The University of Wisconsin Press

Southeast Asian Studies


Lives at the Margin
Biography of Filipinos Obscure, Ordinary, and Heroic
Edited by Alfred W. McCoy

This book examines the lives of the men and women who emerged from the margins of Philippine society to mobilize a mass following.

Instead of focusing on national heroes, this volume follows an unexplored path by studying the lives of Filipinos ordinary an obscure. Drawing on extensive field and archival research, this volume's authors treat the men and women who emerged from the margins of Philippine society to mobilize a mass following. Some may have been predators or opportunists. A few mixed cunning and violence with charisma and courage. But most acted as self-conscious agents of change who led their constituents in a struggle for social justice. Almost all failed, ending their careers marginalized, impoverished, or imprisoned.

By looking at the Philippine past though the prism of their lives, we can glimpse worlds now obscured at the country’s margins Cebu’s underworld, Iloilo’s waterfront, Muslim Mindanao, the plantations of Negros, and the villages of Central Luzon. This innovative collection allows a fuller view of the processes of change and raises new questions about the character of the Philippine polity. The state’s capacity to compromise or marginalize the popular resistance revealed in these biographies indicates an extraordinary resilience, a supple power, and raises doubts about the dominant view of the Philippines as a “weak state.”

Distributed for the University of Wisconsin–Madison's Center for Southeast Asian Studies

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Portraits of Filipinos on red background

March 2004
LC: 98-061608 DS
488 pp.   6 x 9
8 Photos, 1 illus.

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Cloth $49.95 s
ISBN 978-1-881261-27-8
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Paper $24.95 s
ISBN 978-1-881261-26-1
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