Influencing/Indigenizing Migration: Igorot Domestic Worker Vloggers of Hong Kong

Jose Kervin Cesar CALABIAS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


This proposal forms part of my on-going ethnographic project on the Igorot or the collective identity of Indigenous peoples inhabiting the Cordillera region of the Philippines who are employed as domestic workers in Hong Kong. Focusing on three case studies of Igorot domestic worker vloggers and an analysis of select vlog content from their respective YouTube channels (Igorota Vlogger, EdRiLey SJ, igorot nanny) and supplementing these with my in-depth interviews with the creators/vloggers, I attempt to describe how YouTube as a social media platform provides a space for migrant and Indigenous articulations. Specifically, Igorot domestic worker vloggers attempt to “curate” their own idea of the “Igorot” and the “domestic helper” through an array of vlogging genres such as documenting their “everyday” life, uploading instructional “how to” videos, and covering various Igorot cultural activities in Hong Kong. Vlogging and its affective performances have also allowed these Indigenous migrant women to reclaim and recenter discourses surrounding their bodies such as the abjected and anthropologized Igorot on the one hand, and the suffering and sexualized Filipina migrant on the other. Such attempts to re-represent themselves have also shown other forms of Indigenous and migrant agency “documented” by these women such as the acquisition of “soft” and transferable skills of video editing, photography, and content management. Some have also highlighted how they have gained and sustained their own “followers/subscribers” who have learned from their videos and have also been “influenced” to work in Hong Kong. Others have also used their “platform” to correct misconceptions of the Igorot and the domestic helper they deem as discrimination and emphasize the “dignity” of both their labour and indigeneity. More significantly, these Indigenous migrant women have also attempted to reframe the “othered” Indigenous “savage” into a modern, cosmopolitan, and globalized subject of labour, aspiring for higher social mobility in countries that can offer permanent residency, even citizenship. Finally, these affective, spatial, and performative affordances of vlogging and its platform exploited by these Indigenous migrants show both the possibilities and consequences of “migrating” land-based indigeneity into the virtual.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022
EventInter-Asia Intermediality 2022 - Online
Duration: 10 Jun 202211 Jun 2022


ConferenceInter-Asia Intermediality 2022
Internet address


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