Philippines: “Desperate Housewives” Apologizes Over Racist Slur

Desperate Housewives

At the moment, Technorati counts 499 blog posts on the racist slur in the season opener of the television show “Desperate Housewives“.

That's an awful lot and is yet another example of the progressive and forward advance of Filipino bloggers, especially after the bigotry of Malu Fernandez which got her pilloried and scorned for — well — her bigotry against her own people.

Read the online petition, now signed by 51,830 individuals, that sums up the protesters’ arguments. The specific scene in the popular TV program posted on Youtube has been viewed more than 81,000 times.
Let's listen to Pinoy Blog Machine, a Filipino doctor educated in the Philippines:

I am offended, because I learned my profession in the Philippines, and I refuse to be told that all my hard work and sacrifice amounts to nothing more than mediocre, if not questionable. Specially if these impressions come from those who fail to see from my end, or at least check, and don’t know what they are talking about. My textbooks came from the US of A, if saying so is any help to Teri’s understanding.

I can’t even speak for the millions of Filipino medical workers in America and all over the world, whose professionalism and skill have made them prime catch. And what of the thousands of foreign students who come in droves to train in the Philippines?

Even as she apologized from veering away from her blog's fashionista bent, glamdeal.com took on the insult:

Sure, compared to USA, the American’s educational system may be better if not the best. But our doctors, nurses, and caregivers are among the best in the world; thousands of them serving, treating, and taking care of the US people.

I’m honestly not a fan of the show but I know a lot of Filipinos who are. Some say the show is a hit because of its mature and “intelligent” approach to the audience. Now with that, I guess we should all review what is mature and what is intelligent.

The rude remark was just a sign of irresponsible entertainment. Racism is never a witty and funny way of entertainment. If this is one of the show’s desperate ways to get ratings, then they’re getting one hell of controversy here.

The Broken Bow is also concerned and sees an opportunity for Filipino doctors to prove themselves:

Althought there might be some truth in the statement especially when placed side by side with the nursing exam debacle last year, I still find it offensive because it somehow committed the fallacy of over-generalizing. The fact is that there are a lot of great medical practitioners from the country and they must not be brushed aside especially when they outnumber the few who are otherwise. As for the said few, this might serve as an eye-opener and a signal to prove to those who are unimpressed that they are wrong to be so.

GMANews.tv's Pinoy Abroad surveyed the blogosphere while in uproar. Blog Addicts also covered the burgeoning blog rebellion.

At the other side of the fence is The Sassy Lawyer who says:

Is it a racial slur? It may be a jab at Philippine medical schools, not Filipinos in general. Heck, not even Filipino doctors. And some people are already making it out as an insult against Filipino health workers IN GENERAL. My goodness gracious me…

Its not a racist slur, says The Anti-Niche Blog, but it's still offensive.

The office of the President of the Philippines also expressed displeasure and demanded an apology, even if Mrs. Arroyo herself is embroiled in her own scandals. The secretary of health also chimed in.

“Desperate Housewives” producers from ABC-TV today issued a one-paragraph apology hoping to calm the storm, but others have rejected it and have demanded a more appropriate apology that may be seen by the millions who watched the assailed episode on TV. Says the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, a US-based group that plans to picket the ABC-TV studios:

The simplistic nature of ABC's apology only insults our community even more. It is not proportionate to the damage it has caused. It is basically just a one-paragraph response, not just to the 2nd largest immigrant group in the US, or a third world country, but ALL foreign-trained medical practitioners in this country. This country thrives on the quality skills of foreign-trained doctors and nurses, and Filipino nurses are among the cream of the crop. We all deserve a decent, sincere, and proper apology.

Let's see what happens next.

UPDATES (5 Oct. 2007): The offensive portion of the “Desperate Housewives” that has roiled many will be deleted, according to a news report.  This comes at the heels of an announcement from Filipino-American group NAFCON that a top ABC-TV executive has agreed to meet them before a scheduled picket at the ABC-TV studios in Manhattan.

57 comments

  • The Philippines boasts of its 98% literacy rate. Filipino medical professionals recorded the highest number in the US and in the UK.

    I know that we in the Philippines are outraged about this. If we view it at a different perspective, maybe we can assess our own mistakes as well.

    In the case of the Desperate Housewives brouhaha, I believe that the US should do something about this. Knowing that the US is a country that promotes equality. It is such a shame for the scriptwriters to be so irresponsible and for the actress to not even consider the consequences resulted by such act.

    Oh well…

  • Free speech

    I can’t believe the smallmindedness. This spreading habit of demanding an apology and reparations everytime some hyper-sensitive nut perceives that his feelings have been hurt is a slippery slope. The rant from ‘artist’ is third rate, retread, faux Marxist babble. Grow up, exercise your mind. Read 1984 again.
    And grow a little bit of a sense of proportion.

  • jealika

    I am in the medical profession and I felt insulted and belittled with those drop lines made ms. hatcher in the desperate housewives…….for some who thinks that its just a mere joke, for us it’s not as we in the medical field working abroad always makes and keeps the best standard of care to our clients…after all the hard work we offer we dont deserve to be made as a laughing stock…..if they cannot accept the reality that we are if not one of the best when it comes to the medical profession then they should at least give us the RESPECT we need,,,,,,why filipinos of all the race?…..it’s a picture of racial descrimination…..

  • dsaint

    to: pighter pilot
    How can you tell that Philippine Medical schools are not good? Did you take up medicine in the Philippines and re-took it again, the whole course in the USA? Are you a medical practitioner yourself? Contrary to what you’ve said, I met many doctors and nurses and even medical technologists who were actually forced to take more courses in Canada and was told that their education was not enough. All who I spoke to were actually “not too impressed” with the supposedly additional knowledge they were supposed to gain. It was a waste of time and they commented they were just relearning everything again. Nothing new came out of it. In many cases, they’ve even indicated that the education in the Philippines was way more advanced.

    In your case, unless you are a medical student back in the Philippines and retook it in USA, I can respect your comment. If not, they you support bigotry yourself and not free speech. The comment in the show reflects the people behind the show (writers, producers, etc) that Philippine Medical schools are not at par or sub-standard and/or support bigotry too and prejudice to any Filipino medical practitioner. How can you make a comment like that in a general way?

  • bc

    People like Kevin Nadel, on Fox last night, just wants his 3 minutes of fame…he needs to lighten up , it was a comment said in jest…if he, and others, don’t like it …get out of my country and go back to the Philippines.

  • Miriam - Fairfax, Virginia

    The statement of Susan (Teri Hatcher) regarding doctors completing their medical degree in the Philippines has created quite a stir among the Filipinos as well as other minorities in the US. I would not want to be defensive knowing that many of the best doctors in the US and around the world are produced in the Philippines. While, I understand that the scripted comment was probably meant to elicit some comic reaction about any doctor’s perceived incompetence no matter where they are from (including those who graduated from Harvard Med School), the singling out of “Philippine med schools” was most insensitive, derogatory and very clear prejudice of all minorities in the US as a whole —doctors or any other profession for that matter. I deem the Desperate Housewives’ writers should be more responsible in ensuring that the quality of dialogue in the show is at the highest standards, lest these desperate housewives come out to be “dim-witted” and down right uninformed, instead of portraying them as fun and endearing everyday people despite their eccentricities. The show’s dialogue goes beyond Philippines —– it is a flagrant belittling of not only the Philippines but other nations and minorities as a whole. And however else you want to view it, the statement is TOTALLY CONDEMNABLE. On reflection, this event is even more embarrassing for Americans who could be dragged in a generalization as plain “ignorant” who don’t think ouside of their little box. As a matter of fact, Americans should be protesting more than the minorities on issues like these.

    Perhaps, it is time for Desperate Housewise to close shop or maybe to desperately seek audience who will be on board with them in putting down minorities? That is not very funny, isn’t it?

  • This is a pretty harmless incident and people are really over reacting.

  • Martha

    Really……..find something else to worry about!!!! This is a show and it was a joke. If we all take everything personal, everyone would be asking and giving apoligies all the time.

  • I am so offended by the gesture and the words that Susan Meyer blurted out in the short conversation about the Philippine medical schools and the medical professionals here in the Philippines.

    Curse the writer of the episode because it’s no joke and not funny to make a joke out of a decent profession and decent people here in the Philippines.

  • The Americans, immigrants and people around the world where the Desperate Housewives shows are being shown will still have the wrong notion that Philippine Medical Schools do not meet the standards required to practice in America and that Filipino Doctors are just second rate physicians in America.

    Will they indeed? How many?

    Some will, some won’t. Those that discriminate because of this, avoid them or report them.

    Seems simple to me.

    This is a pretty harmless incident and people are really over reacting.

    Understandable how many people feel about it, though. But hey, ABC finally apologized. :)

    Can we all move along now?

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