Thursday, April 17, 2008


Remember the incident last year involving "Desperate Housewives" and "The Daily Show?" I wrote a letter to circulate which I never got around to sending. Here it is for posterity. (And also because I've nothing new to post)

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To Marc Cherry, Jon Stewart, and any other writers and comedians my countrymen may choose to set their sights on in the future:

I would like to apologize for the actions of Filipinos all over the world regarding some jokes you made on your respective shows. Rest assured not all Filipinos are thin-skinned crybabies who make a fuss over throwaway lines and fail to understand satire.

To the staff of “Desperate Housewives.” Some of us understand that writing a weekly show is difficult and that you may not have time to be sensitive to everything. Yes, “Philippines” is a placeholder term for any far-flung country that Susan thinks is backward. It’s just unfortunate that you chose a country that sends a lot of its doctors and nurses to yours. A greater number of us did not ask for your apology but we accept it in the spirit it was offered and we thank you.

To the staff of “The Daily Show.” Those of us who watch understand that what you do is satire and that Samantha Bee was actually complimenting Cory Aquino in that segment. The smarter writers and bloggers have already pointed that out, but you of all people know how stupid people can get and how mainstream media magnifies this further. If you think your news channels are biased, silly, and sensationalist, you should watch “TV Patrol.”

Please understand that we Filipinos have this tradition called bayanihan, which used to mean the entire village helping move a nipa hut to another location. It has since come to mean the community pitching in times of trouble.

The problem with bayanihan is that the focus of the act is the lifting of the house, not the ultimate destination. We’re happy lending our hands (or in this case, signatures) to whatever cause some other countryman deems appropriate and consider it a good thing. Not everyone who lifts those houses care about the occupants personally – they may not even care where they’re moving to – they’re happy as long as they pitch in to help.

You see, the majority of the signatories in those online petitions do not even watch your shows. They did not even click on the YouTube links to judge for themselves, they just sign it out of a sense of bayanihan. The fact that the petition is still circulating even after the apology has been issued says a lot about these forwarders’ critical faculties.

We just go with the flow, carrying the house on our backs.

We may speak English well and are steeped in your culture but not everyone can appreciate the kind of comedy you do. We call our senators and congressmen “honorable” with a straight face. Our current president, who is accused of rigging elections, talks about good governance and honesty while the man she deposed for (and has been convicted of) plunder calls her out all the time for being corrupt.

Both of them do this with straight faces for we, as a people, are irony-impaired.

Well, not all of us. The people who actually watch and enjoy your shows on cable are the ones who aren’t demanding apologies and will continue to remain your fans.

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