Book : ‘Magdaragat’ launches successfully in Toronto

Updated: March 22, 2024, 4:09 PM

Toronto, Ontario

 Landmark book ‘Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino Canadian Writing’ well received  in Toronto

Ricardo J. Salise Caluen

After a four-year wait since the project’s inception in 2020, Magdaragat – An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing was formally launched in Toronto on Wednesday (March 20) at Ben McNally’s Books, reputedly among the best curated bookstores in Canada.

Co-editor Patria Rivera . (Photo: Jose Romelo Lagman)
Lead-editor C.E. Gatchalian. (Photo: Jose Romelo Lagman)

Published by Cormorant Books, a leader in the independent publishing industry, “Magdaragat” is arguably a landmark work considering that it is the first anthology of purely literary works by wholly Filipino-Canadian writers. 

In welcoming the book’s editors and contributors and their readers, publisher Marc Côté, two-time winner of the Libris Award for Editor of the Year, said that Cormorant is proud to have been chosen as publisher because it exemplifies their commitment to publish culturally significant works of fiction and non-fiction from emerging to well-established authors from all over Canada -the representative collective voice of diversity the country is respected for in the world.

Contributor Renato Gandia. (Photo: Jose Romelo Lagman)
Contributor Maribeth Manalaysay Tabanera a.k.a. Kilusan. (Photo: Ricardo Caluen)

For his part, C. E. Gatchalian, co-editor of “Magdaragat”, echoed Cormorant’s philosophy of providing the platform for diverse voices in Canada as also a running motif in the book. Author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies, the recipient of the 2013 David  Ogilvie Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada, read portions from the introduction to describe the “magdaragat” (seafarer, mariner) spirit of the Filipino in diaspora as an inspiration in choosing the title of the book.

 Patria Rivera has written four books and two chapbooks of poetry (Puti/White was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry). In her brief remarks as co-editor, she recounted the beginnings of the project, mentioning as well the “hiccups” and related dynamics in the process of selecting from some 100 submissions from all over Canada. 

Both Rivera and Gatchalian acknowledged the initiative and leadership of pioneer Filipino-Canadian journalist Teodoro ‘Ted’ Alcuitas in conceptualizing the project and inviting them to complete the troika of editors.  As an aside, Gatchalian also mentioned that the Vancouver-based editor of the online paper Philippine Canadian News, is currently completing a documentary memorializing Benson Flores, considered to be the first documented Filipino “magdaragat” to reach Canadian shores and face the challenges in his adoptive country. 

A tombstone is also being placed on his unmarked grave at Vancouver’s Mountain View Cemetery.

“Ocean, sea, water—apt metaphors, then, for the contemporary diasporic Filipino experience. Water as both separator and melder, as symbol of cultural fluidity, of the protean adaptability that is both our blessing and curse, ” quotes Marc Côté who said Cormorant  remains committed to publishing culturally significant works of fiction and non-fiction from emerging to well-established authors from all over Canada and  finding and developing diverse authors with narrative voices of character and distinction


Cormorant publisher Marc Cote. (Photo: Ricardo Caluen)

‘Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino Canadian Writing’ is available from Cormorant Publishers, McNally’s Books, Massy Books, Amazon and other bookstores.

Photo: Ricardo Caluen


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