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Migrants for Export

How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World

Robyn Magalit Rodriguez

Publication Year: 2010

Migrant workers from the Philippines are ubiquitous to global capitalism, with nearly 10 percent of the population employed in almost two hundred countries. In a visit to the United States in 2003, Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo even referred to herself as not only the head of state but also “the CEO of a global Philippine enterprise of eight million Filipinos who live and work abroad.”
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. Filipino men and women fill a range of jobs around the globe, including domestic work, construction, and engineering, and they have even worked in the Middle East to support U.S. military operations. At the same time, the state redefines nationalism to normalize its citizens to migration while fostering their ties to the Philippines. Those who leave the country to work and send their wages to their families at home are treated as new national heroes.
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.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Neoliberalism and the Philippine Labor Brokerage State

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pp. ix-29

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...

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1. The Emergence of Labor Brokerage: U.S. Colonial Legacies in the Philippines

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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 colorful jeepneys1 that make their way to the airport and throughout the streets of Metro Manila are decorated with the names...

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2. A Global Enterprise of Labor: Mobilizing Migrants for Export

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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...

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3. Able Minds, Able Hands: Marketing Philippine Workers

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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...

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4. New National Heroes: Patriotism and Citizenship Reconfigured

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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...

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5. The Philippine Domestic: Gendered Labor, Family, and the Nation-State

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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...

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6. Migrant Workers’ Rights? Regulating Remittances and Repatriation

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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...

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Conclusion: The Globalization of the Labor Brokerage State

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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...

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pp. 156-158

The beginnings of this book can be traced to Union City, Califor-Reuben, and I to smell the aroma of chicken adobo and to hear ani-This experience growing up ultimately led to the core questions thatthis book addresses: how and why Philippine (im)migrants come tofind themselves on nearly every continent on the planet. My fam-...

Appendix: Mapping an Ethnography of the State

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pp. 159-166


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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-194

About the Author

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pp. 195-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673605
E-ISBN-10: 0816673608
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816665280

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2010