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This Boracay Bahay Kubo Is A Tropical Wonder

Resting on Boracay's famed white sand shores is a rustic but luxurious retreat, a perfect example of a Filipino beach house

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Original Article: Amillah Rodil Photography: Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions Pictorial Direction: Gwyn Guanzon

Businessman Fred Elizalde first stepped foot on Boracay in the 1970s—back when the island had only a few fishing villages and no electricity. Shortly after he arrived, he decided to create his own private retreat in the island, buying a beachfront property where he built a nipa hut-style cottage with a big, wide porch facing the sea.

And then tourists discovered Boracay. From the 1980s to the ’90s, resorts, shops and restaurants sprouted along the four-kilometer stretch of sand known as White Beach, where Fred had built his rest house. Today, the Elizalde's rest house is possibly the only private residence on White Beach that doesn't offer anything to tourists. With its thatched-roof structures, it's easy to mistake it for a resort, but the chain-link fence and a sign on the wooden gate saying "Private: No Trespassing" stops curious onlookers from going in.

This rest house treads lightly on the sand, as most of the cottages are built on stilts. Lisa Macuja says, "[It was] for ventilation mainly—you must remember that the original house did not have electricity—so the floor had to be raised to maximize the cooling from the natural sea breeze."

The most recently built structure on the site is the Painting Room, a hexagonal space sandwiched between the master bedroom and a cottage. Fred had this built so he'd have a space where he could paint. The painting room has earned the nickname "The Cathedral" because of its high vaulted ceiling clad in bamboo and its tall glass windows.

Even with the large number of cottages, the Elizalde rest house feels simple and functional, not ostentatious. It retains a rustic, native character that contrasts with some of the more recent trendy resorts along the beach. The compound is big, but if you're not looking closely, you might miss it. Perhaps because it wasn't meant to compete for the tourists' attention, for the Elizaldes, it's simply a place where they can relax on a hammock under the coconut trees, and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea.

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