CEBU by Peter Bacho


Email this review


 It's coming-of-age time in the Philippines, where a young American priest returns to bury his mother, question his faith, find his home, and fall in love. Ben Lucero first visits Cebu, his mother's hometown near Manila, when he travels there for her funeral. As a guest in the home of his wealthy and powerful Aunt Clara, he finds himself disoriented by the unfamiliarity of Filipino life--especially when confronted by the spectacle of self-inflicted crucifixion, a grisly local custom by which penitents attempt to placate the divine wrath--and overwhelmed by his sudden infatuation for Ellen, his aunt's secretary. Gradually and belatedly, Ben discovers the forces and events that shaped his family and formed the silent, unknown background of his life: the brutality of the Japanese occupation, the poverty and clannishness of Filipino life, the weird syncretism of the indigenous Catholicism, the pervasive corruption of the island authorities. He flees to the security of his native Seattle, but there he finds himself haunted by his recollections of Cebu, and impelled by circumstance to resolve the doubts he has experienced regarding his faith and identity. Bacho writes with a light touch, lending an ambiguity to his narration that can be frustrating but is more usually intriguing. His characters and situations reflect a maturity rarely found in first novels, and his ending, in its refusal to provide a simple resolution, succeeds in adding a new depth to an already-intricate construction. A sensitive--and convincing--debut.*justify no*

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-295-97113-4
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Univ. of Washington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1991


IndieCULTURE CLASH by Benjamin Long
by Benjamin Long