The TV show,”Desperate Housewives,” Insults Filipino Doctors in America

Update as of 9:53 p.m., October 3, 2007:

I’ve received a lot of e-mails today — some people calling for a boycott of to official statements from Filipino community-based organizations like NaFFAA, asking to do the right thing. My Fil-Am Network yahoo group just received this e-mail from the East Coast-based based Kevin Nadal, who had started the petition online (see Kevin’s original e-mail below).

From: Kevin Nadal
Date: Oct 3, 2007 11:09 PM
Subject: ABC Apologizes


To members and supporters of the Filipino and Filipino American community:

I just wanted to inform you that ABC has apologized through a statement that they released to the Associated Press. The story can be read here:
Some people may think that this apology is NOT enough, and if you don’t, I encourage you to take action, in whatever way you feel passionate and/or reasonable.

Some people may think that this apology IS enough, and if you do, then I encourage you to remember this each time you think that your voice cannot be heard.

In about 55 hours, 43,500+ Filipinos and Filipino supporters across the globe took part in this petition (at time of writing this email), which shows that we as a people can come together and advocate for something in which we believe. But maybe now, we need to advocate for bigger and more prominent issues, like poverty in our homeland, oppression of our own people, immigrant rights of Filipinos across the Diaspora, or corruption in the government.

We must not be complacent; we must always advocate for positive change.

In solidarity,

Kevin Nadal

Update as of 8:35 p.m., October 2, 2007:

Ken Ilio, a dear friend based in Chicago — and a distant relative of Kevin Nadal, sent me the URL link at Late this afternoon, I counted over 6,000 signatures for the online petition that Kevin started.

Morning, October 2, 2007:

Alas, our medical schools in the Philippines are highlighted in a “Desperate Housewives” episode at — and not in a good way. This time, it’s a racist comment about Filipinos and their credibility in the American medical scene. I don’t particularly care for “Desperate Housewives.” OK, I watched its first season, then shifted to “Grey’s Anatomy.”

My sister’s blog,, has a video clip of this particular offensive scene, courtesy of the blog, “Mindy’s watching too much TV.” We had received many e-mails yesterday about this incident as well. Doesn’t this remind you of the Claire Danes and her “cockroach” comment about Manila?

Let’s check out the e-mail I received from the PICANO yahoo group.

From: Kevin Nadal
Date: Oct 1, 2007 4:46 PM
Subject: Filipinos Denigrated on ABC’s Desperate Housewives

Dear Kababayan and Allies:

I heard through the grapevine about a remark made on an episode of
“Desperate Housewives” last night. The scene entailed Teri Hatcher’s
character (Susan) at a hospital, being told by her gynecologist that
she might be hitting menopause. Susan replied, “Can I just check those
diplomas because I just want to make sure that they are not from some
med school in the Philippines.” If you go to, you watch the
full episode and witness the scene at about 18:50 minutes into the

This type of derogatory remark is not only unnecessary and hurtful,
but is also unfounded, considering the presence of Filipinos and
Filipino Americans in the health care industry. Filipinos are the
second largest immigrant population in the United States, with many
entering the U.S. and passing their U.S. licensing boards as doctors,
nurses, and medical technicians. In fact, the Philippines produces
more U.S. nurses than any other country in the world. So, to belittle
the education, experience, or value of Filipino Americans in health
care is disrespectful and plain and simply ignorant.

As Filipino Americans, we need to band together to ensure that this
type of hateful message is not allowed to continue on our television
and radio airwaves. Given the recent amounts of media attention that
has been given to Michael Richards (against African Americans), Isaiah
Washington (against gays), and Rosie O’Donnell (against Asian/ Chinese
Americans), it is ridiculous that this type of hateful speech made it
through various screenwriters, the show’s producers, the show’s
actors, and ABC itself. Yet, this isn’t the first time that negative
remarks have been made about the Philippines or Filipinos in the past.
In recent years, we’ve heard one too many “dogeater” comments by
“comedian” Joan Rivers on the red carpet or in her standup act, and I
believe that it is about time that we stand up for ourselves, so that
this type of hateful speech never happens again.

Please join me in expressing your concern, disappointment, and/or
disgust to the producers of You can sign the petition at or you can reach them directly
[email protected].

And please feel free to forward this widely to other Filipinos/
Filipino Americans/ Asian Americans/ and other allies.


Kevin Nadal,
Filipino Performance Artist/ Activist
[email protected]

A couple of comments from two Filipino doctors who e-mailed me their responses:

From the Philippines

Dear All,

Obviously, the writer chose the slur on Philippine medical schools because we probably have the largest number of foreign medical graduates in the US (since the 60s) and maybe that’s all the writer knew. Signs of insecurity perhaps by Americans who view Filipino health professionals as threats to the job security of American doctors and nurses?

And obviously, the writer is a racist. Why include that scene on Teri Hatcher checking if the doctor who did her tests (?) was a graduate from a Philippine medical school–meaning, the doctor who checked her could have made an error in diagnosing her menopause because he was a foreigner, ergo, foreign doctors are prone to errors. The scene could just have been about checking if there was some lab error.

Filipinos everywhere should bombard the show’s producers with protest and just stop patronizing shows that are racist, specifically, Desperate Housewives.

A few years ago, when Claire Danes did a movie in the Philippines and had scenes in a mental institute (which was supposed to be the pits), she later declared in an interview that the PHilippines was a horrid place, dirty and full of cockroaches. The Congress voted her persona non grata and banned all her movies here for some years.

Filipinos may have been exploited and trampled all over by the Americans–but I think that being the exploited one is far, far superior in God’s eyes to being the oppressor and imperialist.

Thanks for bringing our attention to this racial slur. Things like this tend to bring out the nationalist in every Filipino.

From a Filipino Doctor in the Mid-West:

I don’t watch Desperate Housewives but I watched the clip you sent me. Unfortunately, the writer does not know that many americans go abroad in the Carribean, South America and Asia to take up medicine. Hence, the writer is downgrading the Philippine medical education, not just the Filipinos. The bad effect of this show will be to stereotype Filipino doctors as inferior to American trained physicians. Of course, that is not true. To fight racisim is to educate the racist.

There are probably several petitions going around right now, demanding that the ABC network apologize for this racist remark.

What are we going to do about this?






9 responses to “The TV show,”Desperate Housewives,” Insults Filipino Doctors in America”

  1. MommyBa Avatar

    I personally am appalled by what I saw. I also wrote about this in my blog. I am one with you in this petition.

    Thank you for starting this petition !

  2. HC Avatar

    I beleived Filipinos is the best! compared to the other nationality…

  3. Albert Avatar

    The scathing script was totally uncalled for. While I don’t particularly blame Ms. Hatcher (she’s just following scripts), I do loathe the writers for the show.
    They’re acting like mediocre comedians who thinks they have to use the four-lettered words to be funny.

  4. teri Avatar

    Before anything else let me say that I’m a Filipina living in the Philippines, and I in fact like Desperate Housewives. But also, before every single Filipino in the world gets fired up over every single derogatory comment made on us, maybe it’s time for a little reality check.

    Many times we Filipinos take offense at everything, call it amor propio. But we forget also to see that the reason why we have given the world this opinion of us, is also very much the doing of FILIPINOS themselves.

    In this episode, Susan wants to check on the doctors DIPLOMA because she wants to make sure it’s not from SOME MED SCHOOL IN THE PHILIPPINES. Let me remind everyone that in the Philippines, you can get any diploma you want from any school you want, courtesy of our famous experts in Recto. I take offense that the med schools are berated, but I’m reminding you of that diploma-related fact.

    And yes, we can take the Clair Danes example as well. We take offense that she called the country dirty and full of cockroaches. Well, maybe it’s because where she went, she did see those things. And hello, the Philippines is definitely not the cleanest country in the world. It isn’t even the cleanest country in Asia. I just find it ironic that Pinoys (myself included) are so quick to take offense when these issues are REALITIES. Why don’t we fix these things up first, so that we have the RIGHT to be offended.

    Oh, and here’s another one. Pinoys are offended when the Filipina is usually either a maid or a prostitute in movies and TV shows. Well, who is really to blame for that? Isn’t it true that right now there are indeed millions of Filipina OFWs working abroad as maids? Too bad that it has turned into a stereotype, but equally so, why are African Americans always portrayed as thugs and hoodlums? And as for the prostitute image, we just have to remember the US bases years. The vicinities were (and still are) crawling with girlie bars).

    I would like to think of myself as nationalistic, but we have to look into the heart of these issues. We are too onion-skinned about the slightest comments, and yet we do nothing about improving the situation. I understand how the Filipino doctors in the US might feel about this, but if you were to look out for every single Filipino-related racial slur, then you might as well quit your jobs and make a full-time crusade of it because there won’t be an end to it.

    Think of it this way. If a person comes up to you and says “you stink,” then maybe you should take a bath.

  5. juan Avatar

    teri, its not time to remind filipinos of why foreigners call as this way or that way. Filipinos are not perfect. we are at fault for what our country has become.

    but it is never justified for a foreigner to to say those hurtful, racist, unfounded words against Filipinos in the field of medicine and the whole Filipino citizenry.

    i don’t see your point of instead defending our race, you emphasize the blame to your co-filipinos for how Foreigners treat us.

    Have the Filipino doctors or the Philippine Med school for that matter did something in particular that prompted such uncalled for, absolutely racist remarks?!

    let me quote your statement:
    “Think of it this way. If a person comes up to you and says “you stink,” then maybe you should take a bath.”

    That is if you really stink, no problem! Blame it on yourself !

    But Filipino doctors don’t stink if I may say so. The racist remarks is completely bias! It is destructive of the Filipino Race!

  6. Michelle Avatar

    Whoever you are, this you should remember. A diploma that was bought at Recto will never get anywhere in the United States. To be a physician in the U.S. , you undergo 4 qualifying exams and an additional 4 to 5 years of residency in one of the big hospitals in the United States. There is a government agency here called the Board of Medical Quality Assurance that makes sure that you are a qualified physician to practice medicine in the United States. A diploma that was bought , I am sure, will never make it even just to the first step of the exam. The doctors that graduated from the Phillippines are achievers. They worked hard, very hard indeed to attain their licences. There are lot of successful physicians in the United States. While they live a good life here because they are being paid good, they are also devoted healers. They are very well liked by the Americans.Filipinos are the most patient and hardworking people I have ever seen. They are very intelligent and they are the most humble and hospitable human beings I have ever seen. I believe these qualities do not befit you.

    I am a caucasian with Spanish ancestry. I can not believe that you , a Filipina as you claim would belittle youir own race. I would be ashame of myself if I were you.You only see the negative part of your own ancestry. Do you know that there are other foreign medical graduates here in the U.S. ? India ,China , Pakistan are third world countries wherein these other doctors came from. These countries are far worse than your own Phillippines. Thailand, Cambodia and Amsterdam has more prostitutes. They are stinky places too. There are Americans who practices quack medics (they have always been caught;nothing like that thrives here). All the dirty practices and kind of life are not seen only in the Philippines. The Philippines (your country)maybe dirty or stinky or full of prostitutes but the Filipino health care professionals do not deserve to be demeaned the way that writer did.

    You said, you are in your country. I think you deserve not to get out of your country which you claim to be stinky. You deserve to be stuck in there to clean up your said country. There’s no place for you outside your world because you will never have an ally; someone who will be there for you during times like this.You will be squashed alone in your own world. What a pity.

    It is a pity that you only see the ugly part of your ancestry and your own country. By the way , Iam a caucasian married to a Filipino physician, and he is great. I am an American registrered nurse and I have other Filipina friends who are nurses. They are not like you, I am sure. They are the prettiest creatures I have ever seen.Above all, they are very proud of their country and their people.THEY ARE NOT AT ALL LIKE YOU.

    What ABC aired on T.V. (Desperate Housewives) was wrong and they have to straighten up their own wrongdoing . It is very racist and it is no justice to the devotion of Filipino healthcare professionals to their patients.

  7. __ Avatar

    they were just jealous because Filipinos were smarter and more talented…

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