No Logo Revisited

Research photo series, 2007

In May 2007 I visited the Cavite Economic Zone, Rosario in the Philippines. I searched for the people and sites that Naomi Klein described in her book No Logo in the chapter "The unbearable lightness of Cavite", ten years after she was there. I was lucky to meet many people who still remembered Naomi Klein and her research which was a great help, especially the organizers from the Workers Assistance Center (WAC). Below are selected quotes from No Logo and the photos that I took during my research.
Naomi Klein, No Logo, 1999
...Rosario's population of 60,000 all seemed to be on the' move; the-town's busy, sweltering streets were packed with army jeeps converted into minibuses and with motorcycle taxis with precarious sidecars...
...Most of this commercial activity serves the 50,000 workers who rush through Rosario on their way to and from work in the zone, whose gated entrance is located smack in the middle of town...
...All the bustle and color of Rosario abruptly stops at the gates, where workers must show their ID cards to armed guards in order to get inside...
...The streets in the zone are eerily empty, and open doors - the ventilation system for most factories -reveal lines of young women hunched in silence over clamoring machines...
...Inside the gates, factory workers assemble the finished products of our branded world: Nike running shoes, Gap pajamas, IBM computer screens, Old Navy jeans...
...There are rules against talking, and at the Ju Young electronics factory, a rule against smiling...

...Their names and logos aren't splashed on the façades of the factories in the industrial zone. And here, competing labels aren't segregated each in its own superstore; they are often produced side by side in the same factories, glued by the very same workers, stitched and soldered on the very same machines...

...When I climb up the water tower on the edge of the zone ...
...and look down at the hundreds of factories, it seems as if the whole cardboard complex could lift up and blow away, like Dorothy's house in The Wizard of Oz...
...Many of the workers live in shantytowns on the outskirts of town and in neighboring villages...

...Others, particularly the youngest workers, live in the dormitories, a hodgepodge of concrete bunkers separated from the zone enclave by only a thick wall. The structure is actually a converted farm, and some rooms, the workers tell me, are really pigpens with roofs slapped on them...

...One of the reasons I went to Cavite is that I had heard this zone was a hotbed of "trouble making," thanks to a newly formed organization called the Workers' Assistance Center...
…Cecille Tuico, one of the organizers at the Workers' Assistance Center, was listening in on the conversation. After the workers left to make their way through Rosario's dark streets and back to the dormitories, she pointed out that the alienation the workers so poignantly describe is precisely what the employers look for when they seek out migrants instead of locals to work in the zone...
With the same muted, matter-of-fact anger I have come to recognize in so many Filipino human-rights activists, Tuico said that the factory managers prefer young women who are far from home and have not finished high school, because "they are scared and uneducated about their rights."...
 
...In Cavite, you can't talk about overtime without the conversation turning to Carmelita Alonzo, who died, according to her co-workers, "of overwork."...

...Raymondo Nagrampa, the zone administrator, acknowledged that it would certainly be better if the factories hired more people for fewer hours, but he told me, "I think I will leave that I think this is more of a management decision?"...
...Jose Ricafrente has the dubious honor of being mayor of Rosario...

...A once-modest fishing village, his town today has the highest per capita investment in all of the Philippines- thanks to the Cavite zone - but it lacks even the basic resources to clean up the mess that the factories create in the community. Rosario has all the problems of industrialization - pollution, an exploding population of migrant workers, increased crime, rivers of sewage -without any of the benefits...
Back to Top