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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 […]

She arrived. She positioned her backpack beside her. It was almost as tall as her and perhaps as heavy. This would be our second climb together, and somehow, I expected her bag would be as interesting as the one she brought to Kan-Irag. About 30 meters from the jump-off, her nostrils flared from exhaustion. We all panted, but her huffs were more audible. Always, the start is the most arduous. […]

As a kid, I did not have access to books, but I always love reading. Back in high school, a teacher accused me of ripping a book into two and had my sister, a senior then, notified. My sister cried out of humiliation. The allegation stemmed from the fact that I was the sole soul reading that book every lunch break. But I had no memory of ripping the book. […]

He wore a fusion of the new and the old: a white barong, jeans, and black shoes. With his cane and native hat, he looked like a gallant sage. When I asked him to find a position he was most comfortable, it did not take him long to find one. He squared his shoulders and looked contemplative with his gaze fixed somewhere. Balbino Pada “Ka Bino” Guerrero Jr. is a […]

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 […]