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An Entry of Happiness

The fledgling ventured beyond its one-meter realm. With its still fluffy feathers, it returned to its nest once in a while. Its chirps accompanied my veranda mornings in Tuburan, my seemingly sleepy yet happy hometown in midwest Cebu.

Nestlings confront life as soon as their wings can take it. They never hesitate. They fly.

In the past three weeks, I measured my life with chirps, waters, early mornings, greens, bites and devours, coffee, and mouthing Iloveyous in the crowd or in a room. I lost count.

I’m happy. Life has never been this beautiful. And it’s scary.


Words—they pain us, they poisons us. And, yes, they heal us. I’ve been attempting to write poetry for years now. Upon reviewing my old works, they made me cringe. I stopped.

“It will get back. It’s a period. Poetry arrives when something cannot be resolved. When we can’t move on, poetry saves us.” It’s a diary entry dated January 9th, which I assumed Larry said to console me. No, he didn’t. I consoled myself. But what he said was, “Poetry is stasis. It sits. It doesn’t go anywhere. Essay walks.”

“I think nonfiction is ex-stasis: the beauty of movement, of fleetingness.”

“Are you happy writing it?


“Then, go on. Poetry arrives when you need it.”

In the past three years, I shifted to travel essays. Although I’m not entirely satisfied with my works, they’re promising, at the least. I never am. The closest is the feeling of retirement for the three short poems I wrote in the past two years.

Seeing my words printed stirs hope, almost a longing, to write better, to write sincerely, to write honestly.

I’ve been reading Pico Iyer’s Falling Off The Map: Some Lonely Places of the World, Rebecca Solnitt’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and endless travel blogs—some bloggish, some real travel writing. But I couldn’t afford to finish the books. I read fiction again.

Finishing Siri Hustvedt’s The Sorrows of an American felt like an accomplishment. And I could’t help but question her characters. The characters of The Blindfold, What I Loved, The Sorrows of an American share similar characterization: the sorrows and concerns of
intellectuals. Most passages and characters can be cerebral, challenging the intellect of the reader. But her words indeed wound and heal me.

“Language is often flimsy, I thought, a thin drool of received knowledge empty of any real meaning, but when we are heavy with emotions it can be excruciating to speak. We don’t want to let the words out, because then they will also belong to other people, and that is a danger we can’t risk,” Erik, the depressed psychoanalyst, mused.

Happiness can be subtle, found between words, between pages.


BWAB’s family is extending. My online abode, solely intended for personal musings and writing attempts, evolved into something bigger.

Is it possible to accommodate my pursuit of real travel writing while still earning a living? It happily seems so. In its first year, BWAB opened many opportunities for me to write, photograph, and earn.

I look for and listen to stories; and I photograph to fill my ineloquence. Images become the better half of Words.

But, BWAB is not originally designed to house an uncontrollable number of images; thus, the birth of Of Stories and Storied Places—the new home of photo essays, travel opportunities, bites and devours, and search of a good book.


I was in the bathroom. Seeing how our toiletries lined up like little soldiers was a confirmation: a confirmation that P was here once again, a confirmation that we momentarily defeated distance again.

Stories of here and there, of distance and its metaphors are recurring here on BWAB. Distance, in my life, is love and hate. I travel to question the immeasurability of distance. I travel to cross a part of the infinite distance. I travel  to confirm that distance can be crossed.

Stories of packing and unpacking our things in one bag, holding hands and whispering or mouthing Iloveyous, stealing glances, and exploring places and ourselves filled my three weeks, our three weeks.

Terra Manna Camping & Resort

I vowed once to bring P to Terra Manna, a place which I habitually visit. And he fell in love with its serenity, waves, birds, trees, flowers, gardens, and its smiling people. I told him where he could find the bird nests and narrated the names of the birds. He painfully tried to reiterate them with his American tongue, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

At Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort, we discovered the rawness of the place, the meditative thrill of panginhas (crab/shell hunting), the gleefulness of siloys and other birds, the persistence of floras and faunas.

Last night, while waiting for our taxi to the airport, he said he missed Inu. He is the cute primate at Nature Park, who disarmingly allowed us to pet him. His palms are cold, and his nails are more beautiful than mine.

Traveling made us discover ourselves further: what I love doing alone, what he loves doing alone, and what we love doing together.

P has left Cebu once more. And perhaps the recent three weeks and endless Skyping can cover the distance that will last for five months. We’ve been doing this for two years. It should be easy. Perhaps not.

We have our bouts of here and there, preoccupations and worries about distance, but perhaps our heres and theres can momentarily subside the sadness of distance, of geography.

And perhaps, just like the nestling, love will make me, will make him, will make us venture beyond our boundaries.

Bantayan Island Nature Park and Resort’s Bar and Restaurant


Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at Find me somewhere else!

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  1. Great post and I admire how it was uniquely written. Good luck in breaching your boundaries.

  2. ian says:

    I got a nosebleed after I read your blogpost…hahahaha…lol…it’s so nice, are you a feature writer?

  3. markpogi says:

    It was like reading a travel magazine. The photographs complement the way you write. ^_^

  4. wow!! very remarkable writing all of this!! very inspiring! you should be a good writer. you wrote all the words great fully! xx

  5. rachelle says:

    very great post! i hope i can also write that well. Photos are breathtaking!

  6. hana banana says:

    I felt a bit sad upon seeing the sunset on that photo.. I don’t know why…

    but all these pictures are really great and your way of writing is interesting 🙂

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