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Read Abstract: “The Migrant Worker as Disposable Body" Testimonies from an NGO by Dr. Noel Moratilla

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Dr. Noel Moratilla, Assistant Professor @ UP Asian Center, presented his paper, The Migrant Worker as Disposable Body: Testimonial Narratives from a Non-Government Organization, at the ASEANnale 2018, which brought together the 1st Film and Multimedia Competition and Exhibition and the 2nd International Symposium on ASEAN Studies (2nd ISAS) from 28 February to 2 March 2018 at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman.

ABSTRACT

Lived experiences of social marginality necessitate the employment of tactics through which marginalized groups engage varied forms of exploitation, discrimination and abuse.   Among these tactics is the writing of testimonial narratives which serves as a discursive practice for marginalized sectors, such as Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs, to foreground their many-layered narratives of subalternity. With labor export as the Philippine State's de-facto job-generating mechanism, OFWs have become vulnerable to varied forms of abuse and oppression, as well as the concomitant psychological trauma. Using letters written by OFWs themselves and culled from the archives of Kanlungan Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization concerned with the welfare of migrant workers, this paper analyzes the letters according to a two-pronged concept of resistance, one that fuses the discourse of critique with that of affirmation and hope.  Specifically, the paper shows how the letters narrativize OFWs' experiences of victimization, as well as how such experiences dialectically create spaces for emancipatory possibilities and fuel the search for collective justice.  Finally, I shall attempt to show the implications of these narratives on labor export within the context of ASEAN integration, on Philippine diaspora as a complicatedly alarming phenomenon, and on the imperatives of social involvement made more possible by digital and other media. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Noel Moratilla is Assistant Professor @ UP Asian Center. He obtained his Ph.D. in Philippine Studies from the University of the Philippines Diliman. His paper is part of his dissertation on testimonial narratives of Overseas Filipino Workers.

ABOUT ASEANNALE

Themed Capturing the Spirit of ASEAN in the Digital Times, the three-day event featured presentations of research studies and film screenings based on the themes of Diaspora, Disaster, and Democracy. Dr. Brenda S.A. Yeoh of the National University of Singapore delivered the conference’s keynote address


The UP Asian Center offers M.A. degrees in Asian Studies with four fields of specialization: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia. The Center also has an M.A. program in Philippine Studies that allows students to major in Philippine society and culture, Philippine foreign relations, or Philippine development studies. The Center offers a Ph.D. program in Philippine Studies in conjunction with the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy. Get an overview of these programs. The Asian Center also houses a peer-reviewed, open-access journal, Asian Studies: Journal of Critical Perspectives on Asia. It has published several books and monographs, and hosts or organizes various lectures and conferences.  

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