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Billy Crawford, Coleen Garcia address negative comments on Ethiopia photos

The prenup photoshoot of Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia in Ethiopia drew flak after netizens called it culturally insensitive for using Ethiopian natives as backgrounds.

The couple then responded and apologized after the backlash. In a statement, they said that the photoshoot was “taken out of context” and that they had no intention of offending other race.

“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 a joint statement .

The couple also clarified that the pictures taken in Ethiopia are not they official prenup photos, since they will be having another photoshoot in the Philippines.

Crawford and Garcia also said that the photoshoot was based on the suggestions of a local guide who showed them around the area.

“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. The locals were so kind, warm and welcoming, and they love meeting tourists,” the couple explained.

The soon-to-be married couple also said that the kids in the photos appeared unexpectedly as they were wrapping up. The locals wanted to be part of the shoot so their photographer, Oly Ruiz, decided to include them.

“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 nina Oly,” they said.

“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,” they added.

Crawford and Garcia also said that the team behind the shoot had already took down the controversial photos.

However, the couple personally believes that the photos are neither offensive nor racist, rather, it reminded them of their wonderful experience in the African country.

“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.

Nevertheless, the two of them apologized, saying: “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 even added that he had experienced racism first hand and assured the public that 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.

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