MANILA - Esquire Philippines magazine finally cleared the air about its "Yolanda" issue cover photo featuring Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas after it drew flak from social media users.
Esquire posted on Facebook a copy of the cover of its latest issue last Thursday. The cover photo shows Roxas smiling, waving his hand while sitting on piles of wood.
The caption beside the photo reads: "Hello from Tacloban."
Facebook users, especially those from the Yolanda-hit city of Tacloban, quickly reacted to the Esquire cover photo, calling it an "insult" and a "sick joke."
"Are you mocking us Taclobanons by putting that man's face on the cover?" asked Cecile Therese Dueñas.
"Is this a sick joke? You bring this cover to Leyte and we will burn it," warned Neil Warren Chu.
"The Warays will use the cover as toilet paper," Prospero Pulma added.
In response, Esquire on Sunday released a statement on Facebook, explaining their choice of cover the issue dedicated to "dignify the memory of those lost, and the pain of those left behind in Tacloban City."
The magazine said its writers and photographers revisited Tacloban in order to present the tragedy that is still ongoing after Yolanda and to also "sift the facts" on the government's response.
"Secretary Mar Roxas is on the cover as a symbol of the national government response. Nothing less or more. We were certainly not paid or persuaded to put him on the cover. (The photo itself was taken a year ago, at the Tacloban port; this was not from a specially arranged Esquire shoot and is not to be misconstrued as an endorsement.)" it said.
Esquire further explained that their goal in the "Yolanda" issue is to draw attention to the situation in Tacloban.
Last year, just weeks after Yolanda hit central Philippines, Roxas drew flak when he was caught on video telling Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, "You have to understand, you are a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino."
Roxas, in defense, said the clip was spliced and it was trying to deceive people.
After the incident, he and Romualdez engaged in word war which eventually ended at a Congressional Oversight Committee on the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management hearing.