14 Mar– Celebrity couple Billy Crawford and Coleen Garcia have recently released a statement addressing allegations of cultural appropriation that sparked following the release of their prenuptial photos taken in Ethiopia.
In a statement that was shared by entertainment journalist MJ Felipe, the couple expressed helplessness over the claims made by netizens that they are being racist for using the locals as "props" for their photos.
According to the couple, it was far from what they 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. This isn't our final "official" prenup actually, as that will be more personal and is set here in the Philippines.
"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. They even gave us some items of clothing to add to our shoot, for which they showed so much support."
The couple also stated that the children seen in the photos actually asked to be part of the shoot.
"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 said, adding that that was the reason why they decided to take the few controversial photos down from their social media accounts.
"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 also added that he, of all people, knew how bad racism is, as he experienced it himself being half-Asian living in the United States in the past.
(Photo Source: Coleen Garcia Instagram)