In 2014, filmmaker Adrian Alarilla sent a camera on an eastbound circumnavigation of the world. The camera, named Enrique after Panglima Awang/Enrique of Malacca, was to tell the stories of seven overseas Filipinxs, as part of an ongoing corrective to the stories of conquest, plunder, and exploitation that begun five hundred years ago.
For a few weeks in the summer of 2014, while I was reading for my comprehensive exams, I hosted Enrique in Toronto, on the first stop of a journey that involved Paris, Tübingen, Bangkok, Singapore, and Melbourne.
Adrian wove these stories into Kung Saan Man Tayo, an 80-minute documentary released in 2021.
Critical urban scholarship has an unstated canon. The core concepts of this canon had been developed in response to North/Western experiences by North/Western experts, have been circulated and universalized through knowledge practices with roots in Empire, and now exert a distortive influence on scholarship from and on, the global South.
In this paper I propose an epistemic sense of “countermapping”: naming the ways mundane practices of critical urban scholarship reinscribe the cartographic practices of Empire, and showing how key features of present landscapes of class power and dispossession may be better described by explicitly Southern modes of knowing.
Enclosed and deliberately-idled land is a persistent feature of urban Philippine landscapes. These are dispossessions: their presence means land is withdrawn from beneficial use, and they contribute to artificially-high land prices.