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Monday, January 08, 2018

Interview Questions from Ancel Marie Bravo Mondia, a Daily Guardian writer

Interview Questions from Ancel Marie Bravo Mondia, a Daily Guardian writer

1.      What are the significant events in your childhood and/or adolescence that have shaped you as a person?
When I failed in Grade 5 at Lezo Elementary School, Lezo, Aklan. As a result, I was not able to graduate along with my former classmates since Grade 1. That failure made me realized the importance of studies. So when I reached high school, I really studied hard. I graduated as First Honorable Mention at Southern Mindanao Regional School of Fisheries, Zamboanga City. That led me to take up fisheries as a course at the then UP College of Fisheries in Diliman, Quezon City (now called UP in the Visayas College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Miag-ao, Iloilo). While studying at UP College of Fisheries, I worked as a working student at the various units of UP Cafeteria to free my daily meals. Also when I was in my grade school, I could hardly read or spell English words. So when I reached high school, I always stayed in our school library reading books and newspapers. That helped me a lot in my English classes. I also became interested in history and in social studies. That also had helped me a lot me in my writing career. Also, I was a partial scholar at Manuel Luis Quezon University for three consecutive semesters, 1969-1971 when I took my Bachelor of Science in Education degree.

While I was a librarian at the UP in the Visayas, now UP Visayas, I noticed that some of the people, mostly the faculty,  in the university would just take me for granted. With that, I studied the promotion and the recognition policies of the university. With that knowledge, I took up graduate studies. I wrote and published articles and poems in local and national magazines. I also conducted extension works like conducting poetry workshops. I also attended seminar-workshops on various disciplines the results of which I shared to the students when they asked for information. And of course, I tried my best not to be absent from my work, except when I got sick. I introduced some innovations to the Library. I noticed that there was an absence of biographies of fisheries scientists, so I reseached on them and wrote their biographies. I then published them in the internet. I also noticed that there was no comprehensive bibliography on local fisheries and ocean sciences. Silently, I compiled and published them in the internet. These materials are still being used by researchers throughout the world.  Because of my wide range of knowledge many students and even faculty members would come to me to help them in their researches. With this, I was awarded The Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Performance in Professional Academic Service (Non-Teaching Staff), UPV Iloilo City.  The first time that a librarian has received twice such an award.

2.      When and how did you discover your strengths? Name these strengths. How did you deal with them that you are able to achieve a lot because of them?

It was in high school where I discovered my interest in writing. Because of my interest both in English and Tagalog subjects, our school organ adviser selected me as one of the  staff of our school organ. My interest in writing was enhanced when I studied at UP Diliman. Instead of going to the movie houses during my vacant periods, I would stay in the UP Main Library and read newspapers, magazines, books on social sciences, languages and literature. Then I tried writing poems and essays only for my self. Of course, I like reading poems published in the Philippine Collegian, and magazines like Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Philippine Panorama, and Liwayway. To learn how writers develop their poems, I translated poems written by famous writers like Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost, Teo Baylen, Amado Hernandez, and others  from their original language to Tagalog or Aklanon, my native tongue. I sent some of them to the Philippine Collegian. Later, I wrote my own poems and sent some of them to the Philippines Free Press, Philippines Graphic, Philippine Panorama. Some of them were published, but the majority were rejected. But these rejections did not stop me from writing more poems. Instead I wrote some more.

3.      Do your strengths determine your goals/dreams in life? When and how did you realize what you wanted to become? How did you pursue your goals/dreams?
My strength is in writing. And I wanted to be known as a writer, more particularly as a poet when I was still in high school.  When I was in college, I wished that my name be  included in the Union Catalog of the University of the Philippines Diliman Main Library, Diliman, Quezon City. Now, my works are not only included in this Union Catalog but also in the libraries of the National Library of the Philippines and of the U.S. Library of Congress.

How did I pursue my goal/dream as a writer? I stayed more often in the library reading periodicals and books, mostly on social sciences, humanities and literature to strengthen my knowledge on these areas. I also spent most of my vacant time writing. I attended creative writing workshops. I participated in poetry and essay writing contests. I listened to lectures on creative writing techniques.  I talked to people who are also interested in poetry writing. And I joined writers’ groups. I get so much ideas from the homilies of priests, and from gossips of passengers while riding on public vehicles.

4.      When one is enhancing his strengths, he faces obstacles. When one achieves, he still faces obstacles. In your case, what are these obstacles? When did you face them and how did you pass them?  One of the biggest obstacles that I encountered in my writing strength was grammar. To counter act it, I read books on English grammar. The book that greatly helped me was English for Filipinos by Jean Edades. The next problem was how to write poems the right way. So I read book reviews, and critical analysis of literary works. But the most influencial person on my writing career was Dr. Leoncio P. Deriada. It was really he who taught me how to write poems and had encouraged me to write more in Aklanon.  When I was studying in U.P. Diliman, one of the obstacles that I faced, which greatly affected my health, was the lack of nutritional foods. To solve it, I approached the supervisor of the UP Cafeteria and asked her if I could work as a working student in the UP Cafeteria. Immediately, she hired me. I was assigned at the Narra Residence Hall Canteen. My assignment was to serve rice to the dining students and do some mapping on the dining hall for two hours a day, from Monday to Friday. With that, I had free breakfast, merienda, lunch, merienda, and supper from Monday to Sunday.
5.      During college, what course/s did you take? Why did you choose such course/s? How do you relate your strengths to your course/s?
I have the following degrees:
Certificate in Fisheries, UP Diliman
Bachelor of Science in Education, major in library science; minor in English, MLQU
Certificate in Governmental Management, UP in the Visayas, now UP Visayas
Master in Management (Public Management), UP in the Visayas
Master in Library Science, UP Diliman

I took up fisheries because my high school diploma is in fisheries.
I took BSE major in Library Science and Minor in English because, I was already working in the library for promotion purposes, and English to improve my communication skills and to enhance my dream to become a writer.
Writing, especially poetry and essay writing, needs strong foundations on sciences and humanities. These courses have a lot of subjects on these disciplines.

6.      So far, what are the significant events in your adulthood/work life that have greatly influenced your personality/­thinking?  When I studied in UP, I was exposed to people who are radical and critical thinkers on the many aspects of our society and our environment. I was also exposed to various reading materials that may not be available in other libraries.

7.      What do you think is your greatest achievement? When did this happen?
My greatest achievement is when all my children have finished their respective degrees. This took place in the early 2000s. The other is when my first book of poems, Ham-at Madueom Ro Gabii, was published in 1999. Because of this, the Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) gave me The 2001 Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas Award, and the Aklan Province gave me The Outstanding Aklanon Award for Culture and the Arts in 2011.  But I did not stop there. I continued writing articles, essays, poems, and short stories  until today. As I said, I am a librarian by day, and a writer by night. I always find time to write even while riding on a jeep or a bus because if I don’t write the ideas that come into my mind, I will surely forget them when I reach home.
What do you think that is in you that enabled you to become that person? I am persistent in my desire to get what I wanted to become.  I tried my best to find ways to solve any obstacle that comes my way. I have this idea: Find a new way to solve an old problem.

8.      How are you now as a person?
I am still a nobody. A simple person.

9.      People consider you successful. When did you personally consider yourself successful? If not yet, why? When do you think you are able to say you're successful? Somehow, I feel successful as a poet when some of poems were included in anthologies like Sa Atong Dila,   Sanlibong Mahigit ng Makabagong Tula sa Filipinas,  Ani and others. But there are still things that I wish to accomplish—to publish some more books of poems, short stories, biographies, dictionaries, and articles on Aklanon history and culture.

10.  What do you think is the greatest lesson of your life?  Be persistent in finding a new way to solve an old problem.

What do you want to tell to the world? Let peace be with us always. And let us be innovative to improve our lives.

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