Annotation: McKay, Deidre. 2005. Reading Remittance Landscapes

McKay, Deidre. 2005. Reading Remittance Landscapes: Female Migration and Agricultural Transition in the Philippines. Danish Journal of Geography, 105(1):89-99.

In Haliap, a small village situated within the famous rice terraces in Northern Philippines, the shift from subsistence to commercial agriculture is both a cause and a result of women’s migration. Mckay suggests that since the integration of women in the migration cycle, the town has seen its women withdraw from their traditional roles in the agricultural labour, to join the remittance-sending population that not only financially sustains their families back home, but also changes the rice-based agricultural economy which the town is known for. Migration has become the primary option for the poor and the landless in the town, to earn money overseas, buy land at home with the income from their overseas work, which then gives them a new and higher social status in their community. Instead of rice as primary agricultural product, families whose female members work overseas, now invest in bean gardens (on the wet rice paddies) – which Mckay calls as “remittance landscapes” – as they can be harvested more frequently, and can thus have more efficient economic returns than rice (90). This shift, Mckay writes, is among the effects of globalization which promotes a non-farm market economy. This transition to gardening, however, has a long term implication on the land. Because of the new planting requirements for the bean farms, the paddies could only then be replanted with hybrid varieties of rice, instead of the local variety (92-93). This change in land use is also accompanied by the shift in gendered labour patterns and the social roles that individuals play in the maintenance of community relations. Women overseas become the primary source of wealth of the family and thus their participation in weeding is diminished. Family or exchange labour is also increasingly being replaced by male wage labour. The husbands left at home assign the hard farm work to wage labourers, while they can search for non-farm work (98).

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