‘Racist?’ MMDA spox draws flak for including Miss Universe Canada in skin whitening post

May 7, 2021 - 10:07 AM
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Celine Pialago
MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago undergoing glutathione drip session in this photo shared on her Facebook page on May 6, 2021. (Photo from Facebook/Asec Celine Pialago)

Social media users questioned the inclusion of Miss Universe Canada 2020’s name in a Facebook post of a Metro Manila Development Authority official about skin whitening.

MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago on Thursday shared a picture of her in a glutathione drip session and thanked a wellness center for its service.

She then quipped of probably needing to undergo a session regularly and then dropped Nova Stevens‘ name, the Kenya-born representative of Canada in the upcoming beauty pageant.

“Nakakalungkot ‘di ba, dahil kung si Miss Canada e hindi nakaligtas sa mga mapanlait na mata, mukhang kailangan ko ng araw-arawin magpa-gluta,” Pialago said.

“Oh well, hindi lang naman pampaputi ang gluta kundi nililinis din nito ang inyong kidney at liver,” she claimed.

A screengrab of MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago’s post on May 6, 2021. (Screengrab by Interaksyon from Facebook/Asec Celine Pialago)

This post was later deleted and reposted with another caption excluding Stevens. The official also limited those who can comment on her post.

A screengrab of MMDA Spokesperson Celine Pialago’s post on May 6, 2021. (Screengrab by Interaksyon from Facebook/Asec Celine Pialago)

Some Filipinos were not amused by her initial caption which they perceived to be a “shade” to those with dark skin.

“Did you just throw another shade to people of colors? No wonder you didn’t even (make) it to the semi during your pageant stint. Hindi pinagiisipan sinasabi,” a Facebook user wrote in the comments, recalling Pialago’s beauty queen days.

The official was a candidate at Miss Earth Philippines 2014, where she famously said that her fellow candidate has “passed away” instead of “passed out” in a televised interview.

Another Facebook user criticized Pialago and said that Stevens faced racism with her skin tone.

“(This is) an issue of racism being faced not only by Miss Canada but people of color around the world and you absolutely have NO right to use it for your gluta drip session or endorsement of a product which we care nothing of. It is both an insult and insensitivity to the people suffering because of the color of their skin,” he wrote.

“RACIST KA GURL?” exclaimed another Facebook user.

“Bakit dinadamay mo pa si Miss Canada? Mema ka, ghorl,” a Facebook user likewise commented.

Stevens, who represents the country of Canada in Miss Universe 2020, recently bared of receiving racist and nasty remarks about her physical appearance, particularly her skin tone, on social media.

Some of the comments were in Filipino, such as “nognog,” “tostadong tostado” and “engkanto.” The first two labels translate to burnt while “engkanto” is a mythical creature.

“With all that has been going on in the world ‘black lives matter’ ‘Asians are human’ you would think this would bring us together. Instead, looks like some people are still stuck in their ignorant and racist ideologies,” Stevens wrote in an Instagram post before.

“I’m really disappointed with some pageant fans from certain countries. Your hate takes away the fun and enjoyment from this once in a lifetime experience. Is it really that difficult to spread love instead of hate?” she added.

Stevens later on clarified that she was not generalizing all Filipinos as “racists” and shared screengrabs of positive comments she has received from the country as well.

RELATED: Miss Universe Canada asks public to stop generalizing Filipinos as ‘racists’ after post calling out harsh comments

In the Philippines, there is still a preference towards fair or light skin tones, a prejudice that may have stemmed from Spaniards who associated dark-skinned Filipinos with poor laborers in the colonial era.

Meanwhile, there were those in the medical field who disapproved of Pialago’s endorsement of glutathione drips.

Dr. Winlove Mojica, a dermatologist, tweeted that the Food and Drug Administration does not approve the use of injectable glutathione for skin whitening.

He also said that contrary to what Pialago said, it has “adverse effects” on the kidney and liver.

Another healthcare worker who specializes in renal medicine likewise corrected the MMDA official.

“FYI, glutathione is naturally produced in the liver and is an antioxidant. Hindi ito pampalinis ng atay at kidneys. Dinamay mo pa si Ms. Canada,” Twitter user @Tom_MD_ wrote.

The FDA in 2019 warned the public that glutathione should not be injected into the body as it may have “toxic effects” on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

There is also the possibility of developing Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare disorder that manifests as red or purple rashes and blisters on the skin.