Teri Hatcher and ABC ‘ s Desperate Housewives scriptwriter angers Filipinos, not just Filipino doctors!

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I was one of the first few ones to point gun on Teri Hatcher for her script’s “derogatory” remarks on a segment of Desperate Housewives (aired on ABC TV) and sent emails to friends and groups of the news. I even made some comments on the remark, highlighting a racial slur that went offhand the scriptwriters control to Teri Hatcher’s rattling mouth. But after reading numerous comments from several other blogs (On my way home, Buddy Blogs and numerous others), I was surprised that the remark actually touched base on several key issues (usually the negative ones like the nursing scandal,the quality of education for some medical schools in the Philippines, and the MD-RN, Brain Drain Phenomenon) that affected Philippines in general and the medical profession in particular.

ABC TV’s Desperate Housewives website is silent on this issue (yet) but their message board is swarming with comments, mostly empathic to the offended Filipinos.

The TV script and phraseology is obviously derogatory not just to Filipino MDs and nurses but to all Pinoys. This was the general sentiment going on among Filipinos and is clearly expressed in the petition here.

The remarks drew many more comments after it was aired on ABS CBN Evening news, and featuring Cesar Montano aka Buboy( an actor and member of the actors guild of America), who said Hatcher had control of what she will say even on scripts and wanted an apology from her.

Even the Dept of Foreign Affairs has lodged a complaint letter to ABC TV and demanded a rectification of the “injustice” caused by airing the said segment of the show. Maybe Teri hatcher doesn’t know yet or that ABC lay dumb, and this story goes national now.

Martin Bautista MD, a gastroenterologist from Oklahoma who went home to the Philippines just recently, explained that perhaps, the script was alluding to some male caucasian who cant make it to their own med schools and studied elsewhere, like the Philippines (The 5th Pathway for them). Dr. Bautista believe we should not be threatened by such “mediocre scriptwriting” and ultimately said “A physician’s competence ultimately depends on one’s capacity to learn arising from a deep compassion to care for our patients.”

Jun Anteola is definitely offended and he wants the whole ABC TV staff responsible for that slur to rectify the issue. For Jun who loved and sacrificed so much for his profession here, a question on his credibility and integrity as a practitioner is all too much. I would be hurt too.

Nomadic Thoughts went further that the US have far more malpractice suits than any country there is (Philippines included) and if they would base the “quality of medical practice” in the US and here, they should have looked in their backyards first before insulting some other’s quality of medical education! I bet thats another good point!

As of the moment a response from Malacanang had demanded an apology from ABC TV. Key personalities (like the PMA President Sabili, Sec of Health Duque, Sen. Biazon and Sec Ermita) have expressed their indignation and would want an official apology (Biazon wants a ban) from the staff of ABC TV. I hope the senate would not launch another legislative inquiry into this matter.

Several things is clear though. Jun Anteola is right, the damage has been done and to rectify the issue, we should also address the root cause of all this so called “slur carnival”. An apology may pacify our wounded dignity but it would not address the issue on the quality of education on some medical schools here or elsewhere. Maybe the Philippine Medical Association has to look into the root cause of such “negative image” of some medical schools (if indeed there is) and find some solutions to it.

Ultimately, for us Filipino MDs, as what Dr. Bautista has said it is how well we care for our patients that determines the level of professional competence. That even though I am as displeased as anyone with this racial slur, I wouldn’t slow a bit on giving my hundred percent best surgery for my patients, Filipinos or otherwise.

Update: ABC TV Apologizes, just two days from airing DH infamous slur, and a storm of protest. So what now? Just like that?

Dr. Remo-tito Aguilar co-founded #HealthXPh. A board certified orthopedic surgeon, he is Chief of Clinics at General Santos Medical Center and Medical Specialist II Orthopedics at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Dr. Aguilar is a healthcare social media evangelist and writes his medical musings at The Cast & Curious (www.remomd.com).