Laughing-stocks

Anthony Chua


Again, overseas Filipino workers (OFW) had been a subject of ridicule, and yet again Filipinos all over the world react heatedly to the discrimination issue.

In a comedy skit in the Sept. 26 episode of the TV show Harry and Paul, starring British comedians Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, of British Broadcasting Company (BBC), a bumbling, gullible Filipina domestic worker was shown teasing one of the show’s hosts.

The humorous scene drew the ire from Filipino officials and various OFW groups. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo summoned British Ambassador Peter Beckingham to discuss the matter. The British Embassy in Manila issued a statement stressing the significant role Filipinos play in the British society for their invaluable contributions to the science and service sectors. However the diplomatic mission did not issue an apology saying that it respects BBC’s editorial independence.

Working in a foreign land with tons of sacrifices and difficulties is never a laughing matter. The massive diaspora of Filipinos in search for greener pastures has made our kababayans susceptible to discrimination and maltreatment. We have heard and seen OFWs falling victims to their foreign employers’ abuse and oppression. But because of their need to provide a brighter future to their family back home, they willfully submit themselves to shame, ridicule and sometimes disgrace and death. This has made the reputation of the Filipino race marginalized, a bitter pill being swallowed by OFWs whenever they decide to work abroad.

We’ve been through this kind of treatment. Last year a character in the US television show Desperate Housewives questioned the authenticity of the diplomas and certificates as well as the credibility of Filipino physicians practicing in the US. Just like the Harry and Paul issue, the Philippine government and cause-oriented groups had demanded apology from ABC, the network that aired the show. ABC issued an apology thereafter.

Both Desperate Housewives and Harry and Paul issue has proven that we, Filipinos, are capable of uniting ourselves whenever we feel our kababayans are being ridiculed and discriminated. These incidents have also revealed our defiance for being pushovers by foreigners in their native soils. Moreover, these also surfaced out something noble that has long been dormant in our race: our capacity to unite ourselves to salvage our dignity whenever it is being maligned by other nationalities.

If only we can join our hands for the development of our selves and of beloved country, we can move forward from being laughing-stocks to become sages of the orient seas.

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