About Jona


 Ha Noi, Viet Nam

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.

At 32, all self-descriptive adjectives are now preceded with unapologetically.

Unapologetically feminist. Unapologetically loud. Unapologetically independent. Unapologetically bitchy. Unapologetically domesticated. Unapologetically laugh-loving. Unapologetically growing.

At 32, without kids, single, and never been married, it is scary yet comforting to understand that I can take on this world without a man by my side, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have men.

But after nonstop traveling that brought me to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan, Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, I now call Ha Noi my Point A. I now grow some plants in my tiny balcony, hang out in cafes after cafes, try to learn the language, and stuff myself with all the Vietnamese goodness.

I juggle many personas: I maintain a travel column on TV5’s Interaksyon.com, write for Rappler’s and Sun.Star Cebu’s travel section, and manage clients’ social media accounts, content-write for some clients, and pretty recently, I tried my luck in creative consultancy.

My poetry collection, Alang sa Nasaag (For the Lost), swings between the beauty of the domestic life and the lure of the vagabond. I won the Palanca (first prize in short story in Cebuano; it is the biggest literary contest in the Philippines) and Sinulog writing contest (first prize both in personal essay and poetry). Both happened in 2013.

I got five cats named Carbon, Fuente, Hipodromo, Angkla, and Laag. They now live with my parents’ except Carbon, who got adopted by my neighbors.  I love local markets and inun-unan.

Despite constantly traveling, I never master the art of not getting lost.

You can read some of my published articles here. I’m quite active on social media, so find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I feel too old for Snapshot. Tsk. 😛

Jona of backpackingwithabook.com



Australia  [ 1 month campervanning East Coast]
Papua New Guinea [ 2 weeks covering Port Moresby and the Highlands: Goroka, Lae, Mt. Wilhelm, Mt. Hagen]


East Asia

Japan [ 7 days in Onomichi]
Taiwan [1 month]

South Asia

India [26 Days covering Old and New Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Darjeeling, Calcutta, and Kerala]
Nepal [1 month ]
Sri Lanka [7 days covering Colombo]

Southeast Asia

Cambodia [2 weeks covering Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap]
Indonesia [1 month covering Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Mr. Bromo, Bali, and Lombok]
Laos [5 Days covering Luang Prabang and Phonsavan]
Malaysia [Visited several times: Kuala Lumpur, Taiping, Cameron Highlands, Penang Island, Mersing, Tioman Island]
Myanmar [1 month covering Yangon, Mandalay Old Bagan, and Inle Lake]
Philippines [More than a decade of exhaustively traveling around my homecountry]
Thailand [9 days covering Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai]
Vietnam [Living here]



I’m a Southeast Asian Traveler, Neither Rich Nor a Begpacker
A Developing Country Citizen’s Perspective: What’s Wrong with Leave Everything Behind 
I Travel, I Eat, I Got Diarrhea
Wanna Make Your Blog Popular? Travel the Philippines and Praise or Bitch it
What Stops Us Filipinos from Traveling?
Yes, Not Everyone Can Quit Their Jobs to Travel the World
I’m Sorry for Being a Spoiled Traveler
Why You Should Stop Calling Us Exotic
Why Working Some More Instead of Traveling to Europe Felt Great
Why I Felt Embarrassed Being Called a Travel Blogger


A Traveler’s Honest Talk on Money
I Saved Up USD3700 for Two Years
Can You Really Save Up from Cooking for Yourself?
A Money Guide for Develping Country Citizens: Why You Must Have a Separate Travel Fund Account


Dear Isa, It Is All Right Not to Travel 
Dear Passport, We Will Go Far and Wide
Dear Kai, It Is All Right to Be a Tourist



First Prize 2013, Palanca Awards (Cebuano Short Story Category)
First Prize 2013, Sinulog Writing Contest (Poetry and Personal Essay Category)
Fellow, 54th Silliman National Writers Workshop
Fellow, 17th Iligan National Writers Workshop
Winner, J Y Balacuit Literary Award 2010


Taipei, Taiwan | The Rise of Social Media Marketing
TEDxUSanCarlosWomen | How Traveling Shapes Me as a Woman and as a Writer
Rare Philippines | How to Use Social Media to Foster Your Cause
Cebu Provincial Tourism Board | Social Media Climbing: Promoting Town Destinations

I accept copyediting, content writing, creative writing, photography, and speakerships jobs. Email me at backpackingwithabook[@]gmail[dot]com. I also run different writing courses online. Learn more about these courses here.


Just some parts of the country really



Here at BACKPACKING WITH A BOOKstorytelling is our core. We value authenticity, honesty, and sincerity. We uphold excellent narratives, helpful travel guides, and awesome photo essays. We find balance between traditional and digital media: we tap both markets.

We discuss matters that are directly  linked (or not) to traveling. We openly talk about money, race, and relationships. We are modern hippies who believe in financial freedom. We believe in the power of good books. We believe in the beauty of words.

We read. We travel. We think. We create.

For collaborations, commissioned jobs, and inquiries, email me at backpackingwithabook[at]gmail[dot]com.

Backpacking with a Book is a community of travelers and storytellers who aims to humanize the beauty of traveling. If you have a travel story to tell, please email us at backpackingwithabook[at]gmail.com. It is a platform of discussion on places, cuisines, cultures, and anything that may or may not directly link to traveling .

For collaborations, commissioned jobs, and inquiries, email us at backpackingwithabook[at]gmail[dot]com.

Backpacking with a Book  is a personal and honest effort. We  accept advertisement here as well, given they are related to the following niches: travel, fashion, gear, and tourism. It is one of the numerous objectives to write with sincerity. What you can see here is not a mere chronology of something, of somewhere; rather, it encompasses our sincere account of the products and places.

You can support our upcoming travels by sponsoring Backpacking with a Book. Or follow our  blog. Or share our blog to others. Or you can hire us as a photographer or writer. Yes, we accept in-kind donation. Help BWAB weave more narratives, encounter more interesting characters, and frame more places and memories.


IG backpackingwithabook

twitter travelingjona
FB backpackingwithabook


BWAB offers high-quality and sincerely written content has a minimum share of 1000. We do not solely bank on one or two viral articles. What you can read is well thought out. Work with us. Kindly send your proposal on backpackingwithabook[at]gmail[dot]com for further information.


BWAB accepts guest posts on anything related to travel. We prefer well-thought-out narratives or nuanced opinions on the politics of travel, or how race and travel connect. Or taboo projects like a traveler’s honest discussion on money.


By Travelers for Travelers

With the labeling of what constitutes a traveler, I think it is high time to put an end to this nonsensical discrimination: a tourist is less of a traveler than a backpacker.

If you are looking for a community of travelers, please join us on By Travelers for Travelers, an online travel community that welcomes all types of travelers: if you are a backpacker, you are welcome; if you are flashpacker, you are too welcome. We are all humans united by our passion to travel.

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If you love to receive exclusive travel stories, personally tested travel hacks and tips, and travel photo stories that I don’t normally share here on BWAB, subscribe to BWAB’s monthly newsletter. I will also share interesting personal thoughts on my trips.

Let’s wander. Let’s love. Let’s laugh. Let’s live. Let’s cry. Let’s be human. Let’s be humane. Let’s understand. Let’s try. Let’s risk.

Rock on! Tagay!


  1. Keep writing, enjoy sharing, and travel more! God bless Jona! Be safe on your journeys =)

  2. nortehanon says:

    Hi Jona, great blog you have here. I’m learning a lot about the places you have been to. The tabs under Alternative Guide to Cebu are much helpful. I’d love to visit Bantayan someday.

    Hope you can also visit my place, Northern Samar. I particularly recommend the different rock formations in the town of Biri.

    Keep safe and God bless!

    • jonabering says:

      Hi there, Nortehanon. I do hope you can find valuable information here. I tend to veer from travel blog usuals. Mine is drafts of future travel essays.

      Samar and Leyte are in my itineraries this August or September. Thank you! Yes, Biri Island is in my list. 🙂 Happy Itchy-Feeting!

  3. Ahh my ex was from Tuburan loved that place and spent about 10 days exploring that area so beautiful and some rare untouched land near there that have the true old world sense to it. But funny for you to say you are still hearing new dialects each place you travel in the islands. For i was a foreigner to all of it and i could place each accent to its home place area it drove my ex-wife nuts how i could tell But each one sounded so different to me. Just like a different bird singing no two alike

    • jonabering says:

      Haha. Yes, Tuburan is a sleepy town that prefers dama/taksi to Internet.

      Concerning languages, it is easy to pin the language to its place, but it does not make it comprehensible. 🙂 Thank you for dropping by here.

  4. Tamao Serizawa says:

    i want to travel with you ^_^

  5. After reading your posts about traveling and the very descriptive nature of your posts (with great non bias)I i should pass this on to the local editor of the news paper here for they always looking for one to write good columns and do research on local stories here. Up to u if u want something like this as a career ( ◕‿◕。)

  6. rommel says:

    A published travel blogger, why am I not suprised. Your pictures are for the walls. Your experiences are to die for. I’m glad for yet another amazing travel blog broadcasting all the beauty of Philippines.

  7. abu zar says:

    Jona, I just want to tell you that I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. I think you have a great blog.
    has more details including the list of nominations.

  8. Zahar says:

    I would like to hear more from you. Keep on sharing!

    Do visit my blog aite!

  9. mylyn says:

    hi Ms. Jo,
    I do hope you still remember me I’m one of the 3 big and beautiful ladies plus aka Derick Ramsey? once you’ve meet in La Britania in Surigao del Sur. I was wondering if you can give us copy of the blog and pic of that rainy day under the cave….eating those sea creatures that we haven’t known the taste of it.

    Thanks and it was great sharing with you that experience…


  10. andrew says:

    Hi Have you been to Kalanggaman Island???

  11. Andrew says:

    Yes, we will visit the Island this coming December. 🙂

  12. April a.k.a July says:

    Hi, Ate/ Miss Jona! This is such a great blog. I am a frustrated writer. heheheh. I love to write but I think I couldn’t write something as beautiful as this. But, I am trying to write. At least, I am trying. haha! Your blog is full of heart. It really shows how you love doing it and how much you love life! Keep going! I’m a fan. ~~~ call me July.

  13. Jeanette Layugan says:

    Hi Jona, i’m Jeanette from up north. This is the first time that i read your blog and it’s one of those flooding my news feed. I was at first adamant in opening it kasi sobrang dami ng travel blogs at nakakahilo. But yours was written well , very insightful and honest. I’m looking forward to reading your poems and essays. Enjoy your travels!

  14. Chris says:

    Hello Jona,

    My name is Chris Flatcher. I represent some academic writing websites and currently I’m looking for quality and related websites for advertising. Your website appears to meet my requirements, thus I’m writing to inquire if you are interested in text link advertising or sponsored article publication at your site. I believe my website would perfectly suit your website’s content and we would greatly supplement each other’s needs.

    If interested, please email me back. Hoping for a positive reply from you soon.

    Thanks for your time and attention.

    Best regards, Chris Flatcher

  15. Elrey Navarro says:

    Maraming salamat sa yo Ms Jona!! Your positivity, your love life with life and amazing sojourns you’ve share with us are truly inspiring! Cheers!! Live well.

    “If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us.” ~Daisaku Ikeda

  16. Hennie says:

    Hi! stumbled on your site and loving it. i like your writings!taga cebu sad diay ka! kay cebu sad ko! hehehe

  17. […] two years to find my niche. I owed this to one of the Philippines most decorated travel bloggers, Ms. Jona Branzuela Bering of Backpacking with a Book“, for believing in me. In April 2012, she recommended me to become […]

  18. Anabel says:

    Thanks for visiting The Glasgow Gallivanter!

  19. jill rhea says:

    Hi miss Jona. We really need your help for our research in 21st Century Cebuano Writers. We will only interview and ifeature ang imong works sa among research. Hope you’ll reply soon miss, i already tweeted you and emailed you. Thanks miss Jona, take care!

  20. […] a blogger friend, said that Bacpacking with a Book, my blog, pursues the unfamiliar. Does it? I asked myself. Is my pursuit of the so-called […]

  21. Therese Tinio says:

    Hi Miss Jona, I love your blog. What camera do you use? or perhaps, what do you think is a good camera for aspiring travel bloggers?

    • Hi there, Therese. Hmm. Have you ever heard of the common quote among photographers, “it is not about the bow and arrow, it is about the archer”? For a start, it is important to have a creative eye, if not then develop that eye. I started with a point-and-shoot Samsung, moved to Canon 1100D, then Nikon 3100 and Nikon P310. And now I’m using Lumix GX7 and Canon M10. Consider your budget first and choose a camera that has manual settings so you can practice shooting in manual. Most recent photos are from Lumix, Canon M10, and Nikon P310.

      And find your photography gods. Travel blogging should be the start, not the ultimate goal. 🙂

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