Feudal Desires: Sexualizing Agriculture in the Philippine Film Industry

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The article problematizes the trend in the sex films Kesong puti (White Cheese, 1997), Talong (Eggplant, 1999), Kangkong (Water Spinach, 2000), and Itlog (Egg, 2002) to derive their titles from agricultural produce and contextualize their narratives within the agricultural industry. Not to be dismissed as simple promotional lures to capture viewer's attention and simultaneously evade state censorship, this trend is read against the backdrop of the nation's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. These films share the same response to trade globalization of the agricultural sector and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), tasked with the country's food security and sufficiency. The response is a nostalgia for the feudal economic setup, which has long plagued the nation's history. With globalization ushering in a new economic order no longer to be determined by patronage but by competition, the old feudal system hastens to arrive at a compromise with those it previously marginalized by trying to resolve past social class conflicts through sex and legitimation bestowed by the Church. Sex becomes the form of compromise with the feminization of globalized labor for the Filipino with the deployment of sex workers, caregivers, entertainers, nurses, and household helpers from the country. The patriarch, now emasculated, tries to impede further erosion of his hold on the social system by conceding to share power with previously marginalized sectors, the lower class and woman workers, who somehow find themselves more mobile in the global economic system.