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Performing Global at IntelStar: Figuring the Call Center on Manila Stage

Sir Anril Pineda Tiatco


Set in Makati, the central business district of the National Capital Region, Welcometo IntelStar is a monodrama satirizing the call center industry in the Philippines.The performance is an exemplar in positioning a diasporic consequence ofglobalization vis-à-vis nationalism because it calls on a national sentiment to theextent that the play illustrates resistance to globalization’s economic and neoliberalattachments, often perceived as the destructive force of cultural diversity anduniqueness. In relation, the performance used a recurring trope in Philippineculture, which is called in the essay as the Americanization issue: the conception ofthe Filipino/a as a master mimic of other cultures, particularly the American one.Overall, Welcome to IntelStar falls short in its criticism of globalization becauseit isolated the phenomenon within the politics of the market. But nevertheless,the play allows the Filipino body, through its protagonist Chelsea, to be “visible.”With her “expertise” at imitation, Chelsea’s visibility destabilizes the global order.Chelsea’s mimicry is not simply about wanting to be like those who are imitated,but a strategy to assert a sense of self. This imitative performance implies selfconsciousnessand intimacy to the one being imitated. In this way, mimicry as selfactualizationis a creative strategy and has the potential to overthrow hierarchies ofglobalization in neo-colonial and neo-imperial orders.


contemporary Manila theater; globalization; mimicry; monodrama; problem play; social drama; cosmopolitanism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/1880