COINCIDENCE AND CONSEQUENCE: Marianism and the Mass Media in the Global Philippines



In this essay, I examine several events involving Filipinos at home and abroad that organize themselves around convergences of mediation: sites and events where figures and practices of religious mediation interact with modern technologies of the mass media. Illustrating these at the center of the essay is an ethnography of a festival celebrating the Virgin Mary's birthday that was organized by a Filipino devotional group and took place in New York City. Framing this event in the essay is a seemingly unrelated incident: the kidnapping of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) by a group demanding that the Philippine government withdraw its coalition forces from Iraq. One extraordinary coincidence and the appeal for divine intervention immediately links the two. What further draws these two events into relatedness, however, is that they both entail imaginaries of the global Philippines that are rooted in a shared history of transnational movement, but diverge owing to significant differences in socioeconomic status and physical vulnerability. For the religious imaginary wherein the Philippines is firmly and safely situated in a worldwide order of Marian redemption betokens the privilege to assume preemptive control over dangerous worlds via particular frameworks of interpretation. Using Filipino Marianism first as a lens through which to understand the range of affinities between religious and technological mediation, I then examine the ways in which such intermedial relationships reveal the associative paths that generate class-inflected interpretations of crisis and danger, as well as the strategies of power and control to which those paths give rise.