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In Batad, the village shaman can predict the couple’s future using a chicken liver. He can read the liver’s veins and interpret them. Yes, the couple’s love and future are at the mercy of the liver.  I met a couple then—an environmentalist Filipina and an Italian cook—who suggested they would try it.  I respect traditions. But I wonder if love can be restrained with such village tradition. Love itself has […]

How to Get There From Pasay or Sampaloc, ride a bus bound for Iba, Zambales. Inform the teller, you are dropping off at San Antonio, Zambales; or else, he/she will charge the full fare for Iba. Via NLEx, time travel is around 4-5 hours. Mine was from Dau Terminal at Clark City. I missed the bus to Iba, Zambales and opted to ride the bus bound for Olongapo City via […]

Last week, I was on a boat of mixed races: Filipino, Chinese, Korean, French, Belgian, and perhaps other races that I overlooked or forgot to ask. It was a happy, odd mix, I would say—a boat of strangers that sometimes ended up as Facebook friends or more often than not, started and ended as strangers. Our boat crew was admirable: they took our pictures, provided a rough course on swimming […]

Field notes: There is always that place that hands you its narrative without you asking or looking for it. It is there, it is open, anyone can see it. Buscalan is that kind of place for me. Its women’s candidness. They could ask basically anything. Especially Fang Od. Despite the language gap (her nephew’s wife served as our interpreter), she read my palms, told me I would have many lovers, […]

“Karon pa ka kaanhi? (Is this your first visit?)” asked Emil, the only trisikad driver who agreed on bringing me to Sayaw—a coastal sitio of Bantigue. Earlier, he passed me by waiting for a ride. He drove two passengers nearby, and he shouted he would come back for me. He knew how scarce a trisikad could be in Bantigue and I would be waiting in the very spot he saw […]

Snippets from the Diary: The islandness of Busuanga is different from that of Siargao or Malapascua. Restaurants, coffee shops, bars interjected between small local stores, oddly positioned between a cement shop and a vulcanizing shop. Everything is scattered and in disarray. Everyone seemed comfortable with the indistinguishableness between the seeming luxury and utter poverty. Everything shared a place named Busuanga. But. But. It was the extremes—the richest and the poorest […]

“Nabalaka baya’s Mama. Dagko ang bawd? Naa bayay bagyo,” (“Mama is worried. Are the waves big? There’s a typhoon approaching,”) texted Inday Janeth, my older sister. Already aboard the ship, I texted Mama I would be traveling to Leyte. Alone. For the first time. They were used to hearing about me climbing mountains or traveling with friends. But I had reached the point where solo traveling became a need. “Di […]

Except for the dwarf bamboo in the middle, the snake plant and aloe vera were lives around Mango area I uprooted. I am a plant thief by midnight. I am proud, happy with that title.  I’m more comfortable calling myself a midnight plant thief than calling myself a writer. *** I decided to give it a try—this pursuit of happiness, this pursuit of gratefulness, this pursuit of being happy for […]

THREE boys gazed at the crepitating fire licking the bottom of the sooty caldero. Their yawns competed with the sea’s audible snores 20 meters away. With nothing much to do but wait, they fed the fire with more wood for the water to come to a boil faster. Before they could join the rest at the beach, before the sun cracked the morning sky open, they must prepare everyone’s breakfast […]

What did I do to deserve this extravagance of my color: green? Do I deserve this much happiness? Yes, the color of happiness. Brown. Blue. And I, a woman, with uncontrollable black hair.  I had the guts because I was alone. Ah, no, the boatman was watching me from the distance. It is a great sky and a great island How to model a sickle locally called “tabas”The madwoman at […]

We live in words—some beautiful, some painful, some hopeful, some gnawing, some dark, some lucid, some heavy, some light. We live in words. This one was for a certain someone. I gift words—but sometimes they don’t come out right. More than three years ago, I quoted Mary Oliver on one of the letters. To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is […]

Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island, Cebu Malapascua, an island in northern Cebu, can be deceiving. During my first visit, I thought tourism made it too jaded for a backpacker. I was not at my best then to talk with locals. But I am willing to give islands especially the touristy ones a second chance. During my second visit, I experienced an entirely different Malapascua. I discoed and drank with the foreign […]

I spent some time reading and writing at one of those beautiful love seats at Ocean Vida. They are the only resort that has huge bean bags laid out on the beach in the afternoon. Earlier this year, the masseuses starts wearing blue and green uniforms. You can find them waiting for customers on the stretch of Bounty Beach. The massage costs P300.00 My morning stroll, taking all the blueness […]

Snobbery is an unlikely character of a traveler. But sometimes I cannot help but label islands either too touristy or superficial and tend to avoid traveling to these places I—who prided herself a traveler—reduced to tourist consumption. It did not help that Malapascua has an exotic-sounding name—so foreign in a region of the Bisdaks. It took me awhile to have the will to dispel the snobbery away. An island like Malapascua […]