Humanities Diliman, Vol 10, No 1 (2013)

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Kontra-Diskurso: Testimonial Narratives of Filipino Workers in a Foreign Company

Noel Christian A. Moratilla

Abstract


As a genre, testimonios or testimonial narratives are not just transgressive of canonical literary aesthetics; they also serve as a tool for otherwise marginalized groups to expose, denounce, and negotiate their experiences of abjection and subordination. These narratives may constitute a counterhegemonic project, if not an oppositional response, at least, to structures and relations sustained (often brutally) by the apparati of state and capital. In this exploratory paper, I read the letters of abused workers as counternarratives that rub against mainstream discourse. In particular, I am using as primary materials the letters written by the Filipino workers of a foreign company which has been recognized and endorsed by state officials for its “contribution” to investment and job generation. Occluded, however, are the stories of abuse, exploitation, and repression among the workers, some of whom have met violent deaths in the workplace. These “little stories” become counternarratives vis-à-vis the positive, celebratory depiction of the company in official discourse, which bleaches the company of allegations concerning its anti-labor practices. The discussion revolves around how the letters as testimonios and as counternarratives exemplify discourses of resistance and solidarity, foregrounding the workers’ denunciation of the abuses committed by and within the company, while also highlighting the workers’ collective responses to these abuses.

Keywords: Testimonio, counternarratives, non-canonical literature, solidarity, resistance


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ISSN: 2012-0788