07 October 2008

Racist Pinay Remark by BBC's Comedy Show

Photo courtesy of manu_antigua
Another international portrayal on how a Filipina overseas filipino worker, specifically a domestic helper, looks and acts has stirred the female rights advocacy groups again. This time the source of their ire was the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) segment in the popular 'Harry and Paul' comedy show, which was was aired last 26 September 2008.

It can be recalled that the US television network ABC has previously apologized for its "Desperate Housewivs" show, where actress Teri Hatcher questioned the competence of Filipino doctors since the writers believed that the medical schools in the country are dubious.

In the BBC skit, a postman approached comedian Harry Enfield, who was clearly agitated and shouting at someone, and asked him what was going. It then turned to comedian Paul Whitehouse, who was seated on a chair on his lawn, and beside him was a young girl wearing a grey uniform and an apron gyrating and dancing lasciviously. Harry then told the postman that he was shouting at his Filipino maid to do her job and get his friend Paul to mate with her.

He kept ordering the girl to gyrate and dance in front of Paul and even instructed her to "hump him". When an indifferent Paul stood up to go inside the house, Harry scolded the Filipina girl, telling her to get out and just go. The scene closed with the postman sidling up to the Filipina, whispering to her as they walked off together. Check the whole video here:

Looking at the video again and again, I realized that it is really sad and revolting at the same time to know how some people get their kicks by making fun of foreigners and brand them as the lowest of the low. Some Filipinos are guilty of these also, but that will be featured in another article.

The BBC skit is very racist because it tries to depict the humiliating situation of many Filipinas abroad who earned their living doing the dirty jobs of other people just to feed their families back home.

While it may be true that some Filipina domestic helpers in England end up doing disgusting work like what BBC portrayed, it is still not an excuse to publicly announce what they are doing even if the purpose is not to humiliate them. It is hard already for many of these women to leave their families and children just to earn a living in a foreign land without being subjected to public ridicule. They do not need anymore of these.

It is a good thing that Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros is urging the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to file a complaint before the British government and demand an apology for that offensive portrayal of a Filipina. However, the government should also do more than that. There is a need to address the root cause of the problem and that is widespread poverty.