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

By Anna Romina Guevarra | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Home of the Great Filipino
Worker

I know that our president and our leaders want us to
believe that it is up to the individual Filipino to decide
to work overseas. [But] she has to consider her
financial status when making that decision. And her
financial status says that you don’t have a status!. So
you have to leave. There are a lot of promises about
giving us some opportunities to work here but nothing
really happens and Filipinos just end up going
overseas.

—A former overseas Filipina nurse in Saudi Arabia

WHILE WAITING in a cramped space of a recruitment agency’s reception area in Manila, a middle-aged woman sitting across from me asks, “Where are you going?” with the certainty that I was also a potential worker. She is one of the modern-day heroines of the Philippines who leave the country to join thousands of her compatriots in a crusade of hope and survival that they envision lie overseas.1 In her tired eyes and exasperated voice, she characterizes life in the Philippines as eternally hopeless and one to which she was returning unwillingly after a three-year terminal contract as a seamstress in Taiwan. “Life has become too hard here in the Philippines and I would have rather stayed in Taiwan, even if it meant becoming a janitor,” she tells me as she finds herself in this agency applying for a similar job. Her next destination: the Marshall Islands.

In retrospect, her question jarred me, not so much because she assumed that I was there to seek overseas employment but because it aptly served as a type of tagline, befitting a country whose citizens are on the move—those who willingly reconfigure their careers, their families,

-1-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Home of the Great Filipino Worker 1
  • Chapter 2 - Cultivating a Filipino Ethos of Labor Migration 21
  • Chapter 3 - Governing and (Dis)Empowering Filipino Migrants 50
  • Chapter 4 - Delivering "Our Contribution to the World" 87
  • Chapter 5 - Selling Filipinas’ Added Export Value 123
  • Chapter 6 - Living the Dream 155
  • Chapter 7 - Securing Their Added Export Value 178
  • Chapter 8 - Conclusion 204
  • Notes 211
  • References 225
  • Index 235
  • About the Author 253
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