My Filipino Baby

My Filipino Baby (Value Studies Series)
2023
Human hair, plastic rattan, wood, and wire.

The text on the broom handles read as follows:

“She’s my darling Filipino Baby
She’s my treasure and my pet
Her teeth are bright and pearly
And her hair is black as jet”


When I think of how Filipina identity and commerce intersect, I think of the sustained narratives around sexual labor and exploitation of exoticized brown female bodies. Mail-order brides, military-controlled sex workers, and domestic helpers are constantly under threat of abuse. Philippine news and media in the 1980s and 1990s were rife with stories of exploited Filipinas abroad and this has embedded a certain anxiety over my body long before I lived outside of the Philippines. Now that I’ve spent most of my life in the United States, I am constantly aware that my body is minimized in these same ways. I wanted to embody these internal conflicts in My Filipino Baby with the use of hair for the bristles. The specific broom I recreate is called a “walis tambo”, which are brooms used indoors in the Philippines.