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‘MMK’ episode starring Maymay Entrata in ‘blackface’ raises debate on Aeta portrayal

/ 07:12 PM March 26, 2019

An upcoming episode of “Maalaala Mo Kaya” is seeing a debate resurface — that of using makeup to darken actors’ skins so they could play a role.

An episode featuring the life story of Aeta beauty queen Judith Manap airs on Saturday, March 30, with actress Maymay Entrata in the lead role.

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When Entrata announced the story on her social media accounts on Sunday, March 24, Twitter users criticized the darkened skin tones of the cast.

“This is black face, appropriating the local Aeta community. Local artists, especially as role models to young and impressionable fans, should know better,” said netizen Jessica Nicole (@itsjessmehoney) on Sunday.

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

Others called for ABS-CBN to cast Aeta actors, citing actors such as Joan dela Cruz and Garry Cabalic of the movie “Paglipay”.

As the debate heated, actor Juan Miguel Severo gave his two cents on the issue via Twitter yesterday, March 25. “Sobrang daming layers ng isyu ng paggamit ng ‘blackface’ ng ‘MMK’ at hindi siya matutugunan at masosolusyunan ng simpleng ‘Cast aetas for aeta roles!’”

(There are so many layers to the issue of the use of “blackface” in “MMK” and it will not be solved with a simple “cast Aetas for Aeta roles.”)

Severo pointed out that the casting choice was done to “reach more people” and that the show has good intentions in telling the story of an indigenous person.

However, he wondered, “Can an industry (e.g. local showbiz) that perpetuates the notion that white skin is superior really be a reliable teller of stories involving dark-skinned folks?”

Severo noted that Aetas face other challenges and that an acting career may not be their priority. He asked, “Do they even have the ‘luxury’ to dream about building an acting career when they’re being displaced?”

He also quoted a Twitter thread of one @dardarjinx, who said there was a difference in how local “corporate media” portray indigenous people versus the United States which has a history of mocking black people with the use of blackface.

“Blackface” in the American context is not the same as painting a person with black makeup, he said.

He also said that asking for visibility of Aeta actors onscreen was not enough and that audiences should demand for “genuine and politically-correct” depictions of Aetas.

Yesterday, actress Mara Lopez shared a picture on Instagram of Manap posing with her and Entrata while they were in their full dark makeup.

Meanwhile, Entrata’s fans have continued to express support for her, with many promising to watch the episode despite the backlash. JB

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TAGS: Aeta, blackface, cultural appropriation, Indigenous People, Juan Miguel Severo, Judith Manap, Maalaala Mo Kaya, Maymay Entrata, MMK
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