The Foreign Local: Balikbayans, Overseas Filipino Workers, and the Return Economy
This chapter shifts the scholarly discussion around global patterns of remittance sending by introducing the unique figure of the balikbayan, the Filipino visiting or returning to their homeland. It describes the unique formation of balikbayans within the sociopolitical context of a post-Marcos Philippines and the historical evolution of the country’s tourism economy. Originally, the development of tourism in the Philippines was aimed at improving the country’s global reputation during martial law. Eventually, the focus of tourism shifted toward exploiting balikbayans by transforming repatriating Filipinos into “retirees.” As more and more balikbayans begin to see themselves as patrons of the state through decades of overseas labor, patronage, and proper performance of their various duties to their families and homeland, the tourism industry finds new ways to exploit and profit from their unique subjectivity.