Desperate plea for publicity, or just a bad joke best forgotten?

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I missed this one:

ABC Apologizes for ‘Housewives’ Joke
ABC Studios sorry for racial slur on ‘Desperate Housewives’

Never having seen Desperate Housewives, I wasn’t especially interested in any news related to it, but I can see why this one would draw such ire from my fellow Pinoys and Pinays. On the other hand, my own opinion on the matter is similar to that of actor Alec Mapa, a Filipino-American actor with a recurring role on the show:

“The last time I was in Manila, I saw an infant walking through rush-hour traffic with her hand held out begging for change. Clearly, we have bigger concerns in the Philippines than something a fictional character said on television. Having said that, it’s unfortunate that the Philippines was used as a punch line. My family is filled with doctors and medical professionals. I know first hand from them that the medical schools in the Philippines are topnotch. Anyone of us would be lucky to be under the care of any doctor or healthcare professional from the PI.”

The sad fact of the matter is that medical doctors trained in the Philippines cannot immediately practice their profession if they were to emigrate to the United States. Most Filipino-trained physicians I know end up going back to school for a nursing degree, mostly because they’re aware of the difficulty and expense of obtaining certification to practice medicine here. The American Medical Association claims that their restrictions on foreign medical school graduates were put in place to ensure that the quality of medical care that Americans receive remains the same, regardless of where their physicians may have finished school. And quite frankly, as someone who relies on a team of medical professionals (gastroenterologist, internist, ob/gyn) to keep her system running smoothly, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

In any case, I agree with Mapa. Good God, the mere fact that the Philippines is desperately losing whatever physicians it does have should be of primary concern, not what someone says in passing on some television show in the United States. When I attended college in Manila in the late ’80s, there were only about a dozen accredited nursing schools in the entire metropolitan area. Now, however, reports are that that number has multiplied, although apparently the government shut down a few in 2005 for their substandard teaching and curriculum, not to mention the low passing rate of its graduates. Quite a few of these nursing schools have special “fast-track” training programs for doctors wanting to re-engineer their careers and start over again as nurses — in a foreign country.

Godawful political and bureaucratic corruption. Children being sold into prostitution, often to service male, middle-aged sex tourists from the US, Europe, Japan, and Australia. A crumbling healthcare system (one report I saw on TV while I was there documented the horrifying lack of ambulances in Manila, with one hit-and-run victim forced to wait five hours before one finally arrived).

What the hell are these government officials doing, wasting their precious time and resources wailing about some stupid TV show in the United States, when they have people literally dying in the streets?