Using the hit movies Kailangan kita (I Need You, 2002) and Milan (2004) as examples, this essay explores how Philippine commercial film mediates the affective and emotional labor required to maintain flows of out-migration, despite narrative trajectories that uphold a final return to the native land. Both films posit a transnational subject that bemoans the economic plight of the nation-state while demonstrating neoliberal entrepreneurship in self-regulation. The desiring subjects of the films embark upon transnational quests for self-actualization, which in turn foreground their insertion into an international labor market where they struggle to maintain a sense of national belonging. These subjects are figured as entrepreneur-consumers, whose mediation commodifies their own affect, bodies, and labor power and uphold global structures. Featuring primarily middle-class protagonists, Kailangan kita and Milan present narratives of transnational mobility as the path to self-improvement, but also disclose the contradictions in the nation-state's relationship to other countries and its own absent workers, on whose love, loyalty, and labor it depends.
Francisco Benitez; Transnational Questing Desire in Star Cinema's Kailangan kita and Milan. positions 1 May 2011; 19 (2): 257–280. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1331715
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