ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE HOMETOWN: THE WORKINGS OF MIGRATION AND INTIMACY IN THE TOWN OF DOLLARS, PHILIPPINES by MA LEDDA BRINA (DADA) DOCOT A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Anthropology) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) AUGUST 2018 © MA LEDDA BRINA (DADA) DOCOT, 2018 ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled: Anthropology of the Hometown: The Workings of Migration and Intimacy in the Town of Dollars, Philippines submitted by Ma Ledda Brina (Dada) Docot in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology Examining Committee: Alexia Bloch Supervisor Geraldine Pratt Supervisory Committee Member Patrick Moore Supervisory Committee Member Leonora C. Angeles University Examiner Leslie Robertson University Examiner Martin F. Manalansan IV External Examiner iii Abstract Filipinos are now among the most mobile population in the world, and much literature on Filipino migration has focused on what happens overseas. This dissertation investigates the effects of migration at home, in an attempt to address the gap in existing literature, as has been noted by scholars of migration. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork as well as from an archive of experiences as returning resident of Nabua, a lowland riverine-agricultural town located in Southeastern Luzon Island, Philippines, I explore how migration and intimacy co-produce what is now called by its residents “Town of Dollars.” In the Bicol region, Nabua is known for the many male townsfolk who served in the United States Navy from the beginning of the 20th century until the closure of the U.S. Bases in 1991, and who sent dollars to their relatives who were left behind. Generations of people from Nabua have been shaped by this migration and by the stories brought home of the “American dream.” Therefore, this dissertation investigates Nabua as a site in which desires for and orientations for migrant futures are produced and conditioned. I look into the entangled workings of migration and intimacies in everyday life – including both quotidian and spectacular public events. The chapters in this dissertation make sense of several domains such as religious ritual, memorialization projects by returned retirees, and the private realm of the family. However, like many rural communities in the Philippines and elsewhere, Nabua has also been transformed by rapid globalization and neoliberal restructuring, resulting in the transformation and structuring of life, particularly of the majority of the non-migrating rural poor. Engaging with feminist, phenomenological, and postcolonial/decolonizing renderings of the lived experience, this dissertation argues for the need to bridge discussions of the much-studied Filipino diaspora with the investigation of what occurs in the origin community of migrants, including how migration-oriented state imaginings impinge on the lives of the rural poor. Finally, my effort in writing an “anthropology of the hometown” approaches questions of intentionality, self-reflexivity, and empathy for interlocutors who might also be kin, neighbors, and townsmates. iv Lay Summary This “anthropology of the hometown” illustrates the interweaving of migration and intimacy in both spectacular and mundane aspects of everday life in a town called by its residents as the “Town of Dollars.” In Chapter 2, I show how shame, place, and kinship press upon academic work to the point of non-production. Chapter 3 responds to calls to interrogate “empire” through an analysis of how the retired U.S. Navy men’s narratives can nuance the often generalized postcolonial consciousness. In Chapter 4, I investigate a Holy Week ritual beyond its folk elements. Chapter 5 presents an ethnography about my family’s migration history. Finally, Chapter 6 shows that migration and the benefits earned from it are also out of reach for many of the town’s landless and poor residents. For many residents, precarity seems to loom over them everywhere. Therefore, they hope for improved lives at home. v Preface This research was approved by UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board under the title “The Workings of Intimacy and Migration in the Philippines,” with Certificate Number H13-00229-A005, and with Dr. Alexia Bloch as Principal Investigator. All content, including photographs, that appear in this dissertation are authored by Dada Docot, unless stated. All translations from Rinconada, Bicol, Filipino (Tagalog) to English are by Dada Docot. All interviews were held in the Rinconada language of Southern Bicol. The historical text Cuaderno that is used all throughout this language is in the Bicol language. All translation errors are the sole responsibility of Dada Docot. This funding research was financially supported by the Vanier Canada Graduate Research Scholarship, administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Minor grants for purchase of research equipment, travel, and dissertation writing include: the Bottom Billion Fieldwork Fund by the UBC Liu Institute for Global Issues; College Li Pai Lin Memorial Graduate Scholarship for Dissertation Writing by St. John’s College, and the International Research Mobility Award by the UBC Office of the Vice President. A version of Chapter 2 has been published as a journal article with the following citation information: Docot, Dada. “Negative Productions during Fieldwork in the Hometown.” GeoHumanities 3.2 (2017): 307-327. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2373566x.2017.1370385 If citing this dissertation, please use the author’s preferred name: Dada Docot. vi Table of Contents Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary ............................................................................................................................... iv Preface .............................................................................................................................................v Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... vi List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... ix Specifications Regarding Language Use .................................................................................... xi List of Abbreviations .................................................................................................................. xii Glossary ...................................................................................................................................... xiii Dedication .....................................................................................................................................xv Chapter 1: An Anthropology of the Hometown ..........................................................................1 1.1 Acceptable Topics ........................................................................................................... 1 1.2 The Philippine Migration Situation ................................................................................ 3 1.3 The Town of Dollars ....................................................................................................... 9 1.4 Anthropology of the Hometown as a Fraught Venture? ............................................... 21 1.5 Theoretical Engagements, Interventions, and Itineraries .............................................. 34 1.5.1 Back to the Hometown ................................................................................................. 35 1.5.2 Intimacy into Philippine Studies .................................................................................. 41 1.6 Chapter Previews .......................................................................................................... 49 Chapter 2: The Method of Negative Production During Fieldwork in the Hometown.........56 2.1 The Return Home .......................................................................................................... 56 2.2 Researching Migration at Home ................................................................................... 58 2.3 Non-Screening: Baad ng Pauno ................................................................................... 59 2.4 Non-Filming: Fleet Reserve Association’s (FRA) Elections ........................................ 61 2.5 The Force of Supog in the Non-Screening of Baad ng Pauno ...................................... 65 2.6 The Force of Ginikanan in the Non-Filming of the FRA Elections ............................. 74 2.7 Conclusions: Positively Valuing Negative Productions ............................................... 83 vii Chapter 3: “Near-extinct, Endangered Species”: Retired U.S. Navy men and Memory-Making on the Verge of Disappearance .....................................................................................90 3.1 U.S. Memorial Day in Nabua ....................................................................................... 90 3.2 Chapter Organization .................................................................................................... 93 3.3 Home, Memory, War in the Postcolony ....................................................................... 95 3.4 Nabua at a Time of Colonial Transition ..................................................................... 105 3.5 Outlining Memory ...................................................................................................... 117 3.6 Lolo George Masculino’s Story .................................................................................. 125 3.7 Uninvolved Labors? .................................................................................................... 136 3.8 Conclusions: Centering Interruptions ......................................................................... 150 Chapter 4: “Balo-balo”: Rehearsing Faith, Migrants’ Homecoming, and Kinship with the Sacred ..........................................................................................................................................154 4.1 Christ Has Risen ......................................................................................................... 154 4.2 Ritual, a “Term of the Trade”? ................................................................................... 156 4.3 Migrants’ Contract with the Sacred ............................................................................ 158 4.4 Forging Kinships with Inang Katipanan ..................................................................... 168 4.5 Production of Consciousness in the Novena ............................................................... 177 4.6 Familial Solidarity in (a “Commercialized”?) Rehearsal of Ritual ............................ 183 4.7 Conclusions: Troubling Ritual .................................................................................... 200 Chapter 5: Of Houses, Care, and Kinship: From Nabua to Manila to Los Angeles ...........205 5.1 Kinship and Going Abroad ......................................................................................... 205 5.2 Organizing Family History ......................................................................................... 207 5.3 Logics of the Filipino Family? .................................................................................... 208 5.4 The House in Anthropology........................................................................................ 212 5.5 The Three Houses of My Family ................................................................................ 216 5.5.1 The Ginikanan ........................................................................................................ 217 5.5.2 The City House ....................................................................................................... 221 5.5.3 Desired Destination ................................................................................................. 229 5.6 Smooth Relations of Care? ......................................................................................... 234 viii 5.7 Theatrics During a Homecoming ................................................................................ 240 5.8 Conclusions: Migration as a Family Project ............................................................... 245 Chapter 6. Bare Subsistence in the Age of Rural and Overseas Mobilities..........................249 6.1 The Subsistence Villagers ........................................................................................... 249 6.2 Roots of Landlessness ................................................................................................. 252 6.3 Manay Jessa – Unkinned in the Wage Economy ........................................................ 259 6.4 Manay Piling – Subsistence in the Margins of a Lingering Industry ......................... 268 6.5 Madawon Family – Labor Precarity in Manila and Beyond....................................... 278 6.6 Troubling the Anthropological Toolkit ....................................................................... 289 6.7 Concluding Thoughts, Moving Forward..................................................................... 307 Afterword: New Migrations Amid Duterte’s War Against Drugs ........................................312 Bibliography ...............................................................................................................................318 ix List of Figures Figure 1.2.1 Nabua town in the Philippine map ............................................................................. 7 Figure 1.3.1 Nabua’s location within the Bicol administrative region ......................................... 11 Figure 1.3.2 The “Resource” Map of Rinconada District ............................................................. 13 Figure 1.3.3 The official seal of the municipality of Nabua ......................................................... 13 Figure 1.3.4 The Balikbayan Night in Nabua held during the annual town festival .................... 21 Figure 1.4.1 The first public event of the UBCPSS held in 2011 ................................................. 29 Figure 1.4.2 A UBCPSS novena ................................................................................................... 29 Figure 2.4.1 Entangled American and Philippine flags at the FRA Branch 127 .......................... 64 Figure 2.5.1 Unused invitation to screen films during fieldwork at home ................................... 71 Figure 2.6.1 A navy man’s mausoleum in Nabua shaped liked a ship ......................................... 83 Figure 2.7.1 A photograph taken on my first bike ride to one of Nabua's farm areas .................. 84 Figure 3.1.1 Flag-raising ceremony in commemoration of the U.S. Memorial Day .................... 93 Figure 3.4.1 Navy men in Nabua in circa 1960s......................................................................... 114 Figure 3.5.1 Armando Neglerio (left), a Nabueño navy man ..................................................... 121 Figure 3.6.1 George Masculino marries childhood love............................................................. 133 Figure 3.6.2 George Masculino at a reenlistment ceremony in the 60s ...................................... 135 Figure 3.7.1 Officers and enlisted men aboard a ship................................................................. 141 Figure 4.1.1 The Easter Angel of 2014 ....................................................................................... 155 Figure 4.3.1 The 2014 Easter Angel making faces ..................................................................... 159 Figure 4.3.2 A family tree showing devotion to Inang Katipanan .............................................. 165 Figure 4.4.1 The image of Inang Katipanan in Nabua ................................................................ 169 Figure 4.4.2 An excerpt from a comic drawn by a devotee of Inang Katipanan ........................ 173 Figure 4.6.1 The 2014 Easter Angel practices her lines ............................................................. 187 Figure 4.6.2 The last Easter Angel before the ritual’s monetization in 1971. ............................ 190 Figure 4.6.3 A family photograph taken in 1938 with the Easter Angel .................................... 190 Figure 4.6.4 Solicitation envelope of the Search for Easter Angel ............................................. 193 Figure 4.6.5 Nabua’s image of the Risen Christ ......................................................................... 197 Figure 4.6.6 The actual ton-ton is held at the crack of dawn on Easter Sunday ......................... 199 Figure 4.7.1 Commissioned holy icons for the Church .............................................................. 202 x Figure 6.1.1 Children sit on a plow while waiting for the feeding program............................... 250 Figure 6.3.1 Nigo-nigos or bamboo plates woven in Nabua ...................................................... 260 Figure 6.3.2 A typical landscape outside Nabua’s centro ........................................................... 261 Figure 6.5.1 On sunny days, bamboo strips would be neatly laid out ........................................ 280 Figure 6.5.2 A payag-payag at Nang Tita’s house...................................................................... 281 Figure 6.6.1 Baskets from Nabua displayed at the Best of Bicol Trade Fair ............................. 293 Figure 6.6.2 The Nabua Home Industries booth ......................................................................... 294 Figure 6.6.3 Woven Christmas decoration of NHI ..................................................................... 297 xi Specifications Regarding Language Use Like most of the languages spoken in the archipelago, the Rinconada language belongs to the Austronesian language family. The debate whether Rinconda is a language of its own or a mere dialect of Bicol remains unresolved. For conversations on these linguistic classifications in Bicol, see Jason William Lobel (2005), the Ethnologue Database (SIL International n.d.), and Curtis McFarland (1974). It is outside the scope of this dissertation to debate on the linguistic identities in the Bicol region, and for now I maintain Rinconada as having a vocabulary distinct from the national language of the Philippines called Filipino, and from the main regional language called Bicolano. To briefly note my proficiency in the Philippine languages used in this dissertation: I was born in Nabua, but my family soon moved to the capital. I was raised and educated in the Filipino-speaking capital city of Manila until I was 12 years old. My siblings and I were raised speaking Rinconada at our home in Manila. I spent four years for high school in Nabua, and then I returned to Manila for my university education. I speak Filipino and Rinconada fluently. I understand but do not speak Bicolano, although most Nabueños do speak it, as it is the official language in Bicol that is commonly used by the local church and by the regional mass media. I use the following format in distinguishing non-English words in this dissertation: “Italicized words enclosed in double quotes” Rinconada (language spoken in Nabua) ‘Italicized words in single quotes’ Bicolano (regional language of Bicol) ‘Regular words in single quotes’ Filipino (official language of the Philippines) Underlined Words Spanish As this dissertation is on a “Town of (U.S.) Dollars,” I use American English spelling. xii List of Abbreviations DA Department of Agriculture DTI Department of Trade and Industry FRA Fleet Reserve Association NHI Nabua Home Industries NHIC Nabua Home Industries Center OFW Overseas Filipino Worker SIR Smooth Interpersonal Relations UBCPSS University of British Columbia Philippine Studies Series xiii Glossary “Angot” Unmarried ‘Balikbayan’ Returnee (vacationing or permanent) from overseas “Balo-balo” Rehearsal of the Ton-ton ritual or Salubong in Filipino (see Ton-ton’s definition below) ‘Barangay’ Roughly, village; the smallest political division in the Philippines “Bisa” Gesture of respect for the elders Centro The central hub of the town that is considered “urban” Cuaderno The Chronicles; A manuscript containing Nabua’s colonial encounter ‘Endo’ Abbreviation for “End of Contract”; also known as the 5-5-5 system “Gagastusan” Expenditure season; events that cost money “Ginikanan” Place of origin or genealogy “Iba” Other “Iba man” Different “Iba na” Has become other “Inang Katipanan” A locally venerated Marian icon in Nabua ‘Kababayan’ Townmates “Kanagtitios” Extremely Poor “Kingurang” House owned by the elders of the family ‘Lola/Lolo’ Grandmother/grandfather “Manay/Manoy” Elder sister/elder brother “Nigo-nigo” Disposable serving platters made of woven bamboo “Pag-iiba” Member of an expandable kin network “Pag-iribanan” Clan in English; Kamag-anakan in Filipino “Panuga” Religious vow “Paralote” Farmer working on small farm lots instead on big farmholdings “Paroy” Grain of rice; palay in Filipino “Pasali” Subdued performance “Sag-uli” A melancholic homecoming xiv Souvenir Program An annually printed festival program “Supog” Shame; Hiya in Filipino “Tios” Poor; impoverished “Tipan” Covenant with the sacred “Ton-ton” ‘Salubong’ in Filipino; Dramatization of Christ’s resurrection “Uma” Farm area; rural area ‘Utang na loob’ Debt of gratitude xv Acknowledgments In Nabua, the word for thank you is “mabalos,” which means “I hope to repay in some form, in the future.” I hold deep appreciation for all the people who contributed to my formation as a person and as a scholar. First, I thank the Musqueam people, for hosting me in their traditional, ancestral and unceded territory on which the University of British Columbia stands. My supervisor, Alexia Bloch, has been brilliant, rigorous in her commentary, and kind all throughout the dissertation process. I am inspired by her work as a feminist scholar and by her energy and labor in getting her students to arrive at the dissertation finish line. Dissertation committee member Geraldine Pratt, who is also a faculty supporter for the UBC Philippine Studies Series (UBCPSS), has been very present in my academic development outside the Department of Anthropology. I hope to emulate the kindness of my committee member, Patrick Moore. I wish all students could have such a gentle soul in their committee. I am grateful to my external examiner, Martin F. Manalansan IV, for his review of my dissertation. I am honored to have been read by one of Philippine Studies’ most distinguished authors and most respected mentors. I thank university examiners Leslie Robertson and Leonora Angeles for returning constructive feedback. Their engagement with the communities that they work with have profoundly inspired my own project. My MA supervisor, Shinji Yamashita, now retired from the University of Tokyo, has been extremely supportive of my ventures for over a decade now. I cannot imagine life in UBC without the friendship and critical engagement that I found through my Philippine Studies Series (UBCPSS) community. I received incalculable support from my colleagues who are emerging scholars in their respective fields and who very kindly read chapters of this dissertation. Chapter 2 was read by May Farrales, Chapter 3 by Teilhard Paradela and James Pangilinan, Chapter 4 by Dennis Gupa, Chapter 5 by Christine Peralta and Chapter 6 by Vanessa Banta. Edsel Yu-Chua has been a kind, eager and hyper-responsible partner in founding the UBCPSS. I benefitted tremendously from my friendships with Karla Lenina Comanda, Chaya Ocampo Go, Krystle Alarcon, Amber Heckelman, Ron Darvin, Gerald Tembrevilla, Patrick Cruz, Genevieve Cruz, Steff Tad-y, Elle Clark, Phebe Ferrer, Caroline Chingcuanco, Treenee Lopez, Ted Alcuitas, Maureen Mendoza, Christian Vistan, Migrante-BC, and many other members and supporters of the UBCPSS community. xvi I received useful feedback on the early forms of my dissertation chapters – from Bonnie McElhinny during the 2014 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians; from Jason Gavilan who was my co-panelist at the 9th International Conference on the Philippines; from the audiences at the 2016 Société Internationale d E´thnologie et de Folklore meeting at Basel Univesity, and; from the attendees of my seminar presentations at the Center for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) and the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University. Various networks came to be my pedagogical sanctuary. The events and workshops facilitated by the Graduate Students Network at Race, Autobiography, Gender, and Age Studies, with the guidance of Benita Bunjun and Sunera Thobani, equipped me with the critical tools for navigating academia. In the social media-based group called “Binders Full of Women and Nonbinary People in Academia,” I felt supported and inspired by the multitude of stories of success and struggle by my fellow scholars of color. The Liu Institute for Global Issues continues to be very generous with its support that sustains the activities of the UBCPSS. My allocated space at the Liu Institute that faced a breathtaking landscape, was my haven during my comprehensive exam preparations. The Center for Southeast Asian Research at the Institute for Asian Research also offered a peaceful writing space. I am glad to have made the decision to do a six-month academic visit at University of Oxford in 2014. I am grateful for the advisorship of Xiao Biao during my academic visit and the approachability of COMPAS director Nicholas Van Hear. The North Oxford Overseas Centre was my lovely home during my visit, and there I met treasured friend Felix Castellanos. Fellow anthropologists Ken Cheuk and Joyce Fengjiang were very hospitable during my stay in Oxford. My pre-doctoral fellowship at New York University-Shanghai (NYUSH) provided funding that allowed me to bring my dissertation to completion. Brad Weslake’s and Duane Corpis’ kind review of my application materials allowed me to expand my academic horizons via this fellowship. My friend and colleague Asligul Berktay has been lavish in extending care as I worked through the last pages of my dissertation. Dannah Dennis, Fareed Ben-Youssef and Rebecca Ehrenwirth provided feedback that allowed me to arrive at my defense. Yanyu Wang was selfless in giving support during my stay in Shanghai. Scholars around the globe have been very inspirational. I am in awe of the work being done by my peers Christina Sornito Carter, Teresa Lorena Jopson, Bubbles Beverly Asor, Genevieve Asenjo, Jason Gavilan, Ignatius Vinzons, Regina Estorba-Macalandag, Hussein Macarambon, Bradley Cardozo, Carlos Piocos III, Michael Atienza, Tricia Okada, Jocelyn Celero, Rosa Cordillera Castillo, Liberty Chee, Jorge Bayona, Anjeline de Dios, the Alitaptap Collective at York Univeristy, and the Philippine Studies Berlin. I am fortunate to have crossed paths with some of the most brilliant minds in the field of Filipino and Philippine Studies such as John Paul Catungal, Lieba Faier, Vicente Rafael, Leny Mendoza Strobel, Robyn Rodriguez, Fenella Cannell, Ethel Tungohan, Roland Tolentino, Danilo Arao, Ninotchka Rosca, Joi Barrios, Cesi Cruz, Kale Fajardo, Mamoru Tsuda, Stephen Acabado, Philip Kelly, Robert Diaz, Julius Bautista, Eileen Legaspi-Ramirez, Sharon Mapa, Danilo Arao, Erik xvii Martinez Kuhonta, Takefumi Terada, Patricio Abinales, Kazue Takamura, Nobue Suzuki, Romana Pahilanga Delos Reyes, Oona Paredes, and Sylvano Mahiwo. I shared many unforgettable moments in and outside of the classroom with colleagues from UBC including Naayeli Ramirez-Espinosa, Vishala Parmasad, Lauren Harding, Diana Marsh, Daria Boltokova, Oralia Gomez-Ramirez, Brenda Fitzpatrick, Fraser GermAnn, Mascha Gugganig, Rachel Roy, and Danielle Gendron. Administrator Eleanore Asuncion has been my closest friend in the Department of Anthropology. The seminar on Anthropology of Development led by Sara Shneiderman was crucial to the shaping of my arguments in the last chapter of this dissertation. My acceptance into UBC was through the recommendations of Millie Creighton and I am truly grateful. I met some of the most wonderful persons whose friendship I will treasure forever at St. John’s College where I resided for a year upon returning from fieldwork. Rushie Rastogi was my best buddy for joyous conversations. Dinner chats with residents Bingyu Liu, Stefan Sunandan Honish, Ahbijit Pandhari, Stephanie Lu, Jon Roth, David Gonzales Agudo, Issamou Lar, and Ian Okabe always kept me rejuvenated during the challenging times of writing. My interest in the broad category of “culture” was incubated at the Philippine Collegian. I treasure the wisdom and creativity of my Kulê peers Hilda Rosca Nartea, Bheng Densing, Jake Salvador, Xavier Gravides, Timothy James Dimacali, Tom Estrera, Jo Abaya Santos, Niel Mugas, K Alave, Adjani Arumpac, and Jacq Hernandez. I look up to my Kulê editors – Maureen Gaddi dela Cruz, Richard Gappi, Seymour Sanchez, Verk Magpusao, Jordan Santos, Mykel Andrada, and many others. My bestfriend Vincent Jan Cruz Rubio and Kim Nepomuceno – my first academic mentors – will be remembered forever. I am inspired by the imagination and practice of many creatives such as Jessica Hallenbeck, Alvin Zafra, the artists of Respond and Break the Silence Againt the Killings (RESBAK), and many others. I am moved to action by the artistic minds of my fellows at the Burikbutikan Artist Collective, namely Kristian Sendon Cordero, Doods Santos, Pen Prestado, Frank Peñones, Bernadette de los Santos, Tito Valiente, Victor Nierva, and others. The invitation that I received from Rochelle Ontengco Priela and Gian Paolo Priela to participate in the Best of Bicol trade show tremendously changed the direction of my research project. My kababayans Lee Jack Jacob, Joenin Masculino Orias, Monserrat Saraspi, JP Bornas, Joedy Pornillos, Joel Jimenez, Lilette Placides Manauis, Ellaine Villaraza, Cleofe Oida, Sonniegie del Parto, Janjan Alcazar, Alexa Ibarrientos, Rene Boy Rabacal, Alden Junio Gallarte, and many others, helped me reconnect to our hometown during my return for fieldwork. My mother’s friends such as Gloria Adiuba Cabrera and Bonifacio Garnace also helped me find the ways beyond the centro. Many doors opened to me through the help of Fleet Reserve Branch Association Branch 127 elders such as William Soliven, Nicolas Lastrella, George Masculino, Matias Velasco, Sr., and xviii Jane Barachina. I also received guidance from Nabua Agricultural Office Head Boyet Duran, Nabua Municipality Staff Rosary Penetrante, Camarines Sur Polytechnic College President Dulce Fajardo Atian, and the staff of the Department of Trade and Industry in Camarines Sur. Communities such as Nabua Forum, Taga-Nabua Ika Kin, Gay Society of Nabua, Nabueños of Montreal, Nabueños of New Jersey, and Nabueños Affiliated by Unification and Solidarity, introduced me to many concerns shared by my kababayans. It was here that I met friends John Phillip Pesebre, Prescilla Pesebre, Gerald Daza Ballester, Romeo Oida, Jr., Peachie Vargas Francia, Rebecca Eguia Doblado, and many others. I thank all the basketmakers and supporters of Nabua Home Industries. Many of my former teachers and classmates at my alma mater, Nabua National High School, also generously shared their time to answer my questions. In Vancouver, Rosario Ladaw-Bautista has been very generous in sharing her home for the storage of my things while I was away for fieldwork. My parents Lydia and Patricio Docot raised me and my siblings with the gift of appreciation for our roots. I am eternally grateful that we were taught to speak the Rinconada language and to love our hometown’s cuisine while growing up in the capital city of Manila. I owe my parents my enduring love for our hometown. I am proud to trace roots to Nabua. The life trajectories of my siblings – Manay Malou in the US, Manay Weng in Australia/New Zealand, and Patrick in Manila – consistently move me to write more and to advocate for understanding the effects of Filipino mobilities on the very personal. I thank the Brina family whose members are in Nabua and all over the globe. I am indebted to my Brina aunts, uncles, and cousins for the endless well of support that they extend to me. Many life lessons learned from Tatay Crispin and Nanay Edad remain to be my guiding light. The Docot family kindly lent me a vehicle during my fieldwork, which allowed me to get around Nabua beyond the limitations of my bicycle. Deyan Denchev has stood by me over the years in so many ways that I cannot count. He has been thoroughly patient in looking over the pages of this dissertation, even when it was still in its rawest, yet-incomprehensible, form. I would not have reached this point if not for his patience, shared dream that I complete this stage of my life, and unconditional love and care. Thanl you, dear reader, for visiting the pages of this dissertation. Finally, I am most grateful to my kababayans in Nabua and overseas for taking time to share their stories with me. I offer this dissertation, a very small gift, as an incremental return for their incredible generosity. Mabalos po kaninyo ngamin. xix Dedication For my parents, Lydia Brina Docot and Patricio Parañal Docot.1 Chapter 1: An Anthropology of the Hometown 1.1 Acceptable Topics One of my mother’s 10 siblings, Auntie Bea, came to my mother’s apartment the day that I arrived in Nabua. I stood up to meet her as soon as I saw her, performing “bisa” as a gesture of respect.1 She teasingly asked if I might have brought some gifts from Canada. I said that unfortunately, my luggage could only accommodate my books, cameras, and a few clothes, but that I had packed a few bottles of lotion in the ‘balikbayan’ box that will be arriving soon. “That’s great,” she exclaimed, “because your Auntie Dianne’s skin must already be like a fishnet by now!” She was referring to another aunt who is notorious in our family for hoarding the bottles of lotion from the balikbayan boxes sent by our relatives in the United States. “Fishnet” is a local idiom used to refer to skin that has become ribbed by the tropical sun. Auntie Bea shared hearty laughter with my mother in their recollection of Auntie Dianne’s passion for gifts coming from overseas. In Nabua, conversations often begin with jokes – the type that would seem insensitive and strange to the unenculturated. After we had calmed down from laughing, Auntie Bea asked why I had come home. My mother listened as I told Auntie Bea that I was home to research “the experience of migration of families in Nabua.” Enthusiastically, they began to enumerate their ideas about what I should include in my research. 1 Bisa is a gesture of respect for elders that includes a younger person taking an elder’s hand to bring it to touch their forehead. 2 My aunt said I should interview a family whose daughters all went to Japan as entertainers. Elsewhere, the participation of local women in a highly gendered, racialized, and sexualized work might arouse unfavorable impressions, but my mother and aunt instead expressed admiration for these Nabueño (people of Nabua) women who were able to give their parents a life of relative comfort and stability. They also concluded quickly that the owner of the fancy hotel and restaurant at the centro who had retired in Nabua now as a multi-awarded Filipino-American scientist would surely be an appropriate subject. Auntie Bea asked, “How about one of your uncles who jumped ship when he was a U.S. Navy man?” I replied with a mix of shock and excitement, “What? Who?!,” not knowing that I was related to persons whose extraordinary stories are chronicled by journalists and scholars. Perhaps realizing that this is not a “good” family story for public sharing, they refused to elaborate and instead continued, “How about the local beauty who married a rich foreigner?” I responded by telling them that I was also interested in how stories of migration in Nabua might intersect with government policies – a rather vague articulation of my interest in the Philippines as a top exporter of migrant labor with over 10 percent of its population now living and working overseas. My mother presented a framework for assessing the condition of Nabua: “Look at the poorest of the poor, then the middle class, then those who have made it.” I responded that sometimes migration stories tend to focus on such progression, on the positive, on successes, and not on life’s tribulations that may be caused by these mobilities. Their suggestions about what could be studied in Nabua was also an attempt to insulate me from what is “not good” – murky local politics and village gossips. I told my mother and Auntie Bea that with all these restrictions, it might be challenging to find people to interview. My mother replied with 3 confidence that given all her connections as a ‘barangay’ politician for 13 years, it would not be a problem.2 1.2 The Philippine Migration Situation About 2,500 Filipinos departed for overseas work daily in 2009, ballooning to over 6,000 daily at the beginning of 2016 (Migrante International 2015; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration 2018). With so many Filipinos leaving the country every day, the United Nations Population Division (2017) reports that the Philippines now ranks 9th in the list of countries of origin of migrants, leaping from its previous 13th place in the year 2000. Migrante International writes that the lack of progress in improving wages and generating local employment facilitates the continued increase of Filipinos leaving the country for overseas work; Filipino out-migration is also generally low-skilled, with 34.5 percent of migrants recruited into “elementary occupations” which is defined by the Philippine Standard Occupational Classification as involving the “performance of simple and routine tasks which may require the use of handheld tools and considerable physical effort” (Philippine Statistics Authority 2012). The Middle East is the leading destination for Filipino migrants leaving under government-facilitated short-term contracts, but the largest cumulative population can be found in the United States, with over 3.5 million Filipinos living and working there, including “permanent migrants” (Philippine Daily Inquirer 2016). 2 The barangay is the smallest political and administrative unit in the Philippines. The term derives from “balangay,” the organized pre-colonial settlements that the Spanish found when they landed on Philippine shores. Today, each barangay has an elected “captain,” supported by eight councilors and a youth representative. These elected officials form an administrative and legislative council that creates local rules within their area of responsibility, and mediates in the resolution of village-level disputes. 4 Given these unprecedented overseas mobilities, the Philippines is experiencing a shift in its main sources of income, with dollar remittances increasingly more critical in the local economy. The Philippines is the third largest recipient of overseas remittances globally, following India and China (World Bank Group 2017). Each year, the Philippines reaches a new record high in its history of human labor exportation and cash remittances, and these numbers are a conservative estimate given the many informal channels that recruit migrants and facilitate remittances. National debates are also frequently linked to the normative migration situation. In 2013, the Philippines formalized the addition of two years to the country’s basic education curriculum. This shift is said to contribute to boosting the competitiveness of Filipino youth in the global labor market and addressing unemployment. Migrante International chair Garry Martinez points out that this educational reform is motivated by the systematic professionalization of the youth who will graduate from senior high school with certificates compatible with those required for low-skilled overseas employment (Ellao 2013). The search for possibilities for expanding the outbound workforce continues, while the discussion of pertinent local issues such as job generation, low wages, massive population growth, and agricultural reform, often remain unaddressed by government policies. The Philippine government maintains that promotion of overseas migration is not among its official policies and that it has never been. Perspectives on the “promise” of overseas migration can be gleaned, however, from the statements of government officials on various public issues. In 2012, in the middle of the heated arguments about the implementation of the Reproductive Health Bill, the President of the Senate argued that the use of contraceptives and teaching sex education would be detrimental to the country’s 5 export of labor, which relies on having “excess” population. The overseas sojourn of Filipinos has already come a very long way since the issuance of the 1974 Labor Code of the Philippines. Under the Labor Code, the Philippine government created agencies which were “to ensure the careful selection of Filipino workers for the overseas labor market to protect the good name of the Philippines abroad.” Various institutions such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency and the Overseas Workers Welfare Agency created in 1974 today continue to facilitate the migration of Filipinos within an intricately operating “art of governmentality” systematically orchestrated by none other than the state itself (Guevarra 2003). Migration literature commonly features concerns arising from the feminization of migration from the Philippines. Scholars have written about the dramatic changes in the domestic realm in rural Japan brought about by Filipino brides (Faier 2009), the ambivalent conceptualizations of “home” as perceived by Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong (Constable 1999), the changes brought on by transnational familial arrangements that now heavily rely on the remittance contributions of female kin (McKay 2005, 2010; Parreñas 2001b), the negotiation of moral codes and sexual desires of Filipino wives in Islamic Saudi Arabia (Pingol 2010), the gendered racialization of carework within colonial/post/neo-colonial labor regimes (Choy 2003; Parreñas 2001a, 2005), and many others. Rolando Tolentino (1996) locates the global distribution of women as nurses, entertainers, domestic helpers and mail-order brides, within relations of power in which they are marginal. Official statistics on Filipino migration also reflect the production of what Tolentino (1996, 73) calls the “geobody” of the Filipino woman – “a body made allegorical for a sexualized and gendered, nationalized and racialized body of people.” In 6 1975, women accounted for only 12 percent of the total of outbound migrants (Dimzon 1997, in Gamburd 2000, 35). Migration figures from 1996 show a remarkable increase in women migrants, almost catching up with their male counterparts at 44 percent (Philippine Statistics Authority 1997). The ratio has shifted even more, with the latest numbers from 2017 showing women migrants now at almost 54 percent of the total (Philippine Statistics Authority 2018). This dissertation is written at a time of the ubiquitous presence of the effects of migration in the everyday life of Filipinos. Several scholars from the anthropological field and beyond have indeed already written about the effects of migration in the Philippines. Anna Gueverra (2003) and Robyn Rodriguez (2010) point to the institutionalization of labor brokerage in the Philippines. Ethnographic works studying life outside of Manila such as those by Raul Petrierra (1992), Deidre McKay (2005), Filomeno Aguilar et al. (2009), expose how the resulting effects of migration have produced a “remittance culture” that has impacted familial care, agricultural-scapes, and others. Other researchers point to the endless conditions of precarity experienced by migrants (Pratt, Johnston, and Banta 2017). While there is certainly a considerable amount of work on the effects at home of increased mobilities, migration scholars continue to point out the need to focus on investigating spaces where migrants are warehoused, especially in relation to the larger volume of scholarship produced on what happens elsewhere. In writing this ethnography of my hometown, I hope to address this gap, with the added elements of self-reflexivity, auto-critique and auto-ethnography. Nabua, a lowland riverine-agricultural town located in Southeastern Luzon Island, Philippines is known in the Bicol region for the many male townsfolk who served in the United States Navy from the beginning of the 20th century 7 until the closure of the U.S. Bases in 1991, and who sent dollars to their relatives who were left behind (Figure 1.2.1). The suggestions of my relatives about what counts as “good stories,” speak of how stories of the “American dream” have shaped perceptions about overseas mobilities that earned the town its self-ascribed moniker – the “Town of Dollars.” Figure 1.2.1 Nabua town in the Philippine map, with Nabua marked with the “Navy Man” icon. Illustrated by Pen Prestado. 8 I investigate Nabua as a site in which desires for, and orientations towards, migrant futures are produced and conditioned. Nabueño migration reflects the trend towards the feminization of labor, especially given that the first recorded migrations from the town were of men.3 However, while national statistics are also categorized per region, the porosity of the urban-rural divide today implies that Nabueños may also find overseas employment in recruitment agencies in Manila. Many parts of this dissertation point to some of the effects of this feminization of migration on contemporary families in Nabua and their relations beyond. With the nation seemingly determined to keep brokering Filipino labor overseas, I ask: What does everyday life look like in one of the Philippines’ towns that is at the periphery of national and regional historiography? I investigate how migration and intimacy co-produce a postcolonial town, particularly in the domains of both the spectacular and the mundane. In writing an ethnography of the hometown, I engage with feminist, phenomenological, and postcolonial/decolonizing renderings of the lived postcolonial experience. My dissertation stresses the importance of bridging discussions on the Filipino diaspora with the impasse of dispossession in the origin community of migrants. The above conversation with my mother and aunt illustrates my positionality as an anthropologist of my hometown and absentee resident after many years of urban (Manila) and overseas (Tokyo and Vancouver) education. How might intentionality and self-reflexivity in anthropological ethnography of the hometown become re/framed by explicit mediations and expressed investments of my relations and informants concerning my research about our common hometown? 3 I return to some accounts of forced labor migrations from Nabua during the Spanish period in Chapter 4. 9 1.3 The Town of Dollars Nabua has a total of 42 barangays, a population of 83,874, and a land area of 8,800 hectares (Philippine Statistics Authority 2015). The Philippines is geopolitically divided into “administrative regions,” Bicol being one of them (Figure 1.3.1).4 Regions like Bicol are further divided into “legislative districts” or provinces, and then into even smaller administrative “divisions.” Nabua is, therefore: a municipality in the Rinconada division, within the province of Camarines Sur of the Bicol region. The towns and cities in the Rinconada division speak the same language, albeit in different tones and variations. More than working as geopolitical, administrative legal divisions, some of these groups also work as ethnolinguistic categories. In the case of the Bicol region, its residents are called “Bicolanos,” an ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines.5 In 1901, only three years after Spain relinquished the Philippines to the U.S., William McKinley signed an executive order that launched the gendered and racialized enlistment of the first 500 Filipinos into the lowest sector of the U.S. Navy (J. M. Morris 1984).6 Their recruitment occurred during the height of the Philippine-American War, which followed the handover of the Philippines, after more than 300 years of Spanish 4 The division of the Philippines into administrative regions was decreed by President Marcos in 1972. 5 R.J May (2003, 137) argues that language could be used to identify ethnicities in the Philippines. May continues to suggest that if language could work to mark identity, then 86 percent of the Philippine population could be categorized into only eight major language/ethnic groups, Bicolano being one of them. However, this categorization is debatable considering the unresolved issue of languages versus dialects in the Philippines. Further, the construction of identities in the Philippines that are “group-level,” according to James Eder (2013, 274) could also become variegated by individual “geographic and economic mobility, outgroup marriage, subsistence economic change, religious conversion, and the political salience of localism….” 6 For many years, Filipinos were only recruited to the Steward Branch, where no white Americans were allowed. Timothy Ingram (1970) calls U.S. naval ships “floating plantations,” in reference to the historical organization of slave labor in agricultural production in the American South. 10 colonial rule. Nabua is landlocked and yet young men found ways to join the U.S. Navy. Desires for overseas mobility held by many Nabueños whom I interviewed for my research have been shaped by this migration. The recruitment of Filipinos officially ceased in 1991, when the last U.S. military bases in the Philippines were closed. This U.S.-bound migration of Nabueño men increased and diversified beyond employment in the U.S. Navy when state-sponsored mass labor exportation took off in the 1970s. Nabua’s moniker as “the Town of Dollars” indeed links the town to its colonial past, and it speaks about the perceived transformative effects of foreign currency and overseas-bound mobilities on the local economy.11 Figure 1.3.1 Nabua’s location within the Bicol administrative region, with areas marked using their town’s monikers or main produce. See Footnote 7 for more information. Illustrated by Pen Prestado. 12 Meanwhile, Nabua’s neighbors also bear memorable nicknames. During beauty pageants, contestants from other Rinconada towns introduce themselves as coming from: the “Egg Basket of Camarines Sur” (Baao), the “Home of the Smallest Fish in the World” (Buhi), the “Fish Basket of Bicol,” the “Town of Tilapia” or the fancy-sounding “Fishing Shangri-La of Bicol” (Bato), among others (Figure 1.3.2). Nabua’s local government embraces the moniker for the town, as can be seen in its official seal, which prominently features the figure of a U.S. Navy man and an anchor, surrounded by local produce such as taro, rice, and others. This is an outright acknowledgement of the influence of American dollars in the making of the town’s history and identity (Figure 1.3.3).7 Located at the centro of Nabua is the headquarters of retired U.S. Navy men. Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) Branch 127 in Nabua was accredited by the headquarters in Washington in 1949 and is one of the over 220 FRA branches, and one of only 7 existing in the Philippines as of 2018.8 The town’s first college building was built in the 80s with the donation of Word War II veteran Cleto Descalso who retired in Nabua as a philanthropist (Capa 1997). Nabua is also known in the region for its well-funded Church. This is reflected in the fact that Nabueño families get recruited to participate in religious money-making activities elsewhere 7 In April 2018, I learned new monikers from online conversations with friends with whom I interacted on social media. The conversation was spurred by my post on the different monikers used in Bicol, especially during beauty pageants. I am thankful to my friends who trace their roots from all over Bicol for participating in this conversation that helped produce what I call “resource maps” for this dissertation. The maps chart the resources that are generally known to be available in the Bicol region. A discussion on the geopolitical mapping of the Bicol region based on “resource” and the monocropping system deserves future attention. Filomeno Aguilar (1998), for example, has already written about the class-based oppressions in the Visayas due to the spread of sugarcane plantations during the Spanish period. 8 The FRA branches are classified as belonging to the “Northwest region,” grouped with “all branches overseas in the Pacific.” There are also FRA branches located in Alaska, Hawaii, and Japan. The 6 other active FRA branches in the Philippines as of 2018 are located in Iloilo (Branch 064), Olongapo (Branch 074), Baguio (Branch 154). Southern Luzon (Branch 171), Dagupan City (Branch 247), and San Miguel (Branch 367) (Fleet Reserve Association 2017). 13 in the region, in hope that at least some of the dollar donations will find their way to other churches. Figure 1.3.2 The “Resource” Map of Rinconada District. Illustrated by Pen Prestado. Figure 1.3.3 The official seal of the municipality of Nabua. 14 Nabua’s moniker notwithstanding, persistent poverty is experienced by most of its “left-behind” non-migrating population. Nabua’s centro or “urban” area maintains the typical layout of towns following the Spanish ayuntamiento system, which was meant to concentrate power at the heart of each town for bringing together activities that are economic, religious, and political in nature, for more intensive political control and surveillance. Like in many other towns and cities, economic growth and development are usually concentrated in this hub, and the benefits of these only trickle to the outlying rural barangays. The Department of Interior and Local Government (2009) reports unemployment in Nabua to be “alarming,” at above 10 percent, as compared to the national average of 6.3 percent.9 Underemployment is also “very high,” at 30 percent, versus the national rate of 18.1 percent. Furthermore, in terms of poverty, the government reports that the “magnitude of families living below [the] poverty threshold is too high” at 50 percent, while the national average is 26.9 percent. Three public monuments found in Nabua’s centro additionally communicate the paradox at the heart of the town’s moniker; they provide an insight into how a group of people envisions the identity that it hopes to craft for itself and to project as a community with layered, complex, and sometimes, competing histories. These are the statue of the “Three Agtas” at the main roundabout, and the two commemorative war memorials located just across the road, inside the town’s so-called Veterans Park.10 An interpretation of these monuments requires a brief recollection of Nabua’s past. The Cuaderno or The Chronicles, reproduced in print for the very first time only in 1978, is the only known historical document that tells us about the town’s 9 While this report is already dated, more recent information is not available, reflecting the haphazard state of town-specific statistics in the Philippines. 10 “Park” is an overstatement as it occupies only about 25sqm. 15 social organization and ways of life during the early years of encounter with Spanish colonization.11 The Cuaderno begins its documentation of events affecting a group of settlements in 1571, when Augustinian Friar Alonzo Gimenez reached Lupa (literally, “land”), which was headed by Panga from Borneo.12 These settlements, according to Danilo Gerona (2006), were not permanently settled villages and were organized under the rule of their respective powerful chiefs. The first Catholic mass was held in the same year.13 In 1578, Franciscan missionaries arrived, and the pre-colonial hamlets thriving around the area were unified into a group of colonial rancherias.14 The town’s name – Nabua – appears for the first time in the Cuaderno in the same entry, perhaps renamed as such following the reorganization of Lupa into a colonial settlement. As part of the encomienda system, Nabua was placed under the jurisdiction of a Spanish encomendero under the favor of the Spanish King, and its native residents effectively became corvée laborers (Gerona 2006, 5).15 In 1678, a civil government was installed in Nabua, which means that tax collection and tribute payments began. Meanwhile, the Cuaderno also records the rise and integration of the landowners into the expanding colonial politics. While 11 The Cuaderno has been reprinted only twice (Nabua Quadricentennial Celebration 1978; Nabua Town Fiesta May 3 & 4, 1997: Souvenir Program 1997; “Cuaderno” 1997). The original document was presented as a single book signed by a certain Sr. Alverto Melos, and it was formerly guarded by 3 prominent Nabueño families: Capistrano, Dinero and Pasadilla. The contributors through the years are unknown, but likely hail from the same three families. 12 This is 50 years after explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed on the shores of the Philippines. 13 Gerona (2006) writes of pre-Hispanic Nabua as consisting of independent villages of 30 to 100 households headed by chieftains. Gerona speculates that the riverine villages in pre-Hispanic Nabua must have been like its neighbors, which were thriving and prosperous, with village heads protecting their territories through ceremonial rituals of blood compact and marriage, trade, and other kin-expanding activities. Gerona also makes it clear that the town’s past was not one of utopic harmony. To support this, he cites Franciscan Friar Marcos de Lisboa’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Bicol of the 17th century as listing indigenous words that provide an insight into inter-village conflicts that may have composed Nabua’s pre-Hispanic social organization. Lisboa was also assigned in Nabua. 14 Gerona (2006, 7) argues that Nabua may have been integrated into the colonial encomienda system earlier, in 1575, upon the creation of the Spanish base in Bicol’s economic capital, Naga City. 15 An encomienda was a territory entrusted by the Spanish king to a colonizer. 16 moments of jubilation, such as successful harvests and festivities are also accounted for here, we also learn about forced labor, public punishments of the local population, inter-village disputes, pestilences and disasters in Nabua, among other things. The local historical and popular discourse crafts Nabua as the supposed “mother town” of the Rinconada district (Gerona 2006), in part making assertions about Nabua’s supposed role in the foundation of the area. Today, Nabueños also commonly circulate the story that our landlocked agricultural town spawned the flourishing city of Iriga, and the resource-rich towns of Buhi, Bato, Bula and Baao, as well as the fishing and beach town of Balatan. Nabua’s “exceptionalism” that was supposedly crucial to the making of the Rinconada district appeals to many Nabueños as it could be deployed when making claims about our place in history, especially within the context of our understudied past. The Cuaderno provides clues for complicating this discourse. As mentioned above, Nabua was the resulting town produced out of the colonial government’s reorganization of the thriving native settlements in the area.16 Writing about Nabua’s past needs a dedicated investigation, but for now I suggest that it is important to challenge conceptions about Nabua’s supposed exceptional place in local history. In rethinking these “origin” narratives, it is likewise crucial to shed light on the experience of dispossession, displacement, and colonial violence that Nabua commonly shares with many “peripheral” towns in the Philippines. I hope to direct critical reflections towards the historical experience of resource and labor extraction that tends to be elided in our conversations, 16 As the Cuaderno notes, Iriga was Nabua’s visita (a settlement within a Spanish colonial town) that separated in 1683. Bato, another visita, was declared independent from Nabua in 1753. Balatan, a village that includes a shoreline on the Ragay Gulf in the Sibuyan Sea, became a town in its own right in 1951, upon the successful petition made in the same year by Gregorio Balatan, a new member of the educated elite who rose to power in the American colonial period. 17 as the dialogue that opened this chapter shows. To cite a few examples, the Cuaderno records that Nabueño men were often recruited for various purposes all throughout the Spanish period. In 1827, abaca was planted in the town, which tells us that labor and agricultural production in Nabua fed into the larger demands of the Spanish metropole. These are examples from the very distant past, but “peripheries” such as Nabua remain to be containerized as sources of agricultural products, crafts, and human labor – provisions that are mobilized according to the demands, desires, and pleasures of cities and global capital. Therefore, in characterizing my fieldsite’s “typical milieu,” Nabua compares with many other towns and cities in the Philippines and the Global South today, whose histories are layered with multiple historical oppressions, resource extraction, and dispossession, producing today’s common experiences of ongoing social disorganization, uneven wealth distribution, rural underdevelopment, labor precarity, and political dynasticism, among other postcolonial conundrums. In this ethnography of everyday life in Nabua, I interweave ethnographic data with writings and reflections on various sources, such as oral history, archives, monuments, popular and religious reading materials, among others. The Cuaderno offers a rich record of Nabua’s past but is not accessible reading material in Nabua as copies of the souvenir programs on which it is reprinted were handed out only to those who have contributed funds for their publication.17 The Nabueño sense of local history has become displaced by the more dominant regional (Bicolano) and national (Filipino) historiographic accounts that more commonly appear in the scholarship. Philosopher Pierre Nora (1989) writes of “sites of memory” – locations at which identity is 17 A “souvenir program” is an annually published book in Nabua. It is essentially a “souvenir” for the year’s fiesta. The book contains the schedule of the annual festival, messages from politicians, essays on Nabua, poems, among other content. Its publication is funded by personal contributions, often from successful local personalities and business owners in Nabua and beyond. Most of its pages contain festival greetings from the donors. 18 produced, made to endure, and eventually transmitted, but which also exist to crystallize memories that have already been lost.18 In contemporary Nabua, the statue of the Agtas built by the local municipality in 1997, arguably stands for Nabua’s claim to indigeneity and precolonial history within a context of a dearth of local historiography.19 This local history is supplemented by the monument named “Unknown Soldier of Nabua,” which was unveiled in 1962, dedicated to the Nabueños who fought in World War II. It is composed of a rather unmonumental gray concrete wall, against which a replica rifle with a military hard hat on its muzzle is propped. Inscribed on the lower portion of the concrete wall are the names of the residents whose participation in fundraising contests helped construct the monument. Ironically, the wall memorializes the yet unnamed heroes of Nabua while identifying precisely those whose wealth helped create this public memorial. A couple of meters from this monument stands another war memorial that offers a different historical narrative. Retired U.S. Navy men and their relatives built the town’s replica of the Washington monument flanked by the Philippine and American flags. Its plaque lists the donors for the construction of this monument built to commemorate “Nabueño-American cooperation.” Honoring disparate alliances during the colonial occupation of the Philippines, these two monuments appear to be at a standoff. Adding to the three intriguing representations are the fences surrounding the minuscule park, which now also serve as columns for large tarpaulins announcing the most recent victories of various families, such as recent graduations – often from the maritime academy, but also for 18 The pieces of pre-colonial golden jewelry and utensils from Nabua displayed at the Ayala Museum located in the Philippines’ business district, for example, are a cause of bewilderment to Nabueños “discovering” them for the first time. 19 Residents of Iriga City criticize Nabua for its unhistoricised cooptation of the Agta group, who they say have always resided in the mountains of Iriga, and historically would only occasionally come down to Nabua to trade. For a discussion of the Agta in Bicol, see Kristian Sendon Cordero (2015). 19 degrees in nursing, engineering, and other professions that are in demand overseas. On the second of May every year, the town’s Boa-boaan Festival parade passes through the roundabout where these monuments stand. The parade’s participants retell Nabua’s past by translating it into oral history accompanied by chants, dance moves and music. The oral history, repeated over the microphone in the hall at the centro where the parade ends, retells how the local chief Datu Tungdo’s daughter named Laypani was suffering an ailment that the healers could not cure. One day, Laypani was carried to the Barit River so the community could begin their petition to a god named “Balahala” who was believed to reside there. On the way to Barit, the group accompanying Laypani passed by a crowd of natives who were getting baptized by the Spanish friar. Datu Tungdo angrily scolded the natives for allowing themselves to be baptized into the Christian faith by the Spanish stranger. Datu Tungdo fainted in the midst of his angered reprimand. The Spanish priest quickly baptized the chief, who then awoke, miraculously healed. The sickly Laypani was also healed after her baptism. In this narrative about Nabua’s “first miracle,” Christian conversion brought by the colonial encounter marks the beginning of Nabua’s salvation from life’s uncertainties, simultaneously eliding violent processes of transformation, such as the reduccion or the “settlement of natives converted to the true religion,” upon Spanish arrival (Gerona 2006, 8).20 According to Gerona, the term reducir means persuasion through reason or through submission. Gerona writes that relocation of the widely scattered and independently headed native settlements into a compact settlement was necessary in carrying out missionization and 20 The Cuarderno attests to the existing headships during colonial arrival which means that the area that came to be called Nabua had an organized social structure before the reduccion process. The reduccion refers to the rearrangement of scattered villages into organized divisions for easier colonial management and religious conversion. 20 colonialism. He writes, “It was through this system of Catholic conversion that the friars undertook the comprehensive transformation of the encomienda of Nabua.” The public monuments in Nabua and the narratives that people tell about them, in effect reflect what James Eder (2013) calls the process of “ethnogenesis” in the Philippines through the de-indigenization of native population through religious conversion upon colonial arrival.21 In the evening of May 3rd, the Balikbayan Night (Returnees’ Night) is held only a block away from the three monuments (Figure 1.3.4). It is a ball attended by the town’s elite who are often kin of U.S. Navy retirees, or vacationing returnees. Those who can pay the entrance fee to the Balikbayan Night enjoy an evening of ballroom dancing in a hall that is enclosed within a chainlink fence that still allows the non-entrants to watch and to gossip who’s who and who came home from where, but does not allow them to cross over the fence to join in the night of merriment. Aside from this important annual ball held at the centro, the annual calendar of Nabua marks many other spectacular fiestas celebrated in reverence of the villages’ patron saints, by clan and class reunions, by the homecoming dances for those returning from overseas, and many others – during which wealth and success are often made public through the sums paid by the prominent families for these affairs. At the same time, those who live in the outlying farms of Nabua often express disappointment and exhaustion from the dire conditions of the present. This ethnography attempts to depict a hopefully fair representation of this wealth of stories that 21 R.J. May (2003) argues that the Spanish colonial period produced “three major ethnic blocs” in the Philippines: the Christianized “mainstream” Filipinos; the “cultural minorities” who identify with indigenous communities that historically resisted colonization, and; the “Muslim Filipinos” with roots in the Southern Philippines. Through these categories, May makes an argument that identity in the Philippines presents a narrative of assimilation into the colonial religion and of resistance. The forms of identification in Nabua in terms of nativity/indigeneity, class, ancestry, and other social distinctions, are lingering questions that I hope to return to in the future. 21 encompass what Manalansan and Espiritu (2016) call “mercurial ‘layerings’”– in the case of the Town of Dollars, of multiple colonial encounters, tense allegiances with the U.S. through the local men’s labor for the American military apparatus, family life and solidarities that increasingly expand across geographies, hybrid practices of ritual, and contemporary precarious conditions. Figure 1.3.4 The Balikbayan Night in Nabua held during the annual town festival. Most of the attendees are returnees from overseas. 1.4 Anthropology of the Hometown as a Fraught Venture? We recall that Renato Rosaldo (1988) who proposed to conduct an ethnography in the Philippines for his doctoral dissertation, was once advised by his professor to study other (supposedly more exotic) countries. The Philippines has “no culture,” said his professor, and it would be better to do fieldwork in countries such as Madagascar. The cautions and worries 22 continue, albeit taking new forms. At an international conference on the Philippines, I sought the advice of a Filipino professor on my dissertation topic but he was quick to tell me, “be kinder to yourself,” adding that I should switch to another topic if I still can. Confiding with a fellow Filipino scholar about this celebrated professor’s response, my friend concernedly cautioned me about “wearing [my] feelings so close to the skin.” Both referred to the difficult situation of confronting the drama at home. An anthropologist of Asia also told me that the Philippines is not an established “area” and that auto-ethnography is better done after the Ph.D., effectively implying that anthropological othering is a rite of passage that must be taken by the student anthropologist. During my graduate training, I encountered similar stories of fellow overseas Filipino scholars being discouraged by their professors from returning to their communities for research. A Filipino studying anthropology at a European university was advised to do fieldwork in Latin America instead, with the reason that studying the “other” would facilitate easier entry into the academic world. These forms of academic policing link with anthropologists’ fixations on studying other cultures which they then report as “closed, coherent, and different” (Rosaldo 1988, 78). Sol Worth once grabbed the camera from Mary Jane Tsosie, annoyed at how the Navajo was filming her grandfather and thus asserting the hierarchical relationship between the anthropologist and the subject (Rony 1996, 212). On the other hand, we recall Sonya Ryang’s (2005) frustration about the “dilemma of the native.” Researching as a “native” in the Black community in Harlem, John Jackson, Jr. (2004) writes that compared to their Western counterparts, “native” anthropologists are assumed to be less adept at interpreting the “emic etically,” seen to begin from an “overly identificatory position,” and being unable to stand “above and beyond...in a posture of laboratorial scrutiny.” The “native” often needs to explain their location/positionality as an insider and researcher of the communities that they study, and 23 my experience with fellow Filipino scholars of migration points to the tense perceptions about doing anthropology not only at home but at the hometown. This anxiety about researching in the hometown was further exacerbated by the responses of two Philippine-based anthropologists who gave me a brief about the themes being explored by our fellow Filipino anthropologists. They told me that it is rare for Filipino anthropologists to study one’s community because, “We still need an anthropological other.” It is important to contextualize these responses as a way of thinking about the fraught genealogies of knowledge production in formerly colonized countries, especially if we were to consider postcolonial approaches in our contribution to the scholarship. These impressions about area-based research in the Philippines are linked with the colonial origins of Anthropology and Philippine Studies whose foundations were laid during the American period. Like in other colonized societies, early anthropological work in the Philippines served as a “handmaiden” of the expanding American empire in their civilizing mission in the Philippines. Dean Worcester, an American anthropologist who headed the First Philippine Commission and the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes in the 1900s, divided the Philippines based on a nomenclature, classifying groups as Christians and Non-Christians, with the former often coming from the “civilized” lowlands and the latter from the “wild” highlands (Hutterer 1978, 139). Worcester’s mapping of the Philippines based on these categories led to the charting of the country into lowlands and highlands – the two categories of the “field” that still are used by anthropologists of the Philippines today. Intellectuals and anti-imperialists in Manila were critical of Worcester’s work, 24 which they said was used by the U.S. colonial government to justify their civilizing mission, especially in the Philippine highlands.22 William Davis and Mary Hollnsteiner (1969, 64) observe a “sharp” shift towards the study of the lowlands after the 1950s, writing that 90 percent of titles before this period focused on “tribal societies.” For these authors, this interest in lowland “peasant” communities was “due to an increasing awareness that information about the numerically dominant lowland populations is essential to a government interested in national development” (64). This shift occurred during a time when the Philippines was released from its Commonwealth status (1935-1946), an era that was additionally devastated by WWII. Davis and Hollnsteiner also trace the increased dominance of lowland studies to the establishment of the Philippine Studies Program at the University of Chicago in 1952 headed by anthropologist Fred Eggan (64). While their account on the development of anthropology in the Philippines is certainly illuminating, Davis and Hollnsteiner curiously skip anxieties experienced during post-Commonwealth and the post-WWII neoliberalization in the Philippines that arguably contributed to the reorientation of anthropological scholarship in the country. Writing in the 70s, Filipino anthropologist Mario Zamora (1974) observed a sustained shift in the scholarly focus from the mountain peoples to the lowland Christians. Certainly, the lowlands – the areas pulled into global commercialized agriculture since the Spanish occupation, and ravaged by the Spanish-American War, WWII, and 22 Anthropologists have already written about the more complex positionality of American anthropologists in the Philippines during the American occupation of the Philippines. For example, drawing from Worcester’s wealth of anthropological work in the Philippines, Karl Hutterer (1978, 134) writes that Worcester was indeed a strong defender of the American occupation of the Philippines, backing his position with evidence on the uncivilized “wild” communities that were yet to be mapped. However, Hutterer also argues that despite all the controversies, “Worcester’s greatest concern was the protection of the non-Christians from what he saw was an historic exploitation of lowlanders.” In 1912, the Annual Report of the Philippine Commission included a report on slavery and peonage which “aroused the bitterest debates” but which led to the 1913 passage of an Anti-Slavery Bill in the Philippines (Hutterer 1978, 134). 25 others – were more accessible to the growing number of Manila-based intellectuals.23 However, the continued experiences of dispossession in these areas also came to be a serious concern among the scholars in the new anthropology departments in the Manila universities who came to be interested in the process of “indigenization” and engaged anthropology. The indigenization process in the social sciences in the Philippines, according to Alicia Magos (2004, 348), is a “historical process in which students and scholars become critical of the colonial or neocolonial system of education, leading to its reexamination.” Magos contends that a Filipino scholar’s process of “unlearning” progresses with the country’s struggle to define itself within its troubled history. This move towards indigenization of anthropology in the Philippines occurred during the height of Martial Law.24 Facing iron-clad despotism, and steeply declining quality of life during the dictatorship, scholars, and activists at the University of the Philippines began to push for the academy itself as a site for interrogating the Philippine condition. As Magos recalls, activists began to regard Philippine education as “neocolonial” which led to its eventual self-introspection. This period produced critical scholarship using a paradigm of “indigenized scholarship” (Magos 2004) that paid attention to the multiple layers of oppressions and violences experienced within the permanence of dispossession and political turbulence in the country. Researchers were committed to highlighting the peasant struggle in their scholarship, but as it would be observed later, it came with some cost. Fenella Cannell (1999, 6–7) laments 23 Philippine anthropologists and archeologists are also exploring the contested territory about how the Spanish empire materially pressed upon the agricultural, social, and political organization in the “highlands” (Acabado 2018). 24 It must be recalled that during this period, Ferdinand Marcos also heavily capitalized on indigeneity in crafting a nationalist discourse that would be instrumentalized during his dictatorship. The Marcos government funded academic scholarship that promoted the ideology of ‘bagong lipunan’ (new society) founded on purported values of “indigenous” solidarity. 26 that the lowland had come to be depicted as “perhaps nothing but the sum of its colonial parts, a culture without authenticity, or else was only to be defined in a series of negatives, by what it had failed to be.” These conversations on knowledge production on the Philippines are further complicated by the increased deterritorialization and brokerage of Filipino labor. With mobilities causing a shift in the scholarship towards the study of the Filipino diasporic experience that later became an important foundation in ethnic studies in the United States (Aquino 2000). Belinda Aquino (2000) writes that it is not that the Philippines as a fieldsite was no longer relevant because it still existed as a “vignette of imagined community.” The cautions I heard from both colleagues and friends about centering my doctoral research in the Philippines directly links with these developments, but their well-meaning commentaries point to the lingering anxieties in this postcolonial conundrum, with attempts at self-reflexivity still uncomfortably clashing with the genealogies of knowledge production in the fields of anthropology, Philippine and Area Studies, and with the intentionalities of the scholar as radical, engaged, indigenized/indigenizing, and diasporic. When I first looked up UBC for my Ph.D. education, having a Philippine focus for my prospectus did not seem to be a promising option as Southeast Asia was not, and is still not, among the Department of Anthropology’s focus areas. I had initially entered UBC with a proposal to continue my masters research on the Filipino community in Japan, but my everyday experiences in UBC as organizer for the University of British Columbia Philippine Studies Series (UBCPSS), a collective of scholars, academics, and community members that I co-founded in 2011, oriented me towards new advocacies within the university setting that could 27 contribute to the existing work on the Philippines and Filipinos in Vancouver (Figure 1.4.1).25 During that time, the founding members of the UBCPSS felt a pressing need to advocate for the greater visibility of scholarship produced by minorities of color in UBC and Vancouver in general. At UBC, I was inspired by the decolonizing scholarship emerging in a university setting on the unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nations. Formal events in UBC often open with a ceremony led by the indigenous elders such as Elder Larry Grant to welcome visitors to their ancestral land, a practice that was new to me and that subtly embedded in my mind a deeper sense of responsibility as a visitor in Canada, and towards “my own community.” My undergraduate education in the University of the Philippines had oriented me to remain invested in political issues happening back home, and these roots were the pillars of my organizing work with the UBCPSS (Figure 1.4.2). As we worked together in UBCPSS to foreground Philippine issues in the university setting, I came to know of the many struggles of the Filipino community in Vancouver that my Filipino-Canadian friends were beginning to explore. The members of our group shared a strong sense of bringing into the university the issues that concern the larger Filipino community in Vancouver and Canada. While I felt that I was committed in my solidarity with them, I thought that their stories are theirs to tell, based on their own terms and readiness. While I was very thankful to receive top funding for my research in the Philippines, I felt guilty as I do not 25 There is extensive organizing work in Vancouver done by the migrant-led Philippine Women Center and Migrante International. There is also academic work on the Philippines from the School of Community and Regional Planning with Prof. Leonora Angeles, in the Department of Geography with Prof. Geraldine Pratt, and in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries’ Project Seahorse Research Group. Undergraduate Filipino and Filipino-Canadian students formed a club called Kaba, short for ‘kababayan.’ There was however a gap in scholarship produced in the undergraduate and graduate levels by Filipino and Filipino-Canadian students in UBC and Vancouver in general. The UBCPSS seeks to address this gap. The UBCPSS was co-founded with undergraduate student of anthropology Edsel Yu-Chua who identifies as Filipino-Chinese/Filipino-Canadian. 28 descend from immigrants to Canada who had paid taxes while my Filipino-Canadian friends worked extra jobs to fund their education and living expenses in Vancouver. Hearing the personal stories of displacement experienced by my friends in the Filipino-Canadian community in Vancouver and frequently unsettled by my privilege in Canada as an outsider receiving Canadian government funding, I wanted to help open up more space for these important issues by writing grant proposals and by organizing in the background. I recognized that I was merely visiting, and that I had my own histories to process and my own unresolved postcolonial layerings to peel and sift through. Looking back at the case of graduate students with Filipino roots in our group, those who do not hold Canadian citizenship or those who were raised in the Philippines during their childhood seem to be more drawn to doing a Philippine-based research while those already identifying strongly as Filipino-Canadians seem to choose research areas that are very close to their personal attachments and diasporic identities and histories. It is certainly interesting how these unspoken ethics about researching “ourselves” become projected onto our shared advocacies and individual academic projects. 29 Figure 1.4.1 The first public event of the UBCPSS held in 2011. Figure 1.4.2 A UBCPSS novena gathering titled “Prayers for Those Killed by Marcos” held in 2016. 30 In UBC, I found myself in an environment where I strongly felt that self-reflexivity and studying one’s community were welcome and valued. Thus, it was in UBC that my long-held passion to contribute to knowledge-production about the Philippines was awakened. I began to direct my attention more closely to the Philippines, and to the possibility of writing an ethnography of my hometown. I thought that there are many stories that I carry with me, that circulate in my family’s transnational space of care, and that are left back home – multiple colonial aftermaths that I need to face sooner or later. One rainy evening in October 2006 in Tokyo, during a break from my masters thesis, I began a personal blog about Nabua. The first posts were simple – I had posted some photos of local delicacies and some of my favorite spots around town. To my surprise, the blog had over 20,000 page visits within a week, and visitors had left many requests. They wanted a forum, chatroom, and other interactive features. The blog eventually evolved into a website called the Nabua Forum, which had over 1,200 registered users living in Nabua, in other parts of the Philippines, and beyond. With the growing popularity of social media platforms, the website closed and moved to Facebook. Today, the Nabua Forum on Facebook has over 3,000 members. It was in this online community that I first read lamentations about Nabua remaining in the periphery of Bicol’s and the country’s historiography. Many online Nabueños holding different occupations in different countries wrote about missing Nabua and their left-behind kin, and I realized that my own family’s complicated stories of mobility were all too common to many Nabueños. It was also through the Nabua Forum that I learned of the broad spectrum of possibilities for transnational political activism, cultural work, and local-overseas collaboration that could be coordinated online. I was born in Nabua, but it was through the online community that my academic and community-oriented interests in Nabua were kindled. These passions were 31 awakened during the time that I was away, trying to remain intimately connected to “home.” In many ways, this dissertation serves as a culmination of the many issues that I heard about repeatedly online, often recalled in tones of nostalgia by my ‘kababayans’ or countrymen, as well as the many stories about Filipino migrant life that I heard from my family, fellow Filipino scholars, and the Filipinos that I came to know as I moved across the globe. It seems to be understood that choosing the hometown as a fieldsite creates a situation where it is all too easy to be burdened by personal drama. These and many other warnings against studying one’s community replayed in my mind as I was set to return home. I began to think that I should have heeded their well-meaning advice that anthropology of the hometown is a fraught venture. Studying someone else somewhere else, where things would be at least somewhat strange and unfamiliar, suddenly seemed “better.” Thus, in my notes written before returning to Nabua for fieldwork, I wrote about my “pre-going home jitters.” I planned to delay my arrival, skipping the Holy Week events, which I knew were going to be a focus area of my research. I suddenly wished I had chosen another topic and fieldsite. I thought that I should have proposed to study the controversies surrounding the Canadian mining companies operating in resource-rich Mindanao. This was a burning topic discussed in several workshops at the UBCPSS. As Mindanao is not my land of birth, perhaps some degree of detachment could afford me the capacity for emotional distance and the so-called scientific objectivity. In his instructive piece on the post-Cold War progression of “area studies” in the United States that came to be led by immigrant-scholars, Vicente Rafael (1994, 106) asks: “But what does it mean for indigenous scholars to return home? What does ‘home’ mean to them, and what does ‘returning’ entail?” I was returning home to the Philippines not as a returnee immigrant, but as an overseas-trained scholar holding Philippine citizenship, as an anthropologist who could be 32 called “native” in academic jargon, but who is not indigenous, as a self-identified “local” of my “field,” but whose long-term absence due to education in Manila, Tokyo and Vancouver, had estranged me to an extent from my community. 26 For Rafael (1994, 107), the category of the “immigrant – in transit, caught between nation-states, unsettled and potentially uncanny – gives one pause, forcing one to ask about the possibility of a scholarship that is neither colonial nor liberal nor indigenous, yet constantly enmeshed in all these states.” It is fair to additionally ask, what do we make of anthropology when the category of “native” is increasingly problematic at a time of increased mobility, and when the process of “indigenization” could appear to produce a less self-reflexive appropriation of “indigeneity” for the purposes of academic production? It appeared that my professors and colleagues were not wrong about the bottomless well of personal drama that they had warned me about which could cause great delay, especially because anthropological data gathering occurs within a limited “fieldwork time” (Fabian 1983). During my research in Nabua, a bamboo fan craftsman was quick to establish his “intimacy” with me by 26 According to the Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997, the indigenous peoples “refer to a group of people or homogeneous societies identified by self-ascription and ascription by others, who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded and defined territory…” (The Government of the Philippines 1998). As I mentioned earlier, Bicolanos are among the major ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines. Like other lowland ethnolinguistic groups, Christianized Bicolanos are not considered under IP Law to be indigenous people. Melisa S.L. Casumbal-Salazar (2015) observes that scholars on the Philippines have not yet agreed upon a lexicon that could account for the arbitrariness of the “indigenous subject” that came to be contoured by colonial forces, national and international legal frameworks, and development/aid projects. I concur with Eder’s observation that the indigenous peoples in the Philippines hold several overlapping identities that may be cultural, economic, and political. In the case of Bicol, this would mean that the indigenous Agtas simultaneously identify as Bicolanos, perhaps as members of the economic underclass (I return to the two-tiered Bicol social organization proposed by Norman Owen in Chapter 6), and as Indigenous Peoples according to the state’s legal rubric. Thinking about identities in postcolonial Philippines, Eder rightfully observes that contemporary Filipinos are sometimes “pressed to locate themselves” within a complex web of confounding categorizations. For now, I recognize that the ongoing struggles of indigenous peoples in the Philippines (or closer to Nabua, the Agtas in Rinconada) remain to be intimately attached to displacement and dispossession. Similarly, I recognize that a related story of colonial violence and assimilation produced the historical “mainstreaming” and “Westernization” of my own ancestry, making me today a Nabueño, taga-Rinconada, Bicolano, and Filipino in the diaspora. 33 narrating his connections with my family. He introduced himself as a supplier of bamboo fans for my family’s defunct handicraft business. He paused dramatically after his introduction, and with a voice flowing with sympathy he told me: “Sadi bagang upod maaksidente si tatay mo. Nagkutod na ko kad’to ku maisiwan kong si tatay mo su naaksidente. Ako kadto namunpon ku utok niya…” (It was around here that your father was run over. I ran as quick as I could when I learned that it was him, and it was me who gathered from the road the pieces of his shattered brain). I agree with Martin Manalansan IV and Augusto Espiritu (2016) that the binaries native/stranger, nation/diaspora, here/there, no longer appear tenable and that knowledge production must address the tensions that complicate these fractured pairings. Germany-trained anthropologist Rosa Cordillera Castillo (2015), reflecting on doing ethnography amid political conflict in Southern Philippines, writes of one’s positionality as shaped by: one’s intellectual genealogies, the conflicting anthropological trainings received at home and overseas, the informants’ expectations, and one’s political commitments. Certainly, these experiences in the classroom in the Philippines and overseas, in the anthropological fieldsite, and in the intimate realm of the personal and familial, render blurry the boundary that demarcates the insider/outsider binary. I write these tensions with the hope that this approach to an anthropology in the hometown will not manifest as what Caroline Hau (2014) calls “claim to epistemic privilege” that could exclude others, while remaining uncritical of one’s positionality. In my attempt to piece together this postcolonial puzzle, I conceptualize “hometown” as a compound of two concepts: of home as a place of intimate attachments with kin and land, and; as a postcolonial town where the personal, histories, and memories converge. In thinking about the postcolonial hometown as a node of histories and lived experience, I draw inspiration from the 34 life work of Filipino historian Resil Mojares that suggests a turn away from what he calls “old” histories centered on the colonial periods, the nationalist, and the “Filipinocentric.” I also take heed of Rolando Tolentino’s (2003, 80) critique of the study of the Philippines as sometimes failing to critically interrogate the “macro-narratives of the nation” and to understand particularities as “experienced from within.” Meanwhile, Prospero Covar (1998) conceptualized the Philippines as composed of various ‘batis’ (streams) of culture that could nuance the study of the often generalized “Filipino experience.” F. Landa Jocano (1998) argues similarly that social practices appear in subtle variations – recognizing the necessity in foregrounding under-researched communities. I hope to the add to the complexity, richness, and depth of Bicol by adding to the works of regional scholars Maria Realubit (1983), Paz Verdades Santos (2004), Danilo Gerona (2006), Kristian S. Cordero (2006), Jasmin Llana (2009), Victor Loquias (2014), and many others. Like Mojares, I hope to contribute to the centering of the “periphery” by paying attention to events occurring outside the centers of knowledge production in the Philippines. Coincidentally, “Rinconada,” the disctrict in which Nabua is located means “corner.” By “periphery,” I refer to those spaces that have receded from the center of scholarship and remain in the “background setting” (Azurin 1995, 127). 1.5 Theoretical Engagements, Interventions, and Itineraries Some years ago, before I began my travels overseas, I worked as a photographer for the University of the Philippines’ student newspaper called the Philippine Collegian. My peers and I were among the last batch of photographers who processed our own black and white photographs in the office’s own darkroom. Digital photography came soon after like a wave, finally displacing the art of black and white photography in university journalism practice in the 35 Philippines. In the darkroom, I learned how to bring additional texture to a photograph. In the darkroom language, to “agitate” a film means to periodically stir up the developing tank in which the film and the chemicals are contained. A more rigorous agitation of the tank will cause coarser grains on the negative, and therefore a more dramatic texture and contrast on the photograph will be produced. Agitations, even if the word itself suggests something that is tense or unrelaxed, could be productive. The less you agitate, the more shadows you get. More rigorous agitation sharpens contrast. During photographic processing, a photographer could also choose to manipulate light exposure. Sections of the image that were overexposed to light could be “dodged” or “burnt” to give the selected portions longer or less exposure to light, therefore normalizing light or de/emphasizing shadows. I learned from working in the darkroom that the image captured on film is but a fraction of a creative process. How the world was framed by the photographer through their eyes and the camera is just the beginning, but we tend to get caught up in theorizing this part of a larger agentive process. The processes of agitations, dodgings, burnings, among others, enrich the textures of the image. I find these processes also personal as they encode the ways that the body moves into the process of production. I find these photographic vocabulary as graceful significations of the creative production process, and of thinking about the agitated/agitating subject of studying the work of intimacy and migration at home. 1.5.1 Back to the Hometown Writing 18 years after the publication of the seminal Nations Unbound (Basch, Schiller, and Blanc 1993) that set the pillars of the transnationalism framework, Nina Glick Schiller (2011, 46) notes that the “rosy picture” of transnational migration that scholars have painted 36 “reinforces the desirability of the new migration regime of contract labor,” which has dehumanized migrants through unfair and exclusionary labor conditions. Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan (2001) argue that transnational theory disregards conditions that were present long before the emergence of capitalism and modernity which underlie the globalization of labor. E. San Juan (2000, 14) staunchly critiques literature on Filipino migration framed within the transnational framework, arguing that it tends to “befog” an environment that is “already mired in the instance of contingency, aporia, ambivalence, indeterminacy, disjunction, [and] liminality.” For San Juan, the “fatal mistake” of the transnational model in studying the experience of Filipino migration is its postmodern rendering of the Filipino subject as if having a “reservoir of free choices” (56). Moving forward in studying people’s mobilities, scholars have appealed for the need to critique the “assimilationist perspective” (Lazar 2011, 70) and the pervasiveness of “methodological nationalism” in migration scholarship (Wimmer and Glick Schiller 2002). Nina Glick Schiller and Ayse Çaglar (2008, 2) note the need to address the conceptual barriers in the field of migration studies such as: the preoccupation with theorizing migrant settlement and integration; the focus on global and gateway cities as research sites; the homogenization of places as “container[s] of national processes,” and; the use of the ethnic groups as the basic unit of analysis and object of study. Considering these unprecedented departures, others propose a focus on “diasporic journeys” (Johnson and Werbner 2010), while others propose to investigate “society” as “transnational social fields” (Levitt and Glick Schiller 2004). Scholarship on Filipino migrants around the world has included groundbreaking works that chronicle labors brokered by the state (Guevarra 2006; R. Rodriguez 2010), changing care practices (Parreñas 2001a; Choy 2003), new intimacies tied to post-WWII and post-industrial developments 37 (Constable 1999; Faier 2009), queer identities in the diaspora (Manalansan IV 2003), among many others that contribute to our understanding of shifting identities, lives, and intercultural encounters during a time of increased mobilities of humans, and of course, capital. I trace my inspirations for this dissertation from a growing list of illuminating works on Filipino migration, taking note of the various critiques of the migration literature. The literature on Filipino migration is vast and to limit my discussion in this section, I focus on the recent developments on Filipino migration that link with my concern in understanding postcolonial subjectivities and contemporary inequalities in the Town of Dollars. The ongoing conversations in what Robyn Rodriguez (2016) calls “Critical Filipino Studies,” I believe, foreground important re/orientations in studying Filipino mobilities. Rodriguez notes that studies on U.S.-bound Filipino mobilities tend to focus on “immigration” that “has the effect of reifying US nationalist ideologies of liberal multiculturalism and the idea of the United States as a ‘country of immigrants,’ not of empire” (33). For Rodriguez, the enduring effects of American colonization of the Philippines links with the production of long-lasting inequalities in the Philippines that ultimately shaped the country’s “transnational migration apparatus” (39). For Rodriguez, it is crucial to conceptualize labor brokerage by the Philippine government as not merely a literal exportation of Filipino labor, but as also constituting relations of dependency that are neocolonial. As she writes: I suggest alternatively that Filipinos’ global and US migrations must be understood as inextricably linked because both migrations are attributable to US imperial legacies in the Philippines, specifically the formation of the neocolonial Philippine state as a labor brokerage state. The globalization of Filipinos is linked to the globalization of US capital and the expansion of its military-industrial complex. If Filipinos labored for the American empire from the turn of the century to the present in the United States and its territories, as the American empire globalizes, Filipinos are laboring for empire globally, and the neocolonial labor brokerage state has facilitated that process (52). 38 In other words, Rodriguez proposes a shift in discourse that highlights the inescapable entanglement of Filipino labor in the production and spread of American empire and capital as the Philippine nation-state fuels America’s persistent imperial projects. Rodriguez writes that a “radical epistemology,” borrowing from Oscar Campomames, is important “if we hope to fully grasp the new complexities of the Filipino migrant experience” (52). Certainly, Rodriguez’s attention to the deepening rootedness of the American influence and intervention in the Philippines’ labor export orientations offers a critical perspective on “what should” be underscored in thinking about the ubiquity of migration in the level of policy and everyday life, in the Philippines and beyond its shores (Manalansan and Espiritu 2016, 6). I take seriously Rodriguez’s theoretical interventions that stress the unevenness of contemporary life especially structured by American colonization, and I hold them alongside Neferti Tadiar’s (2015) cautions about investigations into “empire.” Tadiar (2015, 146) also advises us: Empire studies risks a similar confirmation of this geopolitical order when its location of historical precedents for today’s imperial actions traces the very same narrative lines of continuity through which the imperial subject maintains its privileged representational being. It risks, in other words, being a discursive means of imperial reproduction. Recognizing the prevailing inequality that Filipinos in the Philippines and overseas find themselves in, Tadiar (2015, 150) points out the importance of attending to what she calls “practices of dissolution” which otherwise “might issue out of the excess and leftover of life-making on the part of those serving as the means of reproduction of others” (150). Pointing to a model of how renderings about contemporary life embedded in unequal mobilities might look, Tadiar applauds Lieba Faier’s (2009) account of Filipino wives’ “running away” as risky but creative acts that are among the “historical repertoire of everyday life-making” of those 39 implicated in gendered and racialized contemporary mobilities. Tadiar asks researchers to highlight the “realm of actions and processes that takes place beneath the threshold of intelligibility....” (151). Tadiar calls these modes of surviving a “remaindered life” – the “life-sustaining forms and practices of personhood and sociality…” (151). Such actions, as Tadiar proposes, resist being pushed into “permanent outmodedness and illegibility by the discursive and practical mandates of imperial reproduction.” More than just agentive actions, Tadiar regards these “life-making capacities,” and she suggests that it is imperative to consider the “permeability, extendability, divisibility, and mutability of selves, the porousness of belonging (family, household, kin, community), and the transmissibility of potency and life across persons…” (152). Tadiar’s proposition is essentially a call for scholars to push against the discourses that contain lives under empire in a “grid of intelligibility” (156). In a similar vein, Phanuel Antwi et al. (2013, 7) point to the need for scholarship to highlight the modes of life that “diverge from the straight paths of neoliberal accommodation.” I understand Tadiar’s call as sharing the same commitments as Latin American feminist-critical race phenomenologists such as María Lugones (2003) and Mariana Ortega (2016) and postcolonial thinker Gayatri Spivak (2010) who call for the foregrounding of unreadable tensions, fractures, fragments, creativities, and others that are antithetical to the logics of empire and capital. I am invested in addressing these critiques of the transnational model in migration studies and Filipino migration while considering seriously the suggestions offered by Rodriguez, Tadiar, Lugones, Ortega, and Spivak. As already shown by scholars who use the transnational model, it is important to continue to problematize the Philippines, for example, as crucial to the formation of migrants’ subjectivities, as shown by May Farrales (2017) in her work on Filipino/a sexualities in Canada. In Filipino migration scholarship, many authors have demonstrated the 40 dense attachments of migrants to the Philippines, as experienced for example by Filipino female nurses-intellectuals in the United States (Peralta Forthcoming), by Filipino caregivers who simultaneously fulfill paid carework, transnational mothering, and activism (Tungohan 2013), gendered and racialized divisions of Filipino labor that render the invisibility of cultural minorities overseas (Coloma et al. 2012), among many others. In thinking about the context of Nabua, I think that despite criticisms, the transnational model in migration studies remains useful especially in drawing attention to the still under-investigated “home” – the origin community where desires for mobilities are conditioned – where inequalities continue to deepen and manifest in everyday life. These contemporary inequalities have been contoured by multiple colonial layerings, although I agree with Rodriquez that American influence is persistent and enduring. The collection Uprootings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration in particular inspires my thinking through studying migration at home (Ahmed et al. 2003). I take note of the point made by the editors of the collection that the questions about migration as related to the literal act of traveling needs “to be supplemented by the question of who can stay at home” (7, italics in original). Ahmed et al. challenge migration scholars to pay attention to acts of uprootings and regroundings of home as linked with “colonial, postcolonial and neocolonial relations of power” while also finding the intimate connections between “leaving home and imagining of home” (8). The transnational framework, therefore, facilitates a return to the study of the “hometown.” Finally, considering Filomeno Aguilar’s (2014), proposition that migration has now permeated the Philippines like a yeast, I suggest that the idea of the “village” is no longer plausible. Just like the category “peasant” as it is used in anthropology, the “village,” following Michael Kearney (1996, 1), “has been outdistanced by contemporary history.” I thus 41 take the route of investigating the hometown – transformed, unsettled, and stirred up in many ways by mobility, and by the precarious conditions of life in the Philippines that motivate and agitate these very processes. In examining the hometown, I turn to the growing field of intimacy studies. 1.5.2 Intimacy into Philippine Studies Intimacy studies has become established as a field following a turn in the scholarship to add into the dialogue the work of emotions, habits, and affects that do not fit quite neatly in global and neoliberal scripts and configurations. For Lauren Berlant (1998, 281), intimacy “involves an aspiration for a narrative about something shared, a story about oneself and others.” She writes that stories that allude to the intimate are usually “set within zones of familiarity and comfort” (281). Still according to Berlant, intimacy is premised within optimism, and to unsettle it causes tension to the normatively kept/managed intimacy. Alexia Bloch (2017b, 19) conceptualizes the terms “intimacy” and “intimate” as useful in demarcating “an affective sense” and considering the “realm of emotion” that have been shaped and transformed by mobilities following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In another work, Bloch (2011) uses the concept of “intimate circuits” in writing about the elaborate transnational circulation of care despite the states’ heavy regulation of these intimacies. Ara Wilson (2012) proposes the term “intimate economies” as a model that can be used in studying the overlapping of the intimate and economic life. In the collection The Global and the Intimate: Feminism in Our Time (Pratt and Rosner 2012), the intimate spans “the specific, the quotidian, the affective, and the eccentric.” Antwi et al. (2013) write that the investigation of intimacy means to question its supposed “places” and “non-places.” As could be discerned from the growing list of work within this field, 42 the terms intimate and intimacy cover a wide range of meanings. It includes inquiries into the private, the familiar, love, sex, informality, personal connection, economy, policy, etc. Intimacy does not have a fixed definition. Wilson argues that it is in fact this lack of fixity that makes intimacy an appealing analytical category (32). There is no doubt that research on the intimate has transformed the ways that we understand the lived experience, especially at the level of the family. I follow an expanding list of feminist work on intimacy that nuance our understanding of the family, arguably pioneered by Carol Stack (1975) in her ethnography of an urban ghetto conducted over three years. Stack shows that Black families surround themselves with “essential kin” – the large circle of friends, and close and distant kin – that allows for the wider circulation of care and resources. Stack’s research challenges misconceptions of non-nuclear families as “disintegrated.” Research on the intimate has also extended our understanding of physical proximity in relation to emotional closeness. There are many examples, one of which is Mary Chamberlain’s (2006, 5) account of “emotional attachments” which she contends spread quite expansively – “vertically through lineages, horizontally through kinship networks, and transnationally across the oceans.” In the anthropology of kinship, Janet Carsten’s (2004) relational approach to the family proposes that kinship can be lived and made, orienting our understanding of kinship beyond consanguinity, and towards “relatedness.” Carsten proposes for scholars to take a “long way round” and investigate the many new guises of kinship such as the house, gender, personhood, substance, including idioms. Fenella Cannell (1999) extends these conversations, suggesting that in the case of the lowland Christians in Bicol, transactions of intimacy are not only between husband and wife, or between humans, but also between humans and the supernatural. Altogether, these projects offer important contributions to the ongoing project of interrogating the concept of kinship and its 43 supposed intimate logics. They show the power of intimacy in dealing with the nuanced, the complex, and the messy, which would otherwise fall out of earlier structural-functionalist renderings in anthropological ethnography. However, I hold that it is imperative to reserve some cautious use of intimacy as an analytical category as it expands into a “field” if we were to also return to Spivak’s critique about the presumed readability of the subject. Would the endorsed capaciousness and all-inclusiveness of intimacy also dangerously slip into Spivak’s critique of earlier scholarship that purports to effortlessly hollow out the subject? How does one go about studying intimacy considering its slipperiness, and everywhereness? What does it mean “to consider the logic of intimacy” (Antwi et al. 2013, 1)? My dissertation hopes to contribute to the ongoing project of nuancing the family and other engagements of the family (in ritual, in demonstrating solidarity and success, etc.) which could productively draw from the anthropologist’s “deep embeddedness” in the project. My ethnography of Nabua includes an investigation into the family’s messy relations and transactions of care, now increasingly, within highly mobile conditions. I examine the experience of the family and intimate relations within it, tracing stories along multiple generations and geographies, that fold into layers of histories, religion, work, and present configurations as produced by the state and global capital. Thinking about the sometimes anxious and unsettling facets of life that are inscribed into our ethnography of the “intimate” orient me to return to cautions about the persistent reductionism across disciplines, especially when writing about the conditions of the so called Third World, and giving texture to the stories that animate our ethnography. Spivak (2010) writes that the intellectuals’ representations of their subject fall under two categories: representation as “speaking for” (proxy) and representation as “re-presentation” (embodiment). Lugones (2003) thinks in a similar manner, but this time she looks 44 inward, pointing out that the self (in her case, as racialized other) may also be unknowingly constructed by others, in effect suggesting the importance of a self-introspective interpretation of the world: In a ‘world,’ some of the inhabitants may not understand or hold the particular construction of them that constructs them in that ‘world.’ So, there may be ‘worlds’ that construct me in ways that I do not even understand. Or, it may be that I understand that construction, but do not hold it myself. I may not accept it as an account of myself, a construction of myself. And yet, I may be animating such a construction. In the study of the Philippines, the popular analytical categories from “indigenous” theory that are often deployed in approaching intimate Filipino relationships provide a useful example. Virgilio Enriquez (1989, 48) expresses disappointment with scholars’ inclination to merely pluck out from a list of supposed indigenous worldviews in reading the Filipino “experience.” For example, the concept of ‘utang na loob’ (debt of gratitude) is often operationalized to read Filipino relations as circumscribed within rational transactions (Kaut 1961), and as demonstrating a commitment to solidarity (De Mesa 1987), among others. Frank Lynch’s (1962) theory on Filipino personality have become a canon in reading/constructing Filipino interpersonal relations as “smooth.” F. Landa Jocano (1966) has already critiqued such articulations of Filipino behavior and personality as “common-sense anthropology,” but interestingly, these values consistently reappear with slight modifications in Philippine Studies literature until today. The ways that these concepts come to be deployed tend to be reminiscent of the earlier anthropological readings of cultural patterns and behavior and mappings of so-called social organization (Yengoyan 2004). Research on values often deploys keywords in the hegemonic language of Tagalog, thus the ubiquitous category of the “indigenous” becomes dangerously appropriated to stand in for the generalized Filipino subject. I suggest that there need to be a renewed interrogation into the brand of Philippine social science that tends to very 45 easily derive from the notion of the “indigenous” and that assumes shared knowledge across varied histories, lifeworlds, ethnicities, and ancestries. It is important to continue to nuance the Filipino subject, especially given the richness and depth of the historical, cultural, and political experiences that produce Filipino identities today. Filipino postcolonial identities remain muddled, and as Melisa S.L. Casumbal-Salazar (2015, 76) writes: Contemporary valences of indigeneity in the Philippines and the Philippine diaspora are shaped by colonial and postcolonial hierarchies of difference; the emancipatory rhetorics of anti-/de-colonial nationalism, regional autonomy, self-determination, and civil rights; transborder affinities and political organizing across indigenous peoples’ movements; and solidarity work between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Given these disparate enabling conditions, it is unsurprising that Philippine conceptualizations of indigeneity are contingent, heterogeneous, and conceptually unstable. In short, notions of identity and indigeneity in the Philippines and beyond are ambivalent and hard to grasp (even by the inquiring self). Given this recognition, anthropological analyses must also account for the tensions and unreadable dramas that fall out of the ready list of “indigenous” keywords related to the Filipino experience. Anthropologists of the Philippines are yet to seriously take on Jocano’s (1966, 290–91) challenge to move away from the generalization of experience to focusing instead on what he calls “if-situations” in which “any mode of action must be conceptualized in terms of exclusiveness and directness of relationship.” Here I recall that each frame in a film roll encodes different temperatures of light, which means that each frame will need individual attention and adjustments to retexture its exposure to light. Such assessments of the study of Filipino relations, personality and worldview, I believe, could be productively critiqued using Spivak’s views about the often-transparent reading of human action and relations – now within claims of investigating the “intimate.” According to Fadwa El Guindi (2004, 113), there is “a problem for ethnography when a project is begun with a prearticulated, Western feminist perspective.” The same critique stands for an ethnography of 46 the Filipino experience that is grounded in a prearticulated list of so-called indigenous worldviews, especially considering the various “streams” (Covar 1998) of cultures that flow along local and transnational lives. I bring into this dissertation some of the possible ways to expand conversations about intimacy and the intimate by interweaving stories about: religious practice that is enmeshed with personal, familial and community ambitions, histories, and religious text; the nuanced meanings of values such as “supog” (shame) and “ginikanan” (roots, origin place); relations of care and familial ambitions that are nurtured in expanding geographies; the different valuations of labor according to those who labored for the U.S. empire, and; the dense attachments to the hometown despite the worsening precarity of everyday life, and others. Like Bloch’s (2017b, 5) thinking about the ways that intimate practices are transformed “in a time of widely atomized lives,” my dissertation does not quite offer “a story of progression, of people mastering the ways of capitalism.” In putting these stories together, I am reminded by Sara Ahmed (2010, 195): “the promise of happiness depends on the localization of suffering; others suffer so that a certain ‘we’ can hold on to the good life.” This dissertation locates orientations about the good life by contemplating through these layerings that make up Nabua today. Antwi et al. (2013, 4–5) propose to “retexture the field of intimacy studies in relation to postcoloniality.” Retexturing the field, according to these authors, requires paying attention to the “anxious entanglements” of what they call “happy fictions” or the circulatable stories of success and progression, with “interruptive texts or textures” or those modes of life that emerge out of postcolonial violences and inequalities. My intervention in migration and Philippine scholarship engages with questions of authorship and knowledge production. In thinking through intimacy and authorship, I draw on phenomenological analyses of anthropological knowledge 47 production. Throughout this dissertation, I bring together conversations on migration, phenomenology, and occasionally, visual anthropology, in my discussion of migration stories and histories as they figure in everyday life in Nabua. Visual anthropology also offers vibrant insights into authorial subjectivity, intentionality, empathy, ethics and responsibility. Ethnographic film practice in one’s community, according to John Jackson (2004), calls for a “rigorous self-reflexivity.” The author’s self-understanding of one’s rigor, however, clashes with the end product – in this case, film. In Film as Phenomenology, John Brough (2011, 192) contrasts a filmmaker with a phenomenologist, writing that the former “makes things,” while the latter “reflects on the experience of things and on things as experienced.” Brough suggests the films have a phenomenological potential because of the “powerful arsenal at its disposal” which includes image, narrative, camera, and other elements that all come together during film production. A completed film, for Brough, works as a “prepared particular,” demonstrating a kind of Husserlian bracketing that presents a world in a particular way. However, it needs to be pointed out that phenomenologists argue that the act of image-making is “more practical than reflective” because the maker of the image “looks to the world in such a way as to allow her body” (Wrathall 2011). Along these lines of thought, we can understand knowledge production – in this case, a text-based dissertation – as drawing from a broad range of possibilities, but one’s production is often limited by time, technology, expected output, and other elements. The final edited narrative that appears on-screen depicts bracketed narratives but they also serve as signposts to the other dimensions of the story that have been cut away or that have been made to recede from our view. The editing process in film, and the bracketing process in phenomenology, therefore, demonstrate ways that narratives are constructed which include the processes of assemblage, addition, emphases, and finally, 48 omission. I suggest that the process of constructing the narrative must be apprehended by questions about intentions, positionality, place, kinship/genealogies, and personal attachments. If intimacy studies seek to account for affects and emotions even if they are messy and unsettling, an anthropology of the hometown, as I came to learn while in the “field” and while writing, is unable to escape the weight and demands of the intimate-personal. My cautious use of intimacy studies, I hope to suggest, is a productive site for engaging tensions, dilemmas, complexities, the untold, and uncertainties with knowledge production that upholds self-reflexivity and auto-critique. It is challenging to plot the timeline of my fieldwork in Nabua. I first returned for fieldwork in March 2013. This was interrupted by a month-long visit to the U.S. for my mother’s surgery from February to March 2014, and then again by an academic visit at the Center on Migration, Policy, and Society in Oxford University from June to December 2014. My fieldwork in Nabua resumed from December 2014 to January 2015. In February to mid-December 2015, I opened a crafts shop in Manila and periodically returned to Nabua for more research. I closed the Manila-based shop in December 2015 to return to Vancouver in January 2016. My dissertation writing was interrupted by teaching multimedia art students in the School of Design and Arts in the La Salle College of Saint Benilde in Manila from August to December 2016, then by teaching in the Department of Anthropology at UBC from January 2016 to April 2017, and then by teaching in a general social studies course in New York University-Shanghai, from September to December 2017. 49 1.6 Chapter Previews Each chapter in this dissertation hopes to elucidate how the intermingling of intimacy and migration shape everyday life in Nabua. I write here about only some of the affairs and events that range from the spectacular (e.g., public rituals), to the deeply intimate (e.g., auto-ethnographic account of rural-urban-overseas migration). However, the writing on one’s hometown inescapably brings one’s own life story, often uncomfortably, into the narrative. As already mentioned above, I returned to Nabua for my fieldwork as an overseas-trained researcher whose positionality blended with personal history as absentee resident of Nabua. In Chapter 2, I present a reflection on the intermingling of my academic ambitions with locally held ideas about “supog” (shame) and the “ginikanan” (place or origin or genealogy) when doing research at home. I introduce what I call “negative production” – the “non-productive events” that initially seem to create frictions against the disciplined and rigorous acts of data gathering. I take cues from Spivak’s observation that the crafting of “certain kinds of convictions” where researchers render the objects of study in readable ways is inherent in knowledge production. I argue that academic ambitions may have discomforting effects on the “respondents/interlocutors,” especially when fieldsites are places in which relations are claimable and expandable. I suggest that it is important to re-consider fieldsites as spaces in which anthropologists should nurture relational sensibilities. I urge for the reconsideration of what appears to be “negative” in the academic world, as it can also be productive, while also thinking about the inevitability of anthropological participation in the messy (and extractive) work of knowledge production. Sometimes, the intentions and politics that underlie our academic commitments may clash with the concerns and ambitions of the people for whom we hope to labor academically. Spivak’s critique applies to some of the scholarly work done in the Philippines which assesses 50 Filipinos as “victims and did not know it” (Rimonte 1997, 59). Following warnings on the erasure of peoples’ agency in writing a postcolonial ethnography, I argue in Chapter 3 for the need to place at the center the ways of memory-making that retired U.S. Navy men deploy when reflecting on their racialized labor for the U.S. “empire.” I suggest that it is important to think of their narratives as embedded in what may be called an impasse of colonial and postcolonial turbulences. The “circulatable” stories that the retirees would like me to inscribe in my ethnography offer a piece to the incomplete picture of how the American arrival was accommodated/resisted outside the centers of the Philippine historiography. My analysis draws from interviews with retired U.S. Navy men residing or vacationing in Nabua, as well as from ethnographic notes from my attendance and observation of their formal meetings, private gatherings such as wakes, funerals, and public rituals, such as flag-raising ceremonies in honor of departed veterans, etc. I interweave local and national history with the life stories of the retired navy men who are key contributors to the making of Nabua’s history as the Town of Dollars. Learning from Latin American phenomenologists Mariana Ortega and María Lugones who think about the postcolonial lived experience, I consider the notion of the “multiplicitous selves” – the open-ended identity of the oppressed and marginalized – of the retired U.S. Navy men in Nabua. I frame their narratives of “escaping” Nabua to join the U.S. Navy, their labor for the “empire,” and their shared desires for becoming memorialized in Nabua, alongside their aspirations to create respectable futures for themselves and their kin in Nabua, nurtured within the context of a troubled past in Nabua. That retirees deploy ritual to publicly perform their participation in the making of the Town of Dollars, tells us about how migration histories contribute to the production of locally celebrated rituals. In Chapter 4, I turn to investigating how migrants’ homecomings and their 51 calculated work in fulfilling covenants made with the sacred now intersect with the celebration of religious rituals in Nabua. I push for considering the mobility of Filipinos as a key force that shapes contemporary local religious practices. The “Ton-ton” (Descent), is an Easter Sunday ritual celebrated in different varieties by Catholics in the Philippines. Called ‘salubong’ in the Tagalog-speaking areas, the ritual dramatizes the meeting of the risen Christ with his grieving mother. The salubong is already much discussed in Philippine scholarship. I offer an original discussion of a religious ritual celebrated in Nabua called “balo-balo,” which is nominally a rehearsal for the ton-ton, and which casts a spotlight on covenants made with the local icon called Inang Katipanan (Our Mother of the Covenant), as well as on the financial might of the family/clan. On the evening of Black Saturday, a time that is supposed to be rife with the quiet anticipation of Christ’s resurrection, the balo-balo is held in Nabua with much vigor and spectacle, even if it is meant to be a mere rehearsal. The balo-balo opens a space for the community to bear witness to a family’s fulfilment of their vows made with the local Marian icon, but its quality of “rehearsality” more importantly allows for the practice of faith to intersect with local commitments to maintaining honor, familial solidarity, and other secular elements that become encoded into the ritual. To move away from finding “culture” by analyzing the visually and symbolically perceptible elements of ritual practice, I complicate my discussion by inquiring into how a local novena blends with historical text, producing Nabua’s dynamic ritual practice. In one sense, this dissertation is an attempt to confront the messiness of home, following scholars (Kondo 1990; Narayan 1993; De Jesus 2005; Pierce 2005; Okely 1996; Behar 2013; Manalansan IV 2014) who have done the painful work of piecing together fragments of personal history. The force of kinship, often expandable and locatable in Nabua, presses upon my discussion all throughout the chapters. In Chapter 5, I move closer, drawing from my “deep 52 embeddedness” in the twinned concepts of migration and intimacy. This time, I zoom in, into the rural, urban, and overseas migration of my family, proposing migration as a robust theme through which Janet Carsten’s (2004) call for “redoing kinship” can be partially addressed. I explore the circulation and negotiation of power and care among my kin across three different “houses” in which familial desires for upward mobility were nurtured. I propose the “house” as a framework for looking at the taken-for-granted concept of the “Filipino family” whose members may now disperse to different locations. I propose the house as productive in understanding the contemporary family as expanding, moveable, and unfolding across geographies. I introduce “pasali” – which I translate as “subdued performance” – as a theoretical contribution for challenging the often easily analyzed “logics” of Filipino relations and behavior. Concepts such as ‘utang na loob’ (debt of gratitude), ‘pakikisama’ (being one with the others) and other value concepts that were popularized by Philippine anthropologist Frank Lynch’s Smooth Interpersonal Relations (SIR) remain prominent to this day in Philippine Studies scholarship. I show how pasali works as an analytical lens through which messy intimate theatrics could be better understood. Family members, despite being individuated by education, personal agencies, and ambitions, are entangled in processes which pull them back into, and re-orientate them to, the past, “traditions,” collective memory, and concerns such as familial success. The auto-ethnographic account of my geographically expanding family sets the scene for Chapter 6. During fieldwork at home, I stepped into the world of family business, an undeniably capitalist enterprise that starkly contrasts with “non-profit” academic work. This immersion led me to relationships and networks that predate my research, and which eventually had an impact on my research direction. As I became embedded deeper into the business, I came to know about the different face of Nabua. The Nabua that I knew was close to how it is imagined by its 53 retirees, vacationing residents, friends, and informants who, like me, come from the town’s centro. While my fieldsite is regarded by many of its residents as the Town of Dollars, it is also home to many non-migrating rural poor – the “kanagtitios” (very poor) – who struggle every day in the midst of the slow death of their main sources of livelihood: crafts and farming. For the poor in the farming villages of Nabua, the town’s moniker is associated with a living standard that is plainly out of reach. Experiencing landlessness and bare subsistence, the people of Nabua also search for prospects in the extra-village economy only to find precarity everywhere. The many cautionary tales of hardship during urban and overseas migration dampen the enthusiasm for the fruits of migration among this population, and they hope instead for improved futures at home. Theirs is a remarkably different story of rural life in the age of heightened aspirations and governmental push for overseas migration. I close my dissertation with this chapter as an appeal for the need to bridge conversations about Filipinos overseas that more prominently appear in the literature, with the everyday struggles of the poor “back home,” who are left behind with limited prospects. It is a commonly said in the Philippines that asking for directions when lost will only bring further confusion. For example, rather than being told to simply turn east after one kilometer, one is told which turn not to take, which tree or house to watch out for, how many electric posts to count until destination, or where another reliable person could be found in case the suggested route is too complicated to follow. Conversations in Nabua also develop in a seemingly aimless trajectory, and speakers are slow to reveal details, and often fail even to give basic context. This ambiguity in speech is complicated even more by some bodily gestures. For example, instead of nodding in agreement, eyebrows are repeatedly raised to express the same. Nabueños repeatedly invoke kinships and affiliations as a way of establishing rapport or asserting privilege and 54 position such as the bamboo craftsman’s unsettling revelation about the circumstances of my father’s death. The Rinconada language that is used in Nabua uses what is called “angry register” in linguistics (Lobel 2005). This means that the language is emotive such that the vocabulary changes depending on the degree of anger that one wants to express verbally. For example, for the word “ngungo” (mouth), one could also use its synonyms “ngusngus” or “ngurapak,” the latter being the angriest form. A parent reprimands their child for having a ngurapak that spews foul or disrespectful words. However, Nabueños also use words in the angry register form even when exploding in joy and amusement. A skilled jokester can be said to have a ngurapak that delivers delightful jokes. I bring this up to point out that stories that I encountered in Nabua have parallels to the ways that directions and jokes are said and that conversations are told – sometimes they are harshly said, or too familiar, too slow, and like in the case of the confusing directions, I would often find myself lost, even if I was talking to my kababayans. This linguistic style directs attention to the depth that an engagement with the local language could potentially add in an attempt at nuancing the local lifeworld. From the very beginning of my fieldwork, a classmate from high school helped me “reintegrate” in Nabua. His mother works overseas, and he knew I was studying migration. We already shared a long history of friendship but despite this familiarity, “he reveals gradually, step by step, in little quiet moments” – as I wrote in my notes. But even if he did not share with me his own story, he was generous in introducing me to many others, and I followed the leads obtained in this way, in addition to my family’s suggested research itineraries. I had asked him if he wanted to sit for an interview, but we eventually never did one. He told me, “Cara-Carlos Bulosan man kami kadto. Poverty-poverty!” He meant that his family’s story was as melancholic as Carlos Bulosan’s description of his immigrant life in America, as he had seen me reading 55 Bulosan’s (1946) classic “America is in the Heart” one day when he visited me in my mother’s apartment. It is a linguistic style to repeat syllables or words to emphasize emotions. One day, he passed by to bring me lunch that he had cooked, and he confirmed the news that I heard from someone else that he was finally leaving “for good.” After many years of caring for his nephews and nieces as his mother and siblings worked overseas, he told me that it was his turn to raise his sails; he was headed to Dubai. My friend’s story does not add yet to the layers of histories offered here, but Ahmed (2010, 176) reminds me that “emptiness and fullness are not the point.” The pieces in this dissertation do not yet, and perhaps cannot ever present a complete picture. I hope that this ethnography helps us make sense of the Town of Dollars, which like my friend’s life and like my relatives’ suggestions about “good” stories that must be recorded and circulated, are rife with postcolonial conundrum. 56 Chapter 2: The Method of Negative Production During Fieldwork in the Hometown 2.1 The Return Home “Home again,” I thought, as the bus slows down to stop briefly at the centro of Nabua. Approaching it, my feelings of relief over our safe arrival were mixed with hints of stress and anxiety. Along with stirrings of nostalgia, returning to Nabua evokes memories of loss and separation. While riding his bicycle, back in 1994, my father was run over by a bus on this same highway. The accident happened at a time when my father was burdened by the feeling of smallness that we “did not make it” in the city, and that we had to accept material support from the maternal side of the family so we could rebuild our life in Nabua. Our return to Nabua in my youth was a “sag-uli” – a melancholic homecoming that signifies a return from a less successful venture beyond Nabua. Following the accident, my mother prohibited us, her children, from going anywhere outside the centro. All throughout my stay in Nabua for my high school education, the farthest I was able to go in what I now call my fieldsite, was the cemetery, which is a mere 1.3 km from our home. Fast forward to my research in Nabua, when I have finally broken my mother’s prohibition to explore the rest of our hometown. My first purchase was a cheap bicycle and on it during the cool hours before sunrise I began to explore the parts of Nabua outside of my grieving mother’s imposed comfort zone. The realization slowly dawned on me that the fieldsite to which I was returning, and where I imagined I would be gathering data, and photographing and filming the “intimate” everyday, was quite unfamiliar to me. How could I 57 research at this “home,” when its space and people were but distant strangers? And – equally – how could I film at this home where people are also my relations? Inherent in the academic forms of disciplining is learning how to create one’s own style of reductionist representation, a process that Gayatri Spivak (2010) has critiqued for reflecting “certain kinds of convictions” that render subjects of study as transparent or readable. This may occur even when the researcher intends to “do” academic labor for kin and acquaintances. The act of capturing lived experience through audiovisual technologies is not immune from this critique. Our ambitions for academic or creative productivity require serious discussion, along with our habits of knowledge production as created through what Marilyn Strathern (1987) calls “routine reflexivity.” Using examples from my fieldwork in my hometown, I discuss in this chapter the messy contexts that have led to what might be called “negative productions” – situations during which projects that are aimed at creating, delivering and sharing knowledge in written, visual, or other forms, become unmade, unsettled, folded up, declared failed or unrealized.27 I wrote in my Ph.D. proposal that I would be audiovisually recording daily life in Nabua, as well as conversations and interviews with research participants, contingent on their consent. I wished to use the audiovisuals in looking at both quotidian and spectacular events in my hometown to contribute to scholarship that pushes for the understanding of particularly local practices such as kinship, ritual, etc., as simultaneously global and intimate (Pratt and Rosner 27 I am not alone in drawing attention to the negative, absence, failings, silences, collapses, disappearance, and other negative descriptors. Fatima Tobing Rony (1996, 212) in fact points out that a central theme in the works by non-Western filmmakers is their “not-photographing (of) certain subjects, whether profane or sacred.” In her auto-ethnographic account of the Jewish-Cuban diaspora, Ruth Behar (2013, 19) evocatively writes that sometimes even the worthiest of stories can “vanish without leaving a trace, as if they never existed.” 58 2012). Following phenomenological scholarship (Ahmed et al. 2003; Fabian 1990; M. Jackson 2013) that has pushed for a nuancing of the lived experience, my initial idea was to use the audiovisual in reflecting on intimacy in rigorous ways. I also wrote that these could be used in “fleshing out narratives, daily life, and (other) events” that are now inflected by migration. But arriving in Nabua, locally valued concepts such as “supog” (shame) and the respondents’ ideas of self-representation, as well as my concerns with maintaining social relations, point to the discomforting potential of academic creative practices, especially when involving and directed to my kababayans. In the following section, I write about the impact that these mobilities have had on my academic creative practice. I then describe two “negative productions” from my fieldwork: the non-screening of my film “Baad ng Pauno” (Docot 2009), and the non-filming of one of the many events to which I had access. In my discussion, I reflect on the “non-productive” effects of researching in the intimate hometown on academic creative ambitions and on the ways that place-based concerns about “relational accountability” (S. Wilson 2001) affect knowledge production. In the conclusion, I bring up the hauntings of knowledge production (Fabian 1990) as we remove ourselves from our hometowns to return to our work as authors. For one researching the hometown, this crisis often includes the emotionally laborious weighing of accountability for kin and other relations. 2.2 Researching Migration at Home My overseas education and the increased integration of many of my kin in the urban and global economy have informed my interests centered on Filipino migration. My intention is to study the effects of migration at home, as a way of addressing the gap in the existing literature (Chapter 1). However, our intentions sometimes do not unfold as imagined and as 59 anthropologist-turned-conceptual artist Susan Hiller (1985) has stated, intentionality is but “an interesting fallacy.” At the end of my first year of fieldwork in Nabua, I reported to my dissertation supervising committee, “My filming in Nabua so far has been limited to publicly held events. The filming of personal life involved in migration is tough even at this point. I am realizing that the filming of everyday family life is in some ways exploitative, and I am finding it hard to explain to my potential film ‘subjects’ the purpose of my filming…” During fieldwork, I began to doubt my rigor as researcher. I wondered whether my retreat from plans for ethnographic documentation and creative work were simply effects of demotivation, or even laziness. Below, I present a write-up of the two negative productions during my fieldwork at home to elaborate this cryptic email. 2.3 Non-Screening: Baad ng Pauno I returned to Nabua for research but also with plans to screen my film Baad ng Pauno, a 30-minute film documenting my mother’s two-day preparation for her application for a tourist visa at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The film was made before I entered my doctoral studies, and by the time that I returned to Nabua, it had already been shown in various venues in the Philippines and overseas.28 I hoped to bring the film home as a tool for self-reintroduction.29 I was also motivated by the desire to “share” my work along Jean Rouch’s idea of “shared anthropology” (Henley 2009), by ambitions to inspire creative production at home, and to hopefully open up conversations on the prevalence of migration from Nabua. But in Nabua and 28 The worldwide screening was in 2009, under a contract with a Filipino satellite TV channel that caters to overseas Filipino subscribers. 29 The couple whose homecoming story and whose family participated in the ton-ton ritual (Chapter 4) brought up during my initial request to interview them that they had seen Baad ng Pauno in their home in Seattle. 60 in other small towns where the American project of “benevolent assimilation” has crafted familial goals of producing educated workers embedded in the wage economy, art is often seen as “uda kamutangan” (useless). It is also commonly heard that artists belong to the category of “sa kinapay” (the crazies). The plan to screen my film back home revealed to me how our academic creative work, complicated by our often intertwining subject positions (as researcher, neighbor, kin, and others), could unfold in messy ways. The film opens with my mother dressed in a polka-dot dress, preparing to steam rice. She stands next to the small kitchen counter of the apartment that I had been renting in Manila. My voice behind the camera is heard, “Ma, let’s practice!,” referring to our rehearsals for her visa interview. In another scene, she asks annoyed, “Why are you taking videos of my wrinkled feet?” She follows this up laughing, “I’ll make you take videos of my vagina so others can see the scars you gave me when you were born.” A few minutes into the film, my mother begins to talk to me through the camera in a mix of sentimentality, wit and sarcasm. In one scene, the film cuts to a photograph of my newly born niece. This transitions to a medium shot of my mother who gestures with her hand, as if holding the photograph to show it to an embassy officer during an interview, “This is my first grandson, I don’t want to see him in picture alone, I want to see him and kiss him!” My mother looks at the space off-frame in quiet contemplation. She steps out of this moment of feeling, and practices a spiel which she would not dare say to the consul in real life: “If you don’t pass me, this will be my last. I don’t want to be interviewed by you fools!” My mother is among the many people of Nabua whose dreams about mobility have been greatly influenced by the first migrations of our navy men. But the route for those who are not direct descendants of navy men is potentially a difficult one. As ambitions for the “American Dream” are reflected in everyday life in Nabua, I imagined that the film would resonate with the 61 experiences of many Nabueños. Rather unexpectedly, my mother retracted the consent that I received earlier to screen the film in several venues in the Philippines and overseas. It was not immediately clear to me why a film that has already circulated elsewhere could not be warmly welcomed home. 2.4 Non-Filming: Fleet Reserve Association’s (FRA) Elections On the 24th of April 2014, some of the members of the FRA Branch 127 in Nabua gathered to elect new officers. Uncle William announced the opening of the nominations for the elections.30 Looking at me, he said, “We vote without the ladies,” referring to their wives. A retiree turned and mockingly pointed his finger at me (the only “lady” in the room), and giggled. After former FRA president Manoy Nick seconded the motion, Uncle William excitedly raised his own hand and nominated Mr. Ballester. Amid his shipmates’ enthused ramblings, Mr. Ballester spoke tersely, “I respectfully decline the nomination.” An uproar of “Why?” was heard. Looking dejected, he replied, “Because I have a disability.” But instead of offering sympathy, his shipmates erupted into laughter. “We all have disability!” Uncle William exclaimed. Mr. Ballester reasoned further, “I cannot handle the position. I cannot hear well.” Somebody asked, “What do you mean you cannot hear, what is wrong with your ear?” Uncle Pio, their treasurer and youngest member at age 61 and who sat beside Mr. Ballester, comically cupped his ear and said, “What?!” Once again, a roar of laughter erupted in the room. Mr. Moreno, the group’s advocate for social dancing, said, “I will volunteer as your VP if you accept your presidency.” 30 I called those who have expressed kinship or other non-consanguineal connections with my family “uncle” or “grandfather” (“Lolo”) and those who share some connections with my family, “Manoy” (elder brother). I called members of the club Mister or Sir if we have not established direct kinship ties or other connections. These terms of respect were flexible and also depended on what the retirees’ preferences. “Manoy” and “Manay” are honorific terms in Nabua used to refer men and women, respectively, who are older than the speaker. 62 He added, “In fact, my other ear can also no longer hear!” Uncle William gave his own advice, “Your disability does not disqualify you from being elected because we all have disability.” Realizing that he cannot escape the nomination, Mr. Ballester tried harder, “There is another physical disability. It’s a new one which the doctor just told me about.” Laughter filled the room again. Uncle Pio motioned to his chest as if he is having a heart attack. Mr. Ballester, in a serious tone, gave one last reason for declining the nomination, “If we have a member called by the Supreme Commander, it gets very difficult.” Upon saying this, the teasing mood immediately faded into an awkward silence. Manoy Nick asked, “Why, it affects you?” Mr. Ballester, we began to understand, was anxious about being president not only because of his weakening health, but because his role would hardly ever include planning homecomings and extravagant dances that the FRA was once famous for. Mr. Ballester replied, “Yes, it’s a very difficult job.” Trying harder to convince his shipmate, Uncle William argued, “Just imagine, you are leading 83 retired officers and marines. It is something to be proud of.” Mr. Ballester said that in case the job becomes stressful, there might be no one to help him. Mr. Moreno assured Mr. Ballester, “I will be here. If I am not here, I am just at the “bulangan” (cockfight arena),” leading everyone to an explosive laughter. With their membership base thinning, the duties of the FRA president now mostly include being responsible for organizing hospital visits, or upcoming farewells for their shipmates’ voyage into the next world. They are running out of members to recruit. Uncle William once told me that their “species” is nearing extinction – a subject that I return to in Chapter 3. Prior to arriving in Nabua, I imagined being guided by decolonizing research methods that provided insights into how to become more sensitive to the culture and people that you are researching. I thought that the metaphor of the snowball in recruiting research participants 63 seemed unsuitable in a tropical country! I was attracted to the categorization of the two main kinds of researchers in the Philippines into ‘ibang-tao’ (not one of us) and ‘hindi-ibang-tao’ (one of us) (Pe-Pua and Protacio-Marcelino 2000; Pe-Pua 2006). Identifying already very close to the “one of us” category, I hoped to settle comfortably within the “one of us” zone and eventually collect data more easily. During my first home visit to Uncle William’s house, he suggested that I should make a documentary film about them. He had also prepared an outline titled “For Dollar Town – Feedback,” which I examine further in Chapter 3. As my research with the U.S. Navy in Nabua proceeded, I learned that the themes in Uncle William’s outline and those told by his shipmates, were centered on the positive accounts of their lives. “Don’t include that,” one told me in a hushed tone upon learning that I had interviewed his shipmate who had submitted fraudulent documents in their youth just to join the U.S. Navy. “Are you a communist or what?,” another asked when I asked them to clarify what seemed like frictions in their allegiance to the U.S. with their identities as Philippine-born retirees in Nabua (Figure 2.4.1). Uncertain how to negotiate the ways that the retirees want to be memorialized in my ethnography with the critical literature on empire, war, and the military, I found it increasingly difficult to take up the work of rigorous audiovisual documentation. Such a method, that I had thought would be relatively easy as an “insider,” seemed to further emphasize the distance between me as a researcher and these men who proudly served in the U.S. Navy. It turned out that how relations unfold in the field is much messier than the “one of us/not of us” binary that I had read about before returning to Nabua. 64 Figure 2.4.1 Entangled American and Philippine flags at the FRA Branch 127 being readied for a flag-raising ceremony. How can we understand these two negative productions? Below, I continue to discuss forces that exerted pressure on my work. First, I reflect on how the local value of supog (shame) materially pressed upon my intentions to screen my film in Nabua. Second, I think about authoring an account of relations inextricably linked to place. The importance of place in Nabua manifests in the term “ginikanan” which translates as both place of origin and descent. In my two accounts on negative production discussed above, we discern ways by which the conversions of “findings into artefact” (Strathern 1987, 28) also simultaneously involve the act of making aspects of one’s research recede. In the conclusions, I discuss how the relational forces of supog and ginikanan are forms of careful and empathic sensing of other people’s concerns and 65 predicaments. The empathic route may lead one to retreat from knowledge production, moving efforts at rigorous data gathering and sharing towards negative productions. 2.5 The Force of Supog in the Non-Screening of Baad ng Pauno Many scholars have deployed visuals as cues in complicating our understanding of relationships, sensibilities, interpersonal activities, and the realm of the experiential (El Guindi 2004; Pink 2006). Audiovisual production cultivates socialities between people who surround the camera (MacDougall 2006), and delivers “implicit and multi-sensorial dimensions” at the same time that it also enriches the process of witnessing and theorizing (Torresan 2011). The production and experience of the visual also affect people in ways that challenge the visualist mode of appreciation in the West (Naficy 2001; Edwards 2005; Marks 2007). However, critique and theorization of the audiovisual often come after the production of an intended output. The kinds of relationships and the dimensions of positionalities that could undo or unsettle an intended academic creative project need to be further problematized. In particular, my retreat to negative productions leads to a culture-specific discussion of interpersonal relations that potentially broadens the discussion of empathy with our informants. This realization needs to be framed within Philippine personhood theory, to reflect on the implications that locally operating values may have for our data gathering and other pursuits during fieldwork.31 My mother said, “Nagsupog na” (It will be so shameful), when I first mentioned my intention to screen the film in Nabua. My mother’s identities as a desperate seeker of an 31 I am aware that some critics have dismissed indigenous psychology for carrying the dangerous card of nativist essentialism. I am more inclined to follow E. San Juan (2006, 52–54) who writes about indigenous theorizing in the Philippines as “a Filipino response…to continuing U.S. interference in Philippine society, culture, and politics...it is not equivalent to nativization since it involves a radical political program to democratize the social structure and its undergirding fabric of norms, beliefs, and constitutive behavioral elements…” 66 American tourist visa and as a sentimental grandmother that are projected in Baad ng Pauno starkly contrast with the unwavering spirit that she projects in Nabua as a respected elder who has a record of 13 years of political service as head of our barangay. Supog, which is translated to ‘hiya’ in Filipino, has equivalence in other parts of the Philippines. Jaime Bulatao (1964, 426) observes that hiya is often simplistically translated as “shame,” but more than that, it is “a painful emotion” that has “soul-shaking” effects when it threatens to mar one’s ego and sense of self-worth. It “is a kind of anxiety, a fear of being left exposed, unprotected, and unaccepted” (Bulatao 1964, 428). Meanwhile, Fenella Cannell (1999) finds that in the Bicol region, hiya is positively valued and therefore to be called shameless is a very serious accusation. Emil Tabbada (2005) grounds hiya differently, linking it to the value of honor. Therefore, the viling of another person’s honor is injurious to the larger social world in which a person is embedded. Jocano (1997) argues that hiya is not a value, but is instead a dominant norm that prescribes how people should act and behave in relation to each other and therefore, it is concerned not only with the maintenance of relationships, but with care for feelings. In Baad ng Pauno, an uncle’s unsuccessful visa application was brought up. The reason for the visa rejection, said my aunt who is one of the only two characters appearing in the film, must have been my uncle’s thick gold necklace which could get struck by lightning and which could cause fires all over America! My aunt also mentioned the case of a great aunt’s five-time visa rejection. In relatively small towns like Nabua, it is difficult to keep secrets where residents can claim relations. Unable to empathize with my mother’s worries about the responses that the film may elicit from our relatives, her peers and former constituents, I countered my mother’s refusal to screen the film. I told her that the film only reveals the “real” as visa refusal as a fact of life in Nabua. During my fieldwork in Nabua, I helped with the visa applications of my brother, a 67 neighbor, and my mother’s two siblings – and only my brother was successful in his attempt. Also holding ideas about how artistic engagements by academics have nurtured conversations and relations, and sometimes even spur action (Rouch and Feld 2003; MacDougall 2006), I initially contested my mother’s arguments about the supog that a public screening of the film could engender. I doubted my mother’s worries about the gossip that a film screening would generate, especially in regard to individuals whose local status, wealth, and prestige, did not translate to an ability to cross the great American borders. But during fieldwork, I saw how my mother’s position as a retired local politician has granted me easy access to many events, spaces, and relations. In March 2013, we were invited to the home of a family in one of the outskirt villages in Nabua to watch the annual reenactment of the Last Supper. In this religious celebration, the parish priest of the nearby church played the role of the Jesus Christ and the duly costumed “twelve disciplines” around him were barangay leaders and patrons. Noticing my mother in the audience, the owner of the house, who was dressed as one of Jesus Christ’s discipline, invited her to join them at the table, to partake in the rich feast of wine, roasted pig and native delights that followed shortly after the ceremonies. I kidded my mother afterwards that she was the 13th and the only female disciple, and she proudly beamed. During the municipal electoral campaigns in April 2013, upon learning that I was not receiving replies when I called the mobile number for the mayoral candidate that she had earlier given me, my mother advised me to text instead from her phone, prefacing this with, “This is ex-captain Lydia Docot.” Within seconds, a response came in acknowledging receipt of the message that I had typed. A text detailing the party’s campaign route which was otherwise private for security reasons was quickly received on my mother’s phone. The next day, I was picked up from our apartment by a tricycle adorned by colorful political campaign posters, a ride that I 68 shared with the candidate’s wife.32 The next month, my mother accompanied me to the house of the vice governor whom she said was her “best friend.” Arriving at the vice governor’s residence early in the morning, I was struck by the crowd of at least a hundred waiting at the gate hoping to personally deliver their requests to the vice governor. A lady in the crowd told me that she wanted to ask the vice governor to be the baptismal godfather of her newborn which she held in her arms. An old woman from the town of Bula (about 15 kilometers away from Nabua) said that it is her fifth attempt to see the vice governor to ask for money so she could have electricity installed in their home. The private homes of political figures turn into sites where the powerful and the powerless negotiate patronage. With the disbursement of public funds transacted in the realm of the politicians’ homes, government transactions transform into intimate negotiations between patrons and their clients/voters. Unlike the other clients who fell in line for their names and requests to be listed on the visitors’ logbook, my mother and I quietly slipped into the wooden door that led us to the living room of the politician’s home. There we were met by the vice governor himself who greeted my mother with a friendly kiss on her cheek. Village captains like my mother are often mediators between high-level politicians and the ordinary townsfolk. At first I thought that my mother sometimes exaggerated the weight of her political influence and the intimacy of her relations with others, because after all, she held only a local political position that had little power outside the bounds of Nabua. Pioneer of Philippine “liberation psychology” Virgilio Enriquez (2008, 57) writes that one’s self-evaluation may be “puffed up with self-importance,” sometimes clashing with how society evaluates the person. As 32 A tricycle is a motorized public utility vehicle commonly used in the Philippines that is comparable to an auto rickshaw. 69 my mother’s responses to my proposal to screen Baad ng Pauno at home show, her desire for self-representation became more pronounced with the prospect of her story becoming re-embedded in her social world at home. In one scene, my mother practices her interview at the embassy by answering questions that she imagined might be asked by the consul: “How much do you earn?” She follows this with, “Ay, very small, but I want also to serve!” My mother received a monthly honorarium of only about USD90 during her service as barangay captain. The power that one derives from holding barangay leadership loses its relevance when converted to monetary benefits. But my mother also knew that her income was also often redistributed to her constituents as donations to wakes and funerals, festivals, and hospitalization, among others. Just as I initially undervalued her self-understood importance, I also underestimated her worries about her expressed “dangers” of Baad ng Pauno when screened at home – home being a relational space where her consanguineal and ritual ties are strong and stable. I failed to realize that my mother’s worries about supog that could injure the ego, hurt other people’s feelings, or disturb local social relations, were her preferred modes of self-representation that are linked to her valuation of herself and others’ valuation of her status in Nabua. However, my mother’s desire to protect her self-evaluated status by shielding it from supog also clashed with her ambitions for her children to continue to accumulate social and cultural capital through their education and urban and overseas mobilities. In fact, she decided to run for village office to avail of the benefits stipulated in Republic Act No. 7160 of the Local Government Code of 1991, under which the dependents of public officials can take advantage of up to 90 percent reductions from their matriculation fees in state colleges and universities. She also calculates the ventures of her four children spread out in Manila and three countries, whom she raised by herself upon the untimely death of her husband, as linked to her own retirement 70 prospects. In the film, she says that in New Zealand (where one of my sisters lived during the time of filming), she was “happily bored, simply enjoying life....” Resting from practicing her lines to be delivered to the consul, she turns away from the camera and says, “I have been so poor. Now that I have grown old, and my children are all abroad, I want to reap the fruit of my labor. I want to reap the fruits!” My mother knows that my becoming artist-scholar has become increasingly disassociated from the category of the “crazies” as it manifests increasingly in Nabua as a step into the world of the educated and cultured elite. Nabua is located in the district of Rinconada which literally means “corner.” In the Bicol region in which Nabua is located, intellectual elites and their cultural production often come from the larger cities while “smaller” towns such as Nabua, and the even more peripheral island towns such as Catanduanes and Masbate, remain on the fringes. My mother recognized Baad ng Pauno as a material that represents to the world a Nabueño story crafted by her own daughter who has some exciting adventures to share just like the well-travelled U.S. Navy men. Calculating the degree of support she can offer to me while diminishing her own concerns, she began to negotiate or compromise supog. Evaluating her position and succumbing to my arguments made no longer as a disobedient child but as a scholar, my mother let her worries about being subjected to supog recede, and finally agreed to my proposal. Her agreement, however, came with conditions. I was to censor the few seconds when the names of those whose visas had been rejected were mentioned. In her opinion, a public screening would be insane and she suggested that I invite only about 20 guests to our apartment for an intimate screening (Figure 2.5.1). Perhaps wanting to escape unwanted attention, my mother asked for the event to be held after she departed again for California. I began to realize that for my mother, the stories of migration and the anxieties and insecurities 71 imbued in them, need not become objects of spectacle in Nabua. For my mother, it is better that my academic creative output, especially when intended for consumption at home, not mirror the real. Figure 2.5.1 Unused invitation to screen films during fieldwork at home I began to understand that when carried back home, Baad ng Pauno is potentially an injurious liability. Reflecting on her responses, I decided to back out from the “exclusive” screening of the film in Nabua. It was my responsibility to care for my mother’s concerns, but it is also part of my self-reflexive work as a postcolonial researcher to continuously learn how to be attentive to the ways that emotions press upon my work – sometimes to the point of negative 72 production. Beyond an empathic understanding of her predicament, I argue that the process of understanding the events surrounding the plans to screen Baad ng Pauno in Nabua must involve a reflection on the intermingling of supog (or other values) with the very work of knowledge production. John Brough (2011, 197) writes that film, like phenomenology, is not merely descriptive, rather, it articulates what is deemed by the author to be essential. He says that as a “prepared particular,” film works as a “richly complex image created precisely to present something” (198). Brough argues that films privilege a particular narrative and therefore a selected reconstruction of a larger reality. This is related to visual anthropologist David MacDougall’s (2006) view that film must be contemplated beyond serving as a tool for documenting communities. MacDougall proposes to investigate the “multidimensionality of the subject itself” and to consider film in the “realm of interpersonal relations” (50). Brough’s and MacDougall’s approach to film are useful in reflecting about how narratives – the trope of the “American Dream” depicted in Baad ng Pauno, for example – become solidified in our work. Listening to our subjects’/respondents’/collaborators’ multiple responses to our work may tell us how supog and other values may be felt and expressed to different degrees in various times and spaces. As I have learned, as long as the film is circulated outside Nabua, my mother sees the film harmless to the honor that she protects and projects in our hometown. With these lessons in mind, my suggestion is that we look at retreats to negative productions as empathic routes for being/becoming in relation with others. Negative productions open spaces into which we could roll back from individualized Western subjectivity to an axiology that considers our relationality with others. For Strathern (1987), the kind of author that one “becomes” is not determined by an act of will but in part by the kinds of representations that researchers end up producing. This means that intentionality becomes displaced by the 73 researcher’s constructivist reading of “culture.” Further, the researcher’s rendering may end up being unreadable by the people from which data had been extracted. Strathern observes that an author eventually ends up writing not so much for those they study, but for their academic colleagues who are the audience of highly specialist accounts. In light of this disjuncture between intentionality and end product, Strathern writes that what is significant is the way the writer “becomes author in relation to those being studied” (26, italics in original). While I initially worried that my surrender to non-screening was leaving negative impressions on my larger fieldwork in Nabua, I venture that the non-screening of Baad ng Pauno was productive in respecting my mother’s feelings and concerns about self-representation that were oriented towards maintaining social relations. Feelings associated with shame (and other expressions we may encounter) often are not immediately recognizable as they may be articulated subtly, sometimes in non-revelatory cultural codes which certainly point to difficulties in “reading” or studying intimacy. On the other hand, the dangers of supog are often explicitly verbalized by those concerned about its possible adverse effects. Considering autoethnographic reflections on the anxiety-inducing process of becoming authors and in sensing interpersonal relations, I finally refer to Indigenous scholar Shawn Wilson’s (2001, 176–77) research paradigm where he writes about methods as needing to be constantly checked so that “I am not just gaining in some abstract pursuit; I am gaining knowledge in order to fulfill my end of the research relationship.” I continue these conversations below by suggesting that place exerts force in this process that may lead to negative productions, should we hold on to our fieldsites as spaces where our past, current and future relations are grounded. 74 2.6 The Force of Ginikanan in the Non-Filming of the FRA Elections On the day that I first came to introduce myself to the retirees, FRA president Uncle William added that my great granduncle, Cleto Descalso, was a navy man and philanthropist in Nabua. With my consanguineous links to their respected shipmate, I was welcomed to observe their meetings, which none of their “ladies” are allowed to attend. But researching elders at the hometown could be a taxing enterprise because of the pressure to produce critical academic work while remaining sensitive to their age, disabilities, and to their concerns about how to be remembered. Researchers learn individualist ways of knowledge accumulation and production through different forms of disciplining. Many scholars have already problematized their locations as “natives” returning to study their home communities (D’Alisera 1999; Kim 1990; Kondo 1990; Moss 2001; Motzafi-Haller 1997; Reed-Danahay 1997), supporting Strathern’s (1987, 16) observation that research at home “can recede infinitely.” Scholars have written about how de/familiarization, un/masking of degrees of nativity, and emotional dis/engagement, may be deployed for the purposes of data collection at home. Others have also written about the “slipperiness of nativity” that opens up “exploitative potential” when (Jackson 2004) returning to their own communities to film friend-informants.33 There are those such as Liam Buckley (2005) who suggest a new kind of interpretation of the fieldsite as a site of postcolonial contestation. More specifically, on the decaying photographic archives of The Gambia, Buckley proposes to 33 Jackson thinks that desires for a “shared anthropology” (Rouch and Feld 2003) are possible but his solution is antithetical to the ethnographic work of rigorous documentation. Instead, he proposes that sharing could be possible through the creation of an archive that is intentionally neither ethnographic nor academic. 75 consider culture-specific perceptions on materiality that leave impressions on how Gambians care, or do not care, for their colonial archives.34 This brings me to contemplating how researchers of communities other than their own have resolved some of the dilemmas that they faced. Some have recognized their outsider status (Gilbert 1994), while others hold on to their politics and intentions despite the strains that their research bears upon their relations and everyday lives (Katz 1994).35 Gillian Rose (1997, 305) is doubtful of “transparent reflexivity” as an effective route in recognizing and situating locatedness in relation to research participants.36 Kim England (1994) writes of the discomfort in issues of appropriation and power that are inherent in academic production, even for those who are intent on translating their academic work into political action.37 Birgitt Röttger-Rössler (1993) reflects on the biases that we carry to the field that frame our ambitions to collect data.38 Some have become suspicious of their disciplines such as Donna Jean Young (2005, 209) who, after a falling out with her friend-informant, began to think of anthropology as an “impolite discipline.” 34 For instance, Buckley writes that posthumous bequests remain a major challenge for the Gambian archival project, because for one, caring for the left-behind property (including photographs) of the deceased is a private affair and not a civic duty. Second, entering into a gifting and reciprocal relationship with the state, which for the Gambians does not assume an anthropomorphic form, is a rather strange practice. 35 More particularly, Melissa Gilbert (1994) began to place the word “home” in quotes, realizing that her experiences and location based on race, class and profession, finally mark her as an outsider even in her home city. Facing a similar dilemma, Cindy Katz (1994) found that by focusing on the common structures of dominance in our places of study, researchers may be able to conduct a “politically committed research that is true to its intent” (70). 36 Admitting that figuring situatedness is “an extremely difficult thing to do,” Rose suggests that uncertainties and anxieties arising from self-reflexivity could also weigh down on academic work, leading to what she calls knowledge production from a “sense of failure” (305–306). 37 In her research about lesbians in Toronto, England read the community leaders’ non-response to her phone calls as cues of their disinterest in participating in her project. In the end, she dropped her project and called it “failed research.” She thought that she might be colonizing lesbians by researching them as a white straight professor. 38 Röttger-Rössler’s requests frequently fell on deaf ears as not a single villager was willing to speak about their own lives. She dropped the project eventually, realizing that actions and events, rather than the work of the individual, are more prominently highlighted in her respondents’ narratives. 76 Linking this kind of literature to research on the Philippines, F. Landa Jocano (1997, 10) points out that the difference between those who study others and those who study their own community, lies in the ways that the latter “labor under a heavy psychological burden.” Jocano thinks about the difficulty in evading the consequences of actions also as kin, neighbor, and member of the same community. Within such contexts, Jocano suggests that one tends to take extra care to maintain harmonious relations with others. Given these conversations, I suggest that the process of self-reflexive thinking could consider more carefully the production of critical work when we study in fieldsites where we trace our roots and life-long relations. Through thinking about place, we might find new routes in bearing in mind relationships that we might want to give space for flourishing. How must I then film the U.S. Navy men who expressed excitement in their stories being recorded on film? In documenting the stories of the U.S. Navy men in Nabua, I felt crippled by the demands of producing a decolonizing approach to the study of Filipino migration which Robyn Rodriquez (2016) suggests must be linked to the American project of empire-building. Catherine Lutz (2006), in her study of American intervention in the Philippines, suggests that it is the task of anthropologists to produce ethnographies that highlight that the “empire is in the details.” The expectations of academia to produce searing analytical work often clashed with relational practices at home, for example, of kinship and generational respect. Uncle William had told me that we are kin because in the 70s my grandfather had purchased farm land from his father. He said that one sold property only to a relative because who would want to share a community with a stranger? Uncle Pio told me that my grandparents were his godparents for their wedding. Clarifying my genealogy, a retiree told me that one of my elders was a member of the guerilla movement during the Japanese occupation. He refused to elaborate saying, “Oh, 77 never mind, they might get angry at you. This might be a personal issue.” On another occasion, as I handed my calling card to an FRA Branch 127 retiree, he excitedly grinned to tell me that his departed brother was “linked” to my mother.39 I exclaimed automatically the name of my mother’s childhood love. The only son of an “ancient mariner” – the term that retirees use in describing older shipmates – this man once held a historic position as the first Filipino-American chief of the Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG).40 Sitting beside him in their home, I shied away from asking pointed questions on Philippine-American bilateral relations as surrounding family members playfully inquired why I had turned down the affection of their nephew during our high school days. “Personal” stories from the past flowed into conversations, stalling interviews but also enlivening them. The degrees of intimacy brought up during my exchanges with the FRA elders and their kin as well as by my own kin, hinted at a common rootedness in Nabua but also at the fragility of relations. At a funeral rite held at the town’s church, an aunt saw me perform bisa to a whole group of navy retirees all seated on one pew. My aunt passed by my mother’s apartment in the same afternoon to remind me in between jokes that I should be careful in performing such displays of respect because people might think that I am fabricating kinship with the town’s wealthiest elders. In Nabua, showing gestures of reverence for the elders is still very much an observed tradition, but accumulated wealth, class, and migration histories, have already interceded with its public performance. I began to understand that just as I tapped into these relations to access the elite group of the FRA Branch 127 elders for research purposes (i.e., by 39 The word “link” is used in Philippine show business to refer to love teams or couples. 40 Established in 1947, JUSMAG is the agency tasked to oversee U.S.-Philippine agreements on military training and financing, humanitarian aid, and others. The chief of JUSMAG also plays a key role as adviser to the U.S. Ambassador to the Philipines (Gittler 2004). 78 recalling to them my kinship with Lolo Cleto), they also built or emphasized degrees of affiliations with me and my relations. This was a form of articulating their expectations of respect for their preferred ways of memorialization. As Uncle William proudly exclaimed, “Nabua has become synonymous with sailors.” Despite this, many retirees are concerned that their contributions might fizzle out as their “species” approaches “extinction.” Lolo George lamented, “So every time I’m reading the papers, they always mention the OFWs. What about the retired navy?” In a context where age and health threaten life in retirement, memory-making in the hometown becomes an important project. The two war memorial monuments at the centro (Chapter 1) offer conflicting historical narratives about Nabueño-American cooperation and Filipino martyrdom during WWII. Such contradictions are also reflected in the elders’ assessment of their current identities as American citizens who want to enjoy their remaining days in their land of birth. As we sat in his brother’s (also a U.S. Navy man) penthouse of a building in Nabua that was built from dollar pensions, a retiree told me, “I am always a Filipino at heart, at first… But America is not my enemy.” The accounts of retirees in Nabua differed starkly from accounts of those who have retired in the U.S., with the latter focusing on feelings of discontent, racialization and feminization in the navy (Espiritu 2002, 2003). Former navy man Ray L. Burdeos (2008) writes about his experiences of political disenfranchisement by having pledged allegiance, but not citizenship, to the United States.41 Narratives similar to Burdeos’ also sometimes appeared in the stories told by the retirees in Nabua but these conflicted with their 41 Burdeos also gives an account of colonial policies that cultivated the systematic racialization of Filipinos in the U.S. Navy, such as the Cooper Act of 1902, which restricted Filipinos from many aspects of political and daily life while remaining U.S. colonial subjects, and the Antimiscegenation Law of 1926. 79 celebrated status as epitomes of success in the town, and with what they would like to have recorded in the first anthropological ethnography of our common hometown. Uncle William told me about his dream of commissioning a mural painting for their headquarters that will depict their collective narrative. To be titled “Carabao Boy’s Dream of Success,” the mural will show a boy riding a water buffalo that is surrounded by thought balloons showing the many adventures and accomplishments that retirees now take pride in, like travel, having married the town’s most beautiful women, land ownership, and mansions built from their salaries and pensions. They are glad to have escaped from tenant farming, and they wish for other Nabueños to someday have the same opportunity should their wish for the reinstallation of the American Naval Bases in the Philippines come true. Their “painful” experiences in the U.S. Navy that I hoped to collect – a “conviction” that I held, following Spivak – refused to come out in their self-chronicling. Their recollections that favored the positive over critical accounts are reminiscent of the words of Marc Augé (2004, 3) on oblivion, “One must know how to forget in order to taste the full flavor of the present, of the moment, and of expectation…” The vignette on the FRA Branch 127 elections described above is only one of the many moments during which conversations among retirees retain light-heartedness even when discussing sensitive topics such as disability and death. But the jovial mood in FRA meetings also tend to eclipse tones of melancholia – the kind of mood that is often aestheticized and metaphorized in Third World cinema (Marks 2007). Collecting “death aid” was the most consistently brought up topic in the FRA meetings that I attended. On January 26, 2014, unable to decide as a group the best way to show their condolences to their shipmates’ left-behind kin, Uncle William mediated, “I think we are being emotional with this issue.” Some wanted to 80 donate individually to the bereaved, while some preferred to donate as a group because “the use of FRA is also for publicity.” To calm down the heated discussion about how to, as Lolo George said, “give a face and spirit to the donation,” they resolved that to keep talking about it is “paligsok” – a bad omen that could invite death. At a home visit, Dr. A. Gimenez Fajardo, the only son of a Nabueño navy man who was killed during the bombing of Pearl Harbor and whose name is inscribed on the “Tablets of the Missing” memorial in the Manila American Cemetery, shed a tear when I asked him if he had discussed his father’s tragic death with his mother. “One does not rub fresh wounds,” he told me softly yet instructively. Laura Marks (2007, 57) writes about the films produced in the postcolonial period as sometimes difficult to read to “acknowledge the fact that the most important things that happened are invisible and unvisualizable.” While there are ways of translating the FRA elections and similar moments into film, I worried about the spectacularizing effect that it would bring, and that my rendering of their story would be disrespectful to the ways that they want to “ethnographize” themselves (Chow 1995, 180). If kinships could be fabricated in the same way that my aunt told me, they could also be disentangled. The fluidity of kinship materializes in Nabua in the use of the term “pag-iiba” which roughly translates to “still (my) kin.” One would say “pag-iiba ta pa yan” (We are still kindred) even if not sure (this is discussed further in Chapter 5, but with auto-ethnographic examples). Drawing attention to this is crucial because it directs us to the hard work that is put into maintaining relations at home. An identified kin, whether proximate or distant, when not acting within the relations expected of them, becomes identified as “iba” (other). It can be said the person is “iyan sa iba” (acting like other), connoting the person’s othering of the self by acting like a stranger. A person is identified as iba in situations, for example, when not greeting 81 someone even during a brief encounter on the streets, or when not responding to requests for support. A film that is not compatible with the elders’ projected optimist account would potentially render me as “iba man” (different). On the other hand, a person who remembers to care and who is empathic is called “marinumrom” (thoughtful, knowing). Those who have failed, or who refuse, to remember, are described as “iba na” (has become other) which means that the act of not remembering (“lingaw na” or they have already forgotten) make them fall away from a group, family, or any kind of social organization. Those who remember are applauded through affection, speech or commendation by members of the group and they are described as “tat-tao” (knowing), and are therefore “uragon” (excellent).42 Considering these, I realized the rigidity of the earlier categorization of Philippine researchers premised on the insider/outsider binary. I was conflicted that I might inflict injuries on the collective and individual labors of the FRA Branch 127 retirees in regrounding themselves in Nabua during their retirement. At home, to be called “iba na man” (has become other) especially by one’s elders will possibly create for me feelings of uprootedness from Nabua. But this feeling cannot be held individually as the self is often linked back to the social world of the family and the community – in the same way that my mother worried that the screening of Baad ng Pauno would bring supog and eventually impact her (and our family’s) modes of representation in relation with others. 42 The concept of the uragon as used in Nabua as well as in the larger Bicol region (‘orag’), is a value that alludes to one’s excellence in several aspects of life – excellence here may be related to skills, technical abilities, intelligence, and interpersonal relations, etc. Paz Santos (2004) provides a rich analysis of the concept of orag in the Bicol region as an aesthetic deployed by Bicolano artists. The concept of orag as used in everyday speech and experience still needs further investigation. 82 Therefore, negative productions such as the non-filming of the FRA elections had the effect of emplacing relations that would otherwise be rendered abstract through the individualizing process of research and academic creative production. Thinking about the fieldsite as common ginikanan, research becomes re-folded into a relational field. The conversations with FRA elders all point out that they returned to Nabua upon retirement not only to enjoy their hard-earned pensions in a small town where these could be exchanged for a bigger value, but also because it is in the ginikanan that they wish to be remembered kindly. Annually, on November 1st, relatives offer candles, prayers, and food to the deceased in Nabua’s Catholic cemeteries. Through their savings and pensions U.S. Navy men have built for themselves and their families Nabua’s most monumental mausoleums (Figure 2.6.1). “We are all getting old at 83, 85, 86,” Mr. Moreno said during the FRA elections as he pointed towards his shipmates of these ages. “Great if the rest could reach this age. Some will die earlier and we’d have to send you off to the cemetery,” and his shipmates giggled in response. In Nabua, not only the former U.S. Navy men hope that stories about lives that were lived well will be circulated and remembered. Meanwhile, the idea of the fieldsite as ginikinan to which I will be frequently returning, to reconnect with kin, childhood friends, and with my new kinships discovered and made, such as those with the FRA elders, looms over the research process, beckoning to be considered. 83 Figure 2.6.1 A navy man’s mausoleum in Nabua shaped liked a ship 2.7 Conclusions: Positively Valuing Negative Productions My desire as anthropologist was to “re-discover” my hometown beyond my comfort zone. I wrote in my fieldnotes in April 2013, “At just a few minutes before 7am, most of the farmers have already returned to their homes as they have finished their morning round of work…The morning mist is made more spectacular by the smoke from the pyres built by the villagers out of fallen leaves and twigs… A flock of wild geese passed by us and fed on the snails on the side of 84 the rice paddies, and they drank water that irrigate the land. Pretty view, and I snapped a shot” (Figure 2.7.1). A friend of my mother’s named Boni had biked with me to this farming village called La Purisima (The Purest). But he told me that up close, the story is not as pretty. “Life is tough here,” he said. During the typhoon season, these rice fields turn into a sea and residents take out their canoes to sail to safe ground. Towards the end of my fieldwork, I had biked through all of Nabua’s 42 barangays. Boni kept on reminding me that I should see beyond the centro and beyond the narratives of those who, like me and my mother, the migrants, and the U.S. Navy elders, have the privilege to leave. The more I “re-discovered” Nabua, the less frequently I carried my camera around. In Chapter 6, I write about crafts in Nabua, a venture that I started exploring as I increasingly put down my camera. Figure 2.7.1 A photograph taken on my first bike ride to one of Nabua’s farm areas 85 I have discussed in this chapter the discomforts and disorienting effects that an understanding of supog can cause to the extent that they can unmake our academic creative plans during fieldwork. Expectations for rigor and productivity clashed with my mother’s feelings of supog, leading to the re-orientation and re-negotiation of my increasingly individualized ambitions for sharing work in the hometown. The ethnographic vignette of the FRA elections that happened approximately a year after my return, illustrates some of the many moments in which I have opted out of visual documentation, despite the kinships and other connections that could have made access possibly easy to obtain. The non-screening of Baad ng Pauno has led to this writing up on some of the film’s contents and on some of the social relations that the plans for its screening engendered. This process revealed dimensions that are not discernible from the film itself. It is true that the intimate conversations brought up here about my mother’s and the FRA elders’ concerns end up in a public but inaccessible (for the people in my hometown) academic circulation. How might we think about this paradox? What happens when we finally remove ourselves from the field and return to the fact of inevitable authorship? Answering these questions requires a quick reflection on authoring the visual and the textual. Macdougall (2006) writes that the visual’s temporality preserves experiences “more concretely than writing does” (54). Brough (2011) meanwhile writes that films construct the world in a “unique and heightened way.” Others write how films engage viewers phenomenologically by creating the effect of being drawn to the movements happening on screen (Pink 2011), while they also encode power relations between the bodies that appear in them (Marks 2007). The visual also has the quality of open-endedness such that images are always subject to reinterpretation, while the academic text, “despite its caution and qualifications, is a discourse that advances always toward conclusions” 86 (MacDougall 2006, 6). But rather than focusing in this chapter on the differences between the visual and the textual such as their interpretation of knowledge, how they are received by audiences, and others, my arguments here have taken the route of reflecting on the intermingling of our subjects’ concerns about self-representation, reception of our work in various geographies and contexts, and our intentions in knowledge production. I have drawn from a phenomenology of the lived experience where the investigation inquires into relationalities and socialities (S. Wilson 2001; Edwards 2005). By drawing my attention to the worries of my mother about supog, and to the assertions of the retirees about how they want to be memorialized in the ginikanan, I came to think about the audiovisual not as an indispensable tool in contemporary ethnography, but as an artifact that has material effects on social relations. While Baad ng Pauno was screenable elsewhere, and while a film about the elders could contribute to evocative works on ageing and disappearance, as other anthropological films have done (Kaminsky and Myerhoff 1992; Nakamura 2010), centering empathy with the people whose stories are implicated in my narrative-making led me to eventually let go of my initial plans involving film. I agree with Fabian (1990) who foresees an eventual abandonment of “representationism” (similar to Spivak’s reductionism, but mainly pertaining to the ethnographic depiction of the “real”) to be replaced with praxis that is based on a dialogic experience with our subject of study. The ways of conveying such praxis, for Fabian, “would be those that transform that experience in a struggle with ‘means of production’ of discourse” (765). My idea of negative production involves this similar struggle in thinking about possible productivities in the eventuality of not-doing. My retreat from filming would only be perceived as non-productive if we were to insist on producing work within the often meticulous and critical demands of our disciplines. Indeed, 87 Fabian writes, “ethnographic representations that are (or pretend to be) isomorphic with that which is being represented should be met with suspicion” (765). In the two cases above, it has been inconsequential to debate the usefulness of this text over what could have been accomplished by a screening or a new film. To do so is to misunderstand negative productions as merely a derivative phenomenon of another work or event (screening or film), and to gloss over the force of supog, ginikanan, and others. When resolving conundrums that might take us to the path of negative production, Fabian’s suggestion is to think about “not-writing as part of writing,” or we could translate this to “not-doing as part of doing.” Fabian suggests to “dissociate these data from any scheme or purpose and to treat them as necessary but gratuitous, like the air we breathe...” (769). For Fabian, data that is not written are among the elements that “nourish” our disciplines, and like air, it is productive as we move forward in our respective fields. But I have not taken the route of simply not-writing/not doing. Rather, in a comparable sense, the two negative productions cited here were the paths that I have taken while in the field to be respectful of, and to be sensitive to, the concerns of people whose personal lives animate this ethnography of Nabua. Negative productions during fieldwork also led me to re-thinking my positionality as an “anthropologist of the hometown,” and have encouraged me to reflect on “routine reflexivity” (Strathern 1987). Self-reflexivity needs to include unsettling reflections on the eventuality of our authorship and participation in knowledge production. In the end, we bid our farewells to our family, friends, and informants, and we perhaps promise them another homecoming or visit. Returning to our desks and retreating from the face-to-face demands of maintaining our social relations with others, we put on our academic masks and go back to the task of authoring representation because it is “something that we actually do, as our praxis” (Fabian, 765). Should 88 we proceed to tread on our respective professional routes, the crafting of representation of others will be consistent in our everyday emotional, and hopefully productive, labor. Fabian writes about the eventuality of praxis as “...acting on, making, transforming (giving form to), not regrettably so or incidentally...but inevitably” (762–3). But Fabian also admits that his retreat to not-writing came after gaining considerable security in the academic world. Would negative productions then be doubly negative or simply impossible for those who are in the beginnings of their chosen careers? As Michael Lambek (2005) reflects, academic work is “(relatively) unalienated,” and it is a “life sentence” (237). Leaving the field and facing the inevitability of knowledge production can spur a crisis as it will require the inescapable transcendence of supog and the ginikanan. Different scholars have offered different advice. Bulatao (1964, 438) argues that it is possible to transcend values such as supog if one is a “mature, individuated person, sensitive to the feelings of others yet autonomous in his own right.” Bulatao’s description of a person who will be able to transcend shame describes authors trained to be sensitive to ethics and empathic to feelings and social relations and yet, within the cultivating powers of neoliberal disciplining, individuated and autonomous in knowledge production. Cannell (1999) writes of the transcendence of shame more positively, writing that feelings of it can be reduced, overcome, eliminated, and eventually set aside (208), leading to “almost-impossible acts of self-transformations” (223). Like Fabian (1990, 769), I would like to simply retreat to “not-writing” or to what I have called here negative production, and breathe in, and be nourished by, the raw data and lessons that I have gathered from my hometown. The transcendence of shame leading to self-transformation as Cannell puts it, seems like a promising prospect. This transcendence, however, ends up being consistently checked with the readiness to underplay the value of the ginikanan. 89 I am transnationally dis/located without a permanent address and I am most attached to Nabua. Constantly, I am perturbed by the prospect of facing my elders when I return home in the future. The transcendence of supog that I undertake through this writing carries the extra weight of obtaining what would be the family’s first “collectively earned” doctoral degree. To be in perpetual harmonious relation with my mother and with the FRA elders is what I certainly desire, but would the demands of my scholarly pursuits eventually lead to this desire’s languishing and retreat? Negative productions may have non-productive effects on our research ambitions, but at the same time, they create possibilities for re-thinking the ends of our work as intimately linked with a larger and messier social life. Therefore, following the call of scholars to decolonize research (Wilson 2001; Enriquez 2008), I suggest that we re-think relationality as a form of knowledge itself. Negative productions could unsettle and undo our academic creative work, yet as I have hopefully demonstrated here, they could also lead to a positive and productive contemplation of feelings, values and relations that should exert a force on our production. 90 Chapter 3: “Near-extinct, Endangered Species”: Retired U.S. Navy men and Memory-Making on the Verge of Disappearance 3.1 U.S. Memorial Day in Nabua On the 25th of May 2014 at the centro of Nabua, the members of the FRA Branch 127 commemorated the U.S. Memorial Day.43 Every year, retirees of the U.S. Navy gather in our hometown during this American federal holiday to pay respects to those who have served in the American military forces. The ceremony was held in front of the FRA Branch 127 Building, where two flagpoles stood in front of a strip of native santan bushes whose red umbels were in full bloom. Embedded in the wall and nestled between the two flagpoles is the cement relief of their organization’s logo that bears the initials for the Navy, Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, not of the Philippines’ but the United States.’44 While waiting for the ceremony to begin, the FRA elders exchanged greetings and updates using a mix of English and Rinconada and watched out for newly arriving shipmates and “ladies” – the term the retirees use to refer to their wives – in their private cars, some of which are already collectors’ items. Uncle Pio, the treasurer of the FRA Branch 127 and their youngest member at age 61, emerged from the hall, holding in his hands tasseled American and Philippine flags. Listed on the walls of the hall are the names of the 43 The FRA Branch 127 was established through the efforts of 15 men from Nabua who joined the Navy, and who returned as WWII veterans. The FRA building in Nabua is owned by the branch itself and constructed through the fundraising efforts of its earlier members. 44 Most of the retirees came dressed in their white-collared shirts that bear their organization’s logo on the left side of the chest. Unlike on other days, no funny shirts were worn, like the one with the organization’s logo on the front, and colorful text on the back that read: “Retirees know it and have plenty of time to tell you about it.” I once kidded someone who was wearing that design if he could later tell me about his story in the navy, and he grinned excitedly and quoted his shirt in response. 91 members of the local FRA branch, and over the years, crosses (“†”) had been added next to names of the deceased. Enclosing these walls is a vast dance floor. In my conversations with the elders, they fondly recalled those years when they were younger in the interwar years (between World War I and II), when they often had gatherings and danced in this hall with their ladies. It was also a time when the FRA Branch 127 could still hope for a steady flow of new members, as Philippine-American bilateral relations still allowed the recruitment of Filipinos to the American Navy. Many of the retirees returned to Nabua after their retirement, to make the most of their veteran pensions, and with the self-awareness that it is in this town that they wish to spend their remaining days. In the flagpole area, the retirees handled both the American and Philippine flags with great care: their tassels untangled, and their surfaces smoothed and cleaned of specks of dust. Somebody exclaimed: “Don’t let the flag touch the ground!” A street vendor driving a “padyak” filled with umbrellas and assorted plastic household wares slowed down to observe the three elders gathered around the Philippine flag. 45 Jeepneys, motorcycles, and private vehicles passed by, and their passengers c
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Anthropology of the hometown : the workings of migration and intimacy in the Town of Dollars, Philippines Docot, Ma Ledda Brina (Dada) 2018
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