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Phantom in Paradise: A Philippine Presence in Hollywood Cinema

Joel David


The Philippines’ experience with its last foreign occupant, the US, resulted in an entire clutch of problematic “special relations” that, coupled with the country’s responses to the challenges of self-government, ultimately led to a global dispersal of the population, effectively turning the Philippines into the major Asian nation arguably most reliant on its citizens’ overseas remittances. This paper takes the position that diasporic Filipinos, for a variety of reasons starting with the effectiveness of maintaining unintrusive presences in alien cultures (including the acceptance of menial positions), have possibly developed and have enabled others to perceive them as silent and discreet figures once they step into the circuits of globalized labor exchanges. Not surprisingly, elements traceable to the Philippines and its fraught relationship with America show up in the output of Hollywood. The special instance of a transitional (late-Classical and early new-Hollywood) melodrama, Reflections in a Golden Eye, adapted from a Southern Gothic novel by Carson McCullers, will be inspected for its pioneering depiction of queer postcoloniality in the transplantation of a Filipino male “housemaid” in the troubled middle-American home of a war returnee.


globalization; novel-to-film adaptation; queerness; postcoloniality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2013.02134