Balikbayan: A Filipino Homecoming

Balikbayan: A Filipino Homecoming


Balikbayan: A Filipino Homecoming, originally published in 1986, features eleven short stories that evoke the sights, sounds, and ironies of the contemporary Philippines and provides a creative and enlightening look into the lives and moods of everyday Filipino life.

"Faith Healer," from Balikbayan, was selected for the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project.


Michelle Cruz Skinner is also the author of short story collections In the Company of Strangers as well as the novel Mango Seasons, nominated for the 1996 Philippine National Book Award. She is a teacher at Punahou School where, yes, she does ask her students to write and perform their own work.


“Michelle Cruz Skinner, only 22, is wiser than most who have lived much longer. She understands the ways of humankind. Her stories are written with such simplicity that the truth they convey shines with urgency the proper reader cannot miss. Even the very short ones, hardly stories, have this intensity. Take “A Modern Parable.” It’s short but deadly. The author knows her American bases in the Philippines: the bars, the beggars, the Philippine girls, the wayward and the poor, the American servicemen, the colored and the white, their transformation far away from home. In “In the Neon City by the River” Michelle Skinner reveals all these. “They always stop for us,” from the mouth of an American serviceman, sums it all up. “All Souls” fills me with nostalgia for a world I used to be a part of. And, of course, “Balikbayan”—the tragedy of the returning native who finds herself a stranger in her own land after a long absence. The variety of the stories impresses and delights me. Although some of the stories are pole apart, they are all touched with authenticity and feeling. I think very highly of her art.”

—Bienvenido N. Santos, author of Scent of Apples

Balikbayan is an excellent and convincing presentation of the ironies and contradictions of contemporary Philippines culture, with a fine sense of character and, particularly, visual detail.”
—Ian Macmillan, author of Proud Monster

“These are wonderful stories, and they offer rare and timeless insights into the Philippines now and in the recent past. Rare because Michelle Cruz Skinner is a born-and-raised Filipina but also an American, so her vision bridges both worlds. Timeless because we are made to care for the people in these stories, especially the young people, and the human heart is universal. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a first book, even for a clearly-talented writer.”
—Robert Shapard, editor of Sudden Fiction