Despite her numerous apologies, Candy Pangilinan was declared an "unwelcome vistor" in Baguio City after she cracked a joke that implied that Igorots are not people.
In a special session held by the Baguio City council on Friday, Pangilinan was declared "persona non grata" by a majority vote. Councilor Tomas Balisong, currently the acting vice mayor, said that the declaration was in reaction to Pangilinan's "ethnic slur."
Pangilinan's joke, which was heard during her stand-up comedy act held in SM Baguio last Saturday, was: "Tao po ako, hindi po ako Igorot."
This drew strong criticisms from the Igorot community. "It is a slur, an insult to us Igorots," said Atty. Jose Molintas, a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Almost all the Baguio Councilors approved the motion passed by Councilor Greg Bagbagen declaring the comedienne an unwanted visitor to the summer capital. This also banned Pangilinan's movies from being shown in the city's theaters. Only Councilor Galo Weygan, also an Igorot, abstained from voting.
Many Baguio locals supported the move, saying they were deeply insulted by Pangilinan's comment. "Dapat maramdaman niya ang maging isang Igorot para alam niya ang sinasabi niya," said Annie Domiguay, a Baguio resident.
Pangilinan's manager and cousin Angeli Pangilinan-Valenciano, meanwhile, appealed to the public to sympathize with Pangilinan, insisting that the comedienne had been sincere in her apologies.
To prove this, Valenciano said Pangilinan's group is planning to launch a fund-raiser to benefit Cordillerans. "We never meant to hurt anybody," Valenciano said.
Appearing weary and tearful before cameras on Thursday, Pangilinan said she regretted her blunder. She said she delivered the line incorrectly due to lack of sleep and rest, since she had just flown back to the country from Guam.
“If you were there and had finished the show, you would have heard me acknowledge my blunder. I apologized and explained myself. I even went on to uplift the Benguet or Igorot community,” she said.
She added: “I am very proud of their contribution to the society. I, as a person and a Filipino, would never intentionally discriminate nor disrespect my roots, my ancestors, and my fellow Filipinos.”
Before Pangilinan, the last person to have been declared "persona non grata" by the city council was reportedly former Cordillera People's Liberation Army leader Mailed Molina after he and his fellow rebels marched into Baguio bearing their firearms.