With colonialism evolving into full-blown imperialism at the end of the 19th century, uneven development of global capitalism has impacted on the underdevelopment of the Philippines as a colonial possession of the United States. Although formally independent today, the Philippines has remained a neocolonial polity, thus its subordination to neoliberal policies of US-dominated agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, WTO, etc. In the last three decades it has become one of the largest suppliers of quasi-enslaved “warm bodies”, its labour-export policy functioning as a central mechanism for defending the oligarchic, comprador ruling bloc and its foreign links from local insurgencies (primarily Marxist and Islamic). While the state has “brokered” this dependence on remittances from 9–10 million overseas Filipinos, its orientation has been to serve primarily US geopolitical interests and transnational profiteers. Unequal power relations among nation-states, inflected by gendered and racialised ascriptions of value, determine the nature of the “flows” in goods, investments, human and natural resources in the postmodern “free market”, concealing fierce class war on a global scale. Dialectically, the Filipino diaspora has emerged as a contradictory tendency to this mode of labour exploitation and gendered, racialised ideological controls. This paper explores the ramifications of this contradiction between emergent nationalist impulses and conservative, reactionary tendencies within and outside the Philippine social formation.
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