Practicing “Enlightened Capitalism”: “Fil–Am” Heroes, NGO Activism, and the Reconstitution of Class Difference in the Philippines

Faith R. Kares



Drawing on original ethnographic research, this article focuses on the ways in which the Philippines-based nongovernmental organization (NGO) Gawad Kalinga (GK) encourages diasporic Filipino volunteerism by reworking the nationalist discourse of heroism and deploying idioms of love and care. It examines volunteer receptions to GK’s development approach and recruitment strategies. In so doing, this article analyzes not only the diaspora’s role in GK’s housing construction efforts and poverty alleviation projects, but also interrogates the implications of the underclass ideology buttressing and the neoliberal logic framing the organization’s work with the poor.

KEYWORDS: Filipino diaspora • development • nongovernmental organizations • nationalism • poverty

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