Backpacking with a Book
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Of Reading Fiction and Damaged Camera: Sad, Promising, Consoling Stories

Daku Island, Siargao Group of Islands, Surigao del Norte, Philippines 

One of my camera’s last winks . . .

A Sad Story

“I have to admit, when you found out your camera was broken, you just laughed about it. I guess, others would cry,” Brian declared, whom I met during my Siargao trip.

“I had a camera, not because I wanted one. I needed one.”  I was tempted to say that photography, in some ways, covered my writing frustrations.

Others would cry.  I know, not because they are materialistic, Brian. The camera becomes an integral part of one’s being.  I didn’t cry, but I was, am consumed by guilt. I brought it to places I shouldn’t have: rivers, mountains, islands.

The other day Canon Service Center called and informed me it would cost P22, 000 ($500) to have it fixed. Perhaps for others, it is just a molehill, but it is a mountain for me already. “Just get a new one,” others advised. No. That camera is so dear. BWAB’s backbone is Pawlita (my camera) and words, words, words.

And, yes, you might want to help me raise fund for my camera. Hope is free, I might as well use it. Any amount is greatly appreciated.


A Promising Story

Alegria Beach, Sta. Monica, Siargao Island 

I’m reading fiction again. I have been half-through-ing travel essays  for almost a year now. I aptly started the list with Siri Hustvedt’s The Sorrows of an American. Only a few writers have the gift to rouse the brain and squash the heart. I discovered her through David Foster Wallace’s blurb on her The Blindfold. “DFW blurbed for her, she must be good,” I thought. Not good, great.

Her characters and Paul Auster’s have many similarities—they come from the same circle of intellectuals, poets, writers, academicians, artists. I can’t grasp yet why it is titled such: sorrows, American. Perhaps because there is no authenticity in the word American. “She dramatizes and contemplates the legacy of sorrows born of the struggles of immigrants, and the psychic wounds of war, betrayal, and unrequited love,”  critiqued Donna Seaman.

“To be a Fil-Am is not something to be proud of,” said David, Brian’s older brother by eleven months. And he said it with his face twisted a bit—the kind of face I make when I masticate the bitterness of paliya.


Consoling Quotes 

Guyam Island at Dusk | Using Brian’s Lumix Camera

That is the strangeness of language: it crosses the boundaries of the body, is at once inside and outside, and it sometimes happens that we don’t notice the threshold has been crossed.

I know that what I choose to call reserve or deference may be a form of fear—an unwillingness to listen to what comes next.

I heard Miranda sigh. In that sound was a world.

Taking a walk, even at night, even if you’re upset, is such an innocent thing, and yet it was so secretive, so thick with feeling that it became terrible.

Western philosophy and culture have had an ocular bias: vision is our dominant sense. We read each other through our eyes, and anatomically they are an extension of our brains. When we catch someone’s eye, we look into a mind. A person without eyes is disturbing for the simple reason that eyes are the doors to the self.

Erik . . .  you mean well, but I’ve got a self-destructive bent , in case you hadn’t noticed, which I very much doubt, since you do this for a living, but people like me [writer] don’t go in for salvation. Crippled and crazy, we hobble toward the finish line, pen in hand.

Time is a property of language, syntax, and tense. . . . We’ve fetishized the true story, the tell-all confession, reality TV, real people in their real lives, celebrity marriages, divorces, addictions, humiliation as entertainment—our version of the public hanging.

History is made by amnesia.

Trauma isn’t part of a story; it is outside story. It is what we refuse to make part of our story.

Memory offers up its gifts only when jogged by something in the present. It isn’t a storehouse of fixed images and words, but a dynamic associative network in the brain that is never quiet and is subject to revision each time we retrieve an old picture or old words.

There is NO clear border between remembering and imagining.

Doubt is an uncomfortable feeling that can quickly become suspicion, and under the intimate circumstances of psychotherapy, it may be nothing short of dangerous.

I believe meaning is what the mind makes and wants.

from The Sorrows of an American

 ***Brian and David’s story soon here at BWAB.


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. I think I would have cried if my camera broke. And mine is not even that professional! LOL

  2. wandershugah says:

    I bid goodbye to my dearest camera during sendong and it took me three freaking months to replace it with a point and shoot one :S Its the hardest.. I lost everything at once. but surely, theres always a rainbow after the rain 🙂

  3. […] Backpacking with a Book "A backpack full of everywhere else that I've been." Skip to content HomeLINKSPUBLISHED WORKSREAD A BOOKSUPPORTTOWNHOPPING PROJECTTRAVELCONTACT ME ← Of Reading Fiction and Damaged Camera: Sad, Promising, Consoling Stories […]

  4. Ellen says:

    I`m so sorry about your camera … I know the feeling … I`ve come back from a trip. It was so hot that sleeping in a room with A/C was a must. But the difference in temperature between my room and the outside was so much for my camera, the condensation damaged the circuits. And now I have to pay a fair ammount of money to have it fixed … so I understand what you say perfectly well.

  5. […] Hope is free, I might as well use it. Any amount is greatly appreciated. What happened? Read here. Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  6. david carroll says:

    Hi Jona!
    Wow, incredibe phtos & writing! Nice shot of Brian squatting. Maybe he’s searching for the meaning of life in the sand. Or he sees the beach as the sands of a broken hourglass he can’t reverse. Or he’s tired from all the fun and laughs we had! I’ll donate or find you a replacement when I get home. Just don’t show embarrassing pictures of me! Just kidding! 😉

    • Haha! Nah, he was talking to his hermit crab friends. Or perhaps he felt out of place since someone snatched his camera away. You better make it sooner, or else I’ll spread your embarrassing pictures! Haha! Just kidding! 😉

      Enjoy and take care, David!

      • david carroll says:

        Well, I’m literally running on financial fumes till my money clears. But I’m sure your dear Pawlita will be revived soon enough. Hopefully, you’ll find a point n shoot (or hdslr) can freeze time just as artistically…without the bulk & weight! I promise to donate as soon as possble. And don’t worry about making me look bad. I do that just fine on my own! You can read about that in my future blog (nomadwithagiantbackpack#547?). Well, off to find fun & fodder for said blog .Take care and remember: sometimes a curse can be a blessing in disguise! 🙂

  7. Are you still in Siargao or in Vietnam now? Tighten your belt while traveling! Haha!

    I was looking for cheap point-and-shoot earlier today. I might resort to it for now. I’m really looking forward to nomadwithagiantbackpack#547!!! Haha! Take care! Go, have fun!

    • david carroll says:

      I’m in Makati, Manila…trying to have fun with low funds! Shoppers paradise is hell for those with thin wallets! I leave for Vietnam on Sunday and will back in the US on 25th. I’ll contact you about cameras then. Surprisingly, cameras are a lot cheaper at home. Maybe you can be a famous author/camera dealer!?Maybe if you can’t capture the image you want with a point & shoot, you can get it in Photoshop. You can even do fake boka! But the new, lighter interchangeable lens cams can get the real deal. I know, camera geek speak!
      Well, all the drunks around me must think I’m a dork while I happily read while they become fodder for my stealthy point & shoot! Last laugh is on them! HA!

  8. rommel says:

    Hihi. Just exactly my entry for Virgin Island in Bohol. I forgot my charger in the US and had to economize the use of my camera.

    Your blog is so amazing with all these beautiful pictures. I will feature your blog sooner or later.

  9. […] Posted on May 20, 2012 by Jona Bering | Backpacking with a Book A wedding. Although Pawlita, my camera, is now in Japan, where resurrection is a possibility, I can’t let the eventful May […]

  10. Love 2 Type says:

    i would cry if my camera is broken because I couldn’t afford to have it fix or replace it right away… nice picture of the dusk. question po, how were you able to put up paypal button?? i tried it a hundred times.. it doesn’t show up. 🙁

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