Annotation: Aguilar, Filomeno V. 2009. Maalwang buhay

Aguilar, Filomeno V. (2009). Maalwang buhay: Family, Overseas Migration, and Cultures of Relatedness in Barangay Paraiso. Manila: Ateneo de Manila Press.

Aguilar looks at the case of “Barangay Paraiso” (fictional name) in Batangas City, Philippines, to answer his main research question: “What does it mean for families with members who are overseas migrant workers to remain as families?” (5). To answer this, Aguilar looks at how the following are negotiated by those at “home” and overseas”: the emotional strategizing of family members across boundaries; shared caring of kin in the village in the absence of parents and siblings while at work overseas; the celebration of rituals (marriage, feasts); contribution to the family wealth, etc. By looking at these areas, Aguilar suggests that the family can be viewed according to their “tied of relatedness” (borrowing from Janet Carsten’s “cultures of relatedness) as the main lens from which all others issues may be observed. This relatedness, Aguilar argues, requires and implies “hard work” as it is constructed through everyday practices (7). The transnational families in Barangay Paraiso show new forms of mobilizing cultural relatedness (380), seen for instance in the negotiation and application of traditional notions of social organization in contemporary terms (e.g. assumption of the the non-migrating disciplinarian of roles, non-prescriptive of gender). In the maintenance of transnational familial relationships, the discourse of sacrifice and practicality (379) is also mobilized. One of the chapters of this book, “Housing Authority: Kinship, Marriage, Autonomy, and the House,” is particularly useful as it investigates how the idea of the “house” is maintained, or sometimes negotiated for transnational family relations to work.

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