SOCIALLY TRANSFORMATIVE TRANSNATIONAL FEMINISM: FILIPINO WOMEN ACTIVISTS AT HOME AND ABROAD by MARIA LOURDES CARRILLO B. S., Northwestern University, 1970 M.S.P.A., University of Washington, 1972 M. Div., Vancouver School of Theology, 1993 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Women’s and Gender Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April 2009 © Maria Lourdes Carrillo, 2009 ABSTRACT Twelve Filipino women activists who shared the same ideology were interviewed in three locations: the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Vancouver, BC. The study considers how massive migration and displacement of Filipino women have produced transnational communities of struggle that are a source of political consciousness and positive social change. The research compares personal and social changes among those immersed in daily struggle under different circumstances. It looks at how and why women and communities are transformed in the very process of struggle -- women becoming more socially empowered and communities learning to be more assertive, democratic, and politically engaged. In the stories they tell, the women historicize, contextualize, and politicize actions for structural change. While transnational feminism appears to parallel global strategies of transnational entities and nation-states, feminist movements struggle to be relevant. Mohanty (2003) sees anti- globalization activism as imperative for feminist solidarity, yet feminist projects continue to seek focused, collective efforts against neo-Iiberalism. This group’s activism enhances our understanding of feminist praxis. They jointly address neo-colonial domination (capitalist globalization) and systemic race-class-gender oppression. Economic experiences of those from a poor Majority World nation and actions from socially and politically conscious activists are integrated into community-based and academic feminist theorizing. Their analyses of global trade/labour trafficking contribute to learning about responsible communities and hope for transnational solidarity. This project proposes a socially transformative feminism that does not merely recognize anti- globalization efforts, but analyzes progressive feminist praxis that points to women’s liberation as directly linked to positive structural change locally, nationally, and transnationally, while already demonstrating its possibility. Citing the work of Mohanty (2003), Tuhiwai-Smith (2002), Sandoval (2000), and community-based research by the Philippine Women Centre of BC (1 996-2006), it builds on feminist research and social change movements. It focuses on marginalized women’s/communities’ capacity to show creative assertion and political participation, and examines criteria for what is socially transformative. The study concludes by reassessing the relationship of feminism and transnationalism in the context of these women’s lives and work — the realities of migration, the dialectics of women’s marginalization and empowerment, and the perpetual, constantly changing nature of social transformation. TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract ii Table of Contents iii Listof Figures iv Acknowledgements V Dedication vi Part I Framing the Study 1 Chapter One: Introduction 2 Chapter Two: Theoretical Framework 51 Chapter Three: Methodology 87 Part II Analysis and Interpretation of Data 118 Chapter Four: Common Beginnings, Common Struggles 119 Chapter Five: Domesticity and Political Activism 184 Chapter Six: Community Based Feminist Praxis as a Model of Social Transformation 220 Conclusions and Reflections 263 Chapter Seven: Social Transformation and Trans/National Solidarity 264 Bibliography 295 Appendices 313 One: Certificate of Approval Behavioural Research Ethics Board 314 Two: Interview Questions 315 Three: Key to Codes and Coding Form 317 Four: Comparison of Live-In versus Live-Out Domestic Help 323 Five: Marcos-Martial Law 1972 & Macapagal-Arroyo State of Emergency 2006.. .325 III LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1 Three Intersecting Problems of the Philippine State 28 Figure 2 Theoretical Framework 52 Figure 3 Participants 103 Figure 4 Summary of Common Issues 208 Figure 5 Effective Feminist Praxis in Response to National and Women’s Issues 261 iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to express my profound gratitude to my doctoral committee: Dr. Shauna Butterwick, Dr. Valerie Raoul (Chair), and Dr. Sunera Thobani, who guided me through their lenses as professors, feminist scholars, and community activists. In these pages, their effort, time, and wisdom are woven in with mine, allowing me the experience to richly and dynamically integrate academic scholarship with community-based perspectives. I wish to thank the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies (the Centre for Women’s Research and Gender Studies when I started), the graduate students, and its directors: Dr. Valerie Raoul when I applied, Dr. Sneja Gunew during the period of my courses and comprehensives, and Dr. Gillian Creese in the phases of writing and revisions. I thank the graduate student advisors during my studies: Dr. Isabel Dyck, Dr. Geraldine Pratt, and Dr. Nora Angeles. Wynn Archibald and Jane Charles, CWGS staff, have been witnesses and gentle support during this time. I extend my gratitude to my friends who I met at UBC, friends in Vancouver, and those in other parts of Canada and abroad, who have witnessed my journey through this research study and offered me their constant vigilance and nurture. I thank my friends who helped me transcribe hours of audiotapes, and some who read many parts and versions of this thesis and gave me valuable feedback. I have you in my grateful heart, specifically and individually. My profound and heartfelt thanks goes to my partner, Marcelino Denis-Beltran and our son, David, who understood what I was trying to achieve, respected my work and my necessary absences, and guessed accurately when I needed to be taken away and loved. V DEDICATION I dedicate this work to all the women in this study who have devoted their lives to the struggle of Filipino people and most especially, Filipino women. Whether in the Philippines, Canada, or the Netherlands, they have risked their lives and made sacrifices that deepened my understanding of nations’ struggles. What I have learned from them has changed me and inspired my public life. I dedicate this work with utmost respect and humility to the Filipino people who deserve a prosperous society, and who continue to struggle for change at the highest cost through means that manifest, and lead to, genuine peace and justice. I honour the volunteers and staff of the Philippine Women Centre of BC and other groups in Canada under the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada, the women’s organization in the Netherlands, Pinay sa Holland, and GABRIELA Philippines including the groups there to which the women in this study belong. Finally, I offer this work to my parents, Crispina Giorla de Guzman and Francisco Lopez Carrillo, who instilled in me the compassion for the poorest of the poor and bequeathed the enduring value of study. I offer this work to my sister Liza who modeled the way to achieving a doctoral degree with humility and diligence, and who, with full support of my brother-in-law Tom, has translated this advanced degree to the service of others; Manolo, my sister-in-law May and three nieces Lisa, Anna, and Julie, who accept me with warm and intelligent curiosity; and my brother John, whose music accompanied me through these years. I honour all of their achievements, academic or otherwise, and share mine with them. vi PART I FRAMING THE STUDY “Ang taong nagigipit, kahit sa patalim ay kakapit.” “A person in dire straits, cornered, will cling even to a knife’s edge”. --Filipino saying 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Personal Preamble: Situating the Researcher It is perhaps with great presumption that I claim that this study both records an important part of the history-in-the-making of Filipino women at the start of this millennium and participates in it. When I first came to North America to enter second-year of university in 1968, I learned some lessons very quickly: not those of my own history as a young Filipino woman, but from the experience of being a visitor to a wealthy United States mansion. Ignoring my own privileges in the Philippines, I was mesmerized by the size and scope of affluence in the US. I remember one of my first trips to Kroger’s grocery store in Evanston, Illinois, when I whispered to myself, “This is just like Manila, only bigger and better.” Some fifteen years later, as I was leaving Merida, Venezuela, where I had lived for almost five years, to return to Canada, I looked down Avenida 2 at the market and said to myself, “I am not likely to ever see this type of under- development again.” Now, over twenty years later, I can no longer frame my perceptions and experiences in “privileged” terms, or compare in binary terms who or what is “bigger and better,” “developed or underdeveloped.” Further, I see that escaping and abandoning “Third World” experiences as I did then, not appreciating them but feeling indifference instead (even shame), became reasons for personal remorse and social radicalization. This study, therefore, hopes to contribute to the assertion of a Majority World story that makes history. The words and feelings of Filipino women in the midst of social revolution, militancy, and creative action at home and abroad are history-in-the-making, within the dialectics of personal awakenings intertwined with local, national, and transnational social change. The origin of this study lies in the multiple experiences of a community of Filipino women living, like myself, in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), who were or are immigrants or migrant workers, spanning two generations. Some of those from the younger generation were born in 2 the Philippines to immigrant parents or migrant workers, while others are Canadian-born with either one or both parents being Filipino. As an immigrant whose Filipino parents now live in Los Angeles, California, I am situated as a member of this politically active community. My link is particularly with a women’s organization within the community, the Philippine Women Centre of BC, working in solidarity with other Filipino organizations and community groups advocating for social change both here and in the Philippines. I am an “academic” researcher whose aim is to further the re-conceptualization of feminism from “the margins” or the “Third World,” while being a “community” researcher and activist aware of the potential impact of this study on the community’s understanding of itself. I negotiate an interactive, fluid terrain between and through academic and community research, in the hope of contributing to an understanding of feminist methodology and feminist theory informed, shaped, and (re-)conceptualized by my own and others’ lived experience. Although I am learning about various women’s communities’ struggles, my own struggles within and outside the community as an educated, academic, socio-economically privileged Filipino woman from a non-peasant, non-migrant-worker class, need also to be acknowledged. This position is a springboard to (re-)conceptualizing notions of solidarity among women, in women’s communities that have, among other differences, diverse race and class perspectives (as discussed by Freire, 2004; Mohanty, 2003; Naples, 2003; Narayan, 2000). My own awareness of the intersections of race, class, and gender comes from my personal experiences as a transplanted young Filipino woman who first studied in the US and then became an immigrant to Canada. It was not until my involvement in the Philippine Women Centre in the late 1980s that I became aware of the interlocking oppression of women in marginalized communities in a North American/Canadian context and the complex analysis required to name their experiences. It was obvious to me that intersectionality, for Filipino women, is part of our lives as well as something to be theorized: that poor, brown women from 3 the “Third World” still serve affluent, white, “First World” employers is nothing new, and I understood easily that this needs to be explained and contested. My increasing consciousness of how the impact of gender discrimination compounds that of race and class (through grassroots organizing and later theoretical framing of this intersectionality) led me to commit to a feminist perspective in the many sites of struggle in my work experience and range of studies. These have encompassed theology, education, labour, non-governmental sectors, community organizing, conflict resolution, and academic feminist studies. Given the persistence of patriarchy, the effective tools of racism, and increasing class disparities in the world today, an intersectional analysis of women’s liberation in relation to a specific “national liberation” movement, where both men and women participate, is still an important task. Thus, a race- class-gender analysis will be developed and applied in this study, focusing on the Philippine context and building on the work of scholars who have already thrown light on these relations1. Aims: Research Hypotheses and Questions This research project seeks to find out more about the history-making activism of women from the “Majority World” who are experiencing social transformation daily in their communities2, through a focus on a particular group of women activists from the Philippines. Based on my own experience, I hypothesize that these particular women, speaking from specific global and marginalized locations, can contribute to our general understanding of the links and tensions between the “liberation” of women and that of a nation, in the specific Philippine context. I set out to discover, through interviews with a selection of women activists working in different 1 Particularly Delia Aguilar, Toward a Nationalist Feminism. Quezon City, Philippines: Giraffe Books, 1998; and Nora Angeles, Feminism and Nationalism: The Discourse on the Woman Question and Politics of the Women’s Movement Th the Philippines. Master of Arts Thesis, Quezon City: University of the Philippines, 1989. 2 Briefly, community in this study can have a meaning as narrow as women’s local neighbourhoods or as broad as the community of migrant women throughout the world. The hope is that the process of understanding this term is part of what this study can help elucidate or add to our present understanding of “community.” “Majority World” will be used in preference to “Third World,” see p.9. 4 locations across the world, what they set out to achieve, how they go about it, how they assess and analyze their results, and how they situate their efforts in the current context of far-reaching economic globalization. (See more detailed presentation of questions and lines of inquiry, pp. 78, 111-112.) This inquiry delves into the complex and subtle relationships between the personal and the political, the individual and the collective, when women leaders, often originally from relatively privileged social classes, attempt to represent and work for large numbers of underprivileged women, in this case workers and peasants in the Philippines and migrant workers abroad. The women concerned (including myself) share a political ideology that sees personal and social or political transformation occurring in and through the very struggle represented by grassroots activism. I aimed to examine the characteristics of their local, community-based actions and strategies, while bearing in mind that these women are situated in a particular national and transnational context in global history. While they share a common national history and often the experience of forced displacement, the insights gained and lessons learned from their stories may be applicable to other women’s movements related to national and social change, especially for globally dispersed female migrant workers. Much has been written by feminist theorists on women’s movements in relation to socialism/ Marxism, global justice, postcolonial studies, and cross-cultural feminism (Grewal & Caplan, 2000; Holstrom, 2002; Saunders, 2002; Brenner, 2003; McCann & Kim, 2003; Lewis & Mills, 2003), as well as on the complex relationship of feminism to nationalism in supposedly postcolonial contexts (Jayawardene, 1986, McClintock, 1997, Kaplan et al., 1999, Bannerji et al., 2001, Vickers & Dhuruvarajan 2002). While appreciating their insights, this study examines a particular form of feminism inseparable from a national situation, which has grown from women’s experiences of daily struggle for practical results in community-based collective 5 contexts. This does not prevent these women from having their own, perceptive theoretical analyses of their situation and their actions. Another central hypothesis of my inquiry is that the dialectical relationship between doing and educating, personal action and collective vision, is essential to a better understanding of Majority World feminist praxis. Through this project, the women interviewed, whose analysis is in dialogue with various feminist theories, share their experience and understanding of women’s drive and passion to confront globalization within the highly problematic conditions of nation-states, while still addressing women’s liberation as women. Witnessing and documenting women’s activism in relation to (trans)national issues, as in this study, problematizes the assumption initially shared by some of the participants that women are comfortably included in “nation-building.” A number of those in this study acknowledge that they continue to face oppressiàn based on gender, class, race, or sexuality, within both socialist and nationalist movements, both from men and from women who do not practice feminist gender and class analyses, and sometimes even from those who do. They admit that their loyalties may be divided, especially in the case of those who were born or now live permanently in another nation. Yet even these emphasize their on-going involvement and concern with issues arising in the Philippines. The study documents and conveys stories from the lives of a number of Filipino women activists representing a range of ages, locations, and types of political engagement, although they all to a large extent share similar ideas. Framed by a theoretical discussion of the use of storytelling to convey the perspective of Majority World women involved in community action, their stories provoke further discussion of how transnational women’s roles as activists constitute significant aspects of an evolving transnational feminism, both on the ground and in theory. The particularity of this study is that it adopts the complex standpoint of Majority World women 6 involved in transnational spaces and relationships, in contexts defined by the impact of economic globalization on their lives. Filipino women, more than any others, are dispersed across, and move back-and-forth among, national and continental borders. While this may appear to disenfranchise and disempower them, I propose that the reverse may also be the case. This may happen when some become prominent spokespersons, not only for their own national or transplanted groups but for all women whose labour and bodies are commodified in the present globalized context. This exploratory research looks at a particular group of activist women, caught in the midst of massive diasporic and transnational phenomena, who are actively working to change their own and their nation’s situation. To address these questions and bring theory and practice together, I conducted and recorded interviews with twelve Filipino women activists over a thirteen-month period (see Chapter 3, Methodology, for further details). Six were living in the Philippines, three in Canada, and three in the Netherlands. The different locations reflect the changing social and geographical conditions of many Filipino women over the last twenty years, including women involved in political action and social change movements. They were selected for their contribution to the “women’s movement” in the Philippines and/or abroad, and for their conscious participation as women in a national movement for social change rooted in the Philippines. They include young women and middle-aged ones, who work either in poor or marginalized mixed communities of women and men or in grassroots women’s organizations, or both at once. They are all directly involved in actions organized by and for local communities and they bring women’s perspectives to their work even when the actions pertain to both women and men. In their respective national and transnational locations, I asked them to describe their struggles and successes as activists, in order to deepen feminist understanding of the role of women in social change movements, including what they/we refer to as “national liberation” struggles. While their voices convey “difference” among them, the analysis of their stories reveals the similarities 7 of their endeavours. The convergence or “sameness” reflected in their “movement” reveals the complexity of balancing the politics of acknowledging difference with the understanding of “unity” sought by social movements. I asked the women basic, open questions about their experiences in women’s activism and work for national change, how this work impacts on and is sustained by their communities, how the transnational situation of Filipino women relates to social activism wherever they are, and how and why they would describe their work as socially transformative in the present and future (see Appendix 2 and Chapter 3). As well as contributing to theoretical debates and practical discussions, I hope the shared stories can be a dynamic resource for the women themselves and serve as a basis for their analysis, to help critique and reflect their praxis, and contribute to the social change towards which they aspire. I also hope and expect to contribute to the creation and preservation of Filipino community history, by drawing attention to these particular women’s experiences from the margins and across borders. The public sharing of narratives through storytelling provides “critical and community-accountable modes of reasoning” and allows communities to make responsible judgments” (Stone-Mediatore, 2003). These stories provide a deeper understanding of Filipino women’s contributions to social change. Attention to these individual narratives can also go beyond the Philippine particularity to examine the theorizing processes involved, to recognize common struggles globally in comparable sites (mostly in the “margins”), and to engage with the long-term projects of other women located in many parts of the world who are determined to transform their societies. The current resistance and struggles of Filipino women do not constitute a new phenomenon, but their stories illustrate new and complex differentiations. While demonstrating change, they echo historical realities, confirming that when there is unbridled exploitation, colonization, and re-colonization of a nation’s people and resources, there will also be the necessary cries and struggles for freedom, justice, and liberation. These laments are heard across a wide spectrum of political protest, coming from 8 organizations within dominant structures or taking the form of armed rebellion or civil wars, as lived by many nations in the past and today (Fanon, 1963). In the context of globalized migration, the historical struggle of Filipino women for autonomy continues. The women in this study assist in understanding the reasons and recognizing the forms of the struggle they are undertaking today. It is my hope that feminists in other communities, including academia, can relate to the analyses and theories of this particular group of politically active women from one part of the Majority World. Key Concepts: Situating the Research This study is situated in relation to a socio-political and theoretical context that requires clear understanding and use of certain key concepts. Two main global perspectives are relevant: (a) Majority World feminism and transnational feminist struggles; and (b) social transformation activism in response to the impact of neo-colonialism through globalization. The following terms will be defined here: Majority World, globalization, neocolonialism, imperialism, semi- feudal/semi-colonial society, praxis, and transnationalism. Majority World. The term Majority World will be used in preference to “Third World” or “Two- Thirds World” because the use of “Third World” and “Two-Thirds World” constructs a world outside of Europe and North America, while also creating a hierarchy of First and Third World nations, with Third World being of lower rank than First World. More importantly, it excludes both migrants to the “developed” world and the underprivileged indigenous! aboriginal women and men who are present in large numbers in struggles within the “First World” of the European Union (EU), North America (Canada, Mexico, and the US), and other “western” contexts, as well as in Central and South America, Africa, the Asia/Pacific, and Polynesia. The term “Majority World” does not presuppose the complete inclusion of indigenous/aboriginal women or assume an essentialism often observed in non-aboriginal projects. As Linda Tuhiwai-Smith has said, 9 “Fragmentation is not a phenomenon of postmodernism as many might claim. For indigenous peoples fragmentation has been the consequence of imperialism” (Tuhiwai-Smith, 28). By utilizing “Majority World,” I wish to acknowledge the critiques and contributions of indigenous/aboriginal scholars, writers, and activists in the de-colonization and re-construction of local and national struggles, particularly from the perspective of women activists. “Majority World” represents an attempt at naming a larger world comprised of great numbers of people outside of the Euro/North American/western circuit, though they may be located in “rich” countries. They may be the original peoples of these lands (like the Aetas of the Philippines) or products of colonization (like Filipino lowlanders), or migrants/immigrants (as are Filipino- Canadians). Globalization. I will assume the context of globalization policies that directly impacts the work of the women in the study and unites them in their struggles against those policies (see further analysis below, “Globalization: The Context of the Study”). Globalization is usually defined in conjunction with capitalism as the dominant economic system of our day, which leads Chandra Talpade Mohanty to urge women to take up the decolonizing, anti-capitalist feminist project necessary to combat “global capitalism” (Mohanty, 2003, 7-9). Nancy Naples defines globalization as the global economic restructuring of capitalism as well as the worldwide movement of peoples, information, and consumer culture (Naples and Desai, 2002, 8-9). Manisha Desai notes that globalization is associated with the “homogenizing impact of global capital” through increased economic integration, resulting in one world market shaped by transnational corporations as well as the global flow of people, ideas, and images into a hybridity with homogeneous (political and economic) or heterogeneous (cultural practices) dimensions (Naples and Desai,2002,15-16). These political-economic and cultural aspects of globalization are seen as closely intertwined by Chela Sandoval, following the theories of Fredric Jameson (Sandoval, 2000, 15-27; Jameson, 1998, 54-77). Sandoval sees globalization 10 as a neocolonial force associated particularly with the expansion of North American capitalism, which has resulted in the “perversity of postmodern socio/political/ economic culture” that has transformed the globe and must be confronted in all its dimensions (17), that is, more comprehensively than was ever undertaken before. Neocolonialism. This neocolonialism, the force that expands capitalism globally, has its inherent roots in “colonialism,” constituting its “new” manifestation today. The term implies a new face to what is a continuation of the essence of colonialism, which is the domination by militarily strong, wealthy nations of North America and Europe over technologically and economically deprived Majority World nations. If colonialism is the term used for the era before colonized nations were granted “independence” by their colonizers, then “neo-colonialism” is a useful parallel term for today’s form of imperialism or empire-building. Tuhiwai-Smith ties “imperialism” and “colonialism” closely together, stating that “colonialism is but one expression of imperialism” (Tuhiwai-Smith, 2002, 21). She analyzes these interconnected concepts, situating the colonialism that started in Europe in the fifteenth century as but one expression of an imperialism that “still destroys and is reforming itself constantly” (8, 19). The term imperialism is used by Tuhiwai-Smith in four ways, to evoke “economic expansion, subjugation of others, an idea or spirit with many forms of realization, and a discursive field of knowledge” (21). All these elements of imperialism will be assumed when the terms imperialism or imperialist are used here. Imperialism. If the term imperialism is used to mean the colonization undertaken by competing empires, then “imperialist globalization” could be considered the parallel term for new forms of “empire” created by powerful transnational corporations associated with equally powerful nation- states, staking their economic claims on nations of the Majority World for resources, labour, and markets. Hence the term “globalization” reflects the range of continuities and discontinuities of 11 old and new forms of domination. How is this “neo-colonialism” within “imperialist globalization” expressed in the world today? Further analysis of today’s “neo-liberal policies” reveals the strategies used by proponents of globalization in market capitalism as the expression of modern-day conquest. The women in this study identify the impact of these policies of “liberalization, privatization, and de-regulation”3as implementing a modern triple strategy of dominating the world’s production, trade, and commerce within one global market. This study recognizes the paradoxical dialectic that while very little has changed in the experience of colonization for a country like the Philippines, resulting in an ongoing need to resist and oppose the oppressor, much has changed in the new forms of colonialism experienced today (Kagarlitsky,1989). Globalization policies assume that a country like the Philippines has been granted independence by its last colonizer (the US) and has benefited from capitalism’s insatiable drive towards industrialized “progress.” World Social Forum meetings, however, attempt to address the incompatibility of democracy and development, and question the inevitability and desirability of a globalization that creates the conditions for the resumption of “development” (Amin, 2001). This concept of globalization as ultimately progressive and desirable (Bello, 2002) is contested when a country like the Philippines has not had stable industrialization since the U.S. took over from Spain at the turn of the century, nor acquired technological and financial infrastructure through today’s neo-colonial enterprises (see next section below for discussion of the Philippine context). The acronym for neo-liberal policies of liberalization-privatization-deregulation is shortened by Filipino activists to “la-pi-da” (l-p-d) which in the national language, Tagalog, means “tombstone.” The notion of “de-nationalization” is starting to be introduced to this triad, not only as a result of l-p-d but as a strategy of conquest. In the Philippines and other Majority World countries, governments under US influence insist on constitutional changes that favour US capital and transnational corporations. In the Philippines protests against “cha-cha” or charter change occurred in 1998 (under Fidel Ramos and his economic policies of courting foreign investment called “Philippines 2000”) and are being re-visited by the current Macapagal-Arroyo government. This current revival has once again been thwarted by people’s protests, as a form of “street parliament.” 12 Semi-Feudal, Semi-Colonial Society. With the women in this study, I claim that they/we are active in present-day history not only because of4the historical context which is continually invoked, but also by being consciously present in history as it evolves. Past history is melded into a future project to make history, as when the participants repeatedly describe the Philippines as still a “semi-feudal, semi-colonial” society still needing liberation. Like other European colonial powers, Spain colonized the minds, bodies and societies of Filipinos through religion, education, and politics, with the might of military force and economic exploitation. After 1946, when it received its “independence” from the United States, the Philippines remained under US tutelage. The feudal structures, relationships, and values remained, governing 80% of the population who are indentured peasant farmers or workers. The Philippines has never been completely isolated from industrialization, but is not considered an industrialized nation. At the same time, it is immersed in globalization, so cannot be labeled as still a feudal and colonial state. Thus, the terms semi-feudal and semi-colonial describe the relatively unchanged feudal and colonial world that Filipino peasants and workers live in, while also reflecting the discontinuities and new forms of world-wide (re)colonization. This is seen in how their labour and products are subject to new, modern regulations enforced by capitalism and globalization, that perpetuate semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions (if not identities), to confirm their full 100% status as a neo-colonized nation within a culture of globalization under neo-liberal policies. The labour and sex trade migration of Filipino women illustrates the global dimensions of semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions. While massive international trafficking of Majority World people appears “new,” it also manifests a recognizable colonial use of surplus labour to serve empires. The women in this study thus address neo-colonial, semi-feudal condition on According to International Fund for Agricultural Development (lEAD), about “half the population of the Philippines is rural... where 80% of the country’s poor people live.” <www. ruralpoverty.org.web.guest/country/home/tags/philippines> February 2007. According to US Aid, in 2000 59% of the population was urban, and that 38% of the poor live in urban areas. <www. makingcitieswork.org/files/pdf/southeast-asia.philippines. pdf> August, 2002. 13 the global stage by recognizing that transnational procedures of trafficking and processes of migration and immigration maintain familiar colonial power relationships. Praxis. These activists refer to their work as feminist praxis. Praxis is a formerly Marxist term that re-emerged relatively recently out of the struggles of grassroots communities in Central and South America in the I 970s and I 980s. It represented the phenomenon of grassroots struggles by peasants and workers subjugated and persecuted by military regimes in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, whose brutal suppression of opposition was considered by many as following the fascism of Nazi Germany. A key concept and practical tool in a movement for social and political transformation, in the Latin American context praxis implied action undertaken within a theoretical framework. The relationship between theoretical thinking and daily practice was established through the intense struggles of the poorest and most marginalized people of these nations. This occurred with the collaboration of academics, scholars, researchers, and theoreticians from academic settings immersed in poor rural and urban poor communities. Because of the historical hegemony of the Roman Catholic Church in Latin American countries, grassroots communities where praxis was demonstrated were actively developed as “Christian based communities” largely influenced by academically and religiously trained priests and nuns. Alongside the influence of the Church was the authority of academic and university research institutions which, traditionally, assumed theorizing to be solely within their purview. Often, in Latin America, these universities were founded by religious institutions of the Church, particularly the Jesuit religious order. Historically, they served the elite and privileged classes, as colleges and universities tended to be private institutions with tuition fees prohibitive for the peasant and worker classes, and instruction was in Spanish. The Philippines, under the “sword and cross” 14 colonization of Spain, followed the same path of knowledge production, with authority lodged in privileged, church based institutions of learning.5 The spread of base communities in the 1970s and ‘80s in Central and Latin America, which conscienticized peasants and workers and empowered their communities, was an unprecedented systematic transformation that connected the religious and political beliefs of academics to the practical knowledge and lived experiences of peasants and workers. The theoretical privileges of academics and the practical resistance and struggles of peasants and workers were deeply integrated. Campaigns for justice, inspired by Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) liberation theological premises and socialist (particularly Marxist) political analyses, were based on the emerging praxis of action-reflection in grassroots communities. One of the most memorable experiences of this integration was that of six Jesuits of the Central University of San Salvador in El Salvador in the 1980s, who had embarked on research and community projects that revealed the exploitation and human rights violations suffered by peasants and workers. The murder and martyrdom of these six white, male, European (Spanish) Jesuits was a direct assault on the concept of praxis as engagement in concrete struggles. Their “coming down from the ivory tower” had allowed them to immerse themselves in the life of the people and transform theology into “liberation theology”; the peasants, workers, and armed rebels, in turn, were able to sustain their actions with the power of theory through processes of conscientization, thanks to the priests’ contribution. Undoubtedly, the Jesuits struggled with the contradictions of their privilege while attempting to integrate themselves and their ideas with the peasant community. Although the sustainability of such processes is not yet known, these base communities certainly demonstrated the effectiveness of their actions and the possibilities for While the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Philippine colonization and its impact on women is immense, religion did not emerge as a major theme in this study. Sister Mary John Manarizan (1988, 1994, 1997) describes the impact the Catholic religion has had in shaping women’s identities and national problems affecting Filipino women, including their contradictory responses as religiously influenced women when entering prostitution. 15 social change through collective praxis, when solidarity can be achieved across class difference and the tension between religion and politics. However, the failure of their social and armed revolution to beat the odds, even after intense praxis, warns of the on-going power of historical class lines and the hierarchy entrenched in a colonial mentality and hegemonic structures, even among those consciously seeking social transformation. Rather than implying conflicts within the movement, this analysis is a reminder that Filipino people, like the poor of Latin America, are still subject to colonialism from within and beyond national borders. The activists interviewed attempt to be as aware as possible of their own class situation in relation to those they work with, and to become an integral part of the communities for which they are leaders or spokespersons. As in Latin America, alliances have been built between academics and peasants or workers, and between those with a religious background and motivation and those espousing a non-religious socialist ideology. Many individuals in the Philippines, as in Latin America, combine elements from apparently contradictory sets of beliefs in their own ideas, and have firsthand experience of living in widely divergent social settings. The development of a particular kind of context-specific praxis has also been an essential part of other relatively successful collective struggles, such as those of the Maori people in Aotearoa/New Zealand since the I 980s. The difference from the Latin American or Filipino situation is that there was no traditionally privileged class or elite group, like the foreign Jesuits, that injected themselves into the Maori struggle. This is not to imply that the Latin American base community! liberation theology phenomenon was only a “top down” process. By its very nature, it was only possible in conjunction with the raised awareness, initiatives, and direct action of marginalized, grassroots communities. Similarly, the Maori did not seek “equality” (or 16 sameness) with the dominant (white) society, but rather the autonomy to be Maori.6 They acknowledged that university institutions continued to be privileged sites of knowledge production, and therefore these became “sites of struggle” to express Maori identity and empowerment. Maori students and academics entered and immersed themselves in academic institutions and undertook social transformation through policy engagement, gaining credibility from academic theory and research “from the ground.” Their praxis was sustained because of who instigated their social struggle (the Maori themselves) and how they raised their activist aspirations to the level of theory — by engaging in creative theorizing and sustained social actions until they developed a process associated with a specifically Maori enterprise, including academic research and education. The Maori experience has inspired other aboriginal groups around the world, as part of a transnational movement of indigenous peoples rediscovering their past and affirming their identities. Philippine women are part of another marginalized transnational category, those dispersed across the globe as migrant workers. Sharing their successful praxis as activists contributes to a parallel transnational movement for the rights of displaced Majority World women. Their goals and methods share important characteristics with the Maoris’ organizing, as will be discussed in Chapter 2. Transnationalism. Transnational is used here to mean the movement across geographic and socially constructed national borders and spaces of “capital, labour, culture and knowledge” (Razack, 2000), in preference to the term “international,” which tends to divide these spaces, as in regional versus national versus international. The term is used positively when women make more and more connections globally. However, it is not a neutral term when “transnationalism” 6 See Chapter 3: Graham Smith, Professor of Educational Studies at UBC, explained this distinction in a course (EADM 508B, Winter, 2004). 17 is usurped to legitimate unjust economics, such as the sheer size and power of “transnational corporations” (TNCs) that wreak havoc on local economies. Here, transnationalism refers instead to the ongoing, existing global connections and shifting relations among communities in different parts of the world, which parallel the equally borderless global domination by the world’s economic powers (Ong, 1999; Sarker & Niyogi De, 2002). This concept of transnationalism is not akin to the “outreach” notions of those speaking from Euro/North American/western locations. Rather, the implication of its use in “transnational feminism” is of the mutual flow among all locations. It will not be understood as a derivative of western feminism, nor placed in a continuum of feminisms; rather, in the case of Filipino women activists their feminism is transnational because of their locations, because of what it resists in a globalized world, and because of what it contributes to social transformation. One of the central hypotheses of this study is that a unique Filipino feminism contributes to the understanding of “transnational feminism” by its ability to speak from various locations of linkage, confronting the familiar patterns of divisive global socio-economic policies that have devastated women’s lives and many Majority World social systems, economies, and societies. A Brief History and the Current Context Several aspects of Philippine history7 help to explain why the country continues to be a colonized/neo-colonized entity with many aspects of feudalism/semi-feudalism remaining intact. Prior to Spanish conquest the Philippines was a group of island-based sea-faring Malay kingdoms. In pre-colonial times, it is known that there were different levels of development among the many islands of the archipelago encountered by the Spaniards. There was little class stratification or division of labor, as men and women participated equally in subsistence Sources: Abriza, 2003 Bautista, 2003; Constantino, 1966; Golay, 1997; Ileto, 1998; Philippine History Site, 2003; Ocampo, 1999; Rafael, 2000; San Juan, 1997; Simbulan, 1985; Sta. Romana Cruz, 1992. 18 fishing, hunting, and agricultural activities. As a class system developed, so did gender roles. Women were assigned more domestic and agricultural work, planting and food gathering, while men moved to hunting, the development of weaponry, claiming of territory, and eventually warfare. Class lines emerged with the beginnings of private ownership. The class categories described include the datus who owned slaves, tools, land, animals, and boats; freemen who owned shares in communally cultivated lands; semi-slaves who served or paid tribute to the datus; and the slaves who sustained their masters. The earlier social groups were sometimes matriarchal and in general egalitarian. Their genderless deity, Bathala, and a Filipino creation myth, both evoke the union, not subordination, of women and men, in the notion of the godhead as the union of man/woman in light.6 A woman was valued with a “bride price”, because she was a loss for the family, and there was no equivalent of the modern notion of “marriage.” Reproductive labor was considered a most important aspect of society, with polyandry being practiced9. Inheritance was not based on gender lines but on birth order. Women have been described as diwatas, healers or spiritual mentors, and babaylanes (priestesses) in this society. Their positions of leadership and prominence are well-known from documents left by Spanish friars and oral traditions in indigenous communities today. They had great influence over the people and an important role in leading rituals, as healers, midwives, and religious practitioners with special training to contact the spirit world (Mananzan, 1988, 2-4). Encountering women completely different from those in the streets of Spain, the Spanish colonizers set out to domesticate the indigenous women. From 1521 to 1898, Spain conquered the islands by force 8 This is explained by Sister Mary John Mananzan in Woman and Religion (Manila: Institute of Women’s Studies, St. Scholastica’s College, 1998, p.3). The first consonant in Ba-Tha-La is the first syllable of babae (woman) and the last consonant is the first syllable of lalake (man). The middle consonant is an aspirated sound which means light or spirit. In a Filipino creation myth, a bird similar to a crane opens a bamboo stalk. Upon splitting it open, the first humans, Maganda (woman) and Malakas (man) emerge. It is the mutuality of the creation of male and female that is emphasized, without which neither one would be created. Helena Norberg Hodge (1992) describes the polyandric relationships among the Ladakhi people today as a means to preserve and sustain the community and their resources in the subsistence regions of the Himalayas; the situation may have been similar in parts of the Philippines. 19 through its army and by deception through Catholicism. Indigenous Filipino women were domesticated through the use of education and religion. The Church established schools, translated training manuals for young girls, and promoted the cult of the obedient Virgin Mary. Later, the Spaniards also used the model of a doncella (a little dona) named Maria Clara,1°who was “sweet, docile, obedient, and self-sacrificing.” Maria Clara became the image of the “ideal” Filipino woman, an image which also looms large in the reverse image of the Filipino woman as prostitute. When the Spaniards came in 1521, they were shocked by the freedom manifested by the mujer indigena (indigenous woman), which did not fit into their concept of how women should be and behave since the women in the lberian peninsula at that time lived like contemplative nuns. Although the missionaries were forced to acknowledge the superior quality of life of the indigenous woman, they set out to remold her according to the image and likeness of the perfect woman of the Iberian society.11 The first Spanish explorer who landed in the Philippines, Ferdinand Magellan, was killed by Lapu-Lapu, a local chieftain, in 1521 on the island of Mactan in the Visayas region southeast of Manila. The Spanish government was officially established in 1565 and the Roman Catholic Church became its strong ally in domesticating the indigenous people of the archipelago with its 7,100 islands and more than 80 dialects and languages. Domination and domestication of areas of the Philippines were successful in the more accessible regions of Central Luzon and near-southern Visayan Islands. There was less expansion in the northern mountains of the Cordilleras, where indigenous communities remain today, and in the more southern Mindanao region, where Muslim Filipinos live in large numbers. 10 Maria Clara is a character in the epic, Noli Me Tangere, written by Jose Rizal, declared the national hero of the Philippines during the Commonwealth government under the US. Her character is a demure, “domesticated” Filipino woman of the privileged class. Rizal also used her as a symbol of the Philippines subdued by Spain. “Maria Clara” has entered the lexicon to mean demure, submissive, religiously devout Filipino women. (With regard to Jose Rizal, many from peasant and worker backgrounds consider Andres Bonifaclo, himself from the peasant class, the more prominent revolutionary leader. Even this difference, as to who the “real” hero of the Philippines is, reflects the significant class differences in the Philippines.) Sister Mary John Mananzan. The Woman Question in the Philippines (op cit.) p. 4. 20 The encomienda system was the first imperialist system put in place. This gave lands to Spanish authorities and forced the indigenous people to pay tribute to the Spanish crown. Only men were allowed to pay tribute. Later the hacienda system gave large tracks of land to landowners and this began the concept of private ownership on a national scale. Both men and women were exploited under this feudal system. There was a re-organization of villages and people were re-located to “urban” areas. Men were forced into labor and women and children fell under the control of the clergy who spread the Catholic faith. The formation of the hacendero and peasant classes in fact constituted a working class who harvested crops. Women became part of teams for harvesting and weaving, and were subsequently categorized into four groups: daughters of the elite who had no interaction with the economic or production spheres but had the role of spreading the faith (many worked for no pay in religious convents); working women (who were the first recorded strikers in the tobacco industry against harassment and usury12); peasant women working in haciendas; and an informal group of “prostitutes.” The latter were “privileged housekeepers” exploited by friars, and being away from their lands, became sex workers for survival. Thus intricate relationships based on economic hardship, sexual and gender exploitation, and the subjugation of non-white/non-European women by white, European men, were systematized and continue to the present day. Spain remained in the Philippines for three hundred and thirty-three years, until its defeat by the United States in 1898. During this period the Spanish government extracted much of the natural resources, including minerals such as gold, silver, and copper, and marketed products such as sugar and coconut materials. The Spanish galleon trade to and from Mexico and the Philippines, and from there to Europe, was a global transport system. The opulent structures 12 Maria Luisa Camagay, Working Women of Manila in the Nineteenth Century (Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, University Centre for Women’s Studies, 1995) p. 13. 21 which are seen in Spain today were built during this era of colonization. They are evidence of the economic plunder of resources from the colonies (of Central and South America and the Philippines in Asia), goods transported to the markets of Europe, and profits transferred to the coffers of the Spanish Crown.13 It is not a coincidence that the valuable minerals mined after Spanish rule were taken from the northern Cordillera region, this area not having been fully exhausted by Spanish extraction. The indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras continue to struggle for land, the environment, and their livelihood to this day. Since the 1970s local protests in the Cordilleras against the collaboration of transnational mining companies and the Philippine state have been marked by political killings. Warnings of a similar fate for southern Mindanao’s mineral wealth are well known. Armed rebellion by indigenous groups in this region fighting for their lands and for regional autonomy has been ruthlessly confronted by the Philippine armed forces and national police. Along with US military presence in the region since 2002, the fighting in this significantly Muslim area is carried out under the pretext of what the U.S. government has called the “second front” against worldwide terrorism.14 After 1898, the Philippines was governed by a Commonwealth government with presidents and an elite hand-picked by the US government. They were sent to the US to study, learn the US legislative, judiciary, and executive systems, and return to become heads of state. These men from the upper ilustrado or comprador classes became the politicians and bureaucrats who developed what we know today as bureaucrat capitalist structures. These elite classes 13 Also during this period, Britain and the Netherlands made unsuccessful excursions to the Philippines in their attempts to conquer it. In Southeast Asia the Netherlands conquered Indonesia, Britain took Hong Kong and Malaya (and India further away), Portugal had Macao, and France lay claim to lndo-China. When I was at the national museum in Amsterdam during my interviews with the women there in 2004, the exhibit I saw was on the “Golden Age of the Netherlands.” The exquisite items that came from trade with the colonies were used to illustrate this “golden age;” they were obtained from Indonesia, China, and other places during this era of colonization. 14 Associated Press. ‘5,700 US troops to join military drills in RP, officials say.” Inq7 Network. Oct.7, 2006. <http://www.inq7.net>; and National. “US warships head to Mindanao for drills.” ABS-CBN News. May 24, 2007. <http://www.abs-cbn.com>. 22 continue to hold economic wealth in society and political power in the Philippine government. Philippine independence was granted by the US government on July 4, 1946. With rare exceptions, the succession of presidents of the Republic of the Philippines maintained old social and political patterns. They were pro-US, upper-class, mixed-white mestizo or Spanish- descended, Roman Catholic (or of other Christian denominations), and/or US-educated, bilingual! English-speaking, and men. The current president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the daughter of a former president, Disodado Macapagal. She attended Harvard Law School and married into the wealthy Arroyo family, thus repeating the cycle of merging economic and political power among the Filipino elite. The upper class shaped during Spanish times had Spanish wealth and white-European roots. They were light-skinned mestizos whose descendants today make up the leadership of the country under US rule in its capitalist globalized form. Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1968. When he declared Martial Law in 1972 Filipinos experienced an openly declared authoritarian and dictatorial form of leadership. Marcos and his wife Imelda ruled firmly and utilized the Philippine armed forces to their advantage. It was in 1986, after over twenty years of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, that the Filipino people organized to oust the Marcos regime, and succeeded. Marcos was followed by Corazon Aquino, the first woman president. Not a politician herself, she was hoisted to power for being the wife of Marcos’ assassinated political opponent, Melchor “Ninoy” Aquino. It was in the aftermath of the Marcos ouster and under Cory Aquino’s presidency that the framers of the 1987 constitution included a provision for a party-list system in which groups representing “marginalized and underrepresented sectors” may have congressional representation.15 It was also under Aquino that paramilitary squads flourished and killings 15 These sectors included labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, and youth. Party-list groups receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast are entitled to one seat each and if 23 increased, particularly in Mindanao. When General Fidel Ramos was elected, after her term, he launched a program called “Philippines 2000” in an attempt to have the Philippines enter the economic prosperity achieved in the 1990s by the “Asian Tigers” (Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan). His presidency only succeeded in immersing the Philippines into the economic agenda of the IMF and World Bank, and extended the Labor Export Policy of exporting cheap Filipino labour started by Marcos. Joseph Estrada followed him but he did not finish his term since the Filipinos, especially urban citizens, ousted the president for the second time. Their protests in the streets of Manila forced Estrada out of office and he was subsequently charged and sentenced for corruption.16 It was under these circumstances that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then vice-president, assumed the presidency. She ran as a candidate after completing what would have been Estrada’s term of office. Controversy surrounded her election, as evidence emerged of her participation in cheating on electoral votes. The women interviewed in this study are presently living under this president, who won re-election in the May 2007 elections. The women who are living in the Philippines participated in national elections, supporting three candidates who ran for the Gabriela Women’s Party in the party-list system. Two of the candidates now sit as representatives, one more than after the previous election. In the two years prior to the 2007 election, street protests were squelched by the national police and political killings have increased in numbers greater than during the entire Marcos regime. Relevant details of past greater than 2% are entitled to additional seats for a maximum of three seats. This move towards proportional representation has been counteracted by attempts to undermine the process in the last national elections in May 2007 by putting in place government-sponsored “party-lists”, as well as increasing political killings leading up to the elections. 16 Estrada has since been pardoned by the current president in 2007, and released from comfortable prison arrangements. 24 Philippine history and current developments will be discussed further, as they arise in relation to the work of the women in this study. For the Philippine context17,the scope of the transnational perspective I will adopt is vast, because the globe now is unlike what it was in the era of the conquistadores, from 1521 to 1898. The soldiers of the Spanish Crown passed months at sea in order to arrive at the Philippine Islands. Their voyages of exploration and conquest were inhibited by the great distances and time traveled from Spain. Even in the years after 1898, the growing US empire had difficulties in implementing the Monroe Doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” from across the Pacific Ocean. Present-day air travel and telecommunications enable an electronic, high technology conquest of all the resources of the Majority World, taking place through satellite pictures, espionage, and economic warfare. While traditional foot soldiers from what is often labeled the US empire continue to enter Majority World nations, it is economic globalization that drives the current imperialist enterprise. Conquest and exploitation still entail conditions of enslavement of workers, the destruction of “native” or “othered” bodies from disease and hunger, and human rights violations committed by the State. The women interviewed reiterated that the situation is grave at home and abroad, starting from the need for personal survival. Their feelings and attitudes, embedded in the Majority World’s ancient and surviving cultures which defined humanity in very different terms (Schlegel, 1999), are compromised. Yet in response to “modernity” Filipino women, including indigenous and Muslim minority women in the Philippines, still manifest a spirit of resistance, struggle, and assertion, as demonstrated in their activism today. It is from an awareness of these historical, social, and economic contexts that this study, through the women’s narratives, strives to actively contribute to current understandings of Filipino women’s unique experiences at home in the Philippines, here in 17 Sources: Centre for Women’s Research, 1990; GABRIELA, 1998; Choudry, 2003; Guzman, 2001 Hutchcroft, 1998; Lindio-McGovern 1997, 2003, 2004; McCoy & de Jesus, 1982; Pagsibol, 1993; Philippine Women Centre, 2000; Sison, 1998; IBON 1993, 1996, 1997. 25 Canada, and worldwide. Most importantly, it serves as a testimony to the lives of women who are, as I write, engaged in ongoing liberating and transformative social actions, from the rice fields of the Philippines to the meeting rooms of Amsterdam and Vancouver. Activism and the Women’s Movement As is to be expected, the recent history of the women’s movement18 in the Philippines emerges from the country’s overall history. In order to understand the context of Filipino women’s activism in the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and up to the present, it is necessary to know the background of the contemporary women’s movement in the Philippines. This movement, born out of opposition to the Marcos dictatorship, has been analyzed by Judy Taguiwalo (1993), a professor at the University of the Philippines who was herself already an activist during the Marcos era. While it is generally acknowledged that women have been part of Philippine revolutions since Spanish colonial domination, it was not until the national democratic movement of the 1 970s that, for the first time in Philippine history, women were named and placed in the revolutionary agenda of Philippine liberation. This was a result of the groundwork of two youth organizations, Kabataang Makabayan (KM), or the Nationalist Youth, and Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK), or the Democratic Youth Alliance. Protests and demonstrations were followed by violent dispersals which resulted in what is known as the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of 1970. The EQS led to broad dissemination, by students throughout the country, of a political analysis that significantly exposed the basic social and economic problems faced by Filipinos. This resulted in a national mass-based democratic movement in the Philippines. 18 Angeles, 1989; Centre for Women’s Research, 1990; De Stoop, 1994; GABRIELA, 1998; Pollock & Stolzfus, 1992; Ledesma, 2001; Mananzan, 1994, 1997, 1998; Monte, 1998; Rosca, 2001; Taguiwalo, 1992, 1993; Uy, 1993. 26 Then as now, Filipino women’s oppression was rooted in the semi-feudal, semi-colonial national situation of the Philippines. As discussed earlier, “semi-feudal” means that even though Spanish rule had nominally ended in 1898, feudal systems were maintained during US colonialism, and feudal relationships remain largely intact even to the present day. The system is still “semi-feudal” in that, just as under Spain, Philippine agricultural or mining products are exchanged for other products from the developed world, now primarily the US. Peasants continue as indentured landless farmers who still comprise 80% of the Philippine population, and 50% of them are women. Workers, professionals, small businesses, etc. make-up 10-15% of the labour force, and women’s participation is growing in numbers as more female workers are deployed in export processing zones. The 5-10% of landowners and landlords continue to own 80% of the land and sources of production.19 It is “semi-colonial” because, although the Philippines was granted “independence” by the US in 1946 under many conditions, US rule remains pervasive. One of these conditions was a US military presence in the Philippines in order to have a strategic advantage in the Pacific region (Simbulan, 1985). A significant change in 1944 to the Tydings-McDuffie Act2° enabled the US military to rem am in the Philippines, a condition 19 IBON Foundation and BAYAN submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in November 2007, noted that 52% of all farms in the country are under some form of tenurial agreement. In spite of agrarian reforms, “less than a third of landowners still own more than 80% of agricultural land. <www.ibon.org> 20 The Tydings-McDuffie Act was also the Philippine Independence Act of 1934. The original version did not include the retention of US bases, but allowed only naval fuel stations. However, in the midst of the second world war, the US succeeded in 1944 in getting the Commonwealth government in exile in Washington to agree to the retention of the bases as a condition for independence. In return for granting Philippine independence, the US made it a condition, as early as 1933, that military bases would have to be allowed. Without ever submitting this to the people of the Philippines, the Bases Agreement was signed under President Osmena in 1947, changing the law of the Tydings-McDuffie Act. The agreement was ratified by the Philippine Senate, but never by the US Senate. Similar amendments made to the agreement in 1983, to extend the term, were not submitted to the people and so the Bases Agreement has been illegal from the start. The history and issues of US bases in the Philippines have been analyzed in 27 demanded by the US prior to granting Philippine independence. In 1991 (the year of the Mount Pinatubo eruption which hastened the closure of Clark Air Force Base in Angeles, Pampanga) U.S. bases were finally disbanded after broad mass movements demanded that the Bases Agreement be terminated. However, this was short-lived. US militarization of the Philippines resumed with the Visiting Forces Agreement (yEA)21,approved by the US and Philippine Governments in February, 1998. In the absence of official US bases, the VFA allows any and all US military personnel to be present and to operate in any part of the Philippines. Thus, US imperialism, safeguarded by continued US military presence, was ensured after 1946, and is expressed today in intact trade patterns advantageous to US-owned transnational companies, US corporate ownership of Philippine resources, and maintenance of Philippine-US relations through bureaucrat capitalism (Lindio-McGovern, 1997, 2003, 2004; CWR, 1990; IBON, 1993, 1996, 1997). Figure 1 Three Intersecting Problems of the Philippine State Bureaucrat and/or Monopoly Capitalism 5-10% landlord class 10-15% working class 80% peasant class US Imperialism Feudalism a.k.a Globalizaation depth by Roland Simbulan in The Bases of Our Insecurity: A Study of the U.S. Military Bases in the Philippines (Metro Manila, BALAI Fellowship, Inc., 1985) p. 13-15. 21 The VFA was passed by the Estrada-dominated Philippine Senate in May 1999 and took effect on June 1, 1999. Estrada was shortly after ousted by what is known as People Power II after People Power I which ousted Marcos in 1986. With the yEA, some features have a direct impact on Filipino women. While prostitution was previously generally confined to the US bases, the sex trade became widespread and increased significantly with the presence of US troops throughout the country. The VFA allows US ships to dock at any port and military exercises with the Philippine Armed Forces, known as Balikatan exercises, are conducted in many parts of the country. The VFA also shields US military personnel from prosecution when they have broken Philippine Law. At present, protests continue as demands are made for four US Marines to stand trial for the rape of a young Filipino woman. The US Embassy in Manila has refused to allow this. 28 The Philippine reality from the 1 970s to the present is exposed in Delia Aguilar’s analysis of US imperialism (Aguilar, 1998). She cites James Petras’ assertion that globalization is “nothing more than a code word for US imperialism” (1998, 2). Figures for 1998 substantiate this claim, showing that the United States holds 244 of the 500 biggest companies in the world, 70% of the 25 largest firms whose capitalization exceeds US $86 billion, and 61% of the top 100 companies. Europe and Japan share control of the remainder. Thus, the development of the Philippine women’s movement in the 1970s coincided with the start or expansion of US-led globalization. It expressed and developed itself within the broad national-democratic movement in direct opposition to the semi-feudal, semi-colonial US imperialist enterprise of the latter part of this century. Democratic national youth organizations already recognized that women suffer from both class (economic) and male (patriarchal) domination. They saw that for national liberation to be achieved, women’s emancipation had to be an integral part of the struggle. Thus, the first women’s organizations emerged from these times and efforts. The first action by women from youth organizations was to picket a major beauty contest. This action drew attention to a women-specific issue -- the commodification of women through beauty contests -- an issue never before addressed by the broad nationalist movement. This mass action also led women from mixed-gender organizations to form a distinct women’s organization in 1970, Malayang Kilusan ng Bagong Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA), the New Women’s Liberation Movement. The acronym MAKIBAKA also means solidarity. “MAKIBAKA’s political program was essentially a restatement of the national-democratic position that the liberation of the Filipino women was tied to their participation in the overall struggle against feudal and foreign oppression” (Taguiwalo, 1993, 4). Two of the founding members of MAKIBAKA were interviewed for this study. 29 The gains during this period, in addition to raising women-specific issues, were to allow women to develop organizing, decision-making, and writing skills. It was a time when, with little information on western feminism available to many, Filipino women were able to study and define their position in relation to women’s liberation. The dangers of “bourgeois feminism,” which emphasized “equal rights and equal access,” were debated along with the issues of women-only organizations. Women in various organizations were able to construct a class- based critical framework based on theoretical and practical analysis by Filipino women of their own social and historical situation. They raised issues related to the political economy of women’s work and the “woman question,”22 analyzing how monopoly capitalism and feudalism create and maintain women’s subordination at home and in the workplace. Therefore, they argued, women’s participation in political/social movements for change is necessary in order to eliminate this subordination (6-7). The main theoretical challenges during this period in the 1970s lay in the incomplete elaboration of the specificity of women’s oppression and liberation in Philippine society. From a gender analysis perspective, the theory did not pinpoint why the forms of oppression experienced by working- class women were different from those experienced by working-class men. From a class analysis perspective, the fact that the movement was city-based, and dominated by youth and students, led to a lack of understanding of the particular issues faced by rural, peasant, and worker women. Pushed underground by Martial Law (declared in 1972), women nevertheless continued their active resistance, further developing the analysis of women’s participation in the national democracy movement, and struggling at the same time to eliminate women’s oppression through their participation in the national struggle. It was in this period that 22 The phrase originates from Marxist-Feminist roots, starting from Engels’ Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, 1972, as well as applications by Filipino feminists, as discussed in The Woman Question in the Philippines, 1997, by Sister Mary John Mananzan. 30 activists, such as Lorena Barrios, a member of MAKIBAKA, were killed by the Marcos regime for their outspoken opposition to the “fascist dictatorship.” In the 1980s, women went to the countryside to bring the concept of women’s liberation to the rural areas and to peasant women. It was not until the early 1980s that open, nation-wide “anti- fascist” protests against Marcos involved women from different class backgrounds. A Women’s Day of Protest, held on October 28, 1983, represented a new unity among women against Marcos and led to the formation of GABRIELA23,a national coalition of women’s organizations that marked a new stage in the development of the Filipino women’s movement. This multi class, multi-sectoral coalition, with representation from the urban poor, rural women, youth, political elite, women from religious institutions, academics, and intellectuals, developed women-specific analysis of national issues, defined women’s problems, and highlighted the impact of government policies on women. Many women began attending international conferences and gatherings, becoming exposed to different currents of feminism. The debates and challenges of the 1980s reached deeper into political and ideological differences. Taguiwalo’s analysis of this period may be summarized as the coming to the fore of the issues of gender and class (1993, 40-43) within Filipino women’s struggles. The main difference in this phase was the shift in the analysis of Philippine society away from its semi- feudal, semi-colonial nature to its semi-capitalist or capitalist economic structure, thus placing an emphasis on the workers rather than the peasants. The appearance of malls, highways, and export-processing zones (EPZs) led to the assumption that industry was now dominant, although Philippine society for the vast majority had not changed. The women’s movement was 23 GABRIELA stands for General Assembly Binding Women for Reform, Integration, Equality, Leadership and Action; the name is also a commemoration of Gabriela Silang, a woman general who died fighting Spanish colonizers in the l8 century. See Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, Gabnela Silang (Manila: Tahanan Books for Young Readers, 1992). 31 affected by these debates, moving towards a critique of capitalism, with some espousing the view that this needed only to be “reformed.” Downplaying the class perspective and struggle, an emphasis on the common interests of women led to compromises between “liberal feminism” and “socialist feminism,” until women’s oppression was perceived as primarily due to patriarchy, or male domination, rather than economic forces. Analysis of the particular problems of Filipino women who were peasants and workers did not play a major role in the women’s movement until the lessons of this period were analyzed in the next decade. The result of this shift in ideology and critical framework was that upper-class women assumed leadership over working women, under principles of “coalitionism.” Co-option of educated women by foreign states and NGO funders pushed “mainstream” feminist issues. By 1985, women were divided along political and class lines, as was conveyed concretely by women’s support of Cory Aquino, the first female president after Marcos was ousted by the broad mass mobilization of Filipinos.24 There was a focus on mobilizing upper- and middle-class women for specific political campaigns, rather than the mass work of organizing the marginalized sectors of Philippine society, who had invested heavily in the anti-Marcos movement. With this loss of focus on the basic economic struggle, the women’s movement became open to influence by other movements. However, GABRIELA continued its independent and militant mass actions, 24 I would surmise that the allegiances that formed after the Marcos regime returned to the traditional political factions that have ruled the Philippines since Spanish times. The privileged, wealthy, ilustrado class who benefited from social and political positions under Spain was made up of the same families that were handpicked by the US and sent to the US to study and return to be the ruling politicians under the US Commonwealth. They were generally Philippine or foreign university-educated landowners and politicians who ran and continue to run the Philippines economically and politically. Among these families are the Cojuangcos from Tarlac province, Cory Aquino’s family. Although Marcos was ousted, the ruling class re-confirmed their allegiances and maintained the structural powers defended by subsequent presidents. Joseph Estrada, also ousted, ran on the image of being the defender of the masses, but was, in reality, a member of the elite wealthy class. The current president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is the daughter of a former Philippine President and married to a member of another traditionally wealthy clan. Although two female presidents have run the country in the last twenty years, both belong to the elite 2- 5% ruling class. These traditional dynasties that carry on in today’s political factionism and social alliances are analyzed historically and politically in An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Ed. Alfred McCoy (Quezon City: Ateneo University Press, 1995). 32 at the cost of losing support from upper-class women. At the end of this period, mainly the urban poor and rural peasant women remained as the backbone of GABRIELA. Three of the six women in the Philippines interviewed in this study belong to organizations that are part of GABRIELA and work to represent women in the urban poor, rural poor, and student youth sectors. In the 1 990s, there was a call by more grassroots women leaders for the broad-based women’s movement to go “back to basics,” as in the 1970s, to understand the Philippine situation through study and mass organizing. This call affirmed the priorities of the national-democratic movement, with broad social perspectives that are expected to lead to women’s emancipation. In this period many activists also focused on building women-only organizations and raising women-specific issues in all sectors and organizations, attracting the widest participation possible. This branch of the women’s movement was, and at present still sees itself as, an integral part of the broad national democratic movement. The attitude of the grassroots-based women activists in this study, who all describe the triple oppression of women, arises from this period. They agree that in the Philippines women suffer male oppression as women (gender), oppression due to exploitation by a rich elite (class), and economic oppression as a segregated, colonized nation of colour providing servants and low wage workers in the global economy dominated by foreigners and especially the US (race). Their transnational contexts and links reflect this situation. 33 The Feminization of Migration That a massive worldwide trade and commerce of Filipino women exists is indisputable. The forced, feminized migration of Filipino women has created a transnational community of migrant Filipinos who remain closely and directly tied to their homeland. This migration is forced because 10% of the 80 million Filipinos now leave their families to work abroad,25 and 70% of those three thousand Filipinos who leave daily are women. Analyses of the Philippine economic and political situation confirm the slave-like coercion of overseas work; 80% of Filipinos in the Philippines today are unemployed or underemployed, in an economy which officially has 12% unemployment, and the minimum wage is not a living wage in light of rising commodity and food prices (IBON, 2005; Aguilar, 2003). The double-edged sword of international market prices and external debt servicing has no realistic end anywhere in sight, without deep, structural changes within the nation-state which is the Philippines. Forced to “hang on to a knife’s edge,” Filipinos who migrate as overseas foreign workers (OFWs) are often entrapped in deplorable conditions as modern-day slaves (PWC, 2003; Pratt, 2005), and held hostage by the threat of lower wages, job loss, or expulsion. In a great irony of this history being lived by eight million Filipinos today, they keep the Philippine economy alive by the monthly remittances sent home to their impoverished families, as they themselves continue to live in poverty abroad. This migration is feminized, not only by the sheer numbers of women leaving in relation to men, but more so because after they maneuver, manipulate, and finance their ways through immigration systems across the world, these women, who are often well educated, are relegated to low-paying domestic work, low-status manufacturing jobs, or sexual exploitation for 25 IBON Foundation and BAYAN submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in November 2007, point out that over nine million workers or one-fourth of the country’s labour force is now in 192 countries worldwide. Of a total population of 86.3 million in 2006, that would be approximately 10%. <www.ibon.org.> 34 profit (Rosca, 2001; PWC 2000, 2003). These jobs are connected to the question of women’s productive and reproductive roles, which are vital to the maintenance and expansion of capitalism. A Filipino woman in the Philippines today with no employment (even though she was well trained) has only three forced “choices.” She can either work in a factory in export processing zones (EPZs), which are not likely to be close to her home, enter the “entertainment” industry (i.e., prostitution or the sex trade), or go abroad as a domestic worker or Mail-Order- Bride. Women’s contribution to monopoly capitalism, whether at home or abroad, is a continuation of their role in the early days of western industrialization. This consists of no-pay or low-wage domestic or production work, or serving as sexual partners for reproduction or male gratification. Those abroad in 2004 sent remittances back to the Philippines of US$8.5 billion (US$12 billion if “informal” channels are included). It is no wonder the current Philippine government had a target of one million Filipinos to work overseas in 2005, since these remittances account for 40% of servicing the external debt to the IMFIWB and other banking corporations. In the context of globalization, which is monopoly capitalism achieved through the neo-liberal policies of liberalization, privatization, and de-regulation, transnational feminism can no longer be discussed without acknowledging its direct link to capitalism. Mohanty articulates this inevitable and necessary link as “anticapitalist transnational feminist practice” (2003, 230). In this study, the women interviewed assumed a similar definition of transnational connections among women’s struggles worldwide. Any political activism from Majority World women that is not “anti-globalization” or “anti-capitalism” would be ignoring the critical and vital context of the neo liberal practices imposed today, which directly impact the daily lives of women in or from much of the Majority World. Mohanty points out that an analysis of the employment of Third World women workers by multinational capital in terms of ideological constructions of race, gender, and sexuality in the very definition of ‘women’s work,’ has significant repercussions for feminist 35 cross-cultural analysis. In fact, questions pertaining to the social agency of Third World women workers may well be some of the most challenging questions facing feminist organizing today (2003, 74). The forced, feminized migration of Filipinos under globalization is the context which can never be forgotten, in this particular Majority World feminist project. Analysis and interpretation of the interviews with women activists at home and abroad will constantly take this context into account. Through their accounts, the role and connection of migrant women to national liberation from their respective locations may also be better understood. The women interviewed considered the feudal domestic role of women as a key point of struggle in Philippine society itself. However, the exportation of this role, embodied in thousands of domestic workers scattered in more than 190 countries in the world, has led to the notion of the feminization of migration. Of the 200,000+ immigrants admitted into Canada in 2004, 1.4% enter through the Live-in Caregiver Program. Of all Filipino immigrants/migrants (now the fourth largest immigrant group in Canada and third largest in BC), 65% are women who have entered through the LCP. Of all the LCP temporary workers, 90-95% are Filipino women (PWC, 2003).26 The “woman question,” regarding women’s productive and reproductive roles in the world market, is particularly relevant to this burgeoning exportation of Filipino workers. Their service/servile work is domestic — cooking, cleaning, childcare, care-giving to the elderly and infirm — and they are confined without choice to the house and the household. One might argue that this migration cannot unequivocally be called “feminized”, because Filipino men are also migrant workers and also often caregivers. However, the analysis here is not about the principle of including men, or the minority, in discussing the composition of the migrant worker class, but adopts the perspective of gender analysis with a focus on women’s 26 Cecilia Diocson, Executicve Direcctor of the NAPWC noted in a February 2005 draft report for Status of Women Canada, that from “1998 to 2003, Filipino entrants made up an average of 92.6% of those entering Canada under the LCP,” taken from “Annual Flow of Live-in Caregivers by the Top Source Countries,” CIC, 2005. 36 particular issues. As systematized by the Philippine government and receiving countries, such as Canada, immigration policies do in fact bring in primarily women, who are channeled to do domestic labor. This is evidence of the role and the use of women in the global market. The fact that Canada has an immigration program for temporary workers that is “genderized” alters the attitudes, expectations, and ultimately the system of values in Canadian society in regard to Majority World women of colour.27 Systemic feminization of migration is the method utilized in order to achieve market goals. From a gender perspective, G8 and other host countries are invested in importing/allowing women into the country to do exclusively domestic/ “women’s” work, or to work in corporate manufacturing of goods and technology, not in the professions related to health, science, and education that many of them have been trained for, and which would serve the Philippines.28 In a global market economy, their skills and professions are not utilized or available in the Philippines, but are downgraded to fulfill market needs abroad. Rather than seeing this as a problem, the Philippine government has efficiently systematized the migration of workers, instead of building the much needed infrastructure at home to retain skilled workers for services and production. Over-qualified women are more “marketable” abroad, but for the women 27 A comparison of live-in versus live-out domestic help, published for potential employers by a recruitment and placement agency operating in Canada and the US (Care Match, Inc.), assesses the advantages of an LCP domestic worker for the employers: lower wages, highly educated, docility, hardworking qualities, and legal visa status. These “advantages” are pitted directly against the “disadvantages” of those who live out of their employers’ homes. This advertisement legitimizes the exploitation of the labour of educated Majority world women in competition with other women also seeking domestic work. (See Appendix 4.) 28 According to Peter Cordingley, WHO Asia-Pacific spokesperson, in 2006, an estimated 15,000 nurses and medical workers were leaving, primarily for the US, Britain, and Australia. The Health Secretary acknowledged the exodus and that 85%of nurses have left since the labor export policy was implemented in the 1 970s. The state-run lottery agency, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, pledged P252 million or US$4.93 million to train 6,000 students, including 100 medical students per year, with the first batch starting this year. Stories abound of newly graduated physicians unable to find work, training to be nurses in order to enter Canada through the LCP. March, 2006. www.wpro.who. int/media_centre/press_releases/pr_20060329. htm. Also, see <doh . gov. ph/news/04092006. pdf> 37 concerned their professional training is either irrelevant to the work for which they are hired or uncompensated, which leads to an increased sense of frustration. It is not merely the number of women that is significant as they are pushed into the global market by conditions in the Philippines and pulled into affluent countries in need of cheap domestic labour (this has often been termed the “push-pull” factors that force women into working abroad). The nature of the work itself (domestic, assembly-line, sexual) and the significant role women continue to play in global capitalism (as cheap labour in both the public and the private spheres) point to the vital connection between “women’s liberation” and national struggles to escape from colonial and neo-colonial enterprises. The phenomenon of worldwide migration appears as a double-edged sword, because on the surface it may appear to be “non-colonial” in bringing a new “independence” to Filipino women, who are in many cases suddenly the main breadwinners. Living away from their families and making their own decisions abroad could be seen as shaping their lives in new contexts with increased self-reliance, if not empowerment. On the other hand, while this massive movement across the world (on jet planes and ships, with cell phones in hand) may appear “non-feudal,” women also land in western societies under feudal-like conditions, with master and servant/slave relationships, and their new-found “independence” exposes them to isolation and loneliness. In any case, the global picture of this migration remains unchanged, maintaining colonial relationships between Majority World populations and the rich European/North American (sometimes Middle Eastern and Asian) states and societies they sustain through their subservience and labour. This forced, feminized migration produces contradictions in Filipino women’s experience as migrant workers in these changing social and economic contexts. The women interviewed understand the need for analysis of the changes in Filipino women’s experiences, at home and abroad. They see how, under the conditions of struggle for survival 38 and displacement, women can exert agency and organize themselves, to bring about a better understanding of their situation. They can take action in order to make profound, positive changes in their lives and those of their families and communities. Commodification In discussing economic issues, the term commodification was used frequently by the women in the Philippines and Canada, to refer to the exportation of women’s labor from the Philippines to work abroad, as well as their work within the Philippines. Reciprocity between the Philippine government’s Labor Export Policy (LEP) and Canada’s Live-In Caregiver Program allows the exit and entry of Filipino women by the thousands. In the case of the Netherlands, no such reciprocal policies exist. For the Filipino women in a very small, affluent country like the Netherlands, commodification is seen more clearly in the low-wage labour of undocumented domestic workers who are not officially sanctioned by the Dutch government. Commodification was experienced in the Philippines as contractualized labor and displacement to export processing zones (EPZ5). This is a form of internal migration from rural to urban zones or from one region to another where EPZs are set-up. For women in the Philippines, the Netherlands, or Canada, one common critical issue is their continual low wages, associated with the fact that they are allocated certain types of undervalued jobs, such as domestic work, assembly-line factory work, agricultural labour, or “tourism.” Peasants are commodified in not owning any part of the land they till and not being able to influence the market price of their products. They are often asked to work for very long hours or piecemeal, which means they need to work faster in order to earn more. Peasants are forced to overwork themselves in order to pay off debts and ensure the landowner’s share of crop revenue. Finally, there is a cluster of commodification issues around the lack of access to social, health, and educational benefits. Job security was inaccessible to many workers in the Philippines and 39 especially so for women in their allocated jobs. Loss of wages and jobs leads to lack of access to all manner of social services. Access to health is one urgent issue constantly named. Women in the Philippines have little or no access to health services, for different reasons from those facing the women in Canada. In the Philippines, people cannot access health care simply because they cannot afford to pay for the service or the medication required.29 Furthermore, the massive migration of health workers, who have skills that are in demand in Europe and North America, or some Middle East countries where oil-rich governments have budgets to sustain their health care system,3°has resulted in the lack of doctors and nurses in the Philippines. For Filipinos living abroad, access to health care is related to their immigration status. Filipino migrant domestic workers in Canada on temporary visas (i.e., non-residents), are excluded from access to Canada’s health care system, in spite of the fact that contributions to the health system are deducted from their salaries. They experience this lack of access in spite of the contribution of their labor to the nation’s revenues in terms of human capital as well as visa fees, taxes, and pension deductions. In the Netherlands, those with permanent residence and refugee status can avail themselves of the public health service, while undocumented Filipinos cannot. 29 In one of the poorest communities in Manila I visited (Tondo), one of the first projects the women undertook to meet their needs and change their situation was to run a “pharmacy” with some basic medicines available at low prices. 30 A US immigration bill in 2006 proposed to remove the cap on the number of nurses allowed to enter the US (New York Times, May 24, 2006). A domestic worker in Vancouver told me that she was a nurse in Libya for several years, learned Arabic (adding to her regional dialect, Tagalog, and English), while her husband also worked there. Their daughter was left in the Philippines with her sister. With the promise of resident status and family reunification that brings many Filipinos to Canada under the LCP, she became a nanny in West Vancouver. Although she has attended many nursing review classes and passed her nursing and English exams, she has yet to find a nursing position in Vancouver, although there is an ongoing nursing shortage. She continues her domestic work in order to save money for the high expenses required in the resident visa application process and the airfares to bring families to Canada once the domestic worker has been approved as a landed immigrant. The luring of foreign workers has a significant impact on the countries where they are recruited. The greatest demands are from the US, Britain, and Australia. For those trained health workers remaining in the Philippines, jobs suffer from budget cuts, are low-paying, and most are unable to support families. The Philippine government recognizes this loss of thousands of health workers yearly and has recently included (in this year’s budget) the training of 6,000 health workers per year to remain in the country, according to the Health Secretary in April 2006. 40 Habiba Zaman (2004) has explored the term, concept, and processes of commodification in a study of transnational migration and female domestic workers under the LCP in Canada. She discusses the critical role of the State in implementing commodification processes. Whereas women’s domestic work has been and continues to be invisible and “non-commodified,” the Canadian federal government and other host countries have now systemically made changes in immigration and labour policies to perpetuate a market-driven economy that extends to the non- or under-commodified sector of the family, marking a shift from public to private sectors (43). The women I interviewed analyze the direct relationship between the Philippine LEP and the Canadian LCP as coinciding with Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) in the 1980s. These SAPs were a key globalization strategy used by the IMF and WB to implement neo-liberal policies in the Philippines.31 For the Philippines this meant the export of Philippine labour in exchange for renewed external loans and adjusted debt payment schedules. Ironically, the State (be it a G8 or Majority World government), now acknowledges and uses women’s domestic labour and other forms of social reproduction as pivotal in a growing capitalist economy. Zaman also points out the role of market relations in commodification. Rather than entering into the type of employee-employer relationship that is usual in paid work, women under the LCP are in a contractual relationship that preserves an imbalanced power relationship and exposes the women to exploitation in the confines of a private home. As Zaman points out, “Commodification is typified by the absence of family obligations and the existence of an [unusual] employee-employer relationship. This contractual relationship preserves a 31 PWC. Trapped: Holding on to Knife’s Edge: Economic Violence Against Filipino Migrant/Immigrant Women (Vancouver, BC, 1997). The current Philippine president has announced a target of sending one million workers overseas (OFW5) in 2006 alone. November 21, 1006. <http://globalnation.inquirer. net/news/news/view_article.php?article_id=33928> 41 hierarchical power relationship that can lead to exploitative and oppressive situations due to the private nature of households, where monitoring of work conditions does not exist (43).” In the Philippines, this contractual relationship has expanded into the public arena. Contractualization was noted by one participant as a key general issue for Filipino workers. Instead of workers being able to access and benefit from monitored working conditions, wages protected by labor laws, access to social benefits, and job security, workers under contractualization schemes are “bought” and dispensed piecemeal depending on market trends in certain areas of production and exportation. Contractualization is an important element in neo-liberal market expansion, because it provides “flexibility” in manipulating wages and benefits to enable companies and corporations to remain competitive in a global market. 32 Prices of other commodities, like oil, minerals, food, are fixed by the global markets, and therefore difficult for companies to manipulate. Thus “flexibilization” is best applied to reducing human wages (and benefits), and human labour becomes a commodity traded and manipulated in global markets. In these commodification-contractualization-flexibilization processes, Filipino workers, particularly a growing number of women because of the ever-expanding “feminization” of migrant labor, are paradoxically major/minor players. Ligaya Lindio-McGovern also explores “the commodification of Filipino women in globalized labor export “(2003, 2004). After completing studies of Filipino domestic workers in Rome, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, she describes commodification as a form of political and cultural alienation: “Commodification occurs when human beings become the commodities for exchange and work under exploitative conditions that others profit from” (2004, 222). It is dehumanizing to the extent that work, as “an extension of the human personality should lead to 32 Editorial. “Women Workers and Labor Contractualization.” Kali: Voice of Cordillera Women. 2:1, June 2001. 42 one’s humanization and affirmation of one’s dignity, but these are precluded when labor is commodified “(222). This form of capitalism exports people purposely to do low-paying, low status work. It is not that workers are providing services, nor practicing professions, but their bodies are transferred as a market commodity to do excessive work that increases profits for companies, through their wage loss when overload work is not remunerated (also termed “surplus labour”). For Filipinos, this transfer of bodies for labour extends beyond the movement among national regions and into massive migration to other nations. Although world economies are being integrated under the capitalist system, individual states continue to segregate and alienate workers from the Majority World. Lindio-McGovern notes that in Italy, the only work available to a migrant who is not from the European Union is domestic work. One woman interviewed for this study reported that in Hong Kong the government had even imposed a wage cut on foreign domestic helpers, the majority of them women from the Philippines (with some from Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal). These women were able to organize and fight against this common issue, and succeeded in -- reducing the amount of the decrease’ Lindio-McGovern adds that in addition to the state, private employment/recruitment agencies are a new group of capitalists trading in migrant workers. She looks in detail at the processes by which these agencies generate profit through labor export, from fees for training programs for domestic workers in the Philippines, (with more than 600 agencies there), placement fees, and loans to domestic workers. Taiwan, where wages are actually decreasing, has placement fees for domestic workers that are known to be as high as a year’s wage. Agencies require very little investment, accumulate capital, and reap large profits. Because migrant workers make up the bulk of labor export, the profits are largely at their expense (223). 43 At the same time, sending and receiving states also make enormous profits from the processes of commodification. In 2004, 7,284 applications were received through the LCP at the Canadian Embassy in Manila, with an accompanying non-refundable $500.00 fee for each application, and 3,371 temporary visas were issued. The applications in 1994 took approximately 4-6 months to process, while in 2005 it was taking about one year. In the first trimester of this year, there were 5,820 reported active cases in the Canadian Embassy in Manila. Thus, from LCP applications in 2004 alone, the Canadian government made $3.6 million from Filipino women’s labour migration.33 In this government-to-government arrangement, the Philippine government also profits greatly from the export of Filipino labour. When applying to leave the country for work abroad, migrant workers pay a series of fees to the government in addition to the private agencies mentioned above.34 More significant than these fees prior to leaving the Philippines are the remittances sent home by Filipino migrant workers from overseas. In 2005, an estimated US$8 billion was sent as official bank transfers through the Central Bank of the Philippines. It is estimated that if Significant as these fees are, they pale next to Canada’s enterprise in extracting Philippine natural resources, estimated at Can$1 .5 billion, made by mining companies in the extraction of mineral ore, i.e., gold, silver, copper. Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) statistics, 2004, 2005. <www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/facts2004/index.html > (Statistics August 2005) and <www.cic.gc.ca/english/monitor/issueo9/index. html> (Newsletter, June 2005) Prior to leaving the Philippines, women pay private agencies for placement fees, 6-months’ nanny training, and a trade test fee to the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which all amount to over 100,000 Pesos or approximately US$2,000. At the same time, the Department of Labor has a Job Fair Program, which serves as a venue for recruitment for different private agencies. In addition, air travel (about US$1,000 to Canada, for example) is usually on Philippine Airlines, the privately owned “national” flagship. It announced in May, 2006 that it will more than double its fleet with an order of US$1 10 million from a US TNC (Snecma and General Electric). For the State, government fees include: the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) fee and the Overseas Welfare Workers Administration (OWVVA), Mandatory Insurance Repatriation Bond (MIRB), travel document fees including a birth certificate, police clearance, passport, and medical, airport, and travel tax. This amounts to approximately 15-20,000 Pesos or US$ 300-400 per migrant worker (Exchange: about 52P = 1USD). When approximately 3,000 leave the Philippines every day, the government receives a total of about US$100,000 daily or US$36.5 million yearly, before the workers have even left the country. 44 informal, unofficial channels were included, the remittances totaled US$1 2-15 billion.35 These remittances now cover the equivalent of 30% of the government’s debt-servicing costs, as foreign debt among Majority World nations increases with the expansion of globalization. Globalization: The Context of the Study Globalization, or the unfettered mobility of capital and the accompanying erosion and reconstitution of local and national economic and political resources and of democratic processes, the post-cold war U.S. imperialist state, and the trajectories of identity-based social movements in the 1980s and 1990s constitute the ground for transnational feminist engagement in the twenty-first century. Women of the Two-Thirds World have always organized against the devastations of globalized capital, just as they have always historically organized anticolonial and antiracist movements. In this sense they have always spoken for humanity. (Mohanty, 2003, 237) The context of globalization and its effects are shared by the women interviewed in this study in spite of their three separate locations. Capitalist globalization (the old-new face of colonialism) is the context of all their experiences. While many women resist globalization policies and their effects in their own local situations, there is a fundamental doubt as to whether radical social change can occur within the present context (Freeman & Kagarlitsky, 2004). Economic globalization policies demand that a nation’s revenues be re-invested into the economy. If programs and expenditures cannot be funded in order to achieve social justice in current economic schemes and international and national structures, how can “genuine” social change and long-term liberation from such policies be achieved? Globalization, as it is presently implemented, particularly when considering its impact on women, appears beyond repair. In its Report in 2006, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) stated that remittances sent by migrant workers were estimated at US$ 167 billion. Top receiving countries were: Asia-India $21.3 billion, China $21.7 billion, and the Philippines $11.6; also, <http://www.bsp.gov.ph/statistics/spei/tabl I .htm>, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas [Central Bank of the Philippines], “Overseas Filipino Workers! Remittances: By Country and Type of Worker,” 2 April 2006. 45 Women can expose and oppose current social and political globalization structures that produce these policies, but what alternative processes and structures can women who oppose it propose? How can or does opposing globalization lead to being liberated from it? Anti- globalization movements, while useful in understanding current issues, do not necessarily contribute towards changing the future for the women whose complex lives are increasingly lived out on the transnational stage. As was long ago articulated by Audre Lorde (1983, 98), the master’s tools may never dismantle the master’s house, but what other tools are available? The “new collective imperialism” (Amin, 2004) asserted by today’s economic powers may seem invincible. However, understanding the effects of globalization from the margins (Zaman and Tubajon, 2001; Salazar Parrenas, 2003; Lindio-McGovern, 2003, 2004), and resistance to it by drawing attention to the experiences of women affected by forced migration, is a necessary step in establishing links between women’s liberation and socially transformative national change. This triple agenda for change may be furthered through transnational feminist organizing and theorizing. Mohanty points to the intersection of “gender, race, colonialism, and capitalism” (2003, 246) rooted in the subjugation of women of the Majority World by globalization. This perspective is fundamental to many feminist projects across the world, and the Filipino women interviewed for this study share it. Mohanty’s “transnational anticapitalist feminism” will be a basis for my discussion, as it is central to my theoretical framework. Starting from the experiences of women from the Philippines I aim to contribute to strengthening a feminism from the margins, challenging the hegemony of western/North American/European feminist theory and the sense that other feminist movements are only a uni-directional continuation of it. Filipino women’s struggles for liberation offer a self-reflective, borderless contribution to what “feminism” means, as lived by women from the “Majority World” — be they geographically located in the so-called “Third World” or “First World.” This study not only seeks to create an audience for those 46 speaking from the margins, as a social and political responsibility (Stone-Mediatore, 2003), but bears witness to the efficacy of a particular type of community-based feminism demonstrated by politically engaged Filipino women in the Philippines and abroad, who assert a commitment to “social transformation.” Globalization distorts history and culture by its amalgamation of politics and economics which imposes the one global, corporate culture now transforming the world even when it is camouflaged, by promoting “multiculturalism” for instance. The result is that our stories “from below” become eclipsed or co-opted, subsumed or merged into globalization stories “from above.” The women in this study narrate their experiences as resistance to this distortion and thus seek to maintain their place in the making of history. While still claiming their past history as women emerging from a feudal and colonial society, they now also claim their present history as women struggling to transform a semi-feudal, semi-colonial one. They are aware that critical thinking and consciousness are required to resist the all-encompassing impact of neo-colonial, capitalist globalization on the peoples of the Majority World (as urged by Mohanty, Sandoval, and other transnational and/or Majority World feminists), as well as compassionate, committed actions that can produce incremental change, forging effective strategies to achieve short-term goals without losing sight of a long-term vision for a better future. Outline of the Study The study is divided into two main Parts, each with three chapters. Part I presents the project, provides a theoretical frame, and describes the methodology used, and Part II conveys and interprets the material from interviews with a number of Filipino women activists in three locations. The concluding chapter brings together the theoretical discussion in Part I and the narrative discussion of Part II, and attempts to assess the outcome of the study, with a focus on the complex transnational dimensions of these women’s activism. 47 Part I The first chapter, the Introduction, has aimed to locate the researcher, present the aims of the study and research questions, discuss terms and key concepts, situate the research historically and contextually, and delineate the shape of the study. The researcher is situated as being an observer-participant located in similar contexts to those of the women interviewed, but also as the one who proposes the questions being explored. I am both part of the “we” the women use, and a relatively distanced academic analyst, as I select and combine elements from their stories and contextualize them. Chapter 2 will outline the theoretical framework, conceptualizing action and theory as seen from the perspective of a community of marginalized women, interacting with the central ideas of several theorists, and providing a frame for considering these Filipino women’s political, social, and historical contributions to social transformation. The framework parallels and further theorizes the context, in that it moves from decolonizing theories (de-colonizing from both colonialism and neo-colonialism/ globalization) to feminist praxis in transnational contexts. A focus on the pivotal roles of women in local and national political action and transnational communities will reveal how many transform themselves and their community through struggle. The framework brings out the limitations of oppositional consciousness and resistance against present domination and turns attention towards active, materialist social transformation. Chapter 3 explains the methodology used to collect twelve women’s narratives through one-on one interviews. This qualitative research method, based on feminist principles, allowed these women activists, who live in the Philippines, the Netherlands, and Canada, to share their understanding of the impact of globalization on women’s daily lives in general, in the Philippines and abroad. The selection of women from the three sites is justified in terms of their 48 participation in national/transnational communities and common struggles. Economic constraints and worldwide migration comprise the historical and political context of their activism. The use of narratives of marginal experiences will be discussed, recognizing the influence of social locations on the individual narratives. Part II In Part II, the data collected through the interviews are conveyed and interpreted. The purpose was to explore how the women experience and practice social transformation in their daily lives and how organizing in different locations is linked to the situation in the Philippines and transnational issues. The analysis covers several aspects: Chapter 4, which recounts how each woman became politically engaged, explains the issues that motivate their work and the priorities they are addressing as activists in their particular local and national conditions. It reveals economic factors as central in women’s lives, in conjunction with other women-specific issues, and how trans-generational and transnational ties are formed and influence their praxis. Chapter 5 explores the complex situations and tensions experienced by these women and those they work with, in personal and political contexts. Their intersecting experiences of class, race, and gender, bring about personal, social, and political change in their homes and communities through political awareness and action. Chapter 6 focuses on their activism as feminist praxis, looking more closely at the specific actions they take and challenges they face in their efforts to change their situation locally, nationally, and transnationally. The insights gained from the interviews question as well as confirm the hypothesis that an understanding of the praxis of these marginalized women can advance women’s movements and feminist theory in various transnational contexts, contributing to shared knowledge and a vision for a better future. A critical understanding emerges of some of the contradictions faced by an impressive group of “conscious,” “empowered” women, who are living the legacy of 49 colonialism and the dark side of globalization, yet continue to believe in the effectiveness of collective action towards achieving “transformation” at the personal, political, national and transnational levels. Their role and influence in the national Philippine context are too significant to ignore, yet it is in many cases locally that they make the most immediate difference to their community. They share self-reflexive principles of organizing that create links between diverse locations and contexts, and make their efforts transnational. These women’s stories help to explain why and how some Filipino women activists, dispersed across the world, have often succeeded where others have failed (or not even tried) to make a difference, largely because of their particular political and cultural background as Filipino women. Their achievement can serve as a model for others engaged in transnational and anti-globalization struggles, and they certainly deserve recognition. 50 CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK We live..., needing to pose, contest and struggle for the legitimacy of oppositional or alternative histories, theories and ways of writing. At some point there is, there has to be, dialogue across the boundaries of oppositions. This has to be because we constantly collide with dominant views while we are attempting to transform our lives on a larger scale than our own localized circumstances. This means struggling to make sense of our own world while also attempting to transform what counts as important in the world of the powerful. Linda Tuhiwai-Smith (2002, 39) This study examines whether and how women’s political action and their identities as activists are enhanced, when their activities are theorized at the grassroots local level and consciously aimed at transformative action, locally and on a larger, national scale. This large scale picture is even more necessary when the women find themselves, like those in this study, involved in transnational movements in global contexts. At the same time, their involvement transforms them as individuals and as women. The women concerned here are all activists in the frontline of socially engaged, politically informed work with other women, and believe that their experience can contribute to Majority World women’s feminism(s), through analysis arising from intense engagement in political actions. Their comments emphasize that they would not be able to speak of the struggles involved unless they had lived them. A particular characteristic of this group is that they wish to theorize about their experiences, because for them “theory” is based on how social transformation is lived and how it is shared by talking about it. In accordance with their priorities, the theoretical framework deployed here brings together three interrelated concepts: the de-colonizing/de-feudalizing process that is essential for positive social transformation to be initiated; political activism that brings about the de-colonizing as well as the advancement of individuals and communities in processes of political and social change; and a feminist understanding that without the liberation of women in their everyday lives, the 51 struggle for national democracy and freedom from colonization/neo-colonization becomes fragmented and is sure to fail. Because of the current migration history of Filipino women, struggles abroad and in the Philippines are necessarily intertwined, and the interrelationship between Filipino women activists in the Philippines and those abroad is therefore central to this study. The understanding of their struggles at home and abroad as mutual efforts towards national democracy and personal freedom for women is an essential part of any transformation these women may envisage for the Philippines or for Filipinos living elsewhere. The framework of this inquiry developed through exposure to the theories put forward by Mohanty (2003), Sandoval (2000), and Tuhiwai-Smith (1999/2002), whose work on Majority World movements can be seen as complementary. Mohanty defines systemic oppression(s) within dominant discourse and outlines the obstacles faced — and the resistance(s) performed -- by women’s communities and movements against global domination of imperialist capitalism. Sandoval takes the dominant context, navigates within it, and theoretically develops a tool of oppositional consciousness for liberation by those oppressed. The tool she elaborates serves to bridge dominant discourse and the methods of resistance that dominated communities might undertake. Tuhiwai-Smith extends these theories of resistance to forces of (neo)colonialism and imperialism, to community-based praxis that positively transforms marginalized communities in daily reality. Her work, which is practiced and theorized within her own local/national Maori community, evokes some similarities to the Philippine experience of struggle. The present study proposes that this group of Filipino women’s praxis integrates theories of resistance and opposition with concrete actions that lead to social change, from a marginalized Majority World perspective, and in transnational contexts. Their accounts invite us to reflect on a shared experience of what it is like to theorize from the ground of struggle, always with a positive goal of social change, for women who live in varied and particular contexts but all resist capitalist globalization. The concept of women’s liberation necessarily includes women’s grassroots 52 struggles, but the latter are often overshadowed by weighty dominant discourse, when they are analyzed. Thus, the process of analyzing grassroots experiences within dominant settings can become a site of struggle in itself. In a way, Tuhiwai-Smith “leaves behind,” but does not set aside, the realities of struggling within the bounds of dominant forces. The present study can engage in an exploration of how some women from the Majority World work to improve their future, trying to stay within discursive boundaries determined by themselves and not by recognizable frames from dominant discourse, although these cannot be ignored. The diagram below illustrates how I see the three theorists’ ideas coming together here. Figure 2 Theoretical Framework defining women’s oppression tool of oppositional consciousness and resistance from from dominant context dominant context (Sandoval, 2000) (Mohanty,2003) women’s praxis from Majority World and transnational context (interviews with Filipino women, 2004-05) II defining transformation from indigenous context (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999/2002) While the daily resistance and struggles of Filipino women are unique in some ways, they are also recognized as connected to the resistance of other women in the Majority World suffering from similar results of neo-liberal policies under globalization. When Gayatri Spivak (1988, 271- 313) used the term “subaltern,” she acknowledged the emerging role of women from the “Third World” in the global women’s movement and in the women’s movement within their own national 53 boundaries. During the repressive years of the 1 970s and I 980s, women from Latin American countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, and Argentina were forced to organize and confront military dictatorships at the cost of their own lives (as they still continue to do, up to the present) (Lycklama et al., 1998; Valdez, 2000; Gonzalez & Kampwirth, 2001; Kampwirth, 2002). Similarly, Filipino women organized, protested, and were imprisoned as activists in the 1970s and 1980s, from the Marcos dictatorshipuntil today’s context, as described by the women in this study.1 Women from the Majority World, including Filipino women, who have ended up in industrialized countries by virtue of forced migration from repressive states, have influenced the women’s movement in the West as well. This study posits that the reverse also happens — that Filipino women politically organized abroad inform the politicized women’s movement in the Philippines. Mohanty, in her seminal article “Under Western Eyes” (1991, 51-80), highlighted the perspectives of women of the “Third World” (which she later terms “Two-Thirds World, 2003). The activism of the women of several nations proved critical for changes in the women’s movements in their respective homelands. As they fled for their lives to industrialized countries, many took their activism with them.2Through their experience of confronting the state’s abuse of power, women’s liberation became tied to national (and even global) projects and the call for structural changes within their societies, rather than associated only with reform (Perez,1999, 219-239; Mojab, 2001, 133-138; Mohanty 2003, 236-251; Basu, 2003, 68-77). The struggle for emancipation and equality by women and women’s organizations became an essential element in national 1 In early October, 2006, 763 political killings by military and police forces were reported since the current president, Macapagal-Arroyo, took office in 2001; 10-20% of those killed were women, among them youth activists and political leaders. 2 Among Filipinos, not all expatriates, especially second generation (including activists and feminists), remain as connected to the homeland as the women in this study. Some have become even more emphatically “non-political” or “apolitical” and wish to distance themselves from current Philippine affairs. The reverse can also be true, in that those without any experience of activism in the Philippines become politicized to varying degrees when they arrive, live, or are born in Canada. 54 democracy movements in many Majority World nation-states. Women’s liberation was inextricably linked to national struggles, but did not necessarily entail the theorizing needed to better understand the relationship between the two. Without the deeper and more integrated understanding provided by collective reflection, assessment, and analysis of lessons learned, actions may succeed only in producing immediate and superficial solutions, rather than the structural changes essentia[for a society like the Philippines to advance. Hence, the term praxis (explained in Chapter 1) will be used here because it encapsulates this vital relationship between theory and practice and conveys the efforts of responsible communities to transform themselves and to reflect on the process. Women’s oppression in the West has been analyzed as an element or result of patriarchy (hooks, 1984; McClintock, 1995) along with developments rising from national and global concerns, including feminism in nationalism (Perez, 1999; Kaplan et al., 1999), post-colonial discourse (Lewis & Mills, 2003; Pratt, 2004), interrelated race-class-gender systems (Bannerji et al., 2001; Razack, 2002; Mohanty, 2003; Thobani, 2007), militarization and the war on terror (Rosca, 2003; Razack, 2004), as well as sexuality and sexual identities and eco-feminism not particularly addressed in this discussion. In a still semi-feudal, semi-colonial society like the Philippines, women’s oppression must be considered in a broader, de-colonizing/de-feudalizing framework. Women’s struggles must be situated as part of the national struggle, whether or not the two always coincide. Decolonizing Theories Mohanty asserts that “globalization is an urgent site for the recolonization of peoples, especially in the Two-Thirds World” (2003, 236). It is reasonable, then, to argue that anti-globalization, anti capitalist work is critical decolonizing work (see below, on Feminist Activism and Praxis). Winona LaDuke describes how the wealth of native peoples attracts colonialism. She states that 55 “an industrial society is not content to leave other peoples’ riches alone.. .the more a native people has, the more colonizers are apt to covet the wealth and take it away “ (1 997, 31). When capitalist globalization tries to maintain and re-establish colonization, especially over those from former colonies or indigenous communities, then countering globalization forces becomes imperative de-colonizing work that can lead to re-establishing liberation and sovereignty for those being colonized. Mohanty has made anti-globalization “a key factor for feminist theorizing and struggle” (237). She insists that feminist projects would be lacking if they were not decolonizing projects, and in today’s world decolonizing work means an anti-colonial, anti-racist movement practiced as activism against globalization. The women in this study share this anti-globalization practice, within the context of a world dominated by global capital. They extend this notion to women’s struggle beyond national borders and beyond solidarity between women’s movements within defined nation-states. These women consider themselves as part of the same sector of Filipino women victimized and exploited by globalization policies in a debt-ridden nation like the Philippines. Whether they have migrated abroad or remained at home in the Philippines, they belong to the social, political sector of “Filipino women” living under the impact of globalization policies, as imposed specifically on the Philippines. Transnational relationships occur when women living in different nation-states stand in active solidarity within a defined transnational social sector rooted in the same country.3 I originally planned to use the expression “diasporic phenomenon,” but upon reflection, I felt that because of the “forced” nature of Filipino migration, “transnational phenomenon” better reflects the Filipino migration on which this study is based, rather than the narrower meaning of “diaspora” which focuses on the dispersion of a people. In the Jewish experience, this dispersion was also forced and subsequently became permanent. The first-generation Filipino experience is that of Filipinos forced by economic crises at home to work as “temporary” foreign workers in more than 190 countries. They remain, however, rooted in their homeland, returning home frequently, and sending back large amounts of money. For second-generation Filipinos (youth), however, although their identity is rooted in their heritage their experiences are lived in a country outside the Philippines. 56 The resulting transnational phenomenon led me to consider Filipino women’s struggles in countries outside the Philippines in the context of the Philippine struggle, and to realize how vital this relationship is. Their diverse struggles in transnational spaces may contribute to the understanding of transnational feminist struggles in general. This approach draws attention to the multiple spaces that Filipino women occupy — women who are active in national movements in different places but see themselves as in solidarity with each other. In both the intra-national spaces within the countries where they reside and in inter-national spaces, they create transnational connections and live out a transnational reality brought about by the phenomenon of forced migration. I will explore what theories and forms of praxis emerge out of these spaces and what elements are common to their experiences, seeking to understand how Majority World women can resist both the old and new faces of colonization (Tuhiwai-Smith, 2002; Monture Angus, 1995), as they construct their current actions and transformations on their own terms. They weave together social issues and political interactions that are often seen as separate, but are inseparable in their eyes. For example, they move between addressing women-specific issues that challenge patriarchal attitudes that propagate women’s subordination (sexualizing women, assigning women exclusively domestic roles and jobs), as well as protesting against economic or social policies that affect men and women equally (minimum wage, poverty, anti- terrorism laws), in terms dictated by the analysis of their experiences in the Philippines or abroad. Their activism is innovative and constitutes de-colonizing work in this particular era of history, where borders are permeable in some ways, while national affiliation also takes on new significance. Tuhiwai-Smith’s and Graham Smith’s work provides a significant contribution in deepening our understanding of social transformation (Tuhiwai-Smith, 2002; Smith, 2003), from addressing immediate changes required to aspirations for long-term systemic structural change. While the Maoris are situated in a different context from that of Filipino women, their experiences of social 57 transformation in their communities are a source of learning. A profound difference is their history of genocide through direct and indirect means.4 Another is that the white settlers stayed in Aotearoa/New Zealand, while in the Philippines the conquerors “left.” They neither reside there in large numbers, nor settled there to make it their own “homeland.” The consequence is that the Maori are able to directly engage with the pakeha (white) communities in policies and institutions.5 Filipino activists, in spite of their proactive stances in public places, are still struggling to find the political power and democratic space that would enable them to change their own society, and it is often difficult for them to know which entities to address. The ruling elite to be challenged is also Filipino, albeit a tool of foreign powers and economic interests. Recognizing that the Maori struggle is quite distinct, as that of indigenous people in a white settler society, their community-based activism is nevertheless a useful point of comparison here. For them, a significant part of their struggle is for cultural identity, as it is eroded by colonization. What startedout as a linguistic/cultural concern, in the early 1980s, resulted in the transformation of the Maori community itself (Smith, 2004). In addressing the threat of the disappearance of their spoken and written language, the Maori communities embarked on their linguistic preservation through a project of community awareness and organizing. In the process, they learned about the social and economic forces that keep Maori youth and others in marginal limbo. When the project of establishing “language nests” to propagate the learning and use of the Maori language was started, many feared (in spite of the positive aspects of bilingual Although more than one million Filipinos were slaughtered in the Philippine-American war in 1898, in some populous areas subjugated by the US military, numbers preserved as conquest was achieved with the help of local leaders. Other native peoples worldwide teetered on the brink of survival and many continue to fight for material, cultural, and political survival today. However, this engagement cannot be taken for granted, as not all Maori people negotiate with the pakeha and some may become themselves part of the elite social structure. Maoris continue to engage in high-risk (imprisonment, death) protests for land rights and sovereignty and not just cultural rights. 58 learning6)that their children would have even less of a chance in life if they cannot speak English. The radical plan of educating young children in Maori emphasized their cross- generational struggle to bring about empowerment and find ways of transforming their situation. As Smith stated in a seminar,7the Maori do not seek “equality,” but to be Maori in all aspects of society. One generation after this initiative, Maori youth demonstrate bilingual proficiency in everyday life as an important element in affirming their identity. Decolonizing mental states, and not just material domination, is equally critical and integral to women’s struggles. The widespread use of English in the Philippines, which will be discussed in describing the interviews, is an important indicator of cultural hegemony and reflects the impact of colonialism, just as it does for indigenous peoples. Like the Maori, Filipinos struggle for basic survival and economic justice, but also for freedom from all forms of violence, cultural domination, and mentally constructed inferiority. Another important similarity, in terms of the present study, is that in the struggle people’s consciousness is raised, communities are organized, and concerted action by those in the struggle can lead to tangible changes in society as well as liberation from internalized colonization. There are lessons Filipino women in movements for social change can learn from the Maori experience, and Tuhiwai-Smith’s and Smith’s work on de-colonizing methods and community transformation therefore provides a useful point of reference and reason for hope. 6 Jim Cummins in “Research, Ethics, and Public Discourse: The Debate on Bilingual Education” (presentation at the National Conference of the American Association of Higher Education, March 22, 1999, Washington, D.C.), summarized research on bilingual education, showing that a solid first language ensures the competent acquisition of a second language and the presence of more than one language enhances cognitive development and learning abilities. Graham Smith. UBC Course EADM 508B entitled “The Politics of Transforming Education: The Struggle for Knowledge” (UBC, Winter 2004). 59 This study acknowledges the complicity in Canada of migrant/immigrant Filipinos (and others) arriving in large numbers to live on land to which First Nations peoples are entitled.8 While we learn from the experiences and wisdom of indigenous people, are we not complicit in settling on lands that have been taken away from indigenous communities? How have we, who were colonized, become instruments of colonization and re-colonization from the standpoint of indigenous peoples? Do women have a particular role in this situation? In light of the context of this invasion through migration and immigration policies, are we not also impinging on their intellectual rights, in “learning” from their experiences to benefit our own situations in the host countries, our new residences? The narratives of the women in this study can co-reflect indigenous women’s scholarship and theories, to share experiences of colonization and strategies for action from their respective particularities. If they so desire, building solidarity between migrant and indigenous women needs reciprocal processes, processes of communication, and critical, comprehensive thinking, in order to further understand transnational processes of women’s liberation. Such solidarity would impact significantly on Canada’s own need for “liberation” from the abuses of capitalist globalization, forcing recognition of the perspectives and efforts of both migrant and indigenous women. National Struggle and Participation in Nation-Building The women in this study often spoke about “national liberation” as the basis of their struggle. Yet the term needs clarification, since it is often primarily associated with the struggle of non- European lands during colonial times for freedom from foreign occupation by European and United States interests and governments. When independence was “granted” by colonizing nations, often after long and painful revolts and armed rebellions, post-colonial governments were formed. As previously described, during the era that followed, the national elite of former 8 Sunera Thobani. “Multiculturalism and the Liberalizing Nation.” Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), pp. 144-175. 60 colonies governed. In the case of the Philippines, after 1946 the national elite administered a colonial, transition Commonwealth government under the tutelage of the United States, through English-speaking, US educated, male members of the wealthy class. The new entity, the modern “independent nation”, allowed US control to be reduced to the “background,” replaced by generations of the ruling elite whose practices and relations within the Philippines and with other states centre on a certain construct of what constitutes a “nation.” This concept of the nation appears advantageous to modern governments who foster nationalism for their own ends, as well as to resistance groups who continue the call for “national liberation” from neo-colonizers, whether local or national politicians or foreign companies. However, the construct is problematic and limited when it comes to trying to create social change, in contexts where the “nation” includes conflicting groups. Women activists from other national projects have struggled to re-frame participation in nation-building to include indigenous resistance and women’s experiences (Anzaldua, 1999; Perez, 1999). Contradictions in the concept of nation have also been examined by women scholars through women’s role and influence in social or armed revolutions in the process of nation-building, pre- and post-independence (Kaplan et al., 1999; Stasiulis, 1999, 182-218). They point out the dangers that befall those who fight for “national liberation” when they too carry a limited concept of nation, and do not acknowledge the complexity of the many divisions and differences within a “nation.” Ruling classes and opposition groups share the dilemma of how to include all groups in nation-building, in the midst of heightened ideological, political, regional, and social tensions. The very notion of nation has been problematized and de-constructed by both theorists and activists, and may need to be completely dismantled. This leads to a paradox in the conceptualization of “nation-building” in the “simultaneous denial and universalization of difference” (Kaplan et al., 1999, 3-6). Activists may ignore or deny 61 different interests and agendas in society while trying to achieve a unified, universal social revolution for all citizens. The role of the upper class in the process of nation-building and the place of middle-class and marginalized sectors cannot be ignored or sidelined in a re-configured sovereign nation. Two of the women in this study are engaged in rocky, unpredictable negotiations with the current Philippine government, in what they see as part of an ongoing nation-building process for the Philippines. Activists, women and men, in the Philippines may also over-generalize the idea of the “nation” they believe they represent to include all the poor and working classes, when some in these strata politically support, or at least are loyal to, wealthy groups on whom they rely for their livelihood, and may therefore not share opposition groups’ goals and interpretations of the “nation.” In the same way, those from upper social and economic classes are not homogeneous. As in other social and armed revolutions, many privileged members of society (including some of the women in this study), have risked and given their lives for the defense of the poor and marginalized. Therefore the term “national struggle” must be seen as navigating problematic and contradictory terrain. Nevertheless, it is evoked by the women interviewed to encompass the reality of the complex and ongoing problems of the Philippines today, where efforts to formulate a national agenda include peasants, workers, the middle-class, and even some members of the ruling elite, who all perceive themselves as members of the same “nation”, while some minority groups may seek to dissociate themselves from it. How do the women in this study use the term “national liberation” fifty years after independence? This group of Filipino activists considers the Philippine situation as unchanged since colonial times, as the distinction between colonial and post-colonial eras blurs in this neo-colonial age of globalization. They use the term not only as a rhetorical device but as the long-term goal of their activism, while at the same time they are aware that the history of women’s roles in fighting for national liberation shows that their activism is embedded in their daily, concrete lives as women. 62 Because of the extensive dimensions of current social stagnation, cultural deterioration, and economic crises in the Philippine context (the direct results of globalization policies imposed upon the country), any effective change through political and social struggle, no matter how small, is a step towards “social transformation.” “Social transformation” is thus used here to refer to any effective, positive change that contributes to and builds towards the liberation of individuals’ lives, with an impact on a local community and implications for national policy. While the long-term goal of social transformation is the desired outcome, short-term changes may occur as women struggle for survival and find solutions to daily hardships, whether these hardships affect women only or men as well. Social transformation in the Philippine context thus evokes the long-term goal of the women activists chosen for this study, as well as referring to the local, positive changes that may allow the principles of the future goal of nation-building for greater freedom, democracy, and autonomy to be lived out in the present as personal and community liberation. Both short and long-term goals evoke issues combining their commitment as Filipinos to a national struggle for fundamental political, social, and economic change and as women in a feminist struggle for women’s liberation. Findings of this study can help elucidate this feminist and nationalist relationship in theory and practice. Feminist Activism and Praxis A de-colonizing perspective moves beyond an “anti-colonialism” stance. This means that while supporting ongoing opposition to colonialism or domination in all its forms, such movements also see limitations to being “anti.” The de-colonizing work of these women asserts a view of the future that is unique to the history and context of an ongoing Filipino struggle for national liberation, from 1561 to the twenty-first century. For them, political activism certainly includes de colonizing work in general and women’s liberation in particular. Feminist activism as praxis9 is The concept of praxis (see Chapter 1), by its etymology and definition, implies both theory and action for change. Therefore, in this study, it evokes a number of dimensions. I posit that women’s form of activism 63 political activism that brings together women’s ways of participating in local, national, and transnational processes of social and political change. This study reconsiders the relationship between feminism and solidarity with broader movements involving women who do not see themselves as feminists, as well as men. The women in the study are dealing with issues that they see as “bigger than feminism.” Yet Mohanty (2003) links feminism and nationalism in the economical and political contexts that have been evoked here. In response to capitalist globalization she proposes a “decolonizing” feminism that brings women’s organizing efforts together across national borders. Her materialist transnational feminist solidarity approach is a significant element of the frame for this study. However, in spite of her extensive analysis of capitalist globalization, Mohanty has refrained from putting forward a clear model of how women might transform the fundamental structures of capitalist society that enslave women like Filipino migrant workers. The metaphor of examining the basic structure of an old house is relevant here. If one wishes to renovate (or re-form) an old structure, this may be acceptable for particular purposes. However, if one discovers that the basic foundations on which the house is built are faulty, then further examination is required (see Chapter 7, “Social transformation and Trans/National Solidarity”). There is grave danger to the residents since the structure may collapse, and the existence of those involved be at risk. This study theorizes beyond Mohanty’s analyses, since she primarily urges the “networking” approach to women’s solidarity. The Filipino women’s situation demands that they transform their political consciousness collectively and work together transnationally for the precise purpose of changing what has deteriorated in society (at home and abroad), to rebuild foundations in order to save their lives and those of others. represents praxis as a theoretical concept. Praxis also emerges as consistent with the practical descriptions of these women’s narratives. Finally, it is also one of the bases of my reflections on how and why praxis methods and social transformation are so intertwined. For these reasons, the term is incorporated into the study’s theoretical frame, the analysis of narratives, and the conclusions. 64 C Mohanty’s “cartographies of struggle” do, however, provide a model that is very useful here because it asserts the standpoint of Majority World women (she herself is an immigrant from the Majority World to the United States). The model assumes their political stance, analyzes race, class, and gender oppression, and confronts underlying ideologies that result in oppression, as expressed in history, colonialism, imperialism, and the capitalist state (Mohanty, 2003, 43-84). “Struggle” is a term that is used in everyday confrontation with hardship. It is also used by Mohanty and others, in Marxist and non-Marxist contexts, to evoke long-term resistance to continued exploitation of the poor and the marginalized. In political terms, “struggle” from below opposes and engages authority and ruling elites and proposes actions for change, at varying degrees of cost to those who are committed to the struggle. Mohanty engages with the complex relations and interdependence between theory, history, and struggle. She names sites of struggle, and provides examples of the social agency of “Third World women” and the solidarity among Majority World women based on political alliances. She also traces the historical context of colonialism, as equated to white, masculine patriarchy and hegemonic middle-class structures, from which feminist politics in colonized places rose within the framework of national liberation movements. In linking feminism with political liberation movements, combining feminist and nationalist struggles, she focuses on women’s engagement in “feminism” as inseparable from other struggles, especially for those Majority World women who struggle to survive in the societies of their former colonizers, such as black women and brown women in Britain. The struggles of the Filipino women interviewed are directly linked to the State policies and ideologies (Mohanty, 2003, 53-57) which are “fundamental to any form of ruling” (58), so that racist states and puppet regimes are seen as inevitable sites of struggle for women. In such contexts, feminism has become “a productive ground of struggle” (50), shifting “conceptual cartographies” (45), and continuing to the present time as the Majority World confronts all forms of gendered, racist, competitive economic policies and laws. Women from the Philippines confront racist, anti woman migration/immigration, naturalization, and labour policies and laws exercised on them as 65 poor Majority World citizens, by what they consider their own puppet state and by their host country abroad. Mohanty’s “decolonizing” methodology, linked to national liberation movements, is critically extended in this study. As migrant workers forced to work or emigrate abroad, Filipino women become the evidence, the symbol, and the actors for the close link between women’s liberation and “national liberation.” The inequalities in ruling relations, and the corresponding policies that maintain these relations within existing and new national and transnational conditions, are analyzed by the women interviewed as immediate struggles in the day-to-day, as well as a long- term struggle, perhaps even far beyond the era of globalization. Women’s political struggles continue to be questioned, in terms of their being “feminist” and whether their “feminism” is inseparable from national resistance and struggle. This study demonstrates that the feminist struggles of a group of activist Filipino women go beyond such moot questions. Rather, what emerges is the interconnectedness of feminist and national struggles in the Philippine context, given the ideological force and pervasiveness of capitalist globalization. The result is a contextualized feminism arising out of intricate global conditions. The research questions thus pivot around what the women interviewed describe as their feminist political actions, and I perceive as examples of a feminist praxis necessary for social transformation. Because of the complexity of the global context within which these women organize, educate, and mobilize, their praxis necessarily reflects a specific transnational focus, as they confront the impact of capitalist globalization, drawing attention to the conditions under which they, and many other women in the world, live and often perish. Like Mohanty, the women interviewed emphasize women’s grassroots “struggles.” The most significant difference in their approach is that they describe changes that occur, not only as the direct result of actions to achieve the eradication of immediate injustices, but when, 66 simultaneously, there is the exercise of agency by the community that produces a collective self transformation. Mohanty’s “communities of resistance,” from these women’s perspective, develop into communities empowered to exercise their capacity to change, lead, and assert alternative models of social interaction. They describe communities that not only fight to end injustices, but promote reflection on what the “nation” would look like if it were no longer under the rule of neo-colonial entities of any stripe. To build women’s capacity to analyze their situation, Mohanty configures the multiple contexts of women’s struggles as including the following elements: state rule in historical junctures of decolonization and the rise of national liberation movements; the constitution of white, capitalist states through a liberal gender regime and racialized immigration and naturalization laws; consolidation of a multinational economy as both continuous and discontinuous with territorial colonization; scholarly “Third World” feminist praxis to take apart a hegemonic mode of discursive colonization of “Third World” women in academic, disciplinary-based knowledge practices; and oppositional practice, memory, and writing as crucial aspects of the creation of self-knowledge for “Third World” women (57). This study engages directly with these multiple contexts in the interviewing, analysis, and writing processes. Nancy Fraser’s model of re-distribution and recognition is also useful to this feminist analysis, as she expands it to include a critique of post-colonial imperialism and class and social hierarchies (Fraser, 1997, 2005). From a western/North American perspective, Fraser’s original redistribution-recognition framework attempts to address economic injustice rooted in the political-economic structures of society, and cultural and symbolic injustice rooted in social patterns of representation, to achieve greater social justice. She recognizes multiple intersecting struggles against intersecting injustices, but ultimately is unable to separate economic injustice from cultural injustice. She claims that economic redistribution is an expression of recognition and attempts to resolve the “dilemma” that arises when various injustices are differentiated by 67 both political-economic structures and cultural-valuation structures; both aspects involve “primary and co-original” problems that require remedies. Fraser bases egalitarian socioeconomic redistribution on the “equal moral worth of persons” and seeks remedies accordingly. In contrast, this study takes a more political, collective view that starts from the analysis of the structures that create these injustices. The changes required are not “remedies” to problems, but paradigmatic, structural changes that radically address the needs, not of individuals or individual communities per Se, but of all those who need to be liberated urgently and definitively from structural oppression. Fraser analyzes her model from gender, race, and class perspectives. She sees that political-economic differentiation results in the gendered economic exploitation of women, at the same time that racialized women are specifically culturally devalued and denied certain rights, including economic rights. Gender exploitation and race oppression result from capitalist economic deprivation and colonial exploitation and marginalization. Fraser comments on class hierarchies as “social differentiation,” sustained by the dominant political-economic structures. We shall see that class analysis is certainly critical in understanding the motivation and modes of action of this group of Filipino women activists, as well as the situation of the women they represent. Fraser suggests remedies that would result in a socialist redistributive economy and a deconstructed, critically aware culture. These can only be achieved by weaning ourselves away from current cultural constructions, interests, and identities. She classifies solutions to the redistribution-recognition dilemma into “affirmative” and “transformative” remedies. Affirmative remedies for gender injustice are part of the liberal welfare state, where we may perhaps reform and revalue cultural feminism, but the binary gender code remains unchanged; women are supposed to be given a fair share of jobs and educational places but there is no change in the nature and number of those places. Similarly, such remedies for race affirmation leave the black-white binary intact; “multiculturalism” respects group differentiations, and aims to give a fair 68 share of jobs and educational places to those from different non-white races, without modifying the jobs themselves. On the other hand, Fraser’s use of “transformative” remedies is also inadequate when attempting to achieve change within the existing structures of society. She suggests a “deconstructive feminism,” a “socialist feminism,” a deconstruction of Eurocentrism and racial dichotomies, and an anti-racist social democracy, but without a critique of the overarching structures of capitalist globalization. There is risk in accepting Fraser’s engagement in class analysis. As a western scholar, she would have to critique a vital pillar in western/ capitalist democracy, which is access to private ownership and individualist achievement through and/or resulting in material wealth. To do this would, for western academics, be to engage in their own social and national transformation. Privileged women in colonizer and neo-colonizer societies in the “First World”, including migrant and immigrant women who worked hard to get there, may find it difficult to see themselves as requiring social and national transformation just like Majority World women. 10 In spite of the contributions of socialist feminism that advance our thinking about women and politics, economics, and society (Holmstrom, 2002), western feminist movements have yet to engage more openly in the anti-capitalist globalization movement, and by direct implication, in class analysis for the liberation of all women in western societies. Unlike the “deconstruction” Fraser suggests, the women in this study are engaged in contextualized systemic analysis and recommendations for action that can liberate women, from their perspective as a group of Majority World women activists, It is hermeneutically advisable to be suspicious of 10 The notion that wealthy nations require “liberation” may be contradictory for many, as general discourse assumes that the social, economic, and political achievements of wealthy nations are models for Majority World societies to emulate. Although social justice movements exist, often strongly, in these societies, privileged groups, or those who aspire to have privilege, within wealthy nations may not themselves identify with the struggles of indigenous, minority, or other marginalized groups in their country. They would not see these struggles as related to their own, much less their nation’s, “liberation.” Analyzing the need for “national liberation” in “western” countries appears necessary but is beyond the intent of this study. Yet the study hopes to show the relevance and applicability, if not interconnectedness, of struggles of this group of women to struggles that exist in all other countries because of the pervasive, negative impact of capitalist globalization, particularly on women. 69 interpretations by those with economic power and social privilege, particularly in the west, and not to accept without question what they claim as “moral value.” This is difficult to judge and interpret within a liberal society driven by capitalist accumulation at the same time that it may be attempting to reform itself. For this to be a feminist critique, relevant to women like those in this study, broader results-based analysis of feminist praxis in a world of capitalist globalization is urgently required. In her later analysis, Fraser seeks “more integrated forms of feminism” (1115), because she acknowledges that women are dealing with issues “bigger than feminism “(1 121). She offers a third “r” (in addition to recognition and redistribution), which is “representation,” becoming aware of the limitations of her original model which lacked the participation of oppressed and devalued groups in a democratic society. She continues to include social and economic justice as feminist issues, but adds participatory democracy as a feminist concern. She concedes that it is necessary to go beyond what may be considered the more individualistic “identity-politics phase,” emphasizing representation as problematizing governance structures and decision-making procedures. She places this in the political realm, yet continues to ignore direct class analysis and the political-social-economic culture of globalization. Remaining within Euro/North American frames, she continues to use the language of “altering,” “problematizing,” or “decentering” the “sovereign state,” presumably in privileged states where this sovereignty has already been “achieved,” as in the nation where she is located, the United States. The present study hopes to contribute to opening up the definition of what is “transformative,” from the standpoint of Majority World activists. Deep changes in mental paradigms, social structures, and democratic processes in daily social-economic-political lives are “transformative.” These should not be confused with continued attempts to reform or liberalize existing structures. In various historical contexts, these have proved futile and have not resulted in sustained liberation in daily lives. 70 Sandoval’s “differential coalitional oppositional consciousness” theory moves into “deeper’ consciousness and methodologies for the oppressed, from an “oppositional” orientation (2000). Her model for transnational de-colonization is consistent with the ideas of Mohanty and Tuhiwai Smith, and it goes further as she examines forms of opposition undertaken over time (53-63). She reviews a four-fold topography of oppositional consciousness developed under earlier modes of capitalist production: (1) an equal rights or integrationist form which, following World War II and the war crimes (most visibly) against the Jews, argued for civil rights based on the belief that all humans are created equal, a form embraced by “liberal feminism”; (2) a revolutionary form, whose aim is to lead society to function beyond domination/subordination power axes, and that believes that external and ideological differences cannot be assimilated (or erased) within the present social order; (3) a supremacist form, where subordinated groups aim to lead society to a higher ethical and moral vision, superior to the existing dominant forms of feminism and nationalism; and (4) a separatist form, which protects and nurtures a group’s differences through complete separation from the dominant social order (55-56). Although these four forms of consciousness and resistance are all relevant to this study, a fifth form she discusses pertains directly to the present discussion. It is what Sandoval sees as the current “differential”11form of consciousness and social movement as resistance to global late-capitalist and postmodern cultural conditions, responding to the “shifting currents of power” (54, 57-60). Where previous forms addressed certain aspects of liberation movements, differential oppositional consciousness alerts us to the urgent need to adapt to the changing rules and strategies of late-capitalism, even as we interpret globalization while remaining subject to its power and domination. She states: Differential consciousness represents the strategy of another form Sandoval clarifies three meanings in her use of differential: the differential form of social movement aligned with global movements towards decolonization (41); a specific “technology” of the methodology of the oppressed that changes consciousness through meaning (5); and a process referring to Derrida, Anzaldua, and Lorde, involving the “unnameable,” the “soul,” where “our deepest knowledges” are found (5). 71 of oppositional ideology that functions on an altogether different register. Its power can be thought of as mobile — not nomadic but rather cinematographic: a kinetic motion that maneuvers, poetically transfigures, and orchestrates while demanding alienation, perversion, and reformation in both spectators and practitioners. Differential consciousness is the expression of the new subject position called for by Althusser — it permits functioning within yet beyond the demands of dominant ideology (1991, 23). Sandoval stresses the need to show grace, flexibility, and strength in order to confront domination. Her proposals appear valid and creative as means to respond to constant changes in the strategies and impact of hegemonic structures and relationships. However, how can societies change within such ubiquitous structures and relationships? Her theoretical tool, when joined with Tuhiwai-Smith’s community research theory, can link socially transformative goals in women’s struggles for liberation. While she still frames social change through the analysis of oppositional ideologies within dominant discourse, Tuhiwai-Smith takes the struggles and resistance to the local level, opposes, asserts, and focuses on discourses from marginal communities. Sandoval’s theory, and others developed by groups such as the Maori community mentioned before, are related in that she sees Majority World women living permanently in Europe or North America as having common struggles with indigenous peoples, such as the Maori, located around the world, and migrant women (many of them Filipino) around the globe. For all of them, Sandoval proposes “Iiberatory stances in relation to the dominant social order”: The idea here, that the citizen-subject can learn to identify, develop, and control the means of ideology, that is, marshall the knowledge necessary to “break with ideology” while at the same time also speaking in, and from within, ideology, is an idea that lays the philosophical foundations enabling us to make the vital connections between the seemingly disparate social and political aims that drive, yet ultimately divide, social movements from within (2000, 43). She proposes a model of oppositional ideology that “apprehends an effective oppositional consciousness igniting in dialectical engagement between varying ideological formations” (43). This addresses the struggles waged by racialized groups living in “First World” societies. Filipino migrant women certainly engage with authoritative agencies in their host countries to improve their situation there. However, being in the First World continues to create much of their social, 72 political, and economic predicament, and also reduces their efforts to fight against the injustices suffered by Filipino people in the Philippines, even as they contribute to the advancement of First World societies. This discontinuity is addressed by migrant/immigrant Filipino women activists abroad vis-a-vis the women in the Philippines. While Sandoval’s theory points to tools of consciousness women and men can use, it does not address the tools already being used in marginal spaces of struggle. The women in this study address these, particularly as lived in transnational spaces of engagement. What are the “liberatory” models of engagement proposed, in the spaces where these groups are attempting to assert their own visions of society even when they feel like “outsiders” of the society in which they live? In order to be liberatory in the longer term, would the struggle of those working for fundamental changes in their society not need to use philosophical and ideological frames not readily acknowledged in dominant spaces? In a dialectical process all who are in society inform each other in ongoing ways and influence the direction of society, in spite of their social differences, ideological disagreements, and competing priorities. What makes the concept of oppositional consciousness problematic is that it could lean too much towards opposing and resisting dominant parameters and far less towards asserting inclusive and community-based criteria for better lives. In the short term, oppositional strategies may indeed lead to changed futures; in the long-term, socially transformative systems are sustained by creative, constantly changing flexible models of functional liberation and democracy (not always readily available to those in the margins of society), such as those described by the women in this study. Efforts need to be made in both arenas of engagement, in both dimensions of space and time: within and outside of dominant spaces, within and outside of marginalized spaces, and in short-term and long-term conceptualization and practice. The Filipino women activists in this study can help further our understanding of how transnational efforts contribute to national and global debates and efforts to achieve change, whether they are 73 at home or abroad. It seems to me that this interpretation of differential consciousness extends beyond Sandoval’s opposition to dominant ideology and engagement with dominant formations, when seen from the perspective of marginalized, exploited, displaced, uprooted Filipino women in transnational spaces. Social change movements, feminist praxis, and their standpoint knowledge can add depth to differential coalitional oppositional consciousness in this late- capitalist period — a consciousness that is even more necessary on the current transnational world stage. Sandoval develops and supports the possibility of oppositional methods, while also transcending oppositional ideologies (182-93). She concludes with her notion of a “physics of love,” when differential social movements join and “operate as a single apparatus” (183). This appears as her attempt to draw on oppositional consciousness to lead eventually to a less disparate and more unified consciousness. This is the point where I would like to extend her ideas, since it connects with the narratives of the women in this study, who see unity as necessary in order to work together towards social change in an assertive rather than resistant mode. These theories of “love” and “unity” in global liberation appear themselves to deploy terminology from marginal rather than dominant discourse. This aspect of bringing struggles (and those who struggle) together, rather than fragmenting them, is a theory I wish to explore further, as well as an aspect of my own practice in examining de-colonizing, liberatory research from women’s communities. Geraldine Pratt, on the other hand, goes beyond oppositional frames and demonstrates the positive affirmate value of women’s praxis with the dynamic interaction implied by the expression “putting feminist theory to work” (2004). She focuses on the spaces occupied by marginalized women, to illustrate materialist transnational feminism as it occurs in sites of struggle, including grassroots communities and academic settings. She listened to stories from Filipino women and youth in Vancouver and addressed their questions through collaborative research, conferences 74 on Filipino themes, and arts-based community projects. She put “feminist theory — and especially post-structural theory, which many feminists have taken to be irrelevant to practical political organizing — to work in this concrete case to see how well it works, and what it is capable of producing” (3). She interrogates the “geographies of democracy” where spaces of exclusion can be addressed, and connections, affinities, universalisms, and feminist solidarity can be practiced even across language and political or ideological differences. By pointing out the structural unevenness of relations of power (as in the case of unequal access to rights by domestic workers in Canada), and placing this analysis in a broader critique of social differences and exclusions, she brings activist groups (be they women of colour, migrant workers, or “mainstream”) into democratic spaces where competing claims can be addressed. This can occur even as they are often paradoxically excluded from such discursive and geographic spaces. In this way, Pratt relies on democratic processes that allow women to organize and build alliances, thus supporting the notion of “building solidarities across global difference.” Pratt’s question regarding “what unifies women’s organizing” relates to what Sandoval names as the “differentials” of social movements aligned globally, and what Mohanty requires as “cross- border feminist solidarity.” All these theorists turn towards movements that could unite amid differences, not only in order to oppose existing structures, but to create “geographies of democracy” within a nation and transnationally, beyond geographic and contextual borders. Response-Able Communities Transforming through Struggle The women interviewed for this study are part of a national movement that struggles for sovereignty from foreign and national domination, and my hypothesis is that their activism may provide insights into how responsible and democratic communities can function. The varied forms of struggle they undertake in their local contexts will be analyzed not only as reactions or resistances to neo-colonialism (important as these are), but as illustrating processes of (trans) formation, of responsible communities-in-process bringing about positive change. Through the 75 interviews, the study attempts to describe women’s struggles that are collective and occur in community settings, and to discover how transformation within their particular communities may exemplify the changes that are possible in the larger society. While the ambivalence of women’s role in many nationalist and social transformation movements is well known (Jayawardene, 1986, Alexander & Mohanty, 1997; Perez, 1999; Bannerji et al., 2001; Dhruvarajan & Vickers, 2002), their liberation as women often proves inseparable from national aspirations, as their efforts are tied to the liberation of all groups within the nation. In Filipino women’s migration experience, their movement has gone even beyond national borders. The notion of feminism bursts open when it is not based primarily on gender analysis (the male/female binary more commonly associated with western feminism). Without denying the importance of gender issues and the challenges of sexuality, the Philippine situation, which reflects the precariousness of both personal and national survival, is primarily founded on class struggles profoundly shaped by gender and race. When Filipino women migrate to mainly white Euro/NorthAmerican/ western contexts, where they are (re)constructed as “women of colour,” race analysis becomes more urgent and immediate. On a global scale, the racism which was a tool of colonialism continues to be a tool of neo-colonialism. There is a “segregation” of peoples/nations, where the G8 nations are mostly Euro/North American and composed mainly of white populations with capitalist economies ruled by an ongoing patriarchal system. In the non white, non-industrialized nations, cheap labour, outsourcing, and contractualization strategies maintain monopoly capitalist enterprises within the neo-Iiberal triad of privatization, deregulation, and liberation of trade and tariff policies. That debtor-nations happen to be poor, of colour, and characterized by women’s labour, points to systemic rather than particular or coincidental forms of colonization/neo-colonization. From its colonized past to its semi-feudal, semi-colonial, neo colonized present, the Filipino situation demands intersectional analysis of the multiple oppressions of class, race, gender, and sexuality. In practice, these intersections are clearly 76 present in the daily issues the women who were interviewed encounter in their respective communities. The situation of women workers within national contexts often reflects their resistance to existing social hierarchies and dominant social, political, and economic ideologies. Much has been said about their abilities to respond to old and new colonizations and re-colonizations, and lately, to the more prominent anti-globalization struggles. As stated before, while Sandoval (2000) convincingly develops an oppositional consciousness theory that necessitates creative responses as oppressive forces change tactics, her theory is nevertheless within an oppositional response paradigm. In national struggles, these resistances and oppositions are vital to survival. Mohanty also argues for a transnational struggle and solidarity along the same paradigm of opposition, struggle, and creative abilities to respond. I posit that oppositional politics cannot by itself change entrenched structures of domination, because even as communities “oppose” the dominant regime, the paradigmatic ground remains unchanged. This is evident to the extent that entrenched legal, educational, and governance systems are still in place; if opposition led to new social models replacing existing paradigms, then social transformation might have already been reached, but this is still far from occurring. Patricia Monture-Angus (1995) situates dominant institutions of law, justice, and education as tools of assimilation and oppression of aboriginal people. She states, We must always have in our sights the process and nature of our oppression and colonization. Education is important if and when we are able to educate our young in a decolonized way. Colonialism and its consequences are the obstacles (1995, 80). This statement is equally true for non-aboriginal populations. Monture-Angus analyzes aboriginal history and traditions, speaking from her aboriginal beliefs and foundational world view based on three elements: collective rights, structures based on relationships between people and creation,. 77 and responsibility that is not rights-based (77-89). While she acknowledges the need for marginal communities to both oppose and seek to be included in the larger society controlled by dominant structures of colonial power, she sees that transformation of their communities cannot rest on these efforts alone. The more critical part of the change process developed by Monture Angus, and applied in this study, is that marginalized people need to assert their own perspectives, including their colonial histories. This imperative brings out traditional beliefs and proposes transformative structures based on social, cultural, and historical experiences from “outside” dominant assumptions. In the case of Filipino activists, some locally developed models for organizing may be transferable to national or transnational levels, just as aboriginal peoples “reclaim” traditional models of community practices that can change how they relate to the dominant culture. Activist communities in the Philippines and abroad are changing rapidly and dynamically as they persist in their opposition work. Resistance is a necessary part of shaping such communities, but some forms of resistance can be vital, creative, and forward-oriented rather than simply reactive. Some of the women’s stories shared through this study show how imaginative and effective some of their oppositional campaigns and postures of resistance have been. However, I was looking for evidence of activities that go beyond being primarily “anti,” that illustrate being able to respond, as part of responsible/response-able communities in the process of change. Would it not be “irresponsible” of “neo-colonies” to repeat colonizing patterns or make only superficial changes that, in reality, re-colonize their own people? Responsible/response-able communities would need to integrate and translate de-colonizing theory and feminist praxis into improved, liberated lives. The narratives of Filipino women activists cited here, particularly those located in the Philippines, provide a view of paradigm changes in “feminist democratic politics” (Stone-Mediatore, 2003, 78 158-159), changes that re-interpret and re-structure our world through the awareness achieved by responsible communities that transform themselves continually. Transmitting women’s stories based on their daily lives and uncovering the meanings assigned to them is an important methodology that allows us to acknowledge and develop alternative interpretations that may help change the way we find solutions in the world. These transformations in the midst of struggle are “genuine” because they represent people’s needs and desire for change, rather than the “artificial” and superficial changes that are often achieved by reforming existing policies and structures, with results that maintain the interests of the ruling classes. Democratic and collective struggles produce communities that have no alternative but to be transformative of themselves and their contexts, but it is not in the interest of status quo structures that maintain hierarchies of power to allow them to “transform.” It is, however, imperative for marginalized communities to continue to strive for change, as it is in the struggle itself that social structures and processes change. The struggles continue in a “spiraling” process towards what might be a “genuine” democracy and liberation, which can be glimpsed in the present. Grassroots communities like these experience transformation because their very survival requires that society change, and social change is for them an immediate, practical concern as well as a long- term ideological one. When women oppose dominant paradigms, they transform themselves and others; when they and their communities are transformed, they assert themselves politically and advance their movement. How do women’s experiences assert their praxis from “below,” from the “margins” of dominant discourse and action? How can their praxis help us include yet go beyond mere opposition (or act simultaneously with it) and, through present struggles, live the future transformations growing from women’s contributions? How can women’s transnational praxis reach feminist understandings of action and solidarity beyond familiar physical boundaries and 79 mentally constructed borders, while surviving “in the belly of the beast,” that is, within the domain of imperialist/neo-colonial/neo-Iiberal domination? In re-conceptualizing feminist solidarity across borders, Mohanty (2003) shows the importance of feminist analysis of the relationship between capital, labor, and gender, and how these have transcended the borders of nation-states (139-149). Ironically, as hierarchies, ideologies, exploitations, and recolonizations of class, gender, and race are maintained through the global economy, “cross-border feminist solidarity” becomes more possible (140). Thus this study looks at the creation of a responsible and response-able cross-border community of empowered, Filipino women who live in different communities. Understanding their struggles and achievements requires interpretation of history, ideology, praxis, and consciousness (140) and needs to be shared cross-culturally and transnationally. I am also hypothesizing that in order to achieve social transformation, transnational communities must be recognized and strengthened by all women’s movements struggling against capitalist globalization intra-nationally and inter-nationally. Transnational communities of Filipinos are seeing connections not experienced on this scale by Filipinos before. These new configurations of community produce responses that are more organized, theorized, and assertive (i.e., “response-able”) than ever before. They are also accountable communities (i.e., “responsible”), with positive outcomes to share as well as problems to solve. In summary, as a feminist and de-colonizing project rooted in specific national and transnational issues in the context of capitalist globalization, this study aims to promulgate a socially transformative feminist activism as well as engaging critically with it. The latter is seen not only as an ethnic- or racial-specific experience (which it is), but also as an example of trans-national relations which demand a type of systemic race-class-gender intersectional analysis, in order to 80 further transnational solidarity. It provides examples of a Majority World (non-western) feminism emerging under new, global experiences of exploitation, provoking action. Feminist praxis in the Philippine context provides a perspective that may show that feminism does not necessarily start with or focus on women’s issues per Se, nor fragment theory from practice, but that issues of concern to women are inseparable from national and global issues of colonial exploitation, economic violence, and systemic poverty. Some of the women interviewed, and many of those they work for and with, have economic priorities for survival; gender analysis or women’s issues (especially vis-a-vis the patriarchy) may not initially take centre stage for them. I began this study by wondering how leftist Filipino women’s activism engages with economic and class analyses, and how this activism contributes to the understanding of Majority World or transnational feminism. I wanted to discover how some women in a specific national struggle interact with or address particular women’s issues, such as family violence, reproductive rights, sexual trafficking, and domestic roles, within their national project. How far is women’s liberation integral to national transformation? While some of those interviewed are publicly engaged in national debates and even official negotiations, they are all involved in women’s groups, and for some that is their primary focus. My hypothesis is that their activism reaches a point where women’s concerns and national concerns are inseparable. I expected them to share my view that it is through collective action-reflection praxis that community struggles and transformative actions can be better understood, by these women and through them by other women. Further to this assumption, does their experience show that reflection leading to transformative action and transformed communities can only happen in a community, collectively? And must all community sectors, including men, always be involved, or can women working together make a difference? The dialectics12 of this relationship between 12 While the term “dialectics” is associated with Hegelian and Marxist analysis, it is also a “mainstream” idea I first encountered in theological studies. The “dialectics” of the “immanent and transcendent” God 81 women’s concerns and “national struggle” pervades this study, as a theory to be tested against the realities lived by women in their daily battles for themselves, their families, their community, and their nation. Women in poor and devalued nations have few options, if they wish to improve the lives of their children, other than engaging in political activism for social change. This commitment, however, is certainly not without tensions and disappointments, continuities and discontinuities, congruencies and contradictions, as well as triumphs and challenges. One of the important areas of discontinuity for this particular group relates to perceptions of the role of women in nation-building. Having hypothesized that they assert the integrated nature of women’s liberation and national issues, the women also struggle, in varying degrees and stages of their own empowerment, for a place as women within a national change movement they actively promote. They often strive fiercely for the liberation of all Filipinos, yet need to liberate themselves from multiple oppressions in their own families, organizations, and coalitions in different sites. Many scholars have explored gender, society, and nation as topographies for understanding women’s roles within nation-states (Mills, 1996; Kaplan et al., 1999; Probyn, 1999; Bannerji et al., 2001; Dhuruvarajan and Vickers, 2002); others delve into more specific contradictions of gender, led to theological tensions over whether the “church” recognizes “Jesus” or “God” in each living person or as a divine, transcendent Being. Liberation theology stepped outside of this binary frame and embraced the knowledge of the transcendent God as actually in living people today. The provocation of dialectical methods, deployed against dominant binary constructions, is enormous. Six Jesuit university professors working with the urban poor and peasants were murdered along with their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador in 1989 for this theology lived in the daily struggle of the poor. The current Roman Catholic Pope threatened and facilitated the removal of priests espousing these dialectics, such as the Boff brothers in Brazil, T. Belasuriya in Sri Lanka, H. Kung in Switzerland, J. Schillebeecx of the Netherlands, and many others in the I 980s and 90s. The term is used in this study to challenge the assumptions behind the theory that women’s issues of oppression and liberation are in a contradictory or competitive relationship with the liberation of an entire nation in the Filipino case; both women’s and the nation’s concerns are integrated aspirations for genuine democracy and freedom within a just and lasting peace process. 82 race, and class within national politics and social revolutions (McClintock, 1997; Perez, 1999; Stasiulis, 1999; Bannerji et al. 2001). Although many male scholars analyze the “nation” in relation to imperialism, colonialism, and “Third World” post-colonialism, direct engagement with gender oppression within or alongside national struggles is rare or altogether absent in their work. This is evident even among those who acknowledge women’s need for social and economic independence and contributions to social or armed revolutions (Fanon, 1963; Lewis [W.E.B. Dubois], 1995; Dirlik, 1997; Jameson, 1998; Forgacs [AntoniO Gramsci], 2000; Viswanathan [Said], 2002). For example, Anne McClintock (1997) and Rey Chow (1998) both reveal Franz Fanon’s understanding of women’s situation as reflecting traditional masculinist thinking and the patriarchal construction of gender difference; he acknowledges his lack of knowledge of women, and only “mentions”, without specifying, women’s roles in achieving revolution or their issues in nation-building. McClintock clearly shows how, for most male theorists, women remained largely restricted to domestic space and are “constructed as symbolic bearers of the nation but are denied any direct relation to national agency (90).” The gendered discourse of “national liberation” at the time of (de)colonization, based on male theories, needed to be replaced by a feminist theory challenging gendered power relations within “national liberation” movements (Mills, 1996; Kaplan et al., 1999; Perez, 1999, Stasiulis, 1999; McClintock, 1995, 1999; Grewal and Kaplan, 2000; Bannerji et al., 2001; Brenner, 2003; Lewis and Mills, 2003). In the Philippine context, women-specific efforts and hopes of women’s liberation within nationalist struggles have been highlighted and explored by scholars and activists, especially those involved in the fight against the Marcos dictatorship (Angeles, 1989; Taguiwalo, 1992, 1993; Aguilar, 1998; Rosca, 2001, 2003). Since race-gender-class dominance has been a tool used by those who command imperialist projects to subdue entire “native” or national populations, both men and women are involved in many forms of anti-imperialist struggles. However, Spivak’s critical notion of the “subaltern” 83 points out an enormous irony in our attempts, as subalterns, to understand the relationship between the subaltern and imperialism. She notes, “No perspective critical of imperialism can turn the Other into a self, because the project of imperialism has always already historically refracted what might have been the absolutely Other into a domesticated Other that consolidates the imperialist self” (1985/2003, 315). Defining oneself or one’s movement within an imperialist frame is bound to be infiltrated by many blind spots. Just as one begins to critique “liberation”, for instance, in terms of capitalism and militarization, one might suddenly find oneself falling directly into imperialist and masculinist paradigms, even as one opposes such terminologies and definitions from the “subaltern” space. Feminist analyses may assist in escaping this dilemma. If the very notions of “democracy” and “liberation” fall prey to “dominant” male nationalist ideas, then women activists have much to be vigilant about in their “differential consciousness” and praxis. By interrogating gender power within subaltern groups, Chow (1994/2003), McClintock (1996,1999), and others question the construction and understanding of the “native” in former European and US colonies as primarily identified with maintaining white male identity in the large imperialist enterprise. The native male may be feminized as the White Man’s Other, but nevertheless maintain a gendered hierarchy within the native context. Thus women engaged in “national liberation” movements must continue to seek to liberate women from women-specific forms of oppression. If the men in liberation movements do not identify women’s issues as vital to national freedom for all, they allow women to fall into the “limbo of male afterthought” (McClintock, 1999, 95). If women espouse “national liberation” without giving prominence to removing gender discrimination, they do the same. I surmise, from examining the theories and practices of women’s participation in nation-building, that the outmoded Judeo-Christian metaphor of women stemming from Adam’s rib could be usefully replaced by the ancient, indigenous Philippine creation myth that depicts both male and female emerging simultaneously and together from one bamboo stalk. 84 Women’s participation under patriarchal modes of interpretation has been associated with sexuality, marriage, motherhood, and the male-led family as national metaphor (Probyn, 1999). As McClintock states: If nationalism is not transformed by an analysis of gender power, the nation-state will remain a repository of male hopes, male aspiration, and male privilege.. .ln a national revolution, both women and men should be empowered to decide which traditions are outmoded, which should be transformed, and which should be preserved.. .nowhere has a national or socialist revolution brought a full feminist revolution in its train. If women have come to do men’s work, men have not come to share women’s work. Nowhere has feminism in its own right been allowed to be more than the maid-servant to nationalism (1999, 109). The women in this study provide examples of this model, but also of a search for alternatives. Women of colour and indigenous scholars have a vital contribution to make to these analyses because of the multiple subject positions, multiple oppressions, and multiple identities they experience. Mohanty (1995) notes the complex relationalities within systems of domination (colonialism, imperialism, racism, capitalism) which do not have identical effects on women in Majority World contexts. Furthermore, these effects may even reveal contradictory subject positions. Jill Vickers (2002) has classified and analyzed the complex relationships of feminism to many types of nationalisms from many national contexts (247-272). “Feminist nationalism” becomes, rather than a contradiction in terms, an ongoing struggle to understand the meshing of “women’s activism in nationalist movements with feminist activism” (259). Majority World women activists and theorists are in constant interaction with each other and with western feminists on women-specific and nationalist issues that may or may not integrate feminism into nationalism. Daiva Stasiulis (1999) posits that scripts of relational positionality can destabilize organizational strategies, and asks how anyone can organize politically if everyone belongs to multiple potentially conflicting groups (194). In the case of Filipino women forced to work abroad, they are women of colour at work (race, class, gender), remain marginalized women “at home” (class, gender), yet may themselves employ servants or caregivers, as they occupy shifting positions in 85 the system of class stratification. “Feminist nationalism,” as seen by these women activists, comes into clearer focus through multiple lenses. McClintock cites the “Statement on the Emancipation of Women” by the National Executive of the African National Congress in May 2, 1990: “...the emancipation of women [is] not a by-product of a struggle for democracy, national liberation or socialism. It has to be addressed within our own organisation, the mass democratic movement and in the society as a whole (1999, 108).” Through this study, this group of Filipino women activists inform us of the national and transnational feminism(s) they are in the process of carving out from their lived, relational, (trans)nationalist realities. The twelve women interviewed are actively situated in response-able communities in different geographical locations. Their activism aims to ensure systemic, non- symbolic, feminist participation, to avoid repeating colonial or neo-colonial gendered representations of women’s subordination in the national democracy project itself. At the same time, they are also part of responsible communities that democratize their own governance by conscious interrogation of their own tendencies to dominate others or each other. They examine the class and other stratifications that exist among themselves as leaders, as well in their relation to those for whom they advocate. Whether the feminist issues they are fighting for, and the actions that ensue, are indeed part of the structural core of a national struggle, is a question this study can begin to explore. Their experiences can add to our understanding of a particular group of women’s participation in national-building, in the current context of massive migration, globalization, and transnational communities in the making. 86 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Drawing from a new ethnography, we are challenged to celebrate the polyphonic nature of critical discourse, to... hear one another “speak in tongues,” bear witness, and patiently wait for revelation. bell hooks (1990, 133) Third space feminism allows a look to the past through the present always already marked by the coming of that which is still left unsaid, unthought...it is in the maneuvering through time to retool and remake subjectivities neglected and ignored that third space feminism claims new histories. Emma Perez (1999, 127) Methodological Discussions The methods chosen for this study are motivated, firstly, by a commitment to amplifying marginalized voices, and secondly, by practical issues raised when the women whose knowledge is being sought are dispersed in different parts of the world. As feminist research, the starting point is the stories of women, and I aim to use “de-colonizing” feminist methods, such as action-reflection processes. The philosophical foundations of a feminist methodology drawing on women’s experiences and deploying qualitative analysis to examine themes from their narratives are summarized by Shari Stone-Mediatore (2003). She lays out the reasons for regarding storytelling as a crucial doorway to understanding the global realities of marginalized communities, as well as assessing a global responsibility to tell and hear such stories in critical juxtaposition with dominant discourse. Public storytelling is important for the communities themselves, because when stories are shared they can name their own issues, reflect openly, and act responsibly. This method ideally becomes inclusive of the experiences of as many participants as possible, and issues and actions are therefore not left to be decided and expressed only by a few. Stone-Mediatore’s explanation and justification are reinforced by the de-colonizing methodologies developed in indigenous (Maori) research through the work of 87 Tuhiwai-Smith (2002) and Smith (2004, 2006), discussed in Chapter 2. Such de-colonizing methods related to people’s day-to-day struggles are necessary to acknowledge and convey personal and collective journeys and contribute to building and recording community history. This community-based effort to document the struggle is necessary alongside, or even before, social change processes. I have also applied my own previous knowledge and experience of popular education methods derived from the work of Paolo Freire (1993, 2004) in relating stories from women with marginal experiences. This Freirean action-reflection methodology is experience-based and seeks transformation in the structures of society that oppress the poor. Structural social change is incorporated into the “methodology of the oppressed”; with action- reflection as a necessary step in a community’s process of change, which is immediate and concrete. This socially transformative education is clearly present in the communities where the women interviewed live and work. They begin with lived experience, and what they call “assessment” and “education” are reflective processes that raise their experience to the level of critical consciousness and theory, producing analyses which in turn inform their future actions (see further analysis in Chapter 6, “Effective Actions”). The method is implicit in this study, beginning with my role as facilitator for the group of women interviewed (as explained in Chapter 1). The interviews and the analysis are both a reflection and action that become part of processes of change for the women and the researcher. “Counter-narratives,” such as those that rose out of black women’s struggles in the United States and Canada in the 1 970s and 1 980s and developed in the ensuing strands of critical race theory, have greatly influenced attitudes to marginal women’s perspectives (hooks, 1981, 1990; Lorde, 1983; Hill-Collins,1991; Bannerji, 1993; Brand, 1993). The Freirean method does not aim to construct or instigate counter-narratives or even alternative narratives per Se. it wishes to deepen and extend existing narratives so that we can ask questions about “why” and “how,” whether they concern historical, social, or economic issues. For example, in the 88 Philippine situation, the government has constructed an official story as to why Filipinos are leaving the country in droves. It does not mention the context of poverty in its press releases, but admits to the essential contribution of overseas workers’ remittances that keep the nation economically afloat. Government officials call the workers “modern heroes.” This discourse prompted a community-based documentary calling women migrant domestic workers “modern heroes, modern slaves.”1 This film was not produced first and foremost to create a counter- narrative to the government’s, but rather to question the limited extent to which the migrants’ story is told and the causes of this migration exposed. By the film, their story is revealed to the Filipinos themselves as well as to the world at large. The stories of the women in this study are heard as “assertion” narratives rather than counter- narratives, as they tell of women’s resistance and empowerment in spite of the ongoing need to “counter” dominant discourses. While counter-narratives oppose existing beliefs and solutions to social needs and problems, I propose that assertion narratives put forward transformative ways of being and doing things. These narratives belong to that area of transnational feminist discourse that builds on standpoint theory from the perspective of Majority World women. Sherene Razack (1993) examines the relationship between women’s storytelling and social change as “opposition to established knowledge” (100), while Stone-Med iatore (2003) delves deeper into the role of storytelling as demonstrating “knowledges of resistance” which impact transnational feminism and can influence global politics. (For further discussion of Stone Mediatore’s theory, see below, “Use of Marginal Experience Narratives.”) Since this study aims to be an example of feminist research from the standpoint of Majority World experience, it is important to clarify the role of “counter-narratives,” or “oppositions” to 1 Modern Heroes, Modern Slaves was a collaboration between community activists and film directors in 1997 to bring out the issues raised by the emerging and growing impact of the Live-In Caregiver Program on the Filipino community in the Philippines and in Canada. 89 dominant discourse, and the reasons for their presence or absence in feminist research. Many counter-positions tend to be based on binary models such as those found in empirical science (prove or disprove), academic debates (pros and cons), legal adversarial models (plaintiff vs. defendant), theological positions (belief or non-belief), and similar dichotomies in other domains. George Bush’s infamous binary ultimatum, “if you are not with us, you’re against us,” when exercised in policy, has resulted in untold chaos in the daily lives of countless people. Such a binary opposition excludes “grey area” life experiences and principles, or any more subtle in- between positions. Binaries may be useful or necessary at times and in themselves are not impediments to including the perspectives of those who are not in dominant positions. Patricia Hill-Collins (1991), following bell hooks’ (1981) reflections on dualistic thinking, sees binaries as being “intrinsically unstable” (162). They are so because they necessitate a relationship where one of the pair subordinates the other, excluding a relationship of equality or simply difference. As with physical structures, a three- or four-point base with equal contributing capacities would be far more stable than two-pointed or two-legged supports that are inadequate to hold up a given edifice. Triangular buttresses, especially those attached to a foundational wall, will hold large or heavy weights, such as platforms or stairs, with far more stability than two opposite poles underneath such structures. With today’s global complexities, a more stable way to analyze an individual’s or an entire community’s story would favor a non-dualistic, equal-though-different, multi-layered approach. Research methodology that has the active participation of members of the community being studied, with Participatory Action Research (PAR) as a significant example, can hope to handle the full, diverse weight, breadth, and depth of cross-cultures, intersectionality, multi-sectors, etc., as in transnational women’s live
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Socially transformative transnational feminism : Filipino women activists at home and abroad Carrillo, Maria Lourdes 2009
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