The boyfriend of a Taiwanese woman who was fined over her risqué swimsuit while vacationing in the Philippines earlier this month spoke out after the incident made national headlines, asking social media users to stop harassing his girlfriend.
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, told Taiwanese outlet Apple Daily that he and his girlfriend first spotted the offending swimsuit on sale at a shop in Boracay when they arrived at the island on Oct. 9, Aisa One translates.
He said then he proposed an undisclosed bet with his girlfriend, for which the punishment for losing was to wear the swimsuit in public. Apparently, she did lose the bet, and the couple took to their hotel pool on Oct. 10, with her donning the string bikini.
The man told Apple Daily that they were later asked to leave the hotel pool by an employee, who assured them the request was out of consideration for younger guests in the area. The couple then went to the beach, where, unbeknownst to them, other tourists and locals began snapping photos of them and circulating them on social media.
An image of the woman caught the attention of officials with the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG), who notified police in the region. The couple was later tracked to their hotel and brought to a local police station, along with a representative from their hotel.
The woman was issued a citation for violating an ordinance that forbids the taking and displaying of "erotic and lewd" photographs and hit with a fine of P2,500 ($50). The fine was the first time either of the travelers learned about the viral bikini photos.
The woman's boyfriend said he swiftly paid the fee in order to settle the matter, even though he didn't agree with the accusations against her.
"We didn't even know people were taking photos, we were not the ones who took and spread those photos, yet we were the ones who were penalized," he told Apple Daily.
"If this swimsuit is considered flouting the law, then why was it sold in a local shop?" he also questioned.
Ultimately, the man said the incident and subsequent cyberbullying has taken a toll on his girlfriend's mental health, adding that he feels guilty for the role he played in the international incident.
"Please don't blame her," he said.
Following the ordeal, BIARMG chief Natividad Bernardino urged all future tourists to observe "proper decorum" as a form of respect for Philippine culture and tradition in order to avoid similar fines.
"We have our own cultural values as Filipinos and Asians. [Tourists] should be able to respect that," Bernardino told the government-run Philippine News Agency. "There is no dress code. Maybe it is just common sense."
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