Balai La-Hi A Provincial retreat

Balai La-Hi is a private home owned by friend Cholo Hidalgo-Laurel, artist/filmmaker/farmer, in the island of Marinduque. Getting there is part of the journey. There is a 4-5 hr drive from Manila to Lucena (Quezon province), a slow 3-4 hr ferry ride to Boac, Marinduque, and a 30min drive to Cawit on the western side of the island.

Ferry to Marinduque

The land has been in Cholo's family for centuries. Slowly, deliberately and not without drama, he has created a seaside retreat that rekindled my fond memories of PHILIPPINE provincial life.

Balai La-Hi

There is a Guest cottage next to the Main House, built and tastefully furnished by Marlon Rivera, another filmmaker.

Marlon's Cottage

We spent a total of 5 days here. I could have stayed longer. The quiet, simple, non-touristy vibe of the island suited me.


Breakfast followed by a swim. Lunch followed by a nap. Dinner time stories.

Eat, Sleep, Rest, Chat, Repeat

A day trip to Governor's Island. It's not really called that (Natangco Island) but it's owned by the Governor (Cholo's aunt) and we like the sound of it better so that's what we're calling it.

Governor's Island

We were invited to Governor's island for day trip. The Governor (Cholo's aunt) sent her boat to take us there. What a special treat! We packed a picnic and lunch was cooked and served al fresco.

We walked to La-HI's farm, met some kids catching butterflies, met a couple plucking fruits from trees, and finally met Modesta and touched the holy grail of her coconut-fueled hair.

La-Hi farm

We sojourned into town for veggies, fruits, delicacies, fish and the best ensaymada.


And because I missed my dog Nala, I photographed the island dogs, seeing her in each of them.

Dogs of Marinduque

Farewell La-Hi, until our next visit.

Created By
Tesa Totengco


Tesa Totengco & Michael Girman

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