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“We are all whitewashed,” Shane admitted. Godo dismembered the bihag we bought from the cockpit. He poured water into the basin, rinsed the meat, and poured the water into the sandy ground. The boys stared at the meat in all its grandeur. Or gruesomeness: bones, flesh, blood. While for them—Tupe, Freyal, Godo—it was just the usual bihag they had every Sunday. It was nothing short of ordinary.   Poultry, on […]

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

It was bright and happy. Painted yellow and orange, the Port of Tubigon building looked fresh and new. Half of the road is finished, while three quarters of the other side are rubble. The island in the middle showcased the beauties of Bohol: a river, a manmade forest, and churches. A tractor was idle next to a poster of the wide-eyed tarsier. Does a real one ever blink? About Jona […]

It is hard, admittedly, to finish a creative nonfiction book. Perhaps because they are driven by emotions—often dominantly singular, negatively singular: hatred, loss, anger. These emotions wittingly, consciously creep into the reader and weigh her down with heaviness and sighs, rendering her helpless and boneless to the point that taking a break from the book is necessary. That is how I feel mostly with narratives detailing collective pain: diaspora, slavery, racial […]

“Lagas” was the only word I understood.  I was walking with three girls fresh from high school to the lighthouse and we met a boy on a motorbike. I assumed he was thei            r classmate. He asked a question to the girls, which they answered but all I could catch was the word “lagas.” They must be talking about me. Lagas, back at home, is the corn mature enough for […]

Nobody warned a foreign friend about the gay hookers at Mango Avenue who targeted and chased foreign tourists. “I would never go back there. Just plain ewww,” he could not stress that enough.  I wonder which one chased him viciously. Working by Mango for more than five years now, these resident gay prostitutes in their short shorts and 5-inch wedges and I sometimes exchanged his and hellos. Some would pretend […]

It was a Tuesday. A poetry reading at a dear poet friend’s garden got canceled. I got a Tuesday, a weekday, at my disposal.  I packed and left the city at ten in the morning to visit down south. Trips as random as this—that has been my life for the past five years. To book as many, as random flights as possible. To squeeze a trip to a neighboring island midweek. To not care about work schedule. To […]

I was at the port by 11:30 a.m., quite unusual for me who had made others wait for more than two hours. According to an online guide I read, the boat would leave by noon or 1 p.m. There is only one passenger boat every day, and I could not possibly miss it or else I would have to shell out a hefty Php5,000 or so to reach my destination. […]

I passed port security without a ticket. I had no idea which ship my mountaineer friends board.  They were not at Pier 3. I boarded the ship without really knowing if it was the right one. I missed my phone at my nook.  The adventure began. About Jona Branzuela BeringI'm a writer and photographer from Cebu, Philippines. Most of the time, I travel solo. I travel to write and to […]

Round and nothing short of grand, the moon lit our way to the hundreds of stilt houses outlining the coast of Busuanga. Rigor—the young Tagbanua I met at the entrance of Baracuda—guided me through the pathways and alleys that got narrower after several turns. Busuanga’s islandness is different from that of Siargao or Malapascua. Restaurants, coffee shops, bars interjected between small local stores, oddly positioned between a cement shop and […]

“Mura sad kog abogado nga way kapildihan,” said Ruel, the #grabtaxi driver who picked me up at my nook. He used to drive for a Filipino-Chinese businessman, who sold his company after his marriage failed. The wife eloped with her dance instructor. “Kon ang anak ang mosakay, okay ra ko magshorts. Pero kon ang akong among lalaking amo na gani ang mosakay, mag-barong ug slacks jud ko,” he informed. Sometimes he was mistaken […]

About Jona Branzuela BeringI'm a writer and photographer from Cebu, Philippines. Most of the time, I travel solo. I travel to write and to live. When in the city, I garden and become a slave of four cats. I’m a plant thief and reader by midnight. I maintain a travel column “Down South” on Interaksyon.com—TV5′s news portals—and write for Sun.Star, Bisaya, Manila Bulletin, and other publications. I accept writing and […]

When I started taking trips, Dumaguete was one of the most accessible and safest places to travel. It is a city that invites you to take long walks.  It is a place that always gives you two options: to stay or to explore its neighbors. In my case, it is always Valencia and Siquijor. I started backpacking Valencia with a girlfriend four years ago. We trekked our way to Casaroro […]

You know that feeling that the place is made for you. I know it is a silly thought, but that is how I feel when I met U Story. I mean, its dominant colors are spectrum of green, brown, and autumn—my all-time favorite earth colors. It has cats (nine of them! I’ve heard) and a bookshelf filled with books. Every bungalow is surrounded with a garden. The whole place is […]