Storytellers Eight – interview with Francess Raymundo (16 July 2008)

Introduction

Sometime ago, Francess wrote to me and I was very intrigued by her work. I asked whether she’d like to be interviewed and she agreed. It has taken some time but better late than never. Therefore, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, Francess Raymundo …


Aneeta: Francess, let’s start this interview with a little about you. Please tell me where did you grow up, what was it like, where do you live now and what do you do for a living?

Francess: I was born and raised here in Manila. I didn’t actually have a very happy childhood but I spent nursery to Senior high in a great convent school managed by French nuns [ St Paul of Chartres nuns] which is a part of my personal history that has been of great help where emotional maturity is concerned. I still live in Manila but I do plan to migrate and start a new life abroad. I’m almost thirty. I am a teacher. I teach English for tertiary level. I also teach primary and advanced level piano and violin for Yamaha, Inc. . I’m a writer and I own a small publishing company. BSugarBooks Brown Sugar Publishing Philippines,Ltd. Formerly known as Solaenum Publishing Manila.

Aneeta: I understand you’re teaching English at a college. Would you like to expand on this, please?

Francess: I teach English for tertiary level here, always by invitation. I don’t apply for teaching positions. I always get invited to be part of the academic institutions in my CV, so far. Being a teacher, runs in my family. Both sides [ Mama and Papa] mostly teachers, doctors, bankers and lawyers. Being a teacher equates to financial security. An individual, who is a teacher, will always have a job and money to put food on ones table. Both of my post-grad [ Master’s] degrees fall under the English language~ as a category which falls under the realm of the Arts and the Humanities [ academic discourse ] and my chosen field where mastery of teaching is concerned. English was my first language, not Filipino~ the working language in the Philippines.

Aneeta: What made you go into writing in the first place?

Francess: My grandfather[ my Ma’s father] exposed me to Literature at a very young age. My grandparents [ Mother side] loved literature. It started with a poem by Longfellow which my grandpapa asked me to memorize and ” Lady Claire” which my grandmama asked me to memorize. For family gatherings.

My grandpapa’s elder sister was a librarian and we had all these books at home while I was growing up. I read these books and [ again ] the nuns were the ones who trained me and directed me towards the aim of becoming a good writer. I was part of the official school organ and literary journals for all of my universities (actual College days and post-grad days) and schools ( Grade school, high school, and preppie College days) I write in English, mostly. Writing keeps me “sane”, tranquil/calm and centered, actually.

Aneeta: You’ve told me that you’re a poet; what inspires your poetry?

Francess: When I was in my teens and early 20s, I wrote free verse inspired by philosophical tenets and religion. Love, of course. At present, I try to write poems for performance and poetry reading. De Saussure’s performance theory. I sort of bungled up my first poetry reading/ performance ‘stint’ at Singapore’s Wordfeast 2004 which is why I’m toiling to improve my poetry for the odd chance of another chance to read my poetry for an audience.

Aneeta: Would you care to share a poem of yours here?


Francess:CCS Memo
[for E.K.]
by Francess Raymundo (c) 2008

Yes.
It all started in a child’s game
of Chinese garter.
TenTwentyThirty
405060
SeventyEightyNinety
One Hundred.
There.
There’s the question.
How to be the perfect Asian wife.
Let him be Tarzan
you, Jane.
Belong to him.
Be faithful.
Be obedient.
Cook, clean and sew
with grace and dignity.
Be the mother of his children.
Do as you are told.
Do not forget where he
pierced you.
5 strings. 5 knots. 5 in place.
Proper,
and more.
For what you had thought.
one thin but very long
thread of yarn.
There.
There’s your hundred.
“Husband, I am barren.”
There.
There’s the normal response.
His fists will take away
that perfect score.
How many of these approaches
can the perfect Asian wife meet?
As much as she can
until she remembers.
“I can’t cut the strings
but I can pull them.

From where he pierced me as his A”.

Asian and
A perfect hundred.
There.
There’s that husband.
Today is truly over day.
Today is enough! day.
She’s still sewing.
Sewing, sewing, sewing
thin threads
grade A needles.
” My body though barren
is still the most important
house to keep
as
perfect.”
Estimation of estate;
Value,
pegged always
at one real
One Hundred.

Aneeta: You’re also into Music – what kind?

Francess: I’m a trained classical pianist and violinist. I recently finished an AB degree in Musical composition and arrangement. I like all kinds of music, except for Rap, Electronic fushion [ noise pollution, what with the usage of really wierd and disturbing sounds, such as chainsaws and car engines etc.] and hard-core heavy metal. I’m a good performer when it comes to my instruments but I’m very shy. My public performances are actually not that ” public” because they are always by invitation only. I’m not the type who desires and craves for applause and standing ovations. Performing is how I pray. I’m a Roman Catholic, by the way.

Aneeta: You say you have a signature style of writing – what is it?

Francess: Clean and tidy ( I look up to Malachi Whitaker, a little known British lady writer and a Filipina writer, Freda Jayme.) I also use a lot of local color when I write, which is not to say that I am writing off my ethnicity. I aspire to continue tradition, Filipino Tradition. The Philippines is a very beautiful country which is increasingly forgetting its roots and becoming very Westernized. I think I’m a bit of an idealist. A return to the old. Because the old can be new. Like writing about farmers, fishermen, boatmen, and days before the Internet, Nokia, and satellite cable television.

Aneeta: As you know, this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give them?

Francess: You can’t write, if you don’t read. So writers must read a whole lot, learning from the masters. Travel always helps because travel broadens your horizon. And only write about the things you know or have experienced. Even Lord of the Rings can be read in the light of how Tolkien was merely fictionalizing the events of WWI and WWII.

Get published, even if means that you have to publish your own. Our F. Sionil Jose has been the one who inspired me to publish my own and to become a publisher in order to help other writers get published and for these budding writers to achieve actualization when it comes to the their dreams.

Aneeta: Francess, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?

Francess: Yes. I finally came out with that long wished for collection of short stories. I will send you a copy. 1 for you and 1 for your site’s contest. Apologies that I can’t be so “generous” because it did take me 7 years to finish the collection. The book’s title is ” Eight Stories”

Aneeta: Francess, thank you.

Francess: You’re very welcome, Aneeta. And thank you so much for this lovely exchange and opportunity. God bless you.


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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