CapU alumnus and former Courier editor Carlo Javier explores Filipino identity in a story about janitors who clean up murders for assassins
Megan Amato // Associate News Editor
Last summer as Carlo Javier struggled to dip his toes into the torrent of gainful employment, he found himself instead dipping his proverbial pen into the ink. His nine-page speculative fiction features an underground business of Filippino immigrants who moonlight as janitors and clean up after assassins. It was published in an anthology by Ricepaper Magazine in collaboration with the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop and Dark Helix Press. “Janitors” is a narrative that plays on your imagination as it digs into issues surrounding the realities many Filipino immigrants face working in North America.
Despite its moral ambiguity and late-night setting that plays on the noir genre, Javier’s main purpose was social commentary. Many of the Filipino-Canadian’s he knows work one or two jobs during the day before heading back out for night janitorial work. After Javier graduated and struggled to find work in the communications industry, he worried that all his experience and education would go to waste and he would end up a janitor. “Not that it’s a bad thing, but knowing that even though I had a college education and a lot of experiences, I always had this thought that this is a very real possibility,” Javier said. Instead of panicking, however, he found that writing was “almost like an escapist way…to find catharsis.”
The story highlights a hierarchy between those who immigrated before and after high school through a character named Lorna, who can’t become an assassin because she wasn’t educated in Canada. It’s a theme that is all too familiar to Javier, who emigrated from the Philippines with his family when he was 12-years-old. Many in his community who immigrated later struggled to find work in their previous fields despite their skill and experience. “A lot of them are very skilled and very educated. They have years of professional job experience but it’s not going to translate as seamlessly in terms of what industry expectations and standards are here,” Javier said. “A lot of dreams kind of get thrown away and forgotten through that. That character was a vehicle for that. I tried to make it as explicit as I could make it.”
Javier graduated with a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Capilano University in 2017 and was a former Editor-In-Chief for the Capilano Courier. He credits his Communications degree—especially the faculty—as being monumental in preparing him for narrative writing. After graduation, he submitted his work to publications and short-story contests including Ricepaper Magazine. Despite his nonchalance and modesty regarding the progression of his writing career, it’s clear that perseverance and strategic planning are more involved in the process than luck.
You can find Javier’s story in Ricepaper Magazine’s anthology “Immersion: An Asian Anthology of Love, Fantasy, and Speculative Fiction” on Amazon. For those interested in hearing more from him and other Asian-Canadian authors, a reading will take place at 1pm on Dec. 7th at the Sun Wah Centre in Vancouver.