Photo c/o Lagalag Flickr group member ~MVI~
The online world is a marvelous thing. It has brought millions of people from the furthest parts of the globe closer, communicate like they were our next door neighbor. As a recent immigrant to Toronto the Net has served me even more in the last year I've been living in the Great White North, a way to keep in touch with my friends' and families' lives in the Philippines (WHO is married now? WHAT happened to Tita Bambi's daughter's husband?), as well as an instrumental tool in making me feel like Toronto could be home. Through Facebook and Flickr I met like-minded Pinoys based in the GTA that invited me to join their meetups, whether it's my photography collective (Pinoygraphers), my fellow Filipino mafia (F.A.M.) or this blog and the KPC. I thank the Internet gods for bringing these people into my life and making the transition into a Filipino-Canadian a little bit more comfortable for me.
It was also through social networking site Flickr that brought members of Lagalag together. A project of Palanca-award winning writer Willi Pascual, Lagalag (Filipino for traveler or wanderer) may have spawned in the online world but the premise of the project took journal-writing back to its bare roots: writing in an actual, moleskine journal. Yes, with a REAL pen and yes, with real pages you can touch. Just like it was when we said we "wrote in our journals/diaries" back in say, 1993. But the Lagalag notebooks aimed to verbalize not just one Filipino's story but forty from various parts of the globe. In a little over a year, the notebooks made their way to wherever the diaspora may have taken our countrymen to - from California to Cambodia, London to Yokohama and anywhere around and in between (yes, including Toronto).
The premise was simple: two moleskine notebooks would start with Willie in Napa, CA, and after filling four pages up with anecdotes, photographs, trinkets and souvenirs on "being Filipino", whether back home or abroad and the journeys, heartaches and triumphs that this entails. He mailed both notebooks to the next writers, and so on and so forth, traveling from North America through Europe, the Middle East and Asia as well as various provinces in the Philippines. Last week both journals were handed to their final destination, Manila-based journalist (and Toronto native) Daphne Osena-Paez, as seen in this PDI article.
It was through her blog that I first heard about the project. I started browsing through the entries via the photographs in this Flickr group and several thoughts started jumbling in my head. A melange of awe (these people are creative to say the least), sadness (stories about separation and starting over are a perrenial theme, especially in the immigrant experience), hope and inspiration (to start articulating my own immigrant experience, which I've been putting off for a year now), all while flipping through the virtual pages filled with expired passports and visas, old and new photographs, and words written in both English and our native tongue. I would love to physically leaf through every page and feel how each individual's penstroke would dig into the next page, a new page where another Pinoy a hundred miles away would be mulling over what sentence to start a story of love and patriotism with.
I highly encourage KPC blog readers to take a few hours to read through these photographs, posted on the Lagalag Flickr group, and hope they inspire you to write, speak or just feel.