Not again!: TV show ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ slammed for blackface in upcoming episode

This really isn’t a good look.

Fresh from backlash from a fat-shaming episode, long-running Filipino drama anthology Maalaala Mo Kaya (aka Memories or MMK) once again stoked the anger of woke netizens who are calling them out for their use of blackface.

It all started yesterday, when actress Maymay Entrata tweeted teaser photos for an upcoming episode she stars in this week. In it, she and her co-stars can be seen with visibly painted dark skin and curly wigs.

“Watch out next for the life of Judith Manap that’s filled with dreams, inspiration, hard work, and love,” she said in Filipino.

She also posted selfies while in character.

MMK is a weekly show that has been running since 1991, with episodes based on real-life stories. In this Saturday’s episode, Entrata plays Manap, a member of the indigenous Aeta community who won a village beauty pageant.

Like other MMK episodes, this one is meant to be an inspirational story, but a lot of people on Twitter were enraged instead.

“This is blackface, appropriating the local aeta community. Local artists, especially as role models to young and impressionable fans, should know better,”@itsjessmehoney said.

MMK has always been problematic in casting roles but it’s more saddening when artists don’t say no to these roles.”

@iyacrzo was shocked to find out that some people are actually defending the show and its actors.

“omg the mmk thing w the nonaetas doing blackface,,, people are actually defending that?? we arent saying ur faves suck omfg we’re saying they shouldnt accept roles that arent meant for them. get actors who are actually aeta??” she wrote.

And she’s not wrong. Although many are calling MMK out for the problematic episode, many see nothing wrong with it.

Twitter user @rossettetugade even got into a discussion with @gardekeith_, who defended the show, saying they did not do blackface to degrade the Aetas. He also argued that other factors are considered when casting actors.

“WJEKDDKSKSSKJS WHY IS BLACKFACE IN PINOY MAINSTREAM TV STILL A THING?????? Like…. cast actual aeta actors??????” @rossettetugade said.

To this, @gardekeith_ replied:

“If you work in a tv production you’ll know you can’t just simply do that, a lot of things need to take in consideration like the acting background. I don’t think the actors being colored like that is a thing, it’s just to represent them in the best way they can.”

His argument is problematic but sheds light on a harsh reality in the Philippine entertainment industry that’s overwhelmingly light-skinned.

Most actors in Philippine showbiz have lighter skin tones than most Filipinos and many of them are mestizos and mestizas, or Filipinos that are part caucasian. There is a lack of darker-skinned actors on TV, including performers from specific minority groups.

This won’t be the first time blackface is featured in MMK either. The show has resorted to darkening the skin of their actors in the past and was even called out for it in March last year when it cast non-Aeta actors for an episode about Norman King, the first Aeta to graduate from the country’s premier college, the University of the Philippines.

ABS-CBN, the network that airs MMK, also drew flak in February last year for casting mestizo actors in Bagani, a show inspired by Filipino mythological figures, and then darkening their skin tone.

This article, Not again!: TV show ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’ slammed for blackface in upcoming episode, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!