(Privilege Speech of Senator Loren Legarda on October 8, 2008)

My dear colleagues in the Senate of the noble Filipino race: Filipinos have once again been a target of discrimination in the foreign media– this time from “Harry and Paul,” a program aired by the British Broadcasting Company or BBC last September 26. In the skit entitled “Mating with the Filipino maid,” a mailman approached Paul who was shouting at Harry who is sitting on a chair on the lawn. Dancing around and beside Harry was a young woman, with haphazard hair, wearing a maid’s uniform.

Paul told the mailman that he was getting his Filipino maid to mate with Harry. He kept on shouting at the Filipino maid for the maid to do her job and get the other man to mate with her. He ordered her: “Hump him!” “Show him your rear!” All the Filipina maid’s efforts were to no avail and the first man reprimanded her and yelled at her to get out. Finally, the Filipina maid, grumbling, walked away and the mailman joined her.

The actors and producers of the show, including BBC itself, just showed the world their ugly rear.

There is a substantial Filipino population in the United Kingdom now. To date, 150,000 Filipinos were counted to be living there.

Of course, like the British, Filipinos are firm believers of the freedom of speech. We give value even to speech that is abominable. We enshrined in our own Constitution the democratic ideal of marketplace of ideas where people from diverse backgrounds are able to criticize and be criticized. But we owe it to our race, the race of Rizal, of Bonifacio, of Mabini, of Ninoy, and of the modern-day heroes, the hard-working Overseas Filipino workers, that we condemn their victimization. The victimization of the Filipino people. There is just so much insult the sensibilities of the noble Filipino race can take. I should say I am outraged! And quite rightly I think. To be sensitive towards the identity and nationality of those we verbally attack, mock, or vilified is an ideal rooted in peaceful coexistence. This involves respect for people with different identity. To date, BBC has not yet apologized. So much for the swiftness of the BBC in delivering news. Maybe they think they did nothing wrong. But when a nation felt insulted, isn’t that enough reason to ask for forgiveness?

There was the desperate attack by the Desperate Housewives on our medical practitioners abroad. And now this BBC’s rear of mockery. We must condemn these assaults with resounding assertion of our dignity lest this become commonplace. Our inability to defend the honor of the Filipinos, particularly those exiled abroad as overseas Filipino workers will only strengthen this pattern, this trend and may even give the impression to the world that these insults are true. Overseas Filipino workers are dispersed and constitute a minority in almost all parts of the world. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Filipinos and Filipinas are being physically, sexually, and psychologically assaulted in their places of employment abroad. Filipinos abroad are vulnerable. We must act to protect their dignity. I have proposed Senate Resolution No. 708 expressing the sense of the Senate condemning in strongest terms the demeaning portrayal of Filipina migrant workers in the BBC comedy program which has tarnished the image of Filipinos abroad.

I point to the issue of comity and solidarity which a great country such as the United Kingdom owes to the Filipino nation. It is not too much to ask for respect. We would be remiss in our duties not just as senators, but as Filipinos in whose veins flows the blood of greatness, a race who historically showed the world its worth.

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