Military Bases, "Royalty Trips," and Imperial Modernities: Gendered and Racialized Labor in the Postcolonial Philippines

By Gonzalez, Vernadette V. | Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Military Bases, "Royalty Trips," and Imperial Modernities: Gendered and Racialized Labor in the Postcolonial Philippines


Gonzalez, Vernadette V., Frontiers - A Journal of Women's Studies


The best thing you can do to beat the heat or the rain is to bring along your retractable roof and pay her after the game. Umbrella girls are a phenomenon unique to Southeast Asia where there are a lot of women in the labor force. If you feel like taking a "royalty trip" just ask for an umbrella girl, and one will be provided.

Buddy Resurreccion, "Local Style" (1)

[T]he people there are very, very trainable for the hospitality industry.

Tony Gonzales, quoted in What's On & Expat (2)

**********

The epigraphs that introduce this essay are part of the gendered and racialized discourses that construct and manage low-skilled Filipina labor in the Philippines today. The first is an excerpt from a guidebook that characterizes the Philippines as a series of golf destinations for the (mostly Asian) golf tourist. Its author, a local Filipino writer and golfer, places Filipina service in the familiar tradition of accommodating colonial servant who happens to be the recipient of the trickle-down benevolence of golf development. The umbrella girl, holding an umbrella over the vacationing golfer while he walks up and down the fairways, epitomizes the gendered relations of labor that the transnational leisure class has come to depend on for its exotic "royalty trip." The second epigraph is a quotation from former Secretary of Tourism Tony Gonzales describing the available exploitable labor force at the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ or Clark hereafter), earlier the site of the United States' Clark Air Force Base. At Clark, one of Gonzales's pet projects involved the conversion of part of the military grounds into a privately run "leisure estate," complete with a twenty-seven-hole golf course and the cheap, "trainable" labor to make such an enterprise profitable and attractive to investors. Plentiful numbers of malleable, willing, and desperate workers are the present-day boon for global capital. For both men, the overabundance of labor is not a problem that has larger socioeconomic causes and consequences but rather a unique opportunity for corporate investors and tourists. The sentiments in the epigraphs construct a moment in which recourse to the potentials and joys of economic neoliberalization requires the suspension of a critique of the neocolonial Philippine economy. Here, the racialized and gendered labor of the Filipina body (as surplus, as trainable) not only justifies and enables the discourses of uplift so necessary to the project of Philippine economic development and modernization, it also ensures and distinguishes the privileged positions these men occupy in Philippine society.

The body of the Filipina--as a trope of manageable, cheap, and available "service" in state and private development discourses and as a material laboring presence in the modern Filipino diaspora--operates as a crucial bridge between the colonial period and the present day in the Philippines. Specifically, I examine the ways in which Filipina bodies are crucial to the narratives and projects of progress and modernity operating within the transforming space of a former American military base in the Philippines. What are the critical continuities of colonial discourses and structures of racialized and gendered labor in an ostensibly postmilitary, postoccupation space? In tandem with this analysis, it is also important to examine the ways in which the Filipina body enables critical linkages between empire and modernity for scholars and activists invested in issues of feminism and postcoloniality in the changing and uneven terrains of globalization.

What also occurs in the epigraphs above is the elision of the protracted colonial history of the Philippines through the innocuous narratives of leisure and service, as if such a history was already safely over and the pleasures of hospitality can again be enjoyed without colonial guilt. Indeed, in the epigraphs, the provision of much-needed jobs to the "people there" is rendered philanthropic--the effect of neoliberal economic policies the Philippine state has embraced in the past twenty-five years, through which the state cedes even basic welfare concerns to corporate and private interests. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Military Bases, "Royalty Trips," and Imperial Modernities: Gendered and Racialized Labor in the Postcolonial Philippines
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.