An Interview with Paul Randy Gumanao

Interview by | March 25, 2018

Paul Randy Gumanao has been one of Dagmay’s most prolific contributors since 2009, when he was still a student at Ateneo de Davao University. Paul writes across different genres, from poetry to fiction to social commentary, and is as evocative in Bisaya as in English. He is, however, best known for his poetry, which is rich with concrete and lush imagery. (Read Paul’s past works on Dagmay.)

Paul Randy Gumanao giving a lecture at Taboan literary festival.

D: When I first met you, you were a BS Chem student at Ateneo. What have you been up to since you graduated?

PR: After my graduation in 2012 and after I got my license as a chemist, I had a brief stint as a chemistry instructor in one of the colleges in my hometown. I did not stay long in the institution because I wanted to explore opportunities outside my comfort zone. I landed another job in a third-party quality control laboratory in General Santos, where I was in-charge of the chemistry department. It was also during that time when I decided to pursue graduate studies, so I enrolled in the MS in Chemistry program at Ateneo while being employed at the same time.

D: The quality control lab sounds like a seriously technical job. What did you do there, specifically?

PR: The bulk of my job in the lab was analyzing toxins in products of the different fishing and canning companies in the region. At first, I relished the experience, but I eventually got bored as the procedures became very familiar and plainly mechanical as the days passed. Examining whole tunas weighing as heavy as 50 kilograms was a very taxing job for my 45-kilogram body!

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An Interview with Genevieve Mae Aquino

Interview by | February 25, 2018

This year, we are embarking on a small project to interview some standout contributors to Dagmay and young Mindanao writers of note.  These conversations are meant to be informal, not critical, so we can get to know the writers behind the works and about their writing process. We are kicking off this series with an interview with Genevieve Mae Aquino, who has charmed us with her ekphrastic, cerebral, and exuberant poetry. (Read Genevieve’s past works on Dagmay.)

Genevieve at CCP Ani 39 launch at the CCP last Sept 23, 2016

D:  Thanks for agreeing to this interview.  We’d like to start off with your very unique bio.  At Dagmay, we have contributors from different professions far afield from literature, but yours certainly stands out because of you work in molecular biology.  Can you tell us how you came into your specialization, where you studied, and what degrees you earned?

GM: Science was something that interested me as a child. When I got a scholarship to attend the Philippine Science High School campus in Davao (PSHS-SMC), my career path was pretty much set.  I got my BSc in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from UP Diliman.  My MSc in the same major field (with Genetics as minor) is from UP Los Baños.  I also have a postgraduate diploma in Quantitative Genetics and Genome Analysis from the University of Edinburgh.

I currently work in UPLB as one of the core staff of the Philippine Genome Center – Program for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Forestry.  My field of specialization is bioinformatics, which is basically the use of computers to store, analyze, and visualize genetic information. (Editor’s note, March 2, 2018: after this interview was submitted for publication but before it went to press, Genevieve took on a new position with UPLB. She is now with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension.)

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Should the Stars Return

Fiction by | December 11, 2016

It was the night that the stars returned and the first person to see them was Oskar Abebi. From his vantage point on the pavement, lying with his back flat on the street called Yoruba, he recognized the constellation. “The Hunter…” he whispered to no one in particular. The name escaped his bloodied lips as by compulsion. The giveaway was the line of three stars that made up the Hunter’s belt. From there he could trace the stars that hinted at the legs, then the outstretched arm and the club.

It was a Friday night and the traffic of shoppers and passers-by on Temple Market was starting to pick up. Oskar desperately wished one of them would stop by to help him up so he could share his discovery. But they all avoided him and each other studiously. They walked around him as they zipped past in all directions. One or two even stepped over his legs when they found no other path through.

Oskar wobbled to his feet. All the while his gaze remained up, his jaw slack as more pinpoints of light appeared in the sky. Over there: the Hero. And over there: the Twins. And over there: the Bear. And over there: the Lover. Despite himself, despite his cracked skull, Oskar laughed.

“Do you see? Do you see?” He pointed a crooked finger up at the sky. When no one paid him any heed, he broke taboo and grabbed the nearest passer-by the sleeve of her pleather coat. She yelped, then hissed and glared at him. “Look!” he insisted, jabbing his finger upwards. “Stars!”

The last time he had seen stars he was a boy. How long ago was that? Forty years? Fifty? It was on Ye-Ye’s farm, where they had electric lights only three hours each night and so there was nothing to do but look up at the sky and tell stories. Then came the city, and the stars were drowned in neon, glass, and steel, stabbing at the heavens as if to keep them at bay.

“Stars!” he repeated to the woman. His insistence finally made her look up. A few others, puzzled by the commotion, paused in their steps and did the same.

The stars were growing brighter by the minute. They pierced through the haze of artificial light of the city. More and more constellations became apparent. Oskar laughed giddily. “The Bull!” “The Lion!” “The Maiden!” “Look! Don’t you see?” “There! The Sisters!”

Those who paused followed his finger as he pointed, trying to make out the shapes. Then one of them, a young man wearing a rebreather cowl, broke the spell when he shrugged and walked on, disappeared into the crowd flowing into Yoruba East. The others followed suit, one by one at first, then in staggered groups, until the bustle was as it was before.

The woman wrenched her arm free and called Oskar a rude name as she walked hurriedly away.

“Stars…” the old man said again, but weakly. They were very bright now, so bright, you could almost feel their heat. The soup of humanity that gathered around Temple Market on Friday evening continued to thicken, and now people were jostling each other at the elbows and occasionally stepping on each other’s toes.

“Stars…” the old man said, one last time. Then he too was swallowed by the market.

Dom is a project manager of a small software development team in Davao.

Invitation to Book Launch of 'The Bohol We Love'

Events by | November 29, 2016

Book Launch PosterMarj Evasco, esteemed writer and friend of the Davao Writers Guild, sends this invitation for the launching of the essay anthology, The Bohol We Love:

The 25 Boholano writers included in the anthology and I cordially invite you to the book launch of THE BOHOL WE LOVE. It is the 7th in the “Place and Memory” series of Anvil Publishing, Inc.

In keeping with the spirit of the times, we are trying to keep our carbon footprint low with this electronic invitation.

Please feel free to share it with family, friends and extended relations who may be interested to come to Bohol and join the celebration, and get a copy of the book.

It will be carried by National Bookstore branches in the Visayas, Mindanao and Manila next year. On the Dec. 3 event, the book will be available at a special launching price.

Also please feel free to post the invitation on your social network platforms.

Thank You!


Launch of the book will be at The Governor’s Mansion, Tagbilaran City on Dec. 3, 2016 at 3PM. Book launches for Visayas and Mindanao are slated for 2017.

Invitation to Art of Poetry MOOC Meetup

Events by | April 8, 2016

Ateneo de Davao is hosting the Art of Poetry MOOC Meetup, to be held this Monday, April 11, 2016 at the Miguel Pro Study Center (Ateneo Community Center), from 3:30PM to 5:30PM. We would like to invite poets, whether aspiring or published, to this informal get-together.

You can sign up via the Facebook event page.

A brief background: Art of Poetry is a free six-week online course conducted from Boston University. Course consists of video lectures, online discussions, and reading assignments Ateneo will host three face-to-face meetups to coincide with this event.

You won’t need to have signed up for the course to join the meetup, although we hope the meetup will encourage you to join course.

Announcing the Fellows for the 15th IYAS National Writers Workshop

Events by | March 22, 2015

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City, has selected 15 Fellows for 2015, out of 72 applicants nationwide.

The fellows for fiction (in English) are Deo Charis Mostrales and Arnel Murga; (in Filipino) Heidi Sarno; (in Hiligaynon) Meryl Panuncio; and (in Cebuano) Mechelle Centurias.

Fellows for drama in Filipino are Eljay Deldoc and Bernalyn Sastrillo.

The fellows for poetry (in English) are Catherine Regina Borlaza, Elijah Maria Pascual and Maria Camille Rivera; (in Filipino) Juleini Vivien Nicdao and Aldrin Pentero; (in Cebuano) Adonis Enricuso and Dave Pregoner; and (in Hiligaynon) Patrick Jay Pangilinan.

The IYAS Workshop Director is Dr. Marjorie Evasco and the panelists for this year are Ms. Grace Monte de Ramos-Arcellana, Mr. Glenn Mas, Mr. Danilo M. Reyes, Dr. Dinah Roma-Sianturi and Mr. John Iremil Teodoro. IYAS Founder and Project Director Dr. Elsie Coscolluela also sits in the panel.

This year, the visiting writer who will be in the panel is Tim Tomlinson of the Asian American Writers Workshop of New York City.

The IYAS National Writers’ Workshop is co-sponsored by the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center of De La Salle University and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and will be held on April 26 – May 2, 2015 at the Balay Kalinungan Complex of the University of St. La Salle, Bacolod City.