On that desperately-seeking-decent-ratings television show, Desperate Housewives, the main character, Susan Mayer, asks (during a medical consultation), “Can I check these diplomas? Just to make sure they aren’t, like, from some med school in the Philippines?”
So Susan, a.k.a Teri Hatcher, is insinuating that Filipinos are not competent doctors. And if I read a bit more into that comment, I would say that Susan and her puppeteers (directors, writers, producers) think that all Filipinos in all healthcare professions are just a bunch of boobs.
If there was some truth behind what was said, then we wouldn’t be so mad.
And when I say “we,” I mean American people of Filipino descent and Filipinos recently emigrated. Oh sure, you can joke about how we—as a people—always arrive two hours later than we tell you we’d arrive; have eaten—or know someone (usually a relative) that has eaten a canine companion; cannot drive a car or read a road map; or can wordlessly communicate our thoughts and desires with a combination of eyebrow-raising and lip-pursing. And what about all those Filipinos working on cruise ships these days? Or as nannies? Can I get some good observational humor on these topics, Jerry?
But a joke about Filipinos and their capability as health professionals? C’mon. How stupid can you be? Do you really think that you can question—even under the guise of a joke—the credibility of Filipinos as doctors, physical therapists, pharmacists, nurses, etc.? Have you been to a hospital lately?
I have two female cousins who are nurses. My uncle is a retired pediatrician. I have another male cousin who is trained as a paramedic and a nurse. I have an aunt who is a psychiatrist. My mother’s cardiologist? A Filipina. Our family physician? Filipino. My dad’s dentist? Filipino. When I was in college, I knew at least twenty Filipinos or Filipino-Americans who were taking nursing courses, pre-med courses, or physical therapy courses. I’m not saying that medicine is in our blood. But the joke isn’t funny because it’s so apparently NOT true that we are incompetent. Why not choose another country not known for so many of its people in the health profession? What about Greenland? Now that might be funny.
At this point, I don’t think that we are looking for an apology. It seems that most words coming from Hollywood are void of sincerity or truth. So my advice to the writers, producers, directors, and actors of Desperate Housewives is this: DON’T GET SICK ANY TIME SOON. I wouldn’t want you to fall into the hands of some poorly educated little brown brother who may accidentally misdiagnose your burning case of gonorrhea, dismiss it as just a common cold, and send you packing with merely a handful of Vitamin C pills—and a “Bahala na …”!
Photo courtesy of ABC