The Balikbayan Program and Labour Export Policy: The Socioeconomic Relationship Between The Philippine State and Filipino Diaspora

Alonzo, Jose Gabriel
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University of Guelph

In 1973, Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos initiated the Balikbayan Program--a tourism scheme dependent on the return of the Filipino diaspora to their homeland to serve two purposes, legitimize Martial Law and generate foreign exchange though tourism. A year later, the 1974 Philippine Labour Code was formed, encouraging labour migration of Filipino citizens to combat unemployment and generate foreign exchange through remittances. The Balikbayan Program and Philippine Labour Code were frameworks which started the country’s economic reliance on its diaspora and developed nationalistic terms such as Balikbayans and Overseas Filipino Workers to link overseas Filipinos to the country. Economic reliance on the diaspora continued with succeeding administrations, producing a political discourse that reconceptualized the diaspora as transnational citizens of the Philippines who served for the betterment of the homeland, reinforcing, and perpetuating their financial contributions and place as important drivers of national and economic development.

Filipino Tourism History, Balikbayan Program, Ferdinand Marcos