Billy, Coleen address 'racist' prenup photos

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2018 12:51 AM | Updated as of Mar 12 2018 09:06 AM

 

A post shared by Billy Crawford (@billycrawford) on

 

A post shared by Billy Crawford (@billycrawford) on

 

A post shared by Billy Crawford (@billycrawford) on

 

A post shared by Billy Crawford (@billycrawford) on

 

A post shared by Coleen Garcia (@coleen) on

 

A post shared by Coleen Garcia (@coleen) on

 

A post shared by Coleen Garcia (@coleen) on

From the Instagram account of Billy Crawford

From the Instagram account of Billy Crawford

From the Instagram account of Billy Crawford

From the Instagram account of Billy Crawford

From the Instagram account of Coleen Garcia

From the Instagram account of Coleen Garcia

From the Instagram account of Coleen Garcia

MANILA -- Celebrity couple Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia have spoken up about their pre-wedding photos taken in Ethiopia, which have been criticized by some netizens for being "racist."

A few photos of the couple showed them with Ethiopian children, and a mother with her baby.

Several netizens commented that the photos were "offensive," citing how the locals were used as "props."

In a joint statement, Crawford and Garcia said the photos were "taken out of context" and that it was not their intention to be offensive.

"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 natural environment because we were told that tourism helps their economy. That's why we were in Ethiopia," the couple said in the statement.

They also said the photos are not their final and official prenuptial photos, as they will be shooting another set in the Philippines.

The couple added they took those photos based on the suggestion of a local guide.

"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 want people to see. We based our layouts off of some of their suggestions," they said.

"The locals were so kind, warm and welcoming, and they love meeting tourists," the couple added.

The children showed in the photos were in the area and wanted to be part of the shoot, so their photographer decided to add them to the shot.

"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 in, 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 sinama na," they explained.

"We never forced anyone nor wanted to disrespect any race or culture. People in the Philippines felt disrespected and offended, but being there was a completely different feeling," the couple added.

The couple, likewise, said the team behind their photos already took down the controversial ones.

For the couple, the photos were neither offensive nor racist, because it reminded them of their interaction with the locals.

"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," Crawford and Garcia also said.

The couple apologized for those offended by the photos, and admitted that there were lapses on their part.

"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."

Crawford also assured the public that he is familiar with racism, and said they mean no harm.

"I grew up in a very diverse city (Roosevelt Island), and had experienced bullying and racism in my youth because of my being 'an Asian.' Trust me, we meant no harm," he said.

There's no exact date yet for the pair's wedding, but Garcia has confirmed that their beach ceremony will be held in April.  

The couple have also been posting some other photos from their trip in Ethiopia