Sharon Cuneta apologizes on behalf of Tito Sotto for single mother remark
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Some of Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III's family members have come to his defense, following his unsavory remark on single mothers during a confirmation hearing of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
During the hearing, when he learned that the Cabinet official is a single mother of two children, he said: "In the street language, when you have children and you are single, ang tawag do'n ay na-ano lang (we call that you just got knocked up)."
Taguiwalo, a woman's rights advocate and professor called him out for it: "Senator Sotto, I teach women's studies. We respect all kinds of families and that includes solo parents. Thank you."
Since then, social media users and celebrities have spoken up against Sotto for his remark. His daughter, actress and singer Ciara Sotto, a single parent herself, was critcized for her father's statement, leading her cousin, actress Danica Sotto-Pingris, to step in and defend her.
Sotto has also apologized, saying that his comment was a just joke that not everybody got.
On Instagram, Tito's son Gian Sotto said that he could not stay silent any longer because of the criticism his father had been receiving.
"Nobody is perfect. Lahat po tayo nagkakamali (We all make mistakes). But, he is the best husband, father and grandfather, and I thank God for him everyday. And this is why I'm speaking up. I will forever honor my father," said Gian.
He continued: "It was never his intention to offend or to insult anyone. He never doubted the capabilities of single parents. May mga kapatid akong single moms at mga kaibigang solo parents, kaya alam po namin na hindi madali ang buhayin ang pamilya ng mag-isa. (I have siblings who are single moms and friends who are solo parents, so we know it's not easy to raise a family on one's own.)
"Walang sinabi ang tatay ko na hindi kaya ng isang solo parent, at ng kanyang pamilya, na mag tagumpay sa buhay at makamit ang kanilang mga minimithi." (My father did not say that a solo parent and its family will not be able to survive and succeed in life to achieve their dreams.)
Gusto ko po manahimik na lang sana, pero hindi po kaya ng puso ko. Puno ng galit at masasakit na salita itong nakaraang 24 hours sa Press/News/Social Media. Kaliwa't kanan na pambabatikos at paninira sa aking tatay, sa aking kapatid at sa aking pamilya. Yes, nagkamali po ang tatay ko sa joke niya, and he is sorry for it. Hindi po ibig sabihin nito ay masamang tao na siya. Nobody is perfect. Lahat po tayo nagkakamali. But, he is the best husband, father and grandfather, and I thank God for him everyday. And this is why I'm speaking up. I will forever honor my father. It was never his intention to offend or to insult anyone. He never doubted the capabilities of single parents. May mga kapatid akong single moms at mga kaibigang solo parents, kaya alam po namin na hindi madali ang buhayin ang pamilya ng mag-isa. Walang sinabi ang tatay ko na hindi kaya ng isang solo parent, at ng kanyang pamilya, na mag tagumpay sa buhay at makamit ang kanilang mga minimithi. Alam ng Diyos kung ano ang nasa puso ng tatay ko at yun ang pinaka importante sa lahat. Alam ko na malalampasan namin ito dahil kasama namin ang Diyos. Sa bawat pagsubok we put our trust in God. Thank You Lord for Your Strength and Your Grace, every single day! We lift our family up to You! Da, I love you so much, po! @helenstito
Sharon Cuneta spoke up on the matter in a long statement on her Facebook page, saying she was prompted to do this since Tito was like a father to her. Tito's wife, Helen Gamboa, is the sister of Sharon's mother, the late Elaine Cuneta.
"I would have preferred to be quiet about this matter, but because I know the man involved in this issue and consider him my second father, please be kind and give me this opportunity to put this forth. We all say things we regret every once in a while. We are all only human, after all. We forgive because we know how it feels to ask for forgiveness," she said.
Sharon also wrote that she was a single mother herself at one point after she separated with ex-husband Gabby Concepcion. They have a daughter together, KC.
"I am sure that just like I and many others, we sometimes mention things that we do not mean to include the entire population in or about. Madami pong single mothers, single fathers. Hindi lahat ay mapagmahal at maaruga. Pero NAPAKARAMI namang single parents na ibibigay ang lahat maging ang sariling buhay para lamang sa Ikaliligaya at ikabubuti ng anak. I MYSELF was a single mother. My two beloved cousins whom I consider true sisters, mga anak mismo ng kilala ko bilang 'Fath' at 'Daddy,' at kilala niyo bilang Tito sen o Sen Sotto, ay single mothers din. Bakit naman nya babalahurain ang mga tulad naming mahal nya Kung yun nga ang pakay nya?"
(There are so many single mothers, single fathers. Not all of them are loving and caring. But there are many single parents out there who devoted their lives to their child's happiness and well-being. I myself was a single mother. My two beloved cousins, whom I consider true sisters, the children of who I know as 'Fath' and 'Daddy' and you know as Tito sen or Sen Sotto are also single mothers. Why would he even demean people like us whom he loves?)
Sharon then apologized on behalf of Tito.
"As his 'panganay,' and without even having spoken with him about this, I offer my sincerest and deepest apologies sa lahat po ng nasaktan at na-offend ng comment nya. Minsan po siguro lahat tayo ay nauuna sa pag-iisip ang pagsasalita. At tulad po ng narinig ko ngayon Lang, humingi na rin sya ng paumanhin. Sana po ay matuto tayong magpatawad. Lahat po tayo ay nagkakamali. At lahat tayo ay nangangailangan din po ng patawad sa anumang nagawa natin para makasakit ng kapwa, sadya man natin o hindi.
(As his 'eldest,' I offer my sincerest and deepest apologies to everyone who was hurt and offended by his remark. Sometimes, I guess we speak first before thinking. And like what I heard from everyone, he already asked for forgiveness. I hope we all learn to forgive. We all make mistakes. And we all need to forgive if we ever hurt someone, whether it was intended or not.)
She also asked everyone to spare Ciara from all the negativity.
"Huwag po sana kayo magalit sa akin o masamain ito. Lahat ng anak ay nasasaktan din. Lahat ng Ate ay dumudugo ang puso kapag ang kapatid – ang akin ay si Ciara Anna – ay nadadamay sa pagkakamali ng ama. Napakatinong babae po ng mga kapatid ko. Si Ciara ay di pa natatapos sa pagluluksa, pagluha, sa sakit na di nya inaasahang dadanasin pala niya. Patawad po. At maawa po sana kayo. Please spare her, like other good single mothers who were surely not meant to be included in a single, unthought of moment," she said.
(I hope all of you will not get angry or misinterpret this. All children get hurt. All sisters feel hurt, when their sister – mine is Ciara Anna – was dragged into the mistake of her father. She is such a decent woman. Ciara is not yet over grieving, crying from the pain and sadness that she did not expect to go through. I'm so sorry. And please have mercy on her. Please spare her, like other good single mothers who were surely not meant to be included in a single, unthought of moment.)
"Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much). And if you believe in any word I have stood by to you over 4 decades, believe me please when I say that yes, Sen Sotto is not perfect and is only human just like us. But he is a good husband, father, and a person with a darn good heart.
"Again, I am so sorry on his behalf. And thank you so much for reading this. This is the first and the last time I will be addressing this issue as I have said everything I have already had to say about it. Thank you for your understanding.
"God bless you, God bless us all," she said.