Calls from angry viewers, and over 30,000 names on an online petition truly got the attention of ABC Studios and the producers of American comedy series Desperate Housewives after the show aired its controversial September 30 episode.
An excerpt from the online petition declared: "A statement that devalues Filipinos in healthcare is extremely unfounded, considering the overwhelming presence of Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the medical field."
In one scene of the said Desperate Housewives episode, a doctor confronts Susan Mayer (played by actress Teri Hatcher) with the news about Susan experiencing menopause. During the doctor's explanation, the uptight Susan cuts him short with an apparent racist slur against Filipino medical schools.
Dr. Mayfair: "I know for a lot of women, the word ‘menopause' has negative connotations. The heart ageing, brittle bones, loss of sexual desire...."
Susan Mayer: "Before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? ‘Coz I would just like to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines."
The producers of Desperate Housewives and ABC Studios have become aware about the incident as it continues to draw attention in Philippine news shows and newspapers.
Even Filipino officials expressed their displeasure. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told GMANews.tv that he would write to the producers of the show to seek an apology and note the country's "vehement protest."
Senior cabinet member Eduardo Ermita also added that the apology should be sought "on behalf of our Filipino professionals."
ABC responded to the growing clamor by issuing a public apology.
The statement reads, "The producers of Desperate Housewives and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines.
''As leaders in broadcast diversity, we are committed to presenting sensitive and respectful images of all communities featured in our programs."
ABC, owned by The Walt Disney Co., added that it is considering editing the controversial episode on future airings and DVDs.