Bennette Dayno Baguisa, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto
A considerable amount of literature on Filipino women in Canada has been published focused on caregiving and reproductive labour, yet there has so far not been enough feminist attention to conceptualizing the figure of the Filipino woman beyond these parameters. Motivated by the desire to honour Filipino women’s labour, I ask how this labour gets translated to produce a certain model of womanhood inherently attuned to the demands of neoliberal capitalist globalization and easily mobilized by heteronormative institutional frameworks. Building on an archive of Filipinx/Canadian cultural productions including Tita Collective’s Tita Jokes, Han Han’s Babae Ka and Lester Valle’s Walang Rape sa Bontok, I trace a broad sketch of imaginative possibilities pertaining to an emergent diasporic and feminist consciousness embodied in the construction of babae. Tagalog for woman, babae not only invokes ancestral and precolonial understandings of feminine power, but also highlights the contemporary context of its vernacular function as a hybridized form of the local and the global. Using theories of queer affect, performance, and pedagogy, I argue for babae as a reparative project that can bridge varied articulations of Filipino womanhood. Against the current landscape of political and ecological crisis in the Philippines, this paper sutures a critique of the aesthetics of diasporic womanhood and vernacular cosmopolitanism with new indigenisms in multicultural Toronto to think through the political potential of their interconnections.
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