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To Sambawan Island in Images

Sambawan Island, Biliran

Sambawan Island, Biliran

An excessive dose of stupidity and an excessive reliance on kind hearts: that is how I reached Sambawan. I was in Ormoc, Leyte fooling students that they could take the ambiguous “travel writing” (in the Philippine context) as a career.

Sleepless and restless, I answered several wise questions from students. One of them, do I make money from writing—travel writing specifically.

There was that hackneyed anecdote on love.

“Do you make money from love?”


“Writing started like that. You do it as an act of unconditional love. But money comes in later.”

I was half-asleep when I said that. After that short stint, I headed to Naval, Biliran only to realize that boats don’t ferry passengers on Sundays. I met a kind guy at the pension house who happened to be a town official in Maripipi, Biliran. We jeepneyed to Brgy Kawayan and rode with interesting island characters. Yes, the expensive boat ride was on him. Thank you, Sir Noe Bacolod!

For the past two years, I found it tedious to prepare itineraries. I mostly rely on the kindness of strangers. I know more stupidities are waiting for me.  Because, really, beautiful, storied moments are mostly accidents, accidental, not itineraried.

DSC_0039There was something wrong with the van. It seemed like the machine overheated. It was sluggish. The supposed two-hour ride became four.

DSC_0048I took a walk around the market. I wanted to buy some of these litob. They would make a great soup.

DSC_0050“Basin makita akong itlog ana, day, ha” joked the blurred man behind.  Taogi (beansprouts) are really cheap in local markets. An essential ingredients for noodles. But for the Visayans, it is primarily used for lumpia.

DSC_0084Dogs dancing. I found it amusing how these three dogs synchronically scratched their bodies. This is where I supposed to get a ride to Maripipi.

DSC_0094After my walk around the port, it was time for barbecue. There was a middle-aged woman pedicuring a barbecue-han staff. I just talked with them while they kept glancing to the old Westerners with young Filipinas.

DSC_0135On the following day, I found myself in Brgy. Ol-og. I left my backpack at the store across the street. I later learned the owner was the brgy captain. They know Sir Noe, and they called him—like everyone else in Maripipi—SB short for Sangguaniang Bayan (Town Councilor).

DSC_0138It costs P300 to go to Sambawan. This is Kuya Rodel, my guide and boatman.He also works as a steward at Sambawan Island. During his days off, he ferries guests to the island.  DSC_0163They invited me for lunch. Who was I to refuse! Haha! Everything was so fresh: tinuwa, kinilaw, sinugba, pinirito. I exchanged banters and stories with them over food and tuba. DSC_0233“Unyag sunod balik nimo, Jon. Pagdag tsiks. Eleven mi kabuok,” he teased. This is JC, the leader of the stewards. After I explored the marine sanctuary on the other side of the island with Kuya Rodel, JC shared his adventures, yes, over tuba and kinilaw.

DSC_0216 Rodel doesn’t like being photographed. He ended up giving off this creepy grin. He was very reliable. Don’t let this picture disturb you. DSC_0218The eastern bend of Sambawan. I love this island. It was kinda gloomy when I arrived, but I thoroughly enjoyed my short stay despite the weather.

DSC_0173Despite the gloominess, I could still see how clear the sea was.



Clouds are low at Leyte and Biliran. They hover between ranges, cover peaks. Past this popular scene is Mt. Maripipi, a mountain I planned to trek with fellow climbers. Someday.  I planned to come back here. Perhaps, another solitary sojourn. Perhaps with a special someone. Perhaps with a welcome ruckus called friends. Perhaps.

Traveling is a world of perhapses.


Sambawan Island Maripipi Biliran Photos

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. Stella says:

    Nice photos, as always!
    I’m quite jealous that you could banter with strangers so easily. 😀 I’m not so sociable, I’m afraid. Sometimes, I could be downright xenophobic. 😛

  2. […] bantay-butbot according to Papa after I showed him the photos. It also bears the same name at Sambawan Island. Anemone is locally known “butbot.” And clownfish always guards their homes, hence they […]

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