ON THE PINAY DH PORTRAYAL IN HARRY AND PAUL

MEDIA STATEMENT
09 October 2008

Source: Emmi de Jesus, Secretary General, 371-2302 / 0197-322-1203

ON THE PINAY DH PORTRAYAL IN HARRY AND PAUL

Much has been said about the portrayal of a Filipina maid in the BBC comedy sketch “Harry and Paul.” That it is racist and it demeans Filipinas specifically those who work as domestic helpers in foreign countries is undebatable, notwithstanding the supposed artistic license of the show’s genre.

But the crux of this issue must go beyond the show, beyond seeking apology from the producers of the show. What should alarm and enrage every Filipino is the fact that the portrayal of the Filipina mirrors a growing view of Filipina women in foreign countries – that of domestic helpers prone to abuse and exploitation. This is not the first time that Filipinos working outside the country fall prey to racist depiction and comments. This will not be the last. Ultimately, accountable to this is the government’s continued export of Filipinas as commodities in exchange for badly needed dollars.

GABRIELA National Alliance of Women in the Philippines found the Filipina portrayal in “Harry and Paul” offensive. But more than that, we find the hypocrisy of the Philippine government revolting.

For decades now Filipinas overseas have been maltreated, raped and abused with nary an iota of concern from the Philippine government as in the case of Grace, an OFW in Kuwaitraped by her employer and turned away by the Philippine embassy when she sought help. Nor was there this much show of indignation from the Arroyo government when the 22-year old “Hazel” was raped by a US soldier in Okinawa, Japan early this year.

The Philippine government is seeking public apology from the show’s producers and the British Broadcasting Corporation not in defense of the Filipino dignity but in defense of its labor-export policy especially on the eve of the Philippine hosting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The Philippine government is not affronted that Filipinas are being exported abroad as domestic helpers and/or entertainers vulnerable to ridicule, exploitation and abuse. The Philippine government is flustered the “anti-Pinay” portrayal in “Harry and Paul” mirrors the current state of many Filipina overseas workers, thus, puts into question its claim that the Philippines is the showcase of how migration leads to development.

Because clearly, a Filipina maid in a foreign land being tasked by a neighbour to seduce a despondent Englishman, speaks not of development but of degradation.

GABRIELA Philippines
35 Sct. Delgado St, Brgy. Laging Handa
Quezon City, 1103 Philippines
TeleFax: (632) 374 44 23
E-mail: internationalrelations@gabrielaphilippines.org

GABRIELA is a grassroots-based alliance of more than 200 women’s organizations, institutions, desks and programs in the Philippines. We seek to wage a struggle for the liberation of women and the rest of our people.

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