Blackface Rears Its Ugly Head In The Philipines

25.3.11 ShaSha LaPerf 6 Comments

It looks a new show in the Philipines is causing quite a stir. The TV show is named Nita Negrita, which translates into "Little Black Girl Nita." the premise of the show is about an blasian girl who faces discrimination in while trying to live her life in the Philipines. The show apparently airs on a filipino channel in and out of the country. And we have one big problem here:

The actress, here is a teen star name Barbara Forteza.

Here's a clip from the show with Nita as a young girl at an orphanage:

And here's Forteza as Nita:

The makeup on this girls is just damn bad and lazy. the charcoal colored skin and pink lips are classic blackface. I'm not sure of what the black population is in the filipinos but I'm sure there is at least one blasian teen girl there that could have done this role. Why would you create a show about race yet choose not to find someone remotely close to said race?

Of course I'm speaking as a black woman living in America. I'm pretty familiar with blackface and its history. My reaction was similar back when I was big into Kpop and encountered the Bubble Sisters:

And I had another WTF moment when I saw some of my fave R&B singers forming this group in Japan:

When Harry Connick Jr. blasted an Austrialian perfromer on TV for being in blackface, there was a big debate on whether or not we as Americans should call other countries out on their shit. I understand that outside the US people are ignorant or blackface or simply choose to ignore the controversy over it due to the smaller populations of blacks in their countries so they don't expect an uproar. But given the topic, the producers of this show could have a put a little researching what black people look like. A black/filipino probably looks more like this...

Actress Sharon Leal is black and filipino
 ...then the charcoal they smeared across the face of Forteza.

I was curious to know how Filipinos are reaction to this. Given the fact that I found this story on 8Asians, it's seems that they are as shocked as I am. Jeff at 8Asians gave a good break down on why he didn't care for the show:

It may seem that this show is trying to confront the racial and color prejudices of the Philippines, but some are angry that instead of Nita being proud of her color, she is ashamed of herself and her color.  I managed to get through the first six episodes, and I’d have to agree with that.  Even if you don’t agree, frankly, you would have to admit that the make up job looks terrible.  It also sends a message that the show could be bothered to get a Filipina with African ancestry.  It’s not like there aren’t good looking ones out there. 

Hurly, owner of Thumbs Up Canada wasn't to please either:
I have a problem with this show, Nita Negrita. We have the Filipino channel at home where this show is on daily. I just watch the news but sometimes, you turn on the tv and this show comes up. And every time, we can’t help but feel disgusted with the way Nita is portrayed.

How does it “teach” the people that it’s ok to be black when you can’t even cast a black person to portray the main character? And everybody in the show is using derogatory words, expressions and attitudes towards the “black” character, reinforcing stereotypes and racist attitudes. And the main character doesn't even do anything to fight. She doesn't even have a Rosa Parks sort of attitude. She just sort of let the people be mean to her. It's kinda like Cinderella, only this time, she's got black make up smeared on her face. How pathetic it would be if this black Cinderella magically turns white when she sees her prince charming! Ugh!

Earl Villanueva added his two cents as well:

Nita's being a negrita is just an elephant in the room. It's obvious but no one seems to  notice. And that makes the show even more questionable—is it really necessary for a fair-skinned young actress to endure black makeup, which takes hours to put on and wash off afterwards?  Well, who knows, that elaborate make-0ver may be a forecast of a happy ending—Nita transforms into a pretty fair-complexioned heroine?

In fact it seems that quite a few Filipinos are going after this show. The Nita Negrita blog site has a list of very unhappy tweets from Filipinos about the show as well. Pinoys Stand Up is fighting against the show, and there's a Facebook page for anyone who finds the show offensive.

One of the creative directors of the show insists that Nita is portrayed in a positive light, but it seems that people actually watching the show have a different idea

The show is getting high-ratings but I wonder how much of that has to do with people being concerned with the way a bircial child is being treated. One on the one hand I want to commend the TV station for trying to bring to light a topic that were very rarely see for people that are black and Asian. But on the other hand, this is really just a blackface tragic mulatto story that just sets us all back a good 50 years.There's already a gap in relations between blacks and Asians and this is adding to the drama. Let's hope this show isn't coming back for another season.


  1. WTF, how could anyone think it was a good idea to put black makeup on her like that? If they couldn't find any Blasian actresses they could have just curled her hair or something. Anything would have made more sense than this. They chose the path of most resistance.

  2. I initially thought using a Filipino with a tanner complexion would still get serious side-eye from me but would still be more believable than using blackface. But yeah there really should have been more thought into casting here. I'd like to know why the TV producers decided to to this show but I can't find enough information in English about the decision.

  3. wtf if anything if shes blasian she would just be really tan and with curly hair not completely black

  4. Really shocked after looking at the photos~ It is really upsetting to see images of blacks and blasian being portrayed in such a horrendous manner. FAIL

  5. I agree with your post about this topic but I also feel we (blacks) seem to think its ok for black actors to paint themseleves white (white chicks film etc) so I feel we have to condemn it across the board not just when it offends us.

  6. In Philippines, an actress will have to work hard to get to more exposure on TV. So, they cannot just pick anybody from the ethnic group to put on TV. And the thought of offend the real race has not crossed their mind.

    We who grew up in the U.S. know that there is something wrong with that too, and we wouldn't want you to see it of course. We don't have control over the media over there. The show is basically to teach children how to not judge others from the outside.