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Ron Bridget T. Vilog and Marie Donna M. Ballesteros

This paper examines the risk perception of Filipino nurses who worked in Libya during the height of post-2011 crisis. The narratives reveal that Filipino nurses took advantage of the massive hiring campaign organized by Libya’s Ministry of Health in 2012, hoping that their migration experiences would result in economic and social rewards as they established their careers in the healthcare industry. After 2 years of adjustment to the conflict-ridden environment, they found themselves situated in another episode of civil war, once again defying the Philippine government’s mandatory repatriation program. Guided by Carretero’s (Risk-taking in unauthorised migration, 2008) thesis, we observed the mechanism of defiance that entails risk-taking as the political crisis loomed. Filipino nurses, especially those who initially refused to leave Libya, embraced an “illusion of control” that eventually reinforced an “unrealistic optimism.” These risk-minimizing strategies have successfully undermined the protective powers of the state. The paper argues that Filipino migrants in crisis zones like Libya undertake risk calculation and reduction, albeit with a tendency to commit risk denial and a false sense of empowerment and exceptionality. In the end, however, it is emphasized that these mechanisms have limitations, depending on the experiences, timing, and risk interpretation of the migrants.