February 12, 2015
Whang Od and Buscalan

SUN.STAR | Whang Od and Her Village

She sighed. She was crouching on the floor, sifting some leaves with her frail-looking, wrinkled hands. She then slit the middle of one elongated leaf, which looked like pandan, and inserted the base of another. She repeated the process until she made a beautiful mandala of leaves. She pushed the heart of the foliage into the soot-bottomed casserole and then poured rice grains in it. “It is her own way to keep the rice from getting scorched,” Tommy, Whang Od’s frequent visitor, explained. She cut the pinewood into splinters and fed them into the hearth. The fire illuminated her tattooed arms.
December 11, 2014

Travel Essay: The Banal and the Sublime at Donsol

“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 the other side of the world, is boneless—the boring tenderness of meat, they said. Years ago, someone spitted out the tinolang manok upon feeling the hardness, the finiteness of a […]
October 13, 2014

DOWN SOUTH: To Bohol, a Year After

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?
September 14, 2014

DOWN SOUTH | Capul Island |Gimata, the Word that Stays

This essay appeared on my travel column DOWN SOUTH with a different title,  ‘Gintama’ or new moon: The pleasures of Capul and its dialect, on September 6, 2014. Text and photos by Jona Branzuela Bering | Lifestyle Section, InterAksyon “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 their 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 […]