Portrait of Peter Bacho
Peter Bacho

Filipino writer Peter Bacho grew up in Seattle’s Central District during the 1950s and 60s. His working class family struggled to make a living in Seattle. As Bacho explained in an interview with International Examiner, it was an “era that was very hostile to people of color.”

It was through his childhood experiences that Bacho found his influence for writing and that “these were the stories that needed to be told.”

Bacho went on to be one of few from his generation to earn a college degree. In 1971, he went to law school, graduating four years later and passing the bar exam. This career path doesn’t align with Bacho’s eventual writing career, but in the same interview he mentions that he doesn’t “regret the education that law provided.” Instead of pursuing the traditional path of becoming a lawyer or attorney, Bacho became a teacher in the 1980s. Currently, he teaches in the Liberal Students Program at The Evergreen State College, Tacoma Campus in Washington.

Bacho is most known for his 1991 book called Cebu, winner of the American Book Award. As the book explains, it follows Ben Lucero, a Filipino American priest, and his journey to “come to terms with his bifurcated notion of home as well as his own religious commitment.” Through this book, Bacho hoped to bridge the gap and “examine the cultural differences between Filipino and Filipino American cultures.”

Last year, there were rumors of Cebu being turned into a movie. For Bacho, writing the book was a challenge. As he explained in his interview, writing “is just the writer, his imagination and skill, and a pad of paper and a pen–a very solitary, intimate existence. A writer worries about every sentence, every word. A script, on the other hand, is mostly scene and dialogue, and it is just the starting point, and so many others are involved.” Hopefully, as pursuit of Cebu as a movie will help bring Bacho’s Filipino American narrative to life. His interview with International Examiner included a preview of the trailer for Cebu. [Trailer link: http://www.iexaminer.org/2016/01/peter-bachos-award-winning-novel-cebu-may-be-made-into-a-film/ ]

Since Cebu, Bacho published his 1996 collection of short stories, Dark Blue Suit, a work of nonfiction called Boxing in Black and White, and two other novels. His latest work was a piece of young adult fiction called Leaving Yesler, released in 2010.

The University of Washington Press explains that “Bacho’s dramatization of the conflict between Filipino and Filipino American cultures conveys the concerns of the post-World War II generation with boldness and skill.” Bacho continues to encourage a dialogue about Filipino and Filipino American culture, and influence literature surrounding those often untold stories.