrance fee and complete meals.

Nurture Wellness Village

Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West Luzon 4120, Tagaytay

Nurture Wellness Village offers holistic health and detox packages. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

If you’re looking to pamper yourself, head for this lush garden sanctuary that offers holistic health and detox packages. They have three main wellness activities: Detox and Holistic Weight Loss; Amu’in (to comfort) Spa; and Kinahihiligan (Passions).

For Detox and Holistic Weight Loss packages, you can try their three-day Sampler Package. Starting at Php 80,000, this light approach detoxification includes a Hamam steam and fever baths, acupuncture, body massages, and charcoal wrap with biomat. It also includes a treatment called pyro-energen, which supposedly eradicates viral diseases, boosts energy, and destroys microbes, fungus, and bacteria.

They also offer daily Wellness Tai-Qi Gong garden exercises to increase energy flow, meditation, post health scans, and supervised meals.

Nurture Wellness also has proudly Filipino Amu’in spa packages. For instance, they have the Traditional Filipino Massage called Nilaib, a 90-minute hot stone massage using steamed pouches of traditional Filipino herbs wrapped in banana leaves to remove body ashes. The package costs Php 1,800.

The Kinahihiligan packages have a full body massage, plated four-course meals, and outdoor treatments suitable for couples, families, and friends. Price starts at Php 9,750.

Inside Nurture Wellness is Farmer’s Table that offers farm-fresh meals made with their local ingredients. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Inside the village is Farmer’s Table, a restaurant where you can try Salad, Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, Adlai Arroz Caldo, and Ube Champorado. The restaurant also offers non-vegetarian options. According to founder and co-owner Cathy Turvill, they want to make the place inclusive and make their journey to wellness easy. A dinner for two here can run for about Php 2,000.

The Gingerbread House

Matagbak – Palumlum Rd, Alfonso

The famous Gingerbread House sits in the center of the Hansel and Gretel-themed area. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Jing and Jun Canlas already made this sweets-themed park for their children, but the family eventually opened their doors to the public in 2015. Inside the compound’s main building, you can learn to bake your own Gingerbread House or Man.

Outside, you’ll find interesting areas with different activities. At Dreamcatcher, you can write your dreams on a wooden tablet and place them on a shared wall. If you want more sweet treats, you can head over to the S’mores area where you can make that bonfire favorite. The place also has swings all around where you can sit after taking long walks.

Gingerbread House teaches customers how to make their own gingerbread cookies. Photos by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Gingerbread House teaches customers how to make their own gingerbread cookies. Photos by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

In case you just want to disconnect for a bit, you can visit Green Pastures. There you can read books, play guitar, or listen to the relaxing hum of bamboo trees swaying in the wind. You can set up a tent there for Php 499.

The entrance fee is Php 100, but an additional Php 1,000 will probably give you your fill of the compound’s activities.

Have a Safe Trip!

Tourism establishments in Cavite are ready for you! Customers are required to wear a face mask and shield, and practice social distancing at all times. The places set sanitary and contact tracing procedures such as registration at the reception and using alcohol to sanitize hands before entering the premises. To know more about Cavite, visit https://cavite.gov.ph/home/.

To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.