MANILA – Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto has finally broken his silence after he drew flak for his supposedly sexist speech in a university in Hawaii.
Meloto earlier became the subject of criticisms after he supposedly made offensive comments about Filipinas during a speech at a gathering at the University of Hawaii Center for Philippine Studies.
In his Twitter account, Meloto said it was the first that he was called sexist and elitist ''after 20 yrs of honoring our women & caring for the poor, after hundreds of speeches here & abroad."
Meloto debunked the allegations, saying his speech actually received positive response.
"The immediate response was enthusiastic & positive, including inspiring newspaper articles of my speech. That was 45 days ago," he said, responding to a Twitter user.
In a statement, the center said it found disturbing Meloto's belief that ''the greatest asset of the Philippines is our beautiful women.''
Meloto allegedly went on to say that they can be used to entice the ''best and brightest'' men in the West to invest in the country.
The center called it ''outrageously sexist and deeply offensive to everybody in the audience, as well as patronizing and disrespectful to Filipino women in particular.''
The center also slammed Meloto for calling on Filipinas to produce “cappuccino” offspring with their American husbands.
“Equally offensive, Mr. Meloto went on to share his views on the need for Filipino women and their white husbands to produce what Mr. Meloto (apparently humorously) called ‘cappuccinos,’ and appeared to present such a policy of seduction and reproduction as a solution to the problems of economic development in the Philippines,” the center said.
The center's director, Dr. Vina Lanzona, confirmed in an e-mail to ABS-CBNnews.com that the statement was a ''collective statement, released by the Executive Council of the Center for Philippine Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa.''
Meloto was invited as a guest speaker at the University of Hawaii at Manoa last April during a culminating “fiesta” event for the center’s 40th anniversary.
A Coconuts Manila article, meanwhile, also quoted several event attendees as saying that Meloto indeed made the statements.
Some of Meloto's friends also came to his defense.
Prior to directly addressing the issue about his speech, Meloto in a previous tweet said, "When bad things are said about you, just do more good. It's love for God,country & the poor that gives me the strength to move on."