A project for our ‘kapwa,’ editor says of the book
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
It’s finally out.
A week after the release of its hardcopy, authors of MAGDARAGAT: An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing (Cormorant Books, 2023) held an in-person launch and book signing at the Massy Arts Society, 23 E Pender St, Vancouver, British Columbia.
Edited by Teodoro Alcuitas, C.E. Gatchalian, and Patria Rivera, the first ever anthology of Filipino-Canadian writers grabbed the number one spot on Amazon’s Most Wished For books in the Asian Canadian Literature category last month.
Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing features more the 45 writers within its pages.
“At best, this book is a snapshot of Filipino-Canadian way of life. It may be the first but I certainly hope it won’t be the last,” Gatchalian said during the event.
Alcuitas, the publisher of Philippine Canadian News, shared some interesting details about the book during the Question and Answer session at the launch held last November 14.
He paid tribute to Jim Wong-Chu, the founding member of Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW), as the force behind the project.
“One year before he died in 2017, he called me again and he said ‘Ted if you’re not going to do it, I will give it to somebody else.’ I said ‘Okay, Jim. I will do it,” he shared during the book launch.
Published by Cormorant Books, it opens with the line “Magdaragat is Filipino for ‘seafarer’ or ‘mariner’”.
“It’s a first line that heralds the expansiveness of the collection and its ability to highlight the epic and often overlooked aspects of Filipino identity and history,” the book’s promo read.
Another book launch will be held in Toronto’s Ben MacNally Books on November 28.
Since first arriving on Canada’s shores over 150 years ago, Filipinos have contributed invaluably — though too often invisibly — to the fabric of Canadian society. This anthology of writing by members of the Filipino-Canadian community explores Filipino-Canadian identities, experiences, histories, presents, and futures, and serves to reinforce their cultural contributions.
“This work is for all of you — our ‘kapwa.’ I didn’t go into this work for my own. I didn’t think of my own. It was always for our people, for our kapwa. If this book could touch one of you that would be reward enough for the effort. To all my kapwa, thank you,” Alcuitas added.
About the editors
Teodoro Alcuitas is the publisher and editor of Philippine Canadian News, an online paper linking the Filipino diaspora. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
C.E. Gatchalian is the author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies. He is a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist and received the Dayne Ogilvie Prize in 2013 from the Writers’ Trust of Canada. He was a recipient of a British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Arts and Music Award in 2022. Born and raised in Vancouver, he now lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Patria Rivera’s first poetry collection, Puti/White, was shortlisted for the 2006 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. She has also published The Bride Anthology, BE, and The Time Between, and co-authored two chapbooks: Six from the Sixth and Weathering: An Exchange of Poems. She lives in the east end of Toronto, Ontario.