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Migrants for Export

Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Migrants for Export
    Book Description:

    Robyn Magalit Rodriguez investigates how and why the Philippine government transformed itself into what she calls a labor brokerage state, which actively prepares, mobilizes, and regulates its citizens for migrant work abroad. Drawing on ethnographic research of the Philippine government’s migration bureaucracy, interviews, and archival work, Rodriguez presents a new analysis of neoliberal globalization and its consequences for nation-state formation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7360-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Neoliberalism and the Philippine Labor Brokerage State
    (pp. ix-xxviii)

    During a state visit to the United States in 2003, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo aggressively encouraged U.S. business-people to hire Philippine workers to fill their employment needs in the territorial United States and beyond. When American colonizers encountered Filipinos in 1898, they considered them a backward and savage lot who were, nevertheless, sufficiently educable. The United States proceeded to violently conquer the Filipino people and then, with a policy of “benevolent assimilation,” schooled them into being proper colonial subjects who could labor for the nascent empire. Arroyo assures her audience that American colonial education adequately served its purpose and even...

  5. 1 The Emergence of Labor Brokerage: U.S. Colonial Legacies in the Philippines
    (pp. 1-18)

    At Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport outbound airplanes to Seoul, Rome, Kuala Lumpur, Doha, and Sydney depart daily filled with thousands of migrant workers, men and women, young and old. The taxis or colorfuljeepneys¹ that make their way to the airport and throughout the streets of Metro Manila are decorated with the names and images of faraway destinations like “Saudi Arabia,” “Japan,” or “San Francisco” as tribute to the migrants working in those places whose remittances funded their purchase and operation. The drivers of these very taxis orjeepneysare often themselves either waiting for a new opportunity to...

  6. 2 A Global Enterprise of Labor: Mobilizing Migrants for Export
    (pp. 19-49)

    Philippine migrant workers are practically everywhere. Wherever I have traveled, internationally and within the United States, I always encounter workers from the Philippines. When in Madrid as part of an international Philippine studies conference, I came across a Filipina caregiver walking with a young Spanish child. Interestingly enough, it was during a tour of the stomping grounds of Philippine anticolonial nationalist writer José Rizal. In South Africa during a vacation with my family in Cape Town I observed hundreds of Filipino seafarers enjoying, like us, a beautiful day at the Victoria and Albert Waterfront. When I checked in to my...

  7. 3 Able Minds, Able Hands: Marketing Philippine Workers
    (pp. 50-74)

    Photographs depicting Philippine workers employed as professionals, medical workers, operations and maintenance workers, construction workers, hotel workers, and seafarers are scattered throughout a glossy brochure entitled “Filipino Workers: Moving the World Today” produced by the POEA’s Marketing Branch.¹ The text of the brochure, meant for distribution to prospective employers and host governments, describes the unique characteristics Philippine workers bring to various jobs. For example, it describes how Filipino professionals are:

    equipped with extensive educational training and a natural ability to adapt to different work cultures. They are ideally suited in any multi-racial working environment given a facility with the English...

  8. 4 New National Heroes: Patriotism and Citizenship Reconfigured
    (pp. 75-92)

    The week of the signing of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, or Republic Act 8042 (RA8042), was officially declared “Migrant Heroes Week” by the Philippine government. All the Philippines’ migration agencies mark the signing of RA8042 with commemorative activities every June to showcase the expanded support and assistance Philippine government agencies in the Philippines and throughout the world promise to Philippine citizens working abroad.

    The opening ceremonies for Migrant Heroes Week in 2000, however, seemed especially significant for migration officials at the POEA, given that 2000 was declared “The Year of the Overseas Filipino Worker” by...

  9. 5 The Philippine Domestic: Gendered Labor, Family, and the Nation-State
    (pp. 93-115)

    When Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion was sentenced to death in 1995 by the Singaporean government for allegedly murdering a fellow Filipina domestic worker and the child in her care, thousands of Filipinos in the Philippines and around the world rallied to demand that the Philippine state stop her impending execution. Protesters believed Contemplacion had been falsely accused. Many thought that Contemplacion had been set up to take the fall for a Singaporean, possibly her employer. The protests were a culmination of many Filipinos’ long-standing critiques of the Philippine government’s migration program, especially in relation to migrant women workers. Though...

  10. 6 Migrant Workers’ Rights? Regulating Remittances and Repatriation
    (pp. 116-140)

    In May 2001, nearly seven hundred Filipina and Filipino workers employed at sister garment factories producing clothing for U.S. retailers such as the Gap and Old Navy went on a wildcat strike. They demanded higher wages as well as fair compensation for their piece-rate and overtime work. Though the strike involved Philippine workers, it did not take place in any of the Philippines’ export-processing zones: it took place in Brunei, a neighboring country. Philippine migrants enlisted the assistance of the Brunei-based Philippine embassy and consular officers in negotiating a settlement between themselves, their Malaysian-Chinese employers, the Brunei government, and their...

  11. Conclusion: The Globalization of the Labor Brokerage State
    (pp. 141-155)

    The central question that this book has explored is how and why citizens from the Philippines have come to be the most globalized workforce on the planet. I have argued that the answer to this question lies in the emergence of the Philippine state as a labor brokerage state. Though it is true that ordinary men and women in the Philippines desire employment abroad, and sometimes their desire to migrate may be motivated by completely noneconomic consideration, the task ofMigrants for Exportis to dissect the Philippine state’s migration apparatus. As much as people make the final decisions about...

  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 156-158)
  13. Appendix: Mapping an Ethnography of the State
    (pp. 159-166)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 167-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-194)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-195)