3 young Cebuano writers you must keep an eye on
“Mas lami gyud ang Bisaya. Gahi nga lami.” These are words you'd likely hear from literary artists when asked about the Cebuano language.
In a world of unlimited hugot and emotionfilled prose, three Cebuano writers — Mechelle Centurias, Jessrel Gilbuena, and Jae Magdadaro — are adamant to express themselves in the language they all hold dear. And it’s true what they say about the Cebuano language — when it comes to the sensibility of the balak, the words seem to have a stronger push and pull. These up-and-coming poets have set the bar high with their literary creations, so get to know them and brace yourself for some stimulating insights that stir the mind.
Mechelle Centurias, 27 Fictionist and Poet
Seemingly inconspicuous, this lady actually has a super power. And no, she can’t read minds or go invisible. But her words and imagery are striking and as deep as the earth’s core, able to evoke emotion out of anyone who would read them. Mechelle Centurias’ work as a Cebuano fictionist and poet can for sure tickle your think tank as well as your soul.
She began writing in high school as a correspondent for her school’s student publication. At that time, she hasn’t yet tapped on her literary side as she focused more on her journalistic endeavors. But it was in college — where she majored in language — that she came across literature.
With her lit classes, she admitted that she would only comply with what her teacher asked from her. It never crossed her mind that she had the talent to write. Until she met someone, a young poet, in one of her literature classes who influenced her to write.
Mechelle started with writing fiction, or sugilanon, which she is more comfortable with. “Sa sugilanon man gud, maka play ka with the words ug mu-haom ra siya sa story,” she said. Her first published work was a sugilanon. It was an affirmation to her that she could really write. “At first naa pa baya ta’y doubt sa atong self,” she said. “Then if malipay ka sa usa nga na publish, you’ll want more and it becomes addictive.” Mechelle said that when she started writing fiction and poems, she would always look for inspiration. “Something nga makapuga gani sa imung heart. You want to write about something nga makapatandog nimo,” she said.
But through the years, and with maturity as well, she realizes that inspiration comes and goes. “Kung ganahan ka nga ingnon ka’g maayo ka musuwat, kung kinhanglan, musuwat gyud ka,” she said. Literature, for Mechelle, is expressing your deepest emotions creatively. Sometimes, if she is going through a difficult time, it helps to express herself though a sugilanon or a balak. “Imu lang ipa-agi ug balak, pero in reality gyud, ga maoy gyud ka’g taman dinha sa imung kwarto. Gihilakan na gyud na nimo’g taman. Kahuman, naa na dayun manggawas nga balak,” she said.