Hi there, I’m Jona!

Ha Noi, Viet Nam

This blog is problematically named. I travel with books.

BWAB is my attempt to document and write down my ways of living this one precious life.

For real-time stories, puns, self-deprecating awkwardness, find me somewhere else.









Some years ago, I had an altar of “when you’re broken” reading list. They comprise of Michael Ondaatje’s "The English Patient," Alice Munro’s "The Progress of Love," and Andre Aciman’s "Call Me By Your Name." And the staple Mary Oliver’s “In Blackwater Woods,” Jack Gilbert’s “Failing and Flying,” Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love,” and the pseudo-poem of Jorge Luis Borges’ “After A While You Learn.” I read them. Again. And again. Cried. And cried. Soothed myself. Healed myself through their words again. Cried again. Read them again. This predictable yet painful cycle of breaking and mending. Each pain is different. Each healing is different.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book


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This is a sincere, honest online platform for an ever-curious mind. Yes, it is a travel and lifestyle blog. If you feel like reading this biatch, who is uncompromisingly raw and honest on money, relationships, self-love, travel, and anything that bugs this chaotic mind, do leave your email below. I promise, I'm such an absentee newsletter sender.

Jona of Backpacking with a Book



May 4, 2019

DOWN SOUTH | I’d Rather Eat and Try to Understand

This was written five years ago. There was Agness. Now there is Erik Matti. There were angry Filipinos. Now there are angry Cebuanos. 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 for those who could not swim, complimented […]
April 29, 2019
I Dress Best When I'm with You

I Dress Best When I’m with You

You know me, I can get up from bed with my bird’s nest of a hair, prepare coffee in my underwear, don’t even bother to brush my teeth, and slump myself in front of the computer and check on the day’s tasks.   But I always look forward to seeing you.  So by noontime, I condition my hair with homemade coconut-aloe vera moisturizer, take a good shower, brush my teeth (finally), moisturize the on-the-way-to-cougarhood face, and check the outfit of the day.  I love dressing up for you. It makes me feel excited to greet yet another day with you in […]
April 16, 2019
Being a brown Filipina

On Being a Brown Filipina: Righting What Is Not Wrong

Bet nila yong skin mo. Ganahan ang mga puti sa imong panit. They like your skin.I’ve been told countless times by many fellow Filipinas, both young and old.  Nila, They refers to white men, both young and old, who salivate over exotic creatures like me. And each time annoys the hell out of me. I never fail to point out how I hate words and phrases like exotic, you remind me of Pocahontas. The intentions were nothing but compliments, but I always reason out why those are nothing but derogatory and insulting.  I even wrote a piece on it. Yes, I had a substantial […]
April 6, 2019

At Almost 33, Letting Go Becomes Easier, But It Still Stings

TRANG AN, NINH BINH—I missed someone. I don’t know who exactly. It can be T whom I shared my first visit here with. It can be D, whom I cut communications for the past weeks. Or it can be anyone, someone I’m connected to. I missed the feeling of having someone beside me, looking at the same view. “Peaceful, isn’t it?” “Yes, we are.” These were actual words written in my diary, a pre-menstrual cycle feeling. It was an honest, raw feeling. I missed that feeling. I missed feeling that feeling. That feeling of nostalgia of looking at something achingly […]
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