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‘Desperate’ slur deleted; Filipino-Americans not satisfied

By Nimfa U. Rueda
Inquirer
First Posted 01:55:00 10/06/2007

Filed Under: Television, Racism

LOS ANGELES -- A spokesperson for ABC television network said the remark made by Teri Hatcher?s character in a recent episode of ?Desperate Housewives? maligning Filipino health professionals would be deleted.

Charissa Gilmore, ABC vice president for media relations said on Thursday (Friday in Manila) that the entire episode had been removed from digital platform and would not be available for viewing ?until edits have been made.?

The producers of the American TV series have started the process of editing out the controversial scene in the show?s Sept. 30 episode.

In a related development, ABC on Thursday sought a dialog with Filipino-American groups, which had earlier announced plans to hold pickets in front of the ABC offices in New York City, Burbank and Virginia.

Robert Mendez, the network?s vice president for diversity and talent development, was set to meet with the groups? representatives at the Trump Plaza Hotel in New York City one hour before the 6 p.m. protest rally.

Protest actions

The Filipino-American groups welcomed the dialog but vowed to continue protest actions against the giant network.

?We will organize pickets and other protest actions until ABC takes concrete steps to correct their mistake,? said Arnedo S. Valera, legal counsel for the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon) and executive director for the Washington DC-based Migrant Heritage Commission.

Valera said Mendez promised to consider ?seriously? the groups? demands, including a broadcast public apology, cultural sensitivity training for network staff, more shows depicting Filipinos and other minority groups as ?prominent, positive role models,? and support for Filipino-American projects that will strengthen diversity awareness.

The network had met Nafcon?s earlier demand to immediately edit out the controversial scene, in which Hatcher?s character tells her doctor: ?OK, before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Because I would just like to make sure they are not from some med school in the Philippines.?

ABC had also issued an apology on Thursday (Friday in Manila). But Nafcon said the one-paragraph apology was ?not proportionate to the damage [the show] has caused.?

In a statement e-mailed yesterday to the Inquirer, Nafcon spokesperson Rico Foz said: ?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 second largest immigrant group in the United States ... but ALL foreign-trained medical practitioners in this country.?

Long Island cardiologist Dr. Orlando Apiado, a Filipino who came to the United States in 1963, after obtaining his medical degree from the University of the Philippines in 1962, stated: ?I not only resent [the ?Desperate Housewives? quote], but I am mad. An apology is not enough; they should acknowledge the role of foreign medical graduates, particularly Filipino doctors from the early 1960s. For three decades as doctors, we have been serving America.?

New York anesthesiologist Dr. Benjamin Ileto, a medical graduate of Far Eastern University in Manila and who has been practicing in the United States since 1965, said: ?After 9/11, the most awarded healthcare providers were Filipinos from the Beekman Downtown Hospital near Wall Street.?

Demands

The Nafcon leaders and Sentosa 27 ++ nurses demanded a more proper apology from ABC Studios that would include: a) at least one broadcast apology before the show?s next episode, b) an investigation of the show?s writers and producers to find who wrote the line and who should be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, c) the cutting of the offensive scene from the episode permanently, as well as in all productions of DVDs and boxed sets of the series.

The group also threatened to call for a boycott of the series if an appropriate and timely apology was not issued by the network.

The Oct. 5 meeting with ABC will be attended by representatives from Nafcon, Migrant Heritage Commission, Philippine Forum and the Filipino-Americanmedical community in New York, said Nafcon executive director Robert Roy.

As Nafcon plans protest actions, Filipinos worldwide continue to sign petitions, circulate emails and post blog entries. The issue has also attracted the attention of mainstream media, including the Fox Network, Drudge Report, KTLA and several newspapers, TV and radio stations worldwide. With a report from Ruben V. Nepales in Los Angeles



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