Marikit Mail
Hi. This is Caris.

I hope you are warm and cozy wherever you are, and that your heart is filled with hope in all the good things to come. They will come. For sure. Because no matter what happens, morning will arrive at your window. Spring will be in full bloom. Winter will shed its cold, white whiskers, and we will all go out into the sun again.

Well, not all at once.

There will always be shadows. But there will always be light.

I have watched mornings from my window in the entirety of 2020. It arrived silently, then vividly, blasting our walls with its bright, warm rays as we wake up to birdsong. The back of our house is now covered by a thick curtain of common botany. We have gone full Cottagecore. I wonder what stories are hiding under the lush blanket of green? I sure would love to write about them!

But first, let’s talk about this story. My debut story.
MARIKIT, as I fondly call this project, came to me in February 2019. Like all of my other books, it arrived as a one-line pitch: a girl who wore a map. Where it leads her, I don’t know. But I thought it was just appropriate to write the story as a treasure hunt adventure. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Maps are for discovering treasures. Maps are for finding secrets.

That didn’t happen.

Sometimes, the ideas in our heads are so certain about themselves that they bloom, surely and steadily, from a tiny little seed to a massive, Awesome Thing. They knew who they are from the very beginning, and they whisper their names in our ears.

Sometimes, they need to find themselves in the dark, just like we do, wading without seeing things entirely – with tiny glimpses of light that allow us to see small packets of truths. We embrace them, collect them, and wait for them until they amass into a similarly Awesome Thing. One that took its time. One that wandered about before reaching the finish line. That’s what happened to me and MARIKIT.

I have to tell you, stories are quite finicky. They could make tantrums and run back to their rooms and decide not to be written. At least for a time. So when the story stops "speaking" to me, I rolled its (very digital) pages back to their drawer, and ceased to touch it.

It was August when the story decided I was ready. That I was finally looking at it the way it wanted to look like. It finally whispered its name and the rest of its body, and I worked away, nights and days, completing a perfect draft in the first quarter of 2020. I'm sad to say that a lot of February's content was lost. There were, however, things that remained unchanged.

Like a mother and daughter who shared their birthday. A cluster of bamboo trees. An old Makinang de Padyak – that’s a traditional sewing machine to you – with a big steel pedal and wooden table and a horse-head-shaped sewing arm complete with a spool and a wheel. Ah, nostalgia. My lola (we call her Inang) has one, and we still keep it at home to remind us of her and the many dresses she made for us.

I wrote this for her.
This is Inang's old sewing machine. My mom placed it by the terrace so she can sew while overlooking her many, many plants.
As much as I want to share some of its magical tidbits, I must hold it off until MARIKIT comes into full shape. I love keeping secrets. But, what I can tell you, is that MARIKIT is about family, about a girl who wanted more, about delightful friends you’ll meet in a journey, about listening to silence, taking heed of warnings, about lands that had magic in them. Many of MARIKIT’s characters were taken off the Tagalog folklore. The Philippines, I must say, is aplenty with various stories, and my magical cast is just a small drop in the ocean. This is just one side of many.

MARIKIT WEARS THE MAP TO THE ENGKANTOS, as it is currently called, is slated for a 2022 release. Yes, indeed, it’s still a long way off; but time flies when you’re having fun. And writing. I am writing a lot.

Thank you so much for waiting. I, too, baited my breath for this little dream to come true. Surely, there will be many breaths to be baited before MARIKIT’s launch next year, and the many delightful things in between, so please hold on tight, and watch over this tiny space.

Meanwhile, here are some Filipino authors and creators with works soon out in the world!

Love listening to Filipino spooky stories? Earl Jerico’s most-loved podcast CAMPFIRE STORIES PHILIPPINES is just the thing you'll want to listen to on a cold night out camping with your friends, featuring myths and folklore of the monsters past. Listen to the podcast.


Gail D. Villanueva’s SUGAR AND SPITE is coming out this April! It's got everything you'd want in a book: Warding off bullies? With a magical potion? Two girls named after 90s Filipino sweethearts? An adorable dog and a snobby cat? And a storm? Yes, yes, yes! More information here.
Tanya Guerrero’s ALL YOU KNEAD IS LOVE is a heartwarming story about a Spanish-Filipino girl who discovers her love for baking while reconnecting with her lola on a summer vacation. Also: Tanya writes the tenderest things. More information here.
Mia P. Manansala debuts this savory sleuthing story, ARSENIC AND ADOBO, where our feisty heroine attempts to find her way out of a crime while keeping her Tita Rosa’s restaurant alive. More information here.

I have so much to share in the coming months (including a bunch of Filipino komiks and artists)! For now, thank you for sticking with me. Until the next Marikit Mail!

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