Migrant Returns

Manila, Development, and Transnational Connectivity

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: May 2017

Author: Eric J. Pido

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian American Studies, Asian Studies > Southeast Asia

In Migrant Returns Eric J. Pido examines the complicated relationship among the Philippine economy, Manila’s urban development, and balikbayans—Filipino migrants visiting or returning to their homeland—to reconceptualize migration as a process of connectivity. Focusing on the experiences of balikbayans returning to Manila from California, Pido shows how Philippine economic and labor policies have created an economy reliant upon property speculation, financial remittances, and the affective labor of Filipinos living abroad. As the initial generation of post-1965 Filipino migrants begin to age, they are encouraged to retire in their homeland through various state-sponsored incentives. Yet, once they arrive, balikbayans often find themselves in the paradoxical position of being neither foreign nor local. They must reconcile their memories of their Filipino upbringing with American conceptions of security, sociality, modernity, and class as their homecoming comes into collision with the Philippines’ deep economic and social inequality. Tracing the complexity of balikbayan migration, Pido shows that rather than being a unidirectional event marking the end of a journey, migration is a multidirectional and continuous process that results in ambivalence, anxiety, relief, and difficulty.


"Recommended." — C. W. Sherrill, Choice

“An insightful and timely account of Filipino Americans and their newfound role as key players in the Philippines' bourgeoning retirement and real estate industries.” — Paul Nadal, Journal of Asian American Studies

"Dense and carefully argued ... Migrant Returns captures the multiple dimensions associated with return migration and serves as a valuable resource for those interested in transnationalism, globalization, and migration scholarship." — Armand Gutierrez, International Migration Review

"Through his ethnographic investigation of the circulation of funds, imaginations, and bodies, Pido provides a convincing example of what a modern, transnational analysis of migration can attain." — Julio Decker, Journal of American Studies

"A rich ethnographic account of homing. . . . Migrant Returns is a paradigmatic illumination of the multiple landscapes—personal, familial, social, and cultural—created by re/settlement, representation, and ultimately return that are emblematic of any relocation ideology. . . . By articulating the multiple logics of global economies and local social geographies, [Pido] has given us a nuanced ethnographic plunge into the multidirectional complexities and paradoxical positions of the current global diasporic moment." — Anastasia Christou, American Ethnologist

"[This book] enables the imagining of future lives of migrants where home is not fixed, and how migrants negotiate their sense of home, belonging, and return in the era of 'precarious modernity.'" — Katrina Navallo, New Books Asia

"While the balikbayan—or return migrant—has been a staple figure in Filipino government policies, movies, television shows, and other venues of the popular imagination, no work has fully rendered the multiple dimensions of migrant return. Nuanced and trenchantly argued, Migrant Returns is an outstanding ethnographic opus that will make a major contribution to scholarship in Asian American studies, Asian studies, migration and diaspora studies, and globalization." — Martin F. Manalansan IV, author of Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora

"Migrant Returns is an important book and especially timely given its analysis of our current global moment, the contemporary Philippines, and the history of migrations between the United States and the Philippines. It could easily become a standard reference for the history of neoliberal migrancy in the early twenty-first century." — Vicente L. Rafael, author of Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eric J. Pido is Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  vii
Preface  ix
Introduction. An Ethnography of Return  1
Part I: Departures
1. The Balikbayan Economy: Filipino Americans and the Contemporary Transformation of Manila  29
2. The Foreign Local: Balikbayans, Overseas Filipino Workers,and the Return Economy  49
3. Transnational Real Estate: Selling the American Dream in the Philippines  72
Part II. Returns
4. The Balikbayan Hotel: Touristic Performance in Manila and the Anxiety of Return  115
5. The Balikbayan House: The Precarity of Return Migrant Homes  131
6. Domestic Affects: The Philippine Retirement Authority, Retiree Visas, and the National Discourse of Homecoming  148
Conclusion: Retirement Landscapes and the Geography of Exception  163
Epilogue  179
Notes  187
References  197
Index  209
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner of the 2019 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award in Social Sciences

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6369-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6353-8
Publicity material