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Tony Meloto defends self from 'sexist' tag
By Rosette Adel Updated Tuesday May 26, 2015 - 1:45pm

In this June 2011 photo, Tony Meloto, executive director of social initiative Gawad Kalinga attends the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta, Indonesia. WEF

MANILA, Philippines - Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto has been called "sexist and elitist" for the first time when his speech was denounced by the Hawaii-based educational center which invited him.

The University of Hawaii Center for Philippine Studies (CPS) released a statement on May 23 saying Meloto, as its guest speaker for its 40 anniversary celebration in April, uttered "sexist remarks" in claiming that the "greatest asset of the Philippines" is its "beautiful women."

The center also did not take lightly Meloto's comment that the nation's future can be helped if women are used to attract the "best and brightest" men from the West who can invest in the country.

In his speech, Meloto also shared his views on the need for Filipino women and their white husbands to create what he called "cappuccinos" and present seduction and reproduction as solution to the problems of economic development.

CPS also believes Meloto focused on his and his family's accomplishments even when the theme for the anniversary event was to recognize the institution's role as a center for exchange on Philippine scholarship.

According to CPS, Meloto characterized Philippines as "broken" and poor people in the Philippines as "hopeless" and violent, while he presented Gawad Kalinga as transformative, bringing peace and tranquility to the urban poor.

Meloto, however, said the criticism and the social media firestorm that followed did not consider his decades of work to honor women and the poor.

"[It is my] first time to be called 'sexist and elitist' after 20 years of honoring our women and caring for the poor, after hundreds of speeches here and abroad," Meloto said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.

He also said that his speech was not immediately criticized.

"The immediate response was enthusiastic and positive, including inspiring newspaper articles of my speech. That was 45 days ago," Meloto said.

He also posted what seemed to be a clarification to his earlier statements.

For its part, CPS said it is taking responsibility for inviting Meloto and apologized to those who were offended by his views.

"But we also wish to make clear disavowal to these views; views that do not respect, and indeed violate, the values and ideals for which we've been fighting all these years," CPS said.

  
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