Glowing olive skin, delicately pointed nose, and fiercely parted lips–Maris Racal can serve you a glammed up look like no other. But even without a scrap of makeup, she has the kind of charm that lures you deeper. In photos, it’s that perpetual sparkle in her doe eyes that sets her apart. In person, though, her carefree, endearingly goofy laugh is what you may call the cherry on top of her sweetheart quality.
Maris may look every bit of the It girl that she is, but the rays of her perfectly imperfect personality always slices through that facade. Whether she’s throwing silly expressions in front of the cameras or laughing at herself while wearing a face mask in her Insta stories, she’s as real as she can get.
Upon being in the same room as Maris, I concur that “radiant” is the word the best describes her. And its meaning doesn’t lie far behind the title she chose for her album, Stellar, an ode to her full first name Mariestella. It’s apparent that the young singer-songwriter has a clear vision of how she wants to represent herself and her music. From her choice of words to the visuals and final sound, Maris claims that everything about her 12-track debut album flawlessly fell into place. “Akong ako ‘yun,” she gushes. “Para ko siyang baby na inalagaan at shinare sa mundo.”
For the Pinoy Big Brother: All In alum, the road to releasing her “baby” was a meaningful journey. “It wasn’t the type of album given to you after winning some competition. Hindi siya ‘yung mandatory na kailangan mong magsulat,” she reveals. “Everything happened naturally. Nagsulat lang ako nang nagsulat.” After collecting enough material for a month, she then passed it on to Star Music, and the label knew that her self-composed work was record-worthy.
As in any art form, writing songs requires one to draw from experiences. In Filipino, it’s the very millennial term “hugot.” So what inspired Maris’ tracks such as “Love Is Easy” and the hit “Ikaw Lang Sapat Na”? It’s a no brainer. “A lot of the songs are about us,” she confides, referring to her all-around partner Inigo Pascual who supportively sits beside her during our interview. “May isang kanta na about him talaga, so ang heartfelt ng album na ‘yun. It’s nice to release something na galing sa puso mo.”
While her musical career is flourishing and will continue do so in the future (“Maraming marami pa akong naisulat na sobrang excited akong irelease siguro next year,”) Maris says that acting is still her main passion, admitting that she enjoys slipping into different characters more. “‘Yung acting kasi, iba yung satisfaction na nabibigay niya sa ’kin,” she tells. “Kapag may nagawa kang magandang eksena, nakaka-addict ‘yung feeling. May relief. At the same time, parang naglelevel up ka everytime.”
Feeling satisfied over a job well done and yearning for more is a mark of a true artist, and it’s evident that Maris is one. But her craft isn’t all highs. She reveals, “Aminado ako na very insecure ako na tao to the point na lagi kong kinocompare yung self ko sa iba.” Maris, after all, is human and always a work in progress. She counters this seemingly negative trait, though, by using her doubts to propel her forward, noting that the first step to greatness is “to acknowledge your weaknesses and flaws.”
Our time is almost up, but I sneak one final question in. How does Maris see herself in the long run? “Manalo ng maraming maraming awards,” she beams, as if she’s picturing herself taking a shot at the stars. I doubt she’d miss. After all, she’s a "Tala" herself.
ALSO READ: #ChalkLovesMarNigo: Maris Racal And Inigo Pascual On What Makes Their Tandem Work
Photographed by Miguel Alomajan
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Ryuji Shiomitsu
Makeup by Jelly Eugenio
Hair by MJ Rone