Too much emphasis has been put on the “racist” comment by Teri Hatcher’s character on the Season-4 opener of Desperate Housewives. Hatcher’s airhead character, Susan, remarked, “Okay. Before going further, can I check these diplomas ‘cause I would just like to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines?” Much of the Filipino community in the US is incensed over the line, and more so are Pinoys in the Philippines.

I received invitations yesterday to sign an online petition that demanded an apology from the DH actor, writers and producers. Links to forums and blog posts were also forwarded as indirect ways of saying, “Hey, check this one and work yourself out over a stupid line.” Frankly, I can’t bring myself to the level of emotional furor over the stupid remark about our homegrown medical professionals for a number of reasons. For one, the US requires ALL medical professionals to get certifications before they can work in hospitals and clinics. Therefore, whatever country you come from, you have to pass those exams before being allowed to work as a doctor or nurse. And if you have been in the medical field in the US, then you’re no less brilliant than the average medical professional who graduated from somewhere else.

Hollywood has been taking a jab at all ethnic, political and other groups in the US, as well as in other countries. Hello! Anybody ever heard of those tired Canadian jokes spewed by stand-up comics, late night show hosts and other TV characters? Yet Pinoys don’t question this decades-old practice. Filipinos are no better at treating other ethnic groups with respect. We make fun of other people’s accent (even our own), religion, skin color, hair, gender and ethnic background. Now that we become the target of a joke, we fall into the victim mentality. Garbage in, garbage out.

A lot of Filipinos–not all, but a lot–who have chosen to settle in other countries do have a habit of looking down at those who elected to stay in the Philippines (starstruck ignoramuses, anyone?). I don’t blame them for giving up on this country. With loads of incompetent buffoons in the government, corrupt politicians that bleed our coffers dry, grimy cities, mindless entertainment, poor public infrastructure, insurgency, kidnappings, hellish traffic and garbage strewn everywhere, it’s not entirely difficult to say paalam to this country. I was at the US embassy last week for a business visa application and it just amazed me how the immigration line seemed to have no end. Entire families, grandparents, children, executive types, yuppies and jologs were filing for immigration like there was no tomorrow. I guess that on any given day, there are only two lines at the said embassy: immigration and others. This brings to mind how incensed my boyfriend was as he told me how a pinoy “overstaying visitor” working at a restaurant laughed at his face when he informed the ignorant sod that he was returning to the Philippines. I wonder if I’d get the same treatment.

For all our self-proclaimed glory, we have allowed cheating and corruption to flourish. Jumping on the throat of any foreigner who pokes fun at what is wrong is not the way to deal with our problems. I say, prosecute the ‘tards that attempted to game the medical and nursing board exams and improve the system.

That Malacanang joins in the call for an apology makes the whole fiasco stink to high heavens. You just know that the OA-o’-meter has shot up when the palace and the DFA have joined the mass hysteria. Doesn’t this petty government have anything important to dip its toes into? Cleaning up the professional regulatory board is a good start.

Desperate Housewives is insipid. Teri Hatcher is not funny. The script was lame. The remark is dumb. But I don’t think that it reflected the truth about the degree of professionalism and excellence of Philippine-trained health care workers. They are not barred from working in the States because of poorly written TV scripts, but because of the cheating fiasco that backfired on the honest.

Insulting those who make your loved ones’ stay at the hospital a little more comfortable is a poor way to pay them back. However, the furor over Hatcher’s line is too much.