January 13, 2017
Sinulog Festival 2014

RAPPLER | Sinulog: To Flow with the Current

This narrative and photo essay was first published on Rappler.com on January 19, 2015.  CEBU, PHILIPPINES—“Every year, my Niño comes back,” shared a middle-aged man holding a small replica of Sto. Niño. His must have lost its cross before, now replaced with a rolled-up chocolate wrapper. He was one of the passengers I saw holding a Sto. Niño on our flight back to Cebu from General Santos last Friday. Our flight was packed, and so was Mactan airport. I thought Cebu would not be as crowded as it used to be, with Pope Francis’ visit and Typhoon Amang hovering over […]
November 25, 2016

RAPPLER | The Ceiling, the Cross We Look Up to

This essay on Magellan’s Cross, and by extension on faith, first appeared on Rappler. Blue is for travel and career. Yellow for health. Red for love. Pink for happiness. Green for success. Nanay Claudia—who stood somewhere between 4’6″to 4’9″—explained the meaning behind the colors of the candles she was holding on her right hand. A green plastic bag filled with candles dangled on her left arm, a black bag belt wrapped around her waist. She talked to me in English (quite good, I would say), thinking I was a foreigner, a dark Korean or Japanese perhaps, whose travel itinerary to […]
August 10, 2016

Why We Must Travel Mindanao

This travel essay, if it can be called such, first appeared on Rappler on May 19, 2016. My affair with Mindanao, like my greatest ones in life, started with the written word, poetry to be more accurate. Two women writers from Cebu encouraged me to join the 17th Iligan National Writers Workshop, which took place at MSU-IIT. Except for the afternoon visits to BookSale, the journey mostly happened across pages: the slaughtering of our pseudo-poems and short stories. Our batch did not have the tours around Iligan’s famous sights, unlike the previous batches and the ones after ours. Obsessed with […]
March 22, 2015
Guiuan, Eastern Samar 2015

RAPPLER | How Is It to Be a Dark-skinned Woman Traveling Around the Philippines

This article, On Being a Dark Filipina Traveling the Philippines, I wrote was originally published on Rappler.com on March 7, 2015. It went crazily viral! I was actually crying when I wrote this. The years-long burden attached to one’s skin. “Porener imong uyab no?” (Is your boyfriend a foreigner?) asked the passenger beside me. We were on the old van to Biliran from Ormoc. I knew this question was coming, but I asked nonetheless why she thought so. I have the looks, she supplied – slender, long-haired, dark. Foreigners go for that “exotic” look. I could let it pass if she stopped […]