IT USUALLY takes an ordeal of wit, creativity, and incredible timing for comedians to craft and deliver a decent, sellable punch line. But vending humor in exchange for insult makes it unacceptable.

However hilarious, some American comedy shows have bluntly offended Filipinos by remarks mentioned in the lines of some shows. It is as if Filipinos and our attributes are treated as a mere punch line.

Of course, everyone had a dose of the news about the Desperate Housewives’ September 30 episode wherein actress Teri Hatcher’s character Susan frustratingly commented on the eligibility of her doctor and deliberately questioned if his diploma was “from some med school in the Philippines.” After the slur on Filipino doctors, former president Corazon Aquino and her family cried out foul after a five-minute skit in The Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with John Stewart maligned Aquino’s reputation along with other female global political leaders.

The most recent smear came from talk show host Jimmy Kimmel on his show Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel was prying on screen actor Josh Hartnett’s sojourn in Mt. Diwalwal, Davao while shooting for a film when the host threw a line about Filipinos in the Philippines not being able to speak in English.

After concluding that these lines were done in bad taste and lack exact bases, regardless of being read from the script or being spontaneously delivered, vehement protests in the form of forums and petitions demanding a public apology contagiously sprung out. In general, the reactions express disappointment and disgust over the harsh implications the remarks have bestowed upon the Filipino culture and educational system.

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Apparently, ABC Studios, Desperate Housewives’ home channel, has already issued an official statement of apology, declaring the absence of an intention to “disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.” This was in response to the letter of complaint sent by Los Angeles Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon to Mark Pedowitz, president of ABC Studios.

Despite this apology, arguments about appropriate moves to supposedly bring justice to offended Filipino doctors carry on to prolong the conflict. With two new instances of offensive remarks against Filipinos being hyped by protests, the tension continues to thicken.

Making fun of others mistakes and inadequacies, whether it has a basis or not, is not an act of intelligence. Those punch lines may tickle other people’s bones but on hindsight, they are piercing other people’s hearts.

I am enraged by the remarks not because they might be racist in context, but basically because these misconceptions are being tolerated. How will our respected medical professionals, government leaders, and language experts feel if these sloppy remarks about our identity and integrity will just be swept under the rug?

The lesson here I believe has much to do about sensitivities and being sensitive, of thinking before acting. We should all be aware of what we are doing and be insightful of how our actions may affect others. A careful examination of our future actions might even be our lifesaver in the end.


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