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.)
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!
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.)
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.)