Ni LITO T. MAÑAGO
INULAN ng katakut-takot na pambabatikos ng netizens ang pre-wedding photo shoot nina Billy Crawford at Coleen Garcia at tinawag itong “racist.”
Kinunan ang photo shoot sa Ethiopia, Africa at inilabas ito nina Billy at Coleen sa kani-kaniyang Instagram account. Inilabas din ito sa Instagram account ng Metro Photo at sa mismong site nila.
“Offensive,” “uncalled for,” “insensitive,” “distasteful” at marami pang iba ang negative comments sa dalawa.
Inakusahan pa ng ilan sina Billy at Coleen sa paggamit ng mga local bilang “props” sa photo shoot.
Days after it hit social media headlines, nagsalita na sina Billy at Coleen. Sa pamamagitan ng joint statement, sinabi nilang hindi nila intensiyong maging “offensive.”
Narito ang kabuuan ng kanilang joint statement.
“Yeah it’s unfortunate how it was taken out of context. It’s far from what we intended. We were invited and sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines to do our shoot there for their tourism and capture their environment because we were told that tourism helps their economy. That’s why we were in Ethiopia.
“This isn’t our final official prenup actually, as that will be more personal and is set here in the Philippines.
We had a local guide present throughout the entire duration of the shoot and leisure time in Ethiopia. He took us around and made suggestions for the shoot, such as including the priests of Lalibela in our photos because they wanted people to see.
“We based our layouts off of some of their suggestions. The locals were so kind, warm, and welcoming, and they love meeting tourists. They even gave us some items of clothing to add to our shoot, for which they showed so much support. Yung shot with the kids, actually patapos na kaming mag shoot noon na kaming dalawa lang and we just needed to get a few shots on, but naaliw yung kids (who were already there) and they really wanted to be part of the photo so they kept coming into the frame hanggang sa isinama na nina Oly.
“In fact, may dumating pa na local who was scolding them and shooing them away kasi abala daw sa shoot, but we felt differently and natuwa din naman kami sa mga bata kaya we told the man na it’s okay, and we let them be part of the plan, and we even showed the photos to them after.
“We never forced anyone nor wanted to disrespect any race or culture. People in the Philippines felt disrecpectful and offended, but being there was a completly different feeling. May mga nagsasabi na bihis na bihis kami, but we did go there pre-styled for a fashion shoot, and everything else followed sponteneously. We have so many photos of the two of us, mga 95% ng photos, and there were two or three that offended people and were singled out, so the team took them down right away because that is not our intention.
“We’ve had the photos for months and a lot of people have seen them prior to their release. Every time we look at the photos, we remember how we got to interact with the locals while we were there, and it’s something truly memorable for all of us, including the team. We had so many positive encounters, kaya siguro hindi agad pumasok sa isip namin. The children weren’t sad and oppressed, they were so friendly and curious.
“When we looked at the photos, we didn’t see slavery or racism at all, lalo na when you take all the rest of the photos into considerstion. Iba ‘yung perspective namin. There were more to it than that, and nadala lang siguro kaming lahat sa overall experience which really was something unique. It’s so sad that the tendency is to jump to conclusions, but we understand din kasi nga they were not there to witness everything.
“And looking at it from their perspective, we do still see where they are coming from. Completely. It might not even be about the photos per se, but more on how it comes across and what it could represent. Being public figures, dito kami nagkulang and we admit we could have done better.”
“Kaya, we do apologize for how it might have translated, and we’re sorry again to those we have offended. I grew up in a very diverse city (Roosevelt Island), and had experienced bullying and racism in my youth because of being ‘an Asian’. Trust me, we meant no harm. (insert peace hand emoji)”.