The migrant condition

By Walden Bello
Member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines representing Akbayan

The migrant worker experience is one that is increasingly typical. Let’s start with myself. I am now back in the Philippines, but I spent nearly 20 years as a political exile in the United States during the Marcos dictatorship. During that time I survived by working as a journalist, teaching, doing research, and taking on odd jobs in different American cities.

Multiple sites, multiple identities

This experience of multiple sites of work during one’s active years is not too different from that of the Palestinian engineer who returns to the West Bank or Gaza after working in Kuwait, Egypt, and the United States. Nor from that of the Mexican peasant who goes to the United States to work in a variety of jobs, returns to tend to his or her farm in Morelos for extended periods, then heads back to Chicago. Nor from that of the Keralan who alternates between tending a small shop back home built with savings from her overseas work and long stints serving as domestic help in the Gulf countries.

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