“Infrastructural Futures: Arroyo’s Philippines in a Technological Frame,” in Beauty and Brutality: Manila and Its Global Discontents, edited by Martin F. Manalansan, Robert Diaz, and Roland B. Tolentino (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2023), 198–219.
Abstract The essay probes into the rhetoric of infrastructure underlying the development programs of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo‘s presidency (2001–2010), a rhetoric that persists in the present regime of Marcos-Duterte alliance. It examines how a concept of infrastructure came to delimit the referential field of public discourse around futural visions of millennial development. While infrastructure is nothing new to the social and economic history of Philippine development, what is distinctive about its deployment by Arroyo is its peculiar yoking to a First Worlding imaginary. Infrastructure— and the value of technological modernity it came to signify—became both the sign of Arroyo’s futurism and the very form through which its prophesied contents were disclosed. Drawing on empirical sources, the first half of the essay conceptualizes Arroyo’s infrastructural futures as technologies of apprehending the time of the nation, which I suggest can be analyzed as a certain technological enframing of Philippine social forms to neoliberal globalization. The second half reflects on what is distorted and altogether vanished from Arroyo’s infrastructural messianism.