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To Travel Is to Write

Backpacking with a Book

Atok, Benguet by AMA

When procrastination becomes a habit, it is high time to put an end to it. My writing assignments, imposed and academic, are piling up. I could not bring myself to put thoughts into words.

This online abode, which I usually update once or twice a week, had a silent August. And, yes, I have not traveled for three months. Perhaps that is the reason.

Why do I travel? I travel to write. Traveling becomes an essential writing process. Although it is always a constant struggle with words, traveling makes the struggle tolerable, less imposing.

Writing is a solitary act. And for now, traveling is.

Why Leyte? Because I’m amateurishly writing about the sense of place in Merlie Alunan’s poem. I met her several times in workshops I attended. When I approached her to have my copy Amina, Among the Angels and Other Poems autographed, she wrote:

Dear Jona,

The future is in your hands.


I always wonder how deep the sincerity is embodied in a writer’s autograph. Writers are sincere, but they can also be sincere with their lies.

No, I do not have the intention of meeting her. Yes, she lives in Tacloban. Yes, it will bring light to my paper if I talk to her. No, I won’t do that because she might ask what I have been writing these days. And there is none. Yes, none.

I will immerse myself to the places she is most familiar with: Leyte.

To a Poet Caught in the Will of the Sea

… tell nothing
in the flush of your fear
speak no word that the sea may hear

trust to it no name call no one
enemy or friend utter not one sigh
to snag on a reef

or curl round the coral keep
furl song in your throat tales of fire
laughter and ice cram in your

brimful eyes confess nothing
in the crest of your fear
lock up your tongue

that when it chill fingers
reach deep to pluck out your heart
make no sound not one prayer

vault your voice
telling the wind nothing nothing
to the very end nothing…

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. Christina says:

    So where exactly in Leyte are you going?

  2. Zen says:

    Must be pretty expensive to travel to write. But I do understand the feeling a person gets through travelling.
    Hmm.. “The future is in your hands” ey? Probably, you’ll be a bank manager! ahehe.. 🙂

    • jonabering says:

      Yes, Zen. I have to work hard to travel. No, I don’t travel lavishly. I eat local and street food with pride and gusto. I can endure an hour walk.

      Haha. That’s easier. But I really suck at numbers. 😀

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