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Dream Factories of a Former Colony

Dream Factories of a Former Colony: American Fantasies, Philippine Cinema

José B. Capino
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Dream Factories of a Former Colony
    Book Description:

    By tracking American fantasies in Philippine movies from the postindependence period to the present, José B. Capino offers an innovative account of cinema’s cultural work in decolonization and globalization. Through close readings of more than twenty Philippine movies, Capino demonstrates the postcolonial imagination’s vital role in generating pragmatic and utopian visions of living with empire.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7498-5
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Note on Translations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: A Tale of Two Sisters
    (pp. xiii-xxxiv)

    Some of the most impassioned, sensational, confounding American fantasies ever conjured on film are to be found in Philippine cinema. This is hardly surprising. Take for instanceOf Different Races(Magkaibang Lahi, 1947), a romance from the dream factories of America’s former colony. Ramon Estella’s film is a tale of two Filipina sisters who journey to the United States just as it was shuttering its empire in the newly independent republic. This fine example of studio-era Philippine cinema begins with the ultimate American rescue fantasy. A simulated newsreel depicts MacArthur’s fabled return to the Philippines to repulse the Japanese foe....

  6. Part I. Visions of Empire

    • 1 Terror Is a Man: Exploiting the Horrors of Empire
      (pp. 3-32)

      The task of rewriting the story of empire is arguably one of the chief projects of cinema during the long era of decolonization.¹ In the case of Philippine cinema, the most widely seen corpus of films about the encounter with U.S. imperialism consists not of historical dramas but of science-fiction horror films. A testimony to fantasy’s unpredictable workings, these “B-movies” tell imperialism’s history in scenes of blood-curdling terror, mild eroticism, and immensely pleasurable schlock. In what one might call a mundane case of unsolicited postcolonial justice, the films were seen not by the ex-colonized, who knew empire’s story well, but...

    • 2 My Brother Is Not a Pig: American Benevolence and Philippine Sovereignty
      (pp. 33-68)

      In the previous chapter, I showed how the ghosts of U.S. empire returned in the unlikely form of transnational horror films from the American ex-colony. This chapter studies confrontations with the present forms of empire through two strident political melodramas and one thriller film about the now-shuttered U.S. bases in the Philippines. As in the previous chapter, the films discussed here have a nightmarish quality, depicting imperialism in its ugliest forms. The natives’ militant response counters the imperialist’s own American fantasy: the dream of empire’s benevolence. This fantasy thrives on the belief that the United States’ “role in the world...

    • 3 (Not) Searching for My Father: GI Babies and Postcolonial Futures
      (pp. 69-104)

      How does a decolonizing nation fantasize about what is yet to come? In the first two chapters I examined, respectively, films exposing present forms of U.S. imperialism and films exorcizing the colonial past. Here I turn to specters of the future. More specifically, in this chapter, I study some of the ways in which Philippine cinema projects what a decolonizing nation imagines as the future relations between the ex-colonizer and the ex-colonized. This chapter focuses on three movies tracking the figure of the Amerasian: the so-called GI baby who, upon becoming an adult, tries to recuperate part of his or...

  7. Part II. Transnational Imaginings

    • 4 The Migrant Woman’s Tale: On Loving and Leaving Nations
      (pp. 107-134)

      The previous part of this book studied conjurations of past, present, and future encounters with American empire. My goal in this chapter and the next is to show how such real and imagined encounters shape dreams of belonging to America and the homeland. The particular American fantasy that concerns me here is arguably the most popular and widely assimilated: the American dream, or the myth of an individual’s success through sheer hard work in a land of opportunity and social equality.¹

      Filipinos have a complex relation to the fantasy of settling in the former imperial metropole. For some, success in...

    • 5 Filipino American Dreams: The Cultural Politics of Diasporan Films
      (pp. 135-168)

      In the previous chapter I explored the strains of a feminist challenge to patriarchy and nationalism in two films about Filipina migrant women. I discussed how these ex-colonial immigrants pursued their American dreams and renegotiated their place at home, in America, and in the old country. This chapter is also about Filipinos in America and their ties to both the United States and their homeland, but here I consider a different kind of immigrant fantasy, another story of decolonization, and a small but important corpus of Philippine filmmaking. I am concerned here with second-generation Filipino American immigrants and their fantasies...

  8. Part III. Global Ambitions

    • 6 Naked Brown Brothers: Exhibitionism and Festival Cinema
      (pp. 171-198)

      In part II of this book, I dealt with narratives on the Filipino’s place and selfhood in America. My task in the two chapters of part III is to examine how Filipinos use American fantasies to produce films that engage international audiences and global media culture. In these chapters, I will show how these films register the processes of globalization as well as how they provide vehicles for Filipinos to participate in the cultural realm of globality. If the American fantasies of the previous chapter were made of ethnic cuisine, slender noses, and debutante balls in Southern California, here the...

    • 7 Philippine Cinema’s Fatal Attractions: Appropriating Hollywood
      (pp. 199-234)

      In the previous chapter, I showed how Filipino filmmakers engage in the global commerce of festival cinema. Specifically, they aim their movies at imagined American or foreign spectators and purvey fantasies that appeal to gay men. These purposely crafted fantasies capitalize on the historical and contemporary specular relations, the practices of looking and being looked at, between Filipinos as ex-colonials and Americans as ex-colonizers. In this chapter, I consider movies that use a different tactic for participating in global film culture.

      In 1990, one of the top studios in the Philippines released its unabashed rip-off of the Hollywood sex drama...

  9. CODA: A Tale of Two Brothers
    (pp. 235-240)

    In the male melodramaDubai(Rory Quintos, 2005), two Filipino brothers reunite in the desert country after spending five years apart. There, Raffy (Aga Mulach) and his younger brother Andrew (John Lloyd Cruz) find time to reassess their cosmopolitan ambitions. When they were growing up in Manila, the brothers had shared an American fantasy that was quite different from what I have been discussing in this book. Their fantasy brings into view a split image of the northern dreamland, another “kind” of America. When they were boys, Raffy and Andrew dreamed of migrating to Canada, the country where their late...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 241-270)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 271-272)
  12. Index
    (pp. 273-290)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 291-291)