MANILA — Amado Cruz, the Miss Earth sponsor accused of sexual harrassment by three candidates, claimed on Friday that he was at a loss as to the allegations that have cast on the Philippines-organized pageant its biggest controversy in its 17-year history.
Cruz, whose support through sponsorship of various pageants dates back to 2000, denied the accusations of Jaime Vandenberg of Canada, Abbey-Anne Gyles-Brown of England, and Emma Mae Sheedy of Guam.
I left to compete at an international pageant in the Philippines about a month ago. I was so excited because I had been to the Philippines before and loved the country and the people; however, the experience with the pageant was not what I had expected. I left Miss Earth because I did not feel safe under their care. The second day of the pageant I felt uncomfortable because a sponsor from the first night was given my phone number, without my consent, and was calling me asking for my hotel and room number. I gave my phone to a team manager so that she could resolve the issue, but it did not work. He showed up to almost all of my events telling me he could take care of my needs and asked for sexual favours in exchange to get me further in the pageant. I was disgusted. He showed up to a hotel some girls were staying at and when I ran into him he continued to ask for my room number. I was lucky I wasn’t staying at that hotel. After so many strange calls, I recognized his phone number and was able to block it. At an event at the Manila Yacht Club he took all of the delegates in my group to his yacht and had some girls take sultry photos. Again, I was disgusted. Later in the pageant we had another sponsor event at the Manila Yacht Club and he was telling girls he could take them to Boracay, as long as we didn’t tell any one. A group of us left to sit out side as we did not feel comfortable. He followed us outside and was upset we were not dancing with him. The team mangers laughed and told us to be nice. Eventually we were allowed to go and sit on the bus because we refused to go back to his yacht. Six girls and myself left because we felt unsafe at that event. I asked many times why more girls weren’t given the option to leave but, was never given an answer. That night a few of us were given the opportunity to bring our concerns to Miss Lorraine, the woman in charge of the pageant. I went through almost two weeks of sexual harassment before I anything was done about it. I was told he would not be around any more, but I had advised Lorraine of several other issues that were not resolved. Miss Peachy, another employee of the pageant, spoke with me at an event about...
In a phone interview with ABS-CBN News’ Mario Dumaual, Cruz insisted his involvement in Miss Earth was so he could help promote the country’s tourism, through destination events, as well as a dinner party at the Manila Yacht Club which he confirmed to have hosted.
Cruz, who was in Boracay at the time of the interview, claimed he could not understand why his sponsorship of such events would be given malicious meaning.
He denied asking for any candidate’s phone number. This was in response to Vandenberg’s allegation that her number was given to an unnamed sponsor without her consent, and that the individual called her numerous times to ask for her hotel and room number.
Cruz also denied asking for sexual favors from any candidate, as alleged by Vandenberg and Gyles-Brown.
The latter, in her Instagram post, had said: “I enjoyed 50% of my trip but the other 50% was over shadowed by feeling exploited, vulnerable, unnerved & sexually harassed as I was approached by a sponsor on many occasions who asked for sexual favours in exchange for the crown… I felt traumatised by this experience and had many sleepless nights.”
Sheedy, who identified Cruz as the harasser in her own social media post, said the businessman “grabbed my bare backside” during the national costume competition.
Cruz also denied this, claiming he could not have possibly done so at such a public event.
Addressing Vandenberg’s allegation that the pageant sponsor also offered to bring candidates to Boracay, Cruz claimed that the candidates, and not him, were the ones who expressed interest to visit the recently reopened island.
My side of the Miss Earth International Experience: - After a year and a half of preparation for my first beauty pageant; the Miss Earth pageant, I was excited to travel back to the Philippines for the 6th time. The hospitality of the Filipinos is not found anywhere else. The Philippines is like a second home to me. I joined the pageant to make a difference and be a role model to those around me. I enjoyed a majority of the pageant, but what I did not know, is that a specific sponsor from the Manila Yacht Club would change the way I see pageantry and sponsors. The sponsor who’s name is Amado S. Cruz became a problem for many of the delegates, including myself. To focus on ONLY myself, I was pulled aside multiple times to be invited to Boracay, private islands and into his house and insisted that I and “the latino women dance for him.” Amado S. Cruz grabbed my bare backside at the National Costume Competition where I was able to push him away, but he consistently told me not to tell anyone about any of the instances. At the Manila Yacht Club, Amado S. Cruz ensured that the team managers and security personnel were separated in another room, this is where he made many girls uncomfortable. A groups of us left the room because we felt uncomfortable, but Amado S. Cruz followed us and insisted that we stayed inside to dance with him. We asked our team managers to bring us to the busses, which took over 20 minutes for them finally to do. Later on that night @missjaimeyvonne and @Miss.Earth.England spoke on the phone with Lorraine Schuck, the Vice President of Miss Earth, who assured them that Amado S. Cruz would not be at any other event. From the moment the pageant started until coronation night, Amado S. Cruz was at every event and dinner he could physically get to. Since other delegates have posted, multiple other queens from past years have come out about the same behavior. I want to help put a stop to this sponsor being apart of the Miss Earth International Pageant because he has become a problem for years. #missearth2018 #missearth #MeToo @missearth
He said it was out of goodwill that he subsequently offered to help arrange the candidates’ post-pageant vacation plans in Boracay, since he hails from nearby Capiz.
Another candidate, Monica Aguilar of Cuba, also previously mentioned Boracay in her own account of what transpired at the Manila Yacht Club — but to counter Vandenberg’s allegation.
“Yes, some sponsors did ask us if we wanted to extend our visas to go to Boracay after the pageant, but no one was promised to get us further in the competition through ‘sexual favors’… All you can do is say no, thank you, and move on with your life,” she said.
In his interview with ABS-CBN News, Cruz thanked the candidates who asserted there was no sexual harassment during the competition.
Cruz’s airing of his side came amid the viral spread of photos showing him posing with Miss Earth candidates, among them Vandenberg and and Gyles-Brown. As of writing, the tweet already had 2,000 retweets and over nearly 4,000 likes.
Cruz said he is now consulting a lawyer as to his possible legal steps in light of the accusations.
The Miss Earth organization, meanwhile, has said Cruz is “forever banned” from the annual pageant, and stressed that it “does not condone nor tolerate any rude or immoral behavior towards the delegates by sponsors or anybody for that matter.”
Lorraine Schuck, executive president of organizer Carousel Productions, also called on the complainants, as well as any other candidate who may have had a similar experience, to submit a written statement in order to facilitate formal proceedings.