Word Vancouver features writers behind upcoming book
Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
The extraordinary journeys of various Filipino-Canadians and meaningful stories about their families were compiled into a special book that will be launched this November by Cormorant Books. And for the first time, ‘Filipino Words’ are invisible no more as the event title aptly says. The book is available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, among others.
Word Vancouver, Western Canada’s largest literary arts festival, hosted a special book reading session with Filipino-Canadian writers Teodoro Alcuitas, Patria Rivera and Leah Canada last weekend at the UBC Robson Square in downtown Vancouver.
Moderated by C.E. Gatchalian, author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies, the session was aimed at featuring Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing – the first anthology of Filipino-Canadian writing published by a mainstream press, coming out at a time when the Filipino diasporic population in Canada is fast approaching one million.
Alcuitas and Ranada were present to the in-person event while Rivera joined via a video conference as they each read their contributions to the landmark project.
Alcuitas is the Editor and Publisher of PhilippineCanadianNews.Com, the first and only online newspaper linking the Filipino diaspora in Canada, and a long-time community journalist with a career that spans four decades.
He started the first Filipino newspaper, ‘Silangan’ in western Canada in 1976.
Gatchalian credited Alcuitas for making the dream project a reality with his persistence and the time he invested to start the project from scratch.
“I didn’t know how to write an anthology. I even had to google how to write an anthology,” Alcuitas said in jest during the forum that followed the book reading. It was the late author and poet Jim Wong – Chu, who founded the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop (ACWW), that encouraged and pushed Alcuitas to do the anthology. Magdaragat is dedicated to Jim Wong Chu.
He added that Gatchalian helped him find other writers and in applying for a grant to finance the project.
However, faced with the reality that anthologies do not sell as much, Gatchalian revealed that finding a publisher who offered them a publishing deal in less than 24 hours was among the wonderful things that happened to them. Cormorant Books is set to release the book in November.
“It was incredible. It never happens in the literary world. I think that’s testament to how timely and needed this book is,” Gatchalian related.
The next challenge was to finalize the content and to trim down the stories from 100 submissions to 49 contributions.
“We got close to a 100 submissions from coast to coast to coast. We have authors from every part of Canada, not just from the major centers like Vancouver and Toronto. We have representation from the Yukon, from Atlantic Canada,” he added.
Gatchalian said they were amazed with the abundance of talent and ability in the submissions that they received after the open call prior to the pandemic.
Ranada, a novelist whose work The Cine Star Salon (NeWest Press) was published in 2021, hopes this project will only be the first of anthologies from Filipino-Canadian writers.
“The anthology is very important especially for future generations of Filipino Canadians and other Filipinos coming to the country because I think it makes our identity more resilient. To see our people as part of the literary fabric…it just affirms our our presence (and) it’s not just about the visibility…it’s also about claiming our memories and experience because if we don’t do that ourselves a more dominant culture will will tell our stories and it’s our own stories to tell,” Ranada said.
Rivera, a poet, writer and editor, talked about the depth of the writings and how the authors used their emotions, voices and histories to create something.
“The anthology has brought out the best from our young and upcoming writers. Readers will be amazed how deep and creative our writers in the Filipino-Canadian community are,” Rivera added.
Her first poetry collection, Puti/White (Frontenac House Media, Calgary, Alberta, 2005), was shortlisted for the 2006 Canadian Trillium Book Award for Poetry. She has also published three other books of poetry, The Bride Anthology (Frontenac House Media, 2007), BE, (Signature Editions, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2011), and The Time Between (Signature Editions, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2018) as well as co-authored two chapbooks, Weathering: An Exchange of Poems (Silver Maple Press, 2008) and Sixth from the Sixth (2001).
About The Moderator
Born and raised on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh peoples (“Vancouver”), currently dividing his time between “Vancouver” and Tkaronto (“Toronto”), C.E. Gatchalian is a Filipinx queer neurodivergent author, editor and playwright. The author of six books and co-editor of two anthologies, he was the 2013 recipient of the Dayne Ogilvie Prize and a three-time Lambda Literary Award finalist. His memoir, Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty and the Making of a Brown Queer Man, was published in 2019 by Arsenal Pulp Press. He is a recipient of the one-time only British Columbia Lieutenant Governor's Arts & Music Awards for his contributions to the arts in BC.
About The Readers
Teodoro ‘Ted’ Alcuitas is Editor & Publisher of PhilippineCanadianNews.Com, the first and only online newspaper linking the Filipino diaspora in Canada. A long-time community journalist that spans four decades starting when he started the first Filipino newspaper, ‘Silangan’ in western Canada in 1976.
Filipino-Canadian poet, writer, and editor Patria Rivera’s first poetry collection, Puti/White (Frontenac House Media, Calgary, Alberta, 2005), was shortlisted for the 2006 Canadian Trillium Book Award for Poetry. She has also published three other books of poetry, The Bride Anthology (Frontenac House Media, 2007), BE, (Signature Editions, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2011), and The Time Between (Signature Editions, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2018) as well as co-authored two chapbooks, Weathering: An Exchange of Poems (Silver Maple Press, 2008) and Sixth from the Sixth (2001). In Fall 2023, Magdaragat: An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing, a book Rivera co-edited, will be released by Cormorant Books. Rivera’s poetry is featured in Oxford University Press’s Perspectives in Ideology, and in Elana Wolff’s Implicate me: short essays on reading contemporary poems. Rivera has received fellowships from the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Hawthornden Castle International Writers’ Retreat Centre in Scotland. She was also a recipient of the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry. Born and raised in the Philippines, Rivera graduated with a journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.
Leah Ranada’s writing is informed by her childhood in Metro Manila and eventual move to Vancouver in 2006, where she made writing her permanent home. In 2013, she attended The Writer’s Studio (TWS) at SFU. She released her debut novel, The Cine Star Salon (NeWest Press), in 2021 and is very honoured to have her story included in Magdaragat – An Anthology of Filipino-Canadian Writing (Cormorant Books, 2023). Leah’s works have also been published in On Spec, Room Magazine, Santa Ana River Review, and elsewhere.