Catherine Hernandez is keynote speaker for inaugural Filipino book festival


“Revolutionary space to celebrate…”

Image: Teodoro Alcuitas

Award winning author Catherine Hernandez will address the first Filipino Canadian Book Festival on July 12-14 where she will also be awarded the first-ever CanDila Award. The award is “to honor someone who is a voice in Canadian literature and is leading the way for our community, someone who creates opportunities for future writers and increases visibility for us all.”

The three-day event to be held at Massy Arts Society and the Collingwood Neigbourhood House is a groundbreaking event designed to “celebrate Filipino heritage and its interweaving with Canadian culture,” organizers say in a press release.

“This event emerges as a revolutionary space and it aims not just to celebrate but to amplify the voices of Filipino-Canadian authors, artists, and creators. This festival is an affirmation of the strength and diversity of the Filipino-Canadian community, showcasing literary and artistic talents that often go unrecognized in mainstream media,” organizers claim.
“With the Filipino-Canadian Book Festival, we’re carving out a space where our stories and voices can be heard loud and clear,” says Nathalie De Los Santos, one of the festival organizers. “It’s about building bridges between generations and cultures within our community and beyond.” 
This is a platform for dialogue, learning, and growth. It invites both the Filipino community and the broader Canadian populace to delve into a literary and cultural feast that educates, entertains, and enlightens.

Co-organizer Nathalie delos Santos. (Facebook)

Catherine Hernandez (she/her) is an award-winning author and screenwriter celebrated for her diverse storytelling across multiple media. Her debut novel, “Scarborough,” received critical acclaim, being shortlisted for numerous awards including the Toronto Book Awards and the Trillium Book Award, and was a finalist for Canada Reads 2022.

There is a celebration of Filipino Canadian books and writers this year as this festival comes at the heels of the recently concluded Salaysay Literary Festival in Toronto. It was organized by the Salaysay Collective, a group of Filipino Canadian writers.

In addition to book sales, a slew of activities is scheduled for the festival, including panels, workshops and performances.
Authors and artists will be discussing “everything from diaspora dynamics to the future of Filipino literature.”

There will also be “a bustling marketplace featuring Filipino-owned businesses, booksellers and artisans,” and “cultural performances that promise to enrich and entertain all ages.”
There will be an open mic, meet-and-greet and book signing with the contributing authors of Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing edited by edited by Teodoro Alcuitas, C.E. Gatchalian and Patria Rivera.

The publication includes poems, essays, short fiction, plays and speeches, showcasing a wide breadth of Filipino Canadian experience.
Panels include “World-building and Cultural Research for Storytelling,” which will discuss the process of building intricate and believable worlds in fiction writing while balancing imaginative elements with real-world influences. Speakers include Tessa Barbosa (The Moonlight Blade), Samantha Garner (The Quiet is Loud), Roselle Lim (Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune)  and K.S. Villoso (Jaeth’s Eye).
In the “Writing Between the Lines” panel, Christine Añonuevo, Jennilee Austria-Bonifacio (Reuniting with Strangers), C.E. Gatchalian and Vincent Ternida (The Seven Muses of Harry Salcedo) will be talking about the ways in which cultural heritage shapes stories and how balancing multiple genres can create unique and compelling works.
Hari Alluri (Our Echo of Sudden Mercy), Sol Diana, Therese Estacion (Phantompains), Phebe M. Ferrer and Marc Perez (Dayo) will tackle poetry writing in “The Poetry Prism: Shaping Realities.”
Jim Agapito, Rina Garcia Chua, Chris Patterson/Kawika Guillermo, and Catherine Hernandez will share their thoughts in the “Makibaka! Maging Alamat! On Writing Revolution” panel.
The “Writing for Stage: Demystifying Playwriting and its Publishing Process” panel will include Davey Calderon, Karla Comanda, Kamila Sediego and Carmela Sison.




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