The Coming of A New Breed of Ilonggo Writers Conquering Cyberspace: Mariel Terre

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My greatest impetus was that i do not want to go on regretting not taking the opportunity.

Mariel Terre

Mariel Terre is a 24-year-old poet from Tigbauan, Iloilo. As a teacher-writer, she considers Anne Shirley as her main literary heroine and L.M. Montgomery, author of the famous “Anne of Green Gables” series, her ultimate writing paragon.  She believes that she has always carried in her a sensitive soul that sees through all the details and nuances of life. Mariel trusts in the magic of kindred spirits. She breathes in and out through words. She is a lover of sunsets, gossamer veils, the plumerias of May, black coffee, and books. She is a permanent English Teacher at Tigbauan National High School (TNHS). She is also finishing her Master of Education (MEd) degree specializing in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the University of the Philippines Visayas. She co-founded Abyanihan, a mental health support group focusing on inclusive mental health education. She was the Associate Editor of SILAK Media Inc., the multi-awarded print and broadcast publication of the West Visayas State University – College of Education (WVSU-COE). She published her first poetry book, under Ukiyoto Publishing, on November 27, 2021. 

ABOUT IN BETWEEN, THERE IS LOVE

This compendium of poems is composed of round-the-clock musings that lyrically reflect on life. The poet believes that each individual is magically woven into the tapestry of life by threads coming from the spools of Night and Light, where, in between, there is Love. Night is where the author brayed the poetry of her sadness. Here, the author delved into the grotesqueries of Love, whims of a tired heart, and callousness of empty promises. Light, for the author, is not the conventional opposite of night; not the absence of it. In these pages, Light is the dauntless act of emerging out of Night. And Love combs through both Night and Light. As the reader goes through the pages, they will be confronted with brutal honesty, profanity, deception, extreme sadness, and frustration. But there is also a waiting promise of surpassing beauty, warm sunshine, dancing under the moon glow, and hallelujahs of laughter. In between, there is Love is both a passage and a destination for your soul. 

Q: What kind of child were you?

As an only child with admittedly strict parents, I only knew two realms: school and home. In our family compound, I was always in the company of adults, my favorite of which is the company of my dearest Lola. She told me war-time stories. She ignited my love for a steaming cup of black coffee. I was exposed to her admirable sass, her old-fangled wisdom, her indomitable strength. I can say that I am more of a Lola’s girl than I am a Mama’s or a Papa’s girl. My Mama would often say that when I was young, I carried in me the natural curiosity of a child, but I often speak with the confidence of a grown-up. Geographically speaking, I lived very close to nature. I wake up to gentle sunshine, the song of birds, the tender rustling of leaves, and all the possible natural melodies one could hear. 

Q: What do you read as a child?

I am not from a family of casual readers but my Mama exposed me to reading by buying me bargain-priced story books at our local public market. I could say that I really have a penchant for stories since then. I remember that in our English classes, we have two kinds of English books, one for language and one for reading. I could still vividly recall how I would passionately go over all the stories in the English reading book in advance. But the ones that I am most fond of are the stories told in the tender versions of Mama and Lola’s tongue. I especially loved their animated retelling of the famous “Si Amo kag Si Bao.” I believe this introduced me to the sublime world of stories and eventually paved a way for me wanting to write them, too. 

Q: Do you enjoy writing then?

One very specific scenario that would prove how I am so into writing probably is whenever we have examinations that would include writing in them, and I would honestly enjoy them. I always love tinkering over ideas over essays, becoming truly aware of how I form and process my thoughts when I respond to the questions. I love the sense of exploration and the touch of creativity when formulating my responses. 

Q:  When did you first realize you wanted to write? When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

Being a regular reader of fiction, I have experienced being both captured and freed by the power of words. I have seen myself, inside the realm of created stories, surrounded by experiences and emotions, a product of the intricacy and beauty of the mind. Having witnessed the power generated through the marriage of pen and paper, I have enlisted myself in the pursuit to continuously seek the company of words, not just by absorbing them through reading, but also to be able to craft them into meaningful forms on my own. It was my entry to SILAK Media, WVSU COE’s publication, that made me think of myself as a legitimate writer. The experience really made me grow in the craft through the craft. 

Q:  Once you began to write, what future did you imagine for yourself? What was your dream?

To be a published poet is really at the top of my dream board as a writer. I always imagined seeing my book displayed on bookstore shelves together with other international bestsellers. But I think these dreams pale in comparison with what I really profoundly desire: to inspire more people to write. When I had the news for the publication of my poetry book out, I had this friend who told me how she is inspired to write, too. And that for me is the greatest validation that I ever got as a writer. And I really hope my inspiring people will fare relentlessly.

Q: Were you reading poetry books by other writers for inspiration? 

I love the lyrical language found in the writings of L. M. Montgomery. When I want to learn about vividness and details, I go to read the works of Pablo Neruda. And it is manang Kristine Buenavista’s poems written in her raw, tender language that would most often rouse the spirit of my poetry. 

Q: What do you do when you get stuck? When you don’t know what to write next? 

I always believe that reading and writing are twin processes. So, I read. Moreover, whenever I feel stuck, or there is this dreadful feeling of me running out of creative juices, I replenish by absorbing other people’s art. And by art, what I mean does not solely focus on the writing art, I also tap on other forms of art like paintings, songs, music, movies— everything that would help me wake my dormant, creative other person. Sometimes, it also helps to just sit in the slump for a while, and do some breathing rather than forcing yourself to come up with something. 

Q:  How did you get started with “In between, there is Love”?  What gave you the idea?

In between, there is Love is actually a collection of poems I have written since 2019. I believe I started writing “decent” poems that year. The book is actually two or more years of my poetic musings. I always post my poems on FB and I have been getting comments and suggestions from friends and mentors to have my poems compiled and published. It took me some time before actually doing it. I am so thankful to Nang Icy Tumayao, a fellow writer, for introducing me to the opportunity of becoming published under Ukiyoto. 

Q: Have you had to do research for your book? 

I did some research especially for the terms and references that I am not sure I am using accurately and appropriately. I also am making sure that I understand them before I actually use them in my writing. I did research to verify.

Q: Tell me more how you revise a book? 

The revision of the book, for example, included me having to categorize my pieces into three different themes. Although my book generally talks about life, it being all-encompassing might send a feeling of disorganization to my readers. So, in order for them to smoothly fare through the book, I had it divided into three different themes. Also, my revision process had me read my manuscript over and over again. One must have a scrupulous eye for detail. 

I also am very particular with the “musicality” of my writing, so I always read my poems aloud. If what I hear pleases my ear, I would give it a nod. If I hear something quite “off-beat”, I take it as a signal to revise. For transcription accuracy, I tapped into Grammarly and also made use of the online editing provisions in Google Docs. 

Q: How do you know when a book is done? 

It is difficult to tell when the book is done. I think more than the technicalities and the conventions, knowing that a book is done is more of a feeling than it is an official tangible declaration. I think writers would understand that there would just be this tugging power inside that would grow a voice and tell you that it is, indeed, done. 

Q: How did you go about getting your first book published? 

As I have previously mentioned, the opportunity to publish under Ukiyoto was presented to me by Manang Icy Tumayao. I actually was very hesitant at first because prior to that, my works were rejected by two writing bodies, so I kind of felt that maybe I could not measure up again. But maybe it was me, part gritty and part dreamer, that really goaded me to push through with the submission of my manuscript. My greatest impetus was that I do not want to go on regretting not taking the opportunity. 

Q: What do you like best about being a writer? 

I believe that I have always carried in me a sensitive soul, so writing has long become a part of my every day; I notice details and I want to capture them. To me, it is tantamount to breathing. Writing is really my ultimate version of catharsis. 

Q:  Many young people who want to write think they have to go to indie publishing. Do you think so too? 

Each writer, I believe, has this idiosyncratic publishing approach that would really be essentially fitting them. It really depends on the individual goal of the author. Some may want to have full-control with all the processes that their publishing has to go through. Maybe there is an aspect in the dynamics of independent publishing that helps empower the author. 

Q: What do you tell young people who want to write?

I am not going to put here things that you did not come across, one way or the other, but in case you need some reminder, just, please, please keep writing. Rejections may come, criticisms may emerge, but then again, they are part and parcel of this rather subjective craft that we are in. As much as we want people to rally behind us in the endeavors that we are passionate about, it is also of quantum importance that we, also, are ardent advocates of ourselves.  Also, read. Read a lot. Vary your reading. If you love what you have read, be inspired. If you find yourself not liking it, take it as a lesson, a caveat. Lastly, be a learner, always.  


The Coming of A New Breed of Ilonggo Writers is a series of conversations with Ilonggo young writers on how to cultivate a creative mindset during quarantine. Compiled and edited by Noel Galon de Leon of Kasingkasing Press.

Featured illustration by Kristelle Suarez

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Noel Galon de Leon
Noel Galon de Leon
Noel Galon de Leon teaches Filipino and creative writing at the University of the Philippines Visayas. He won the Palanca awards for his poetry collection in 2018.

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