Penning Filipino experiences

Photo courtesy of The Filipino-Canadian Writers Collective

The Filipino-Canadian Writers Collective consists of a young community of local writers who seek to showcase Filipino stories. Raphael Diangkinay, one of the founding members, will play a key role in hosting ‘Sampaguita Perspectives’ – a Celebration of Filipino-Canadian Writers which will be held on May 14 in the Montalbano Family Theatre at Vancouver Public Library.

I got into writing when I was around 10 or 11. I grew up in the Philippines and there was this one highway that had quoted the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer on a road sign. The image of a tree praying reminded me of my Lola (Filipino term for grandmother) and I started writing from there,’ Diangkinay says.

He explains that this was a prominent moment because a Joyce Kilmer poem on a road sign in the Philippines was an odd thing to see.

‘The contexts which surround both my memories, history and how the perspective of migration changes that is what informs most of my writing,’ he says.

A collective to empower writers

Diangkinay became affiliated with the Filipino Writers Collective through mutual friends with the shared community circle, and he was part of the initial group who founded the collective. Its inception was spurred by a few of the current members attending a talk by Elaine Castillo (a Filipina-American writer) at the Vancouver Writers Festival.

The collective has since formed a network of support. They empower local Filipino writers in Vancouver to share their culture and dual identity, weaving in themes of diaspora within their writing.

‘The collective at the moment shares writing opportunities with each other, assists in workshopping each other’s writing and participates in events,’ Diangkinay explains.

A cross-cultural approach

Raphael Diangkinay, one of the founding members of The Filipino-Canadian Writers Collective | Photo courtesy of Raphael Diangkinay

His interest in connecting Filipino culture and influences to his writing results from the intertwinement of the two cultures that he experiences on a daily basis living in Vancouver.

“I think is a perspective shared by most immigrants and also a large majority of the Filipino diasporic community,” he says.

Through the collective and their literary events, he is able to draw on his own experience to discuss emergent themes of Filipino-Canadian diaspora. The collective shares resources and readings with each other to inspire and inform their literary style and rhetoric. It allows him and other kindreds to express the duality associated with displacement, and provides an opportunity for introspection for the wider community.

The upcoming Sampaguita Perspectives literary evening will feature both short stories and spoken word. It serves as a celebration of some of the best emerging talent from Canadian writers of the Filipino diaspora in an intimate setting.

Writers who will also be presenting their work include Moses CC, Nathalie De Los Santos, Carlo Javier, IJssel Jacob Ruiz and Tiffany Tarampi.

‘The overall objective of the evening is just to share writing and have a good time. It’s a very brief way of showing the different voices that are coming out of the community,’ says Diangkinay.

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