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 ABC.com to official statements from Filipino community-based organizations like NaFFAA, asking ABC.com 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.
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 YouTube.com. 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 ABC.com — 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, AboutMyRecovery.com, 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 abc.com, 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 ABC.com. You can sign the petition at
http://www.petitiononline.com/FilABC/ or you can reach them directly
And please feel free to forward this widely to other Filipinos/
Filipino Americans/ Asian Americans/ and other allies.
Filipino Performance Artist/ Activist
A couple of comments from two Filipino doctors who e-mailed me their responses:
From the Philippines
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?