Sis, mamsh, kasodan: Belonging and solidarity on Facebook groups among Filipino women migrants in Japan


This article explores how Filipino women migrants in Japan have appropriated Facebook to create alternative spaces and connections for addressing their needs and concerns. Using thematic analysis of discussion threads and in-depth interviews with members of the Facebook group, Pinoy Tambayan in Japan, this study shows the nuanced aspects of the gendered dimension of online ethnic enclaves on Facebook. Facebook has allowed these migrants to create online ethnic enclaves that function as an alternative to kinship and community groups—groups that Filipinos consider an invaluable resource for managing families and strengthening ties to their identity. This social, intimate tie is epitomized in terms of endearment used by members: sis (sister), mamsh (fellow godmother), and kasodan (fellow seekers of information). These terms invoke relational ties, not by blood but by shared commonalities, between the author and group members. However, while online ethnic enclaves have become an increasingly vital source of support among Filipino women migrants, the limits of these online communicative spaces can be observed, particularly in terms of visibility. In mainstream media and the wider host society, the intimate gendered narratives of Filipino women migrants are rarely discussed, and consequently, these women are misrecognized and stigmatized.