Today’s featured Alternative Alamat contributor–part of our run up to the book’s release on December 14–is Mo Francisco. Mo climbs and writes as much as she can. Her stories have come out in the Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Speculative Fiction IV and other publications. Her story “Jimmie” won 2nd place in the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards in 2009. She has climbed with both the Loyola and the UP Mountaineers. They have taught her that going days without a shower, sleeping on rocks and suffering limatik bites are worth the trouble when you stand on top of the world with a blanket of clouds below you, music blasting from an iPod and good friends beside you, their glasses raised. She has yet to encounter Maria on her climbs.
Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?
Conquering Makiling is a coming-of-age story of a city boy. He meets a girl whom he fancies (um, fantasized about) and lets her take him on an adventure in the wilderness of the mythical Mt. Makiling.
You’ve mentioned that you’re a mountain climber. Putting the element of “setting” aside for the moment, has this experience of nature fed into any other aspect of your writing? If so, how so?
Climbing has changed me as a person, so in that sense, I can’t help but be affected (or have my writing become affected) by my love for nature, the great outdoors and the thirst for (physical/emotional) challenges in general.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?
Writing itself is always the fun part! It’s the editing part that’s not so, um, fun.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?
The sex scene (Oops. Spoiler ba?).
I keep imagining what my parents will say. Hi Mom!
How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?
Generally, through grade school and high school classes.
But I first felt their mystique on my trips to the mountains. There is a superstition that you adhere to – yes, even if you are not at all superstitious- especially when climbing mountains like Mt. Banahaw and (what some call the “devil’s mountain”) Mt. Cristobal.
Somehow these myths come alive, creep into the ‘possible’ when you are out in nature. It’s a whole different world where you are not in your element of TV, Internet, iPods. There’s something uncontrollable, wild and beautiful about nature. Something dangerous about it. That feeling of not being in control, of danger, is exciting, sexy.
Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?
Bernardo Carpio. Or Malakas at Maganda.
Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?
Maria Makiling. I think I would like to get to know her even more.
She seems like an interesting woman. Like, if she walked along Ayala Avenue, what kind of woman would she be in modern times?
She is so different from the Maria Clara of Spanish era. I feel she is the Lilith of our mythology.