Alternative Alamat Interview: Mo Francisco

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 12 - 2011

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.

Francisco, Mo

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 11 - 2011

By day (and OT nights), Mo Francisco is a copywriter at Adspin Advertising.

In her spare time, she writes fiction and dreams of retiring in a log cabin somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a homestay in Ayutthaya, a hostel in Dumaguete or a room by the Baler surf and write her heart out.

She loves to travel backpacker style, climb mountains, run, bike, surf and will generally try anything once.

She is always very perky and friendly, but that could just be the caffeine.

RRT: Favorite First Lines in Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 9 - 2010


One year ago, 9/9/09, Rocket Kapre officially launched. In celebration of our first year anniversary, here’s a new installment of one of our most popular features: the Rocket Round Table. For this batch, the question – to coincide with the anniversary – is: “What is your favorite first line in speculative fiction?” Prose and graphic novels/comics were fair game (movies and television were not), as were local and foreign works – I only asked that the respondents include any first lines from Filipino-made spec fic that stood out for them. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Thanks to all those who took time to participate in the round table, and for all those who have supported Rocket Kapre in its first year. Here’s to many more to come!

[Warning: Some language may not be safe for work, or children, or adults who like to pretend they're as innocent as children.]

ELBERT OR Comic book creator, university lecturer, graphic designer, freelance writer, entrepreneur (he’s part of Brain Food, which gives speech and writing workshops) Elbert is a jack of all trades and master of… well, lots. He currently runs Global Art and the Komiksabado Comics Workshop.

Happy first year, RK! How time flies!
I owe much of my interest in current Philippine SF to Dean Alfar’s “Kite of Stars,” and its first line/ paragraph which grabbed firm hold of me and has still not let me go:

The night when she thought she would finally be a star, Maria Isabella du’l Cielo struggled to calm the trembling of her hands, reached over to cut the tether that tied her to the ground, and thought of that morning many years before when she’d first caught a glimpse of Lorenzo du Vicenzio ei Salvadore: tall, thick-browed and handsome, his eyes closed, oblivious to the cacophony of the accident waiting to occur around him.

I wish I could say though that memory allowed me to remember each word, but I admit only to committing the first eleven words. But the blame lies solely on me and my poor memory.

Here’s to the next ten years for Rocket Kapre!

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CATHERINE BATAC WALDERCatherine is based in England and works as a research group administrator at the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. From 2005 to 2007, she moved across Norway, Finland and Portugal for a European MPhil. scholarship. Her fiction appears in Big Pulp, Demons of the New Year, Philippines Graphic, Ruin and Resolve Anthology, Expanded Horizons, and Philippines Free Press. She blogs at

Just when the idea occurred to her that she was being murdered she could not tell.” – The Small Assassin, comics adaptation of a tale by Ray Bradbury

At some time near dawn, on March 25, 1913, there came a loud knocking at the front door of the Uyterhoevens’ home in the Dayton View section of Dayton, Ohio.” – The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses.” – Fade by Robert Cormier

““I can do this,” I told my squirrel.” - Speed Dating and Spirit Guides by Rod M. Santos

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.” – Spar by Kij Johnson

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years.” – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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G.M. CORONELA Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University in 1985, he is a first-time author with no literary background to speak of other than a genuine love of reading and a passion for writing. Coming across back issues of Writer’s Digest a few years ago started his writing career. Some previous personal encounters with the paranormal convinced him to pursue the horror genre. He believes that stories to tell and experiences to share are best put in written words. He is the author of Tragic Theater.

The night wind howls like a wounded dying animal.” (Trese Murder on Balete Drive) — This is a very compelling first line and it engages the reader’s interest in the story.

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DON JAUCIAN - Don regularly reviews books for several publications, both print and on-line. He is the resident bitch of the film blog Pelikula Tumblr. His book dump is

The Ascension of Our Lady Boy – Mia Tijam (PDF of Expanded Horizons #14, which includes the story.)

Let us begin with my earliest memory as a lady: Daddy had complained to Iyay who was my yaya(and his yaya before and his mama’s yaya before that) that I was lacking something strong in my bones and in my hips.

Tijam’s Lady Boy is hands down one of my favorite spec fic stories. It effectively combined Philippine culture, gay-isms and the whole ‘triumph of the heart’ thing. I like how the first line promises a wonderful story, equal parts whimsical and endearing, like Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and it really delivers.

Visitors – Luis Katigbak

When they first arrived, they transformed themselves into everything we ever secretly wanted to be.

Stories of ‘encounters’ are never amusing. They mostly run as dubious paranoiac rants but in a few words, Katigbak manages to brush off the fluff usually associated with this tripe. ‘Visitors’ is beautiful, a different approach into the Wonderful World of Alien Mysteries; humanized and hopeful.

Brigada – Joey Nacino

When the news came, Captain Fernando Tabora of the Philippine Navy was meeting with the two-man salvage team at the top of Manila Hotel.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories and Manila Hotel underwater is just too awesome to ignore. Just like the head of Statue of Liberty chopped off in Cloverfield!

Flicker – Ian Rosales Casocot

Something had apparently come to live, or stir, in the house down the road, that old mansion on the corner before one turned left down Mango Street, which led toward the coconut groves that bordered the farthest end of the village.

Suburban horror stories always fascinate me and Casocot’s ‘Flicker’ definitely sustains the tension from the first sentence to the last. It is eerie, ominous and it’s refreshing to see a horror story devoid of hysterics and cheap scare tactics.

[More after the cut]

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About Me

Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.