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PHL Volcanoes react to dismantled undies billboards

Members of the Philippine rugby team finally voiced their reactions to the recent dismantling of several billboards in Mandaluyong City showing them wearing nothing but their underwear. Mayor Benhur Abalos earlier requested advertisers to take down the gigantic underwear ads along EDSA near the Guadalupe Bridge after receiving several complaints from people who found the billboards "inappropriate and offensive," including fellow Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela. The Valenzuela mayor said he had to ask his niece to cover her eyes while they were driving along the section of EDSA in Guadalupe.
The controversial billboards before they were taken down last Thursday.
Philippine Volcanoes member Ned Stephenson, featured in the underwear ads, said he saw nothing wrong with the ad campaign, adding that he has seen more "lewd" billboards scattered in the metro. "Heard bout the billboards being taken down! but thank you all for still supporting the @PhilippineRugby," Stephenson said on his Twitter account. "Well its to help promote rugby i dont think its that bad to be honest there's more 'mahalay' billboards!," added Stephenson, who is in Australia along with his teammates. Another Volcanoes member Arnold Aninion, also on his Twitter account, admitted being "surprised" by the advertiser's decision to heed Abalos' request. "But greatful for the support and work Bench did to spread awareness of rugby and for us volcanoes," he added. Meanwhile, actor-model Andrew Wolff, who has been playing for the Volcanoes since 2007, also tossed his two cents on the issue, saying the government seemed to be having double standards in regulating billboards. "The Mayor of Mandaluyong is having the #Bench #Volcanoes billboards removed.Dati ba wala bang nakalagay na billboard na my nakabrief?," he said on Twitter. Wolff went further and took a pot shot at Abalos. "Puwede bang patanggal din ang sangkatutak na mga billboard ni Mr A. sa Manda.? Kailangan bang makita ka sa bawat kanto?," the actor-model said. The rugby team's Mykal Duhig said the ad campaign helped generate more support from Filipinos. "Shame they are taking our billboards down, hey Mayor Abalos did you know about rugby football prior to the billboard? #Ididntthinkso," he said. 'Hay Salamat!' Gatchalian earlier expressed relief that the billboards could no longer be seen along EDSA. "Hay Salamat! The 'men in briefs' billboards along Edsa are GONE. Thank you very much Mayor Abalos. Our kids can pass edsa safely now," he said on Twitter Gatchalian however responded to criticisms that he seemed to be critical only about sexy billboard with male models and not female ones, saying he would even push for an across-the-board billboard monitoring and regulation. "Regulate everything regardless of gender. Again, it's for the good of the general public... I will push for stronger regulation and censorship of billboards. Gov't should regulate ads irregardless of gender," he stressed. He said he found nothing wrong at the "content" of the underwear billboard but thought it was inappropriately erected at a wrong location. Gatchalian also said he has nothing against the athletes or the clothing line that they promoted. "[Actually] I do support our PH athletes," he stressed. Next target? The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said that aside from size requirements, it would now also take images placed in billboards into consideration when deciding whether or not to order their dismantling. "The state has the right to protect the morals of the community and the society. And the local government can do the same," said MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino said in a State of the Nation report Friday night. With the proliferation of more sexy billboards, authorities said there should now be an MMDA representative in the Advertising Board of the Philippines. "How can it be that we will not contest what is executed at the billboards right now, when we see bulging crotches and excessive voluptuousness," MMDA assistant general manager for planning Tina Velasco. Based on MMDA guidelines, which were patterned after the Code of Ethics set by the Ad Board, total nudity is prohibited in billboards. A billboard should not also emphasize a model's cleavage, butt, or crotch. Male underwear models in billboards should also be wearing a shirt, the report said. For its part, the Ad Board said the Philippine Volcanoes billboards did not violate any regulation. According to Section 4, Paragraph 8 of the Standards of Advertising of the Ad Standards Council Inc, "Some exposure of the human body may be allowed in advertisements when in good taste and relevant to the product." "Kapag nagbebenta ka ng kotse, ipakita mo ang kotse. Kapag nagbebenta ka ng sabon, ipakita mo ang sabon... Ito yata ang binebenta nila brief, pinakita nila iyong brief. Ako mismo nakita ko at na-attract din ako doon. Iyon naman ang purpose ng advertising, para [masabi mo] 'Uy, okay ito ah,'" said Jones Campos, executive director of the Ad Board. Just the same, Campos maintained that the Ad Board is "sensitive" to consumer complaints and is likely to write a letter to the advertiser handling the PHL Volcanoes underwear campaign to inform it about the complaint. — TJD, GMA News