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.

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.



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 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

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.


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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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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!

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