The precolonial territory that became the Philippines was a participant in maritime Asian politics and warfare that made the Southeast Asian region appear unstable and undefined to newly arrived Western observers. In truth, regional network-building amid labor shortages was a constant concern of the various peoples, with their interdependent arrangements occasionally readjusted because of piratical raids conducted by more capable or determined centers in order to increase their working populations. The Western occupation forces (themselves also subject to limitations in their number) sought to stabilize the communities they subjugated in order to more effectively bankroll their colonial projects, an arrangement that persisted into the Philippine postcolonial administrations’ attempts at national industrialization. The near- total economic shutdown that resulted from national and global objections to the excesses of the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand E. Marcos led to labor export as a stop-gap policy. The success of this specific measure turned it into the equivalent of a singularly permanent national industry, with the overseas presence of Filipino workers showing up in foreign popular culture products. This article will look at film samples in various periods, from the (often anonymous) appearances of Filipinos in Hollywood movies, through their inscription in the cinemas of neighboring Asian countries, to their occasional representation in contemporary Western films, with a focus on two European releases from 2022, Triangle of Sadness and Nocebo. It will inspect correspondences between the so-far persistent labor-export policy and the population’s precolonial disposition to thrive in the face of the vicissitudes wrought by unpredictable shifts in geopolitical circumstances.


allegorical function, indentured servitude, island cinema, Overseas Filipino Workers, piracy, transnational imaginary

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)