Singapore Management University (Singapore)


The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted a global exchange of migrant labor, as efforts to control the virus closed national borders and brought international travel to a halt. While media reports highlight how such disruptions affect wealthy nations that depend on migrant workers, this project asks: How has the Covid-19 crisis impacted places that export migrant labor? What are the experiences of the people caught in these disruptions? Focusing on the Philippines, our project examines how the pandemic upsets two extreme ends of the labor-export system: the deployment of migrant workers to foreign employers and the reintegration of those who had been forced to return home. We investigate how, in addressing these issues, the Philippine state has mainly treated its citizens as commodities to either be reallocated or reserved. This project aims to reveal how this worsens workers’ problems, undermining individuals’ capacity to cope with and recover from the pandemic’s impact on their lives.

Principal Investigators

Yasmin Ortiga

Assistant Professor of Sociology, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University

Yasmin Y. Ortiga is an assistant professor of sociology at Singapore Management University. She studies how the social construction of “skill” shapes people’s migration trajectories, changing institutions within both the countries that send migrants and those that receive them. In 2019, she received the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. She published the book Emigration, Employability, and Higher Education in the Philippines (Routledge). Her work has also been published in Global Networks, Social Science and Medicine, and Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education.

Karen Liao

PhD Candidate, National University of Singapore

Karen Anne S. Liao is a PhD candidate at the Department of Geography of the National University of Singapore. She is interested in the social and political geographies of migration in Asia, and is currently studying labour migrant repatriation and return during crises and emergencies. She has previously conducted research on Filipino highly skilled and professional migrants in Singapore, and has published in Geoforum and Migrations Société.

Michael Diño

Director, Research Development and Innovation Center, Our Lady of Fatima University

Michael Joseph Diño is the director of the Research Development and Innovation Center at Our Lady of Fatima University in the Philippines. Due to his advocacy for quality of life through his telehealth project, he became the first Asian recipient of the Nurse in the Limelight Award conferred by the Connecting Nurses Program. He received the Emerging Nurse Researcher Award 2019 of Sigma Nursing and is a 2020 GNLI scholar of the International Council of Nurses. He is a former member of the Advisory Board of Apple Distinguished Educators and is currently pursuing his PhD in nursing at the Johns Hopkins University.