|Actress Bela Padilla graces the cover of FHM Philippines' March 2012 issue.
MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino Internet user has started an online petition asking men's magazine FHM Philippines to apologize and recall its March 2012 cover, which was branded by many as racist.
User Victor Bautista of Mandaluyong launched the petition on social action platform Change.org hours after FHM Philippines posted a photo of its latest magazine cover on its Facebook page on Saturday.
Bela Padilla, niece of action star Robin Padilla, was wearing a bright red swimsuit in FHM's March 2012 cover, which had the caption: "Bela Padilla stepping out of the shadows." The fair-skinned actress was surrounded by five dark-skinned models.
Bautista said the caption would have been "uncontroversial if the shadows weren't black models."
"People of African descent have been unjustly stigmatized as embodying darkness, ever since the era of slave trading. The cover is a modern rendition of a regressive form of discrimination, and should thus be brought to utmost scrutiny, in a day and age wherein racial equality should be universal," he said in the petition.
The online petition had 210 signatures as of posting time, with most of them explaining why they decided to give their support to Bautista's cause.
"Because no one should ever be judged by the color of their skin," user Marie Yasmin Sanchez said.
"It isn't just the racism, although that is a big reason. It's the perpetuation of the negative perception of darker skin in the country. This is why we keep buying whitening lotions instead of embracing our natural color. Worse yet, everyone involved seemed clueless why people are made about the cover," user Miya David said.
"Since this cover is very racist and would offend a lot of people, especially abroad," user Jim Chungalao said.
FHM Philippines' Facebook page was also bombarded with hundreds of negative comments after it posted the photo on Saturday night. The "racist" magazine cover has also been going around in blogs and social networking sites.
The men's magazine has yet to release a statement about the issue.