Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I remember Genevieve or 'Bevs' during our freshman year in U.P. Visayas (Miagao, Iloilo) as the girl who usually sits in the front row, throwing witty insights with a dose of sarcasm to our professors. In her petite but strong-willed frame, and proud Kinaray-a (from Antique) accent, we knew she was deemed for bigger things. Little did we know that it would all come too soon for her.

Genevieve L. Asenjo is perhaps the most celebrated alumna of our class in the Humanities. She earned her first Don Carlos Palanca Memorial award for Literature at 22 (Hiligaynon short story tagauma@manila), published her first collection of short stories at 25, (Taga-uma@manila kag iba pa nga pakipagsapalaran (A collection of Short Story in Kinaray-a) and a PhD in Literature at 28 (High Distinction and Outstanding Dissertation Award) . From 2003 to present, she is an Assistant Professor at De La Salle University in Manila.
Currently on leave for a study grant here in S. Korea, she explores this part of the peninsula with childlike enthusiasm. Hangeul classes at the Korea University are part of her daily routine aside from the cultural tours integrated within the program. She's also keen on exploring and researching for some new material for a new project. Perhaps a novel, a prose, a screenplay...who knows? And yes, if you ask her why she is in Korea she'll straightforwardly tell you...'To fall in love!"

Despite all her nakaka-windang accolades, she still remains to be the same charming, down-to-earth Bevs that we knew.

How did your writing career began?
I was discovered in a literary event in UPV during my last year in college. I was invited to pursue my master’s degree in DLSU, and was offered an entry position as faculty.

What’s the transition like coming from UP to La Salle?
My first job was like on a different status. Sort of a culture shock. I didn’t know at first how to grade! But everyone was helpful so it was not really that difficult.

What are your impressions of South Korea and the Koreans?
Seoul is cleaner and more organized than Manila. I was amazed sa dami ng flowers! On my first day, I was tempted to pick up some roses down the walls in the neighborhood. Bigla kong naisip, baka may law and there would be a headline: "Filipina, arrested for picking roses in Seoul"! Katakot!

What are your insights about Pinoys in Korea?
During mass on Sundays sa Hyewa, ang daming lalaki. Obviously, mga lalaki ang pumupunta dito para mag-work. Ang available na work para sa mga lalaki. Napaiyak ako noong una, thinking ito ang mga magulang na may mga pamilya na naiwan, iniwan sa Pinas, at nangungulila rito kasi ako nga, nalulungkot e.

Favorite Korean food?
Bibimbap! I'm fine with Korean food. Lahat makain ko, actually. Di lang masyadong nakakabusog kaya on the first week weeks, feeling ko palagi akong gutom.

Can you recommend some notable Korean literature.
Marami magagaling, mahirap nga lang ang mga pangalan! Saka ito 'yong 'serious literature'. Gusto ko ang isa sa pinakasikat nilang poet, si Ko Un. Kaya lang matanda na. Nakapunta ito sa 'Pinas. Ipinanganak siya during the Japanese occupation at naging Buddhist monk after the Korean war. Doon siya simulang nagsulat. Then lumabas din at nag-asawa ng isang literature prof. O, di ba?... Nakakainggit na they are really writing in Korean. Nakakamangha na ang binabasa nila - like Harry Potter - in Korean translation. In short, they are reading the world in their own language. Mismo!

What’s the direction of Phil Literature in your opinion?
I think we are doing fine sa Phil. Lit. Most academe based nga lang. We are writing in different Phil. languages and nagpa-publish na rin ngayon internationally other than 'yong mga matatandang writers. Last year, Filipino ang nanalo ng grand prize sa Man Asia Literary Award. Ito ang isang prestigious award sa Asia. Novel ito in English. This year, andaming nasa shortlist. Visit Dito mababasa ang ilan sa mga works ng maraming magagaling na Pinoy writers.

Do you have any special projects in Korea?
I volunteered for Sulyapinoy and they scheduled me for a talk on Sept. 27 (tentative date) after the mass. Literature and globalization ang general topic. Philippine-Korea ang context. Baka mag-facilitate rin ako ng writers workshop sa grupo ng mga Filipino women married to Korean sa Busan sometime in October. I'm trying to write my projects - poetry and fiction - aside from my official activities here that include studying Hangeul and doing cultural tours.

What's the next step for you in the Philippines?
My next book, my first novel, is coming out this December. The title is "Lumbay ng Dila" (Loneliness of Tongue).You can read the first few chapters on this link.

Dr. Genevieve L. Asenjo is a poet, fictionist, researcher, translator, cultural worker, and Assistant Professor at De La Salle University-Manila. She is the author of Pula ang Kulay ng Text Message (University of San Agustin Press, 2006), a poetry collection in Kinaray-a and Filipino, and taga-uma@manila kag iba pa nga pakipagsapalaran (NCCA, 2005), a collection of stories in Kinaray-a. She is a three-time Don Carlos Palanca awardee for her stories in Hiligaynon and two-time Home Life Magazine awardee for her poems in Filipino. She is a member of Philippine International-PEN, Philippine Studies Association, and the NCCA Translation Committee. She has published in national anthologies, magazines, and journals. She has earned writing fellowships and served as panelist in writing workshops. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Literature at DLSU.
Source: Mothertongue Publishing Inc.

*Taga-uma - in the Hiligaynon dialect, pertaining to a person living or hailing from the countryside or with provincial roots.


bittersweet said...

My mom is Ilonggo and I've heard this word from her a couple of times. Now I know what it means.. ^^

Cher@SurvivingKorea said...

hahahah...after seeing the title i thought you were referring to a fraternity back home...kkk...sorry

:::April::: said...

mybittersweetkoreanlife, tagalog it's like saying "jologs" or baduy! =) where's your mom from?

tau gamma? heheh ;)

bittersweet said...

hi april!

my mom's from Ilo-ilo city. I was born there too.

Cher@SurvivingKorea said...

hahaha...yup tau-gama..kkkk

Nhemskie said...

Hi April! This is Nemie. Gen is now here in Busan and is giving us a creative writing workshop for two days c/o FEESK. She mentioned me about you and your blog. Good pm!

:::April::: said...

Hi Nhemskie! that's nice to know. I hope you learned a lot from your workshop. Guess, i'll be hearing about you soon too. take care!

Unknown said...

What body of content about Taga uma@manila