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Leaving Our Shadows Behind Us is a debut poetry collection by Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo which recounts experiences growing up in the Philippines, years as a migrant worker living under harsh conditions in the Middle East, and eventual immigration to Hawaii. The poems celebrate and perpetuate the Filipino community’s culture, traditions, and heritage of hard-working people. Writing in English, his second language, Pizo takes great care to craft his pieces, translating his feelings into poetry, reinterpreting his life experiences, and working diligently to maintain authenticity.
Challenging stereotypes, he talks about the injustice and prejudice Filipinos often encounter as migrant or immigrant workers, giving us a raw glimpse of the hardships many men and women face when they leave the Philippines and go out into the world.Elmer Omar Bascos Pizo comes from a family of farmers, teachers, and religious leaders in La Union, Ilocos Sur, and Pangasinan, the Philippines. After high school, he entered St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary, transferred to Benguet State University, and graduated with an Agriculture degree in 1981. For a time, he farmed before teaching Poultry Production at a National High School. He then went to Saudi Arabia to work as a Greenhouse Agriculturist. To record the cruel working conditions that he and his co-workers encountered, he began writing a journal. A resident of Ewa Beach for the last 22 years, he now works as a handyman, having worked as an outreach worker for the Hawaii Department of Health’s Tuberculosis Program and inspector for its Vector Control Program for nearly16 years.
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