September 7, 2016

MT. BROMO | Finding Beauty in Ashes: A Photo Essay

EASTERN JAVA, INDONESIA. As we faced heavenward to admire the constellations that reminded me a lot of a city’s nightscape, we felt the soft arrival of the ashes in our face. This is how we arrived. This is how Mt. Bromo welcomed us. Outside our bare room, the railings were all covered in ashes. Even the terrace’s tiled floor was no exception. We curled and bundled up inside. *** A dog played with a dead pigeon on an ashen field of leeks. It rained ashes once again. The nase goreng by Mt. Bromo’s viewing deck tasted good. We brought our […]
May 20, 2016

Jubilant | Creatures That Can Make You Squeal

I remember it well: I was busy writing a travel assignment on my phone. Nassefh—a handsome poet from Mindanao and my guardian during my drunk nights in the 54th Silliman University National Writers Workshop, the most sought-after writer workshop in the Philippines—approached me and said that I was not enjoying the moment at all. Indeed, he was right. We were aboard a big boat on our way to Manjuyod Sandbar as our midweek escape from the slaughtering called writing workshop. And there I was glued on my phone, finishing a deadline! Writing a 1000-word travel article on my phone was […]
May 11, 2016

DOWN SOUTH | Is There a Different Bangkok Hidden from Travelers?

This first appeared on my Down South column on Interaksyon.com last May 7, 2016. It started with a funny sign NO WAY GO half-securely hang by the open gate we saw while walking around the then-under renovation Wat Ratchanatdaram. The walls were high and grayed white, and the sign piqued our curiosity. We thought there might be a less-known temple inside, a family-owned one, perhaps. So we entered. We found something different instead. But what we found did not surprise me at all. The air was thick with the distinct smell of a canal and the unmistakable aroma of fresh […]
January 19, 2016

Travel Onomichi City | Its Loveliness and Quaintness

While Pim stood by the baywalk’s railing, an old woman, all smiling, passed by and said something in Japanese and gestured towards the camera. With my poor Japanese vocabulary bank: suka, honto ni, wakaranai, kawaii—words I learned from years-long of reading manga, watching anime, and interacting with the Japanese on Skype, I reckoned she was asking if we wanted her to take our photo. I smiled and uttered thank you; and she went on, all smiling. I did not expect her friendliness. Crumbs of details on places from my previous conversations with the Japanese stuck in my head: Hokkaido is known for winter […]