Blog/news

January 27, 2024

On February 22, I will be presenting a lunch lecture at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden. I will be speaking about my book manuscript.

January 2, 2024

In March, I will be participating in an IMISCOE workshop on "New complexities and geographies in migration and diversity governance" at the University of Amsterdam. I will be working on a chapter of my book manuscript.

October 24, 2023

From November 2023 to March 2024, I will be a visiting researcher at the International Institute of Asian Studies in Leiden.  While at IIAS, I will be completing my book manuscript “Merchants of Migrant Domestic Labour: Recruitment Agencies and Neoliberal Migration Governance in Southeast Asia”. This book examines the study of recruitment and employment agencies from the interdisciplinary lenses of everyday political economy, migration studies and power in global governance. This approach aims to flesh out the market authority and market logics of these non-state actors in their everyday activities. It focuses on their functions as entities whose primary business is the commodification and exchange of human capital. This very specific process of human capital formation is gendered, reproducing norms necessary to commodify domestic work. 

June 17, 2023

I have joined the Migration Podcast team at IMISCOE. As one of the interviewers, I will be engaging with early career and more established migration scholars to speak with them about their body of work. You can follow the podcast on Spotify and other other apps.

June 16, 2023

I was happy to have presented my work at the Swiss Network of International Studies Conference last Tuesday.

May 24, 2023

I presented some preliminary insights of KnowingDOM at the Global Governance Centre last Monday, May 22

January 11, 2023

After having read my paper on SocArxiv, this NGO based in Hong Kong reached out and wanted to know more. Read the interview on ReactAsia.

January 5, 2023

Just before Christmas, a tweet by a scholar based in the United Kingdom became viral, but not all for good reasons. Toman Barsbai, an economist, shared his team’s latest research on Twitter. The research entitled “Picture This: Social Distance and the Mistreatment of Migrant Workers,” claims that a “simple intervention” would reduce the mistreatment of Filipino migrant domestic workers based on a field experiment on workers who had been deployed to Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. Read my commentary on this paper on Rappler.

November 1, 2022

I submitted a proposal to IMISCOE's annual competitive calls for book proposals. Results are out early December. 

October 10, 2022

Last week, my project #KnowingDOM has officially kicked off. Very excited and keen to start data generation and also get getting key administrative deliverables sorted. Social media channels will officially launch as soon as I get the green light. Watch this space.

April 1, 2022

Next week I will present some preliminary insights on my paper, "Play and Counter-conduct: Migrant Domestic Workers on TikTok" at the workshop Politics and Poetics of Strike in the Postsocialist and Postcolonial Encounter at the University of Groningen. 

March 24, 2022

Some professional news. I have been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to be taken up at Ca'Foscari University in Venice. #KnowingDOM will investigate how various actors engage the International Labour Organization in making knowledge claims about domestic work. This project will draw from notions of civic epistemology and the sociality of knowledge production in feminist science studies. The latter attend to different sources of epistemic authority, including voices 'from below.' The project will analyze the discourses, practices and actions culminating in the ILO's Convention on Domestic Work (C189) and inquire into how the ILO's norm-setting activities diffuse to and from a regional organization (the European Union). 

November 1, 2021

In Period 2, I will be delivering a guest lecture on the migration industry for the 'Nation and Migration' course at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. 

September 14, 2021

My contribution to the EISAPEC 21 Plenary on Migration:

In 2020, the year of Covid, the officially recorded remittances, according to the World Bank (World Bank) was 540 billion dollars. Only 1,6 percent lower than the previous year’s estimates despite predictions that these figures would fall due to the pandemic. By ‘officially recorded’ of course we exclude money that was transferred through informal means – the Filipino ‘padala’ system in which one entrusts cash to a fellow migrant returning home who would then hand the money to family recipients. Or the hawala system in the Gulf where remittances course through informal money brokers, excluded from the accounting of central banks. The World Bank estimates that as much as 50 percent of these officially recorded figures are underreported due to this informality. In other words, migrants may have remitted as much as one trillion dollars to their families left behind last year.  By contrast, other forms of capital – FDI and ODA – declined by 30 percent. This is nothing new. Historically, remittances have been ‘resilient’.  Unlike other capital flows, remittances increase in times of crisis. The demand for education, healthcare, food and household expenses are, after all, inelastic. 

Last year, all of us who do not need to work with our bodies retreated to the relative safety of our households, while those whose work were deemed ‘essential’ continued to show up at their workplace and in public spaces. Here in the Netherlands, as the whole country went into full lockdown, the only establishments that were left open, apart from hospitals, were the supermarkets.  Somehow the food supply chains kept going. Meatpacking plants in the US, Brazil and Canada quickly became Covid hotspots. In the US, these plants accounted for over three hundred thousand infections. Nearly half of those working in this sector are from Mexico. Here in Europe, while borders hardened to contain the spread of the virus, Germany airlifted nearly 80,000 seasonal workers from Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland to harvest crops.  Two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables Europe consumes are grown in Andalusia, in Spain. Many of those who have picked the strawberries we enjoyed over the summer have come from North Africa by sea. Some of them swam to get there. They will eventually end up in one of the informal worker slums in ‘Europe’s Garden’.

Hospitals everywhere were full, but deaths among healthcare workers showed that some were at a greater risk than others. In the US, more than 25% of nurses who have died of Covid were of Filipino origin even as they comprise only 4% of the total nationwide. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and France all rely on foreign-born workers in various segments of the healthcare sector.

Anthropologist Aihwa Ong calls ‘graduated sovereignty’ the “differential state treatment of segments of the population in relation to market calculations”. As governments and economic managers made decisions about which segments of the economy, would be allowed to collapse and which segments of the population would be allowed exposure to the unknowns of the virus, I wonder if it might be useful to think instead of ‘graduated risk’. Which segments of the population were to be protected and subsidized, and which ones would have to fend for themselves. In biopolitical calculations, some lives were assigned greater value than others. Some took greater risks for the reward of keeping their employment as economies crashed and shed hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide. By July this year, the Philippines has repatriated over 600,000 of its workers from overseas. Nepal’s migration industry estimates that half a million of its migrant workers returned home due to the pandemic. 

To echo our keynote speaker Vandana Shiva’s question yesterday, “who is bringing food to the table in our fossil-based civilisation?” Who is labouring in the vast fields of the Gulf, unearthing dead carbon?  Who is caring for our most vulnerable – the young, the sick and the elderly? Often, they are among the must vulnerable themselves.  But they fend for themselves, their families and the host societies in which they make a living. Shiva mentions the Cartesian mechanistic worldview which separates. Apartheid, she says, literally means separateness.  But as we see, or if we truly see, the quality of our being separate isn’t absolute, and is variable. In some ways we are all intimately interconnected in ways that sustain our very life itself.  This past pandemic year, nature has shown that we are all intimately interconnected in ways that also threaten our bodies, our very capacity to breathe.  Perhaps we might rethink categories with which we engage each other and our world in terms of who or what migrates. A microbe which originated from Central China certainly cares nothing for our human-ordered ‘things’.

In 'An Inquiry into Modes of Existence', Bruno Latour writes “The modernizers knew how to survive a nature indifferent to their projects; but when Nature ceases to be indifferent…becomes sensitive, even hypersensitive, to their weight, how is anyone to define what it is looking for, when in fact it is not even interested in us, but in itself? Go ahead, try to talk about mastery and possession to something that can master and possess us without even attaching any importance to our survival.”

After mild winters these past three years in the Netherlands, it snowed enough this February that the dunes of the coastline were blanketed in snow, and I could go sledding for the first time. A few months later, scientists would sound the alarm once more about the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream. These are ocean currents that migrate from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic, warming these waters. Without them, we here in Europe would freeze.

Thank you for listening.


August 31, 2021

EISAPEC 21 Plenary on Migration

September 14, 2021, 17h15-18h45

August 19, 2021

I was interviewed by graduate students from the IRIO Department at the RUG for their Honors College Masterwork. See the rest here.

March 3, 2021

Presenting a significantly reworked version of a paper I started writing in 2017 at the IRSS Colloqium today


November 11, 2020

Colleagues at the ADMU's Political Science Department invited me to respond to the panelists in this webinar. 

Moderator: Carmel Abao, ADMU PoliSci

Panelists: Ellen Sanaa (Center for Migrant Advocacy), Joseph Sycip (Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns), Jean-Pierre Garbade (Author of 'Claim Your Rights: A Legal Guide for Household Employees in Switzerland)


November 5, 2020

My commentary on the alleged abuse of a domestic worker by the Filipino Ambassador to Brazil Marichu Mauro. Read at The Diplomat Magazine.

September 5, 2020

I have submitted my application for the MSCA . I had been working on this proposal since December. Based on last year's stats, I have a chance of 1 in 10 to get funding. Results out February. Fingers crossed.

September 4, 2020

This week I started a lectureship at the Department of International Relations and International Organization. This semester I am teaching a research seminar on Gender, Globalization and Development, co-teaching the 2nd year course on Theory of International Relations and the pre-master course on Methodology and Research Practice. Super, super stoked to be revisiting 'IR proper' again. 

August 27, 2020

I have been invited to participate in a Round Table Discussion at the EISA Virtual Conference. The RTD will take up 'Precarity in Academia'. Due to Covid, this year's annual conference has been postponed until next year. See the programme here.

August 20, 2020

My website is now live! Google Sites is pretty intuitive. It took a while to figure out how to purchase a domain name and then link it to customize my URL. I will continue populating the site in the coming days.