Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers

Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers

Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers

Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes: The Transnational Labor Brokering of Filipino Workers

Synopsis

In a globalized economy that is heavily sustained by the labor of immigrants, why are certain nations defined as "ideal" labor resources and why do certain groups dominate a particular labor force? The Philippines has emerged as a lucrative source of labor for countries around the world. In Marketing Dreams, Manufacturing Heroes Anna Romina Guevarra focuses on the Philippines--which views itself as the "home of the great Filipino worker"--and the multilevel brokering process that manages and sends workers worldwide. She unravels the transnational production of Filipinos as ideal migrant workers by the state and explores how race, color, class, and gender operate.

The experience of Filipino nurses and domestic workers--two of the country's prized exports--is at the core of the research, which utilizes interviews with employees at labor brokering agencies, state officials from governmental organizations in the Philippines, and nurses working in the United States. Guevarra's multisited ethnography reveals the disciplinary power that state and employment agencies exercise over care workers--managing migration and garnering wages--to govern social conduct, and brings this isolated yet widespread social problem to life.

Excerpt

These are some of the terraces made by our men here.
They certainly enhance the exquisite landscape and
panoramic view of Wadi Derna. I intend to plant
ahugebillboard onthe flatground proclaiming
“HANDIWORK of filipino crusaders tor libyan
progress and development.”

—Cornelius Guevarra, migrant
worker, November 24, 1982

I arrived in manila on September 2, 2001, with an overwhelming sense that I was entering a strangely familiar place. After sitting on a plane filled with a group of boisterous and animated Filipina workers who were returning home from Japan and then being immediately greeted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with a cardboard cutout of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo bearing a welcome sign hailing overseas Filipino workers as bagong bayani (modern-day heroes), I felt a momentary sense of validation that I was in the right place. While I was aware of the ways in which the Philippine state has imbued its overseas employment program with social value by recognizing Filipinos’ participation in it as a form of social heroism, I was ill prepared to embrace fully the degree to which the pursuit of overseas work directed people’s life goals to the extent that their hope of a “better” livelihood resides outside the Philippines.

Mag abroad na lang tayo (let us go/work abroad). This sentiment echoed the everyday conversations of people I met, befriended, or observed while studying the Philippines and its culture of labor migration; it was a place engulfed with the notion of overseas migration as Filipinos’ ultimate “opportunity.” Whether standing in a grocery checkout line, viewing television programs interrupted by news reports of . . .

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