MANILA, Philippines – Coleen Garcia and Billy Crawford were critcized by netizens for their prenup photos taken in Ethiopia. In some of the photos, they were surrounded by local women and kids, which outraged the internet, calling the prenup shoot out for being distasteful and also for cultrural appropriation, among other things.
In a statement sent to ABS-CBN, Billy cleared the issue about using the women and kids in the photos taken by Metro Photos. According to Billy, they were invited by Ethiopian Airlines to do the shoot in Ethiopia as part of a tourism campaign. The photos he said were not yet the official prenup photos because they have yet another prenup shoot that will take place in the Philippines.
The singer and host added that their tour guide invited them to go around and gave some suggestions on how to frame the shots, saying they wanted to include the people.
"We based our layouts off of some of their suggestions. The locals were so kind, warm, and welcoming and they love meeting tourists," he said, mentioning that it was the people who also provided some of the outfits for the photos.
He also said that the kids enjoyed being part of the process. A local scolded the children, but they ultimately said it was okay for them to be part of the photos even if it was not part of the plan.
"We never forced anyone nor wanted to disrespect any race or culture. People in the Philippines feel disrespected and offended but being there was a a completely different feeling."
Billy said that while it may look offensive to some, it wasn't what the couple felt when they first saw the photos. They do understand that some will jump to conclusions as they have not seen all the photos and how they are presented.
"We do apologize for how it might have translated, and we're sorry again to those who we have offended. I grew up in a diverse city (Roosevelt Island), and had experienced bullying and racism in my youth because of my "being Asian." Trust me, we mean no harm."
The pair have yet to respond to the backlash, but they did remove some of the photos of their Ethiopian prenup shoot. Metro Photo have also taken down the photos from their social media accounts. However, many netizens have already been able to screenshot the posts and reposted them on social media.
Don't tell me that Billy & Coleen's prenup shoot shows the beauty of Ethiopian people because hello, THEY MADE THESE PEOPLE THEIR FUCKING BACKGROUND. It doesn't take a genius to notice the macros and blurs! — Claudine Chelsea (@cldnchls) March 10, 2018
Billy and Coleen’s prenup photoshoot aka “the maharlika and the slaves”. Never liked the both of them. Their relationship started illicitly and now, their insensitivity has gone too far. — (@maayyyeeeee) March 10, 2018
While some critcized the couple, others said that they did not see anything that offensive about the shots.
I actually like the prenup photos of billy & coleen. Ang galing ng photog. Is it wrong/inappropriate? I don't think so. I don't see the intention to put the Ethiopian people in a 'bad light'. They actually become part of the art. At least that's what I see. — jupil (@artofjupil) March 10, 2018
So bawal na ba mag shoot ngayon with locals kasi it's culturally insensitive? I honestly don't see anything wrong with billy and coleen's prenup... but I respect everyone's opinion — angelica pineda (@gegel26) March 10, 2018
are we really gonna bash coleen and billy on their ethiopia prenup ?? ganun na ba tayo ka sensitive ngayon ppl ??? — bellsy (@kellyemesias) March 10, 2018
In a previous post, Coleen mentioned that the shot was taken sometime last year. The couple also had a prenup shoot in Thailand.