FHM Philippines, the top selling men's magazine in the Philippines, was forced to withdraw the front cover of its March issue following accusation that the featured front cover photograph was racist and insensitive.

The offensive front cover showed a fair-skinned bikini-clad model surrounded by black models whose skin tone almost melts away into the dark background. The photograph was accompanied by the caption: Stepping Out of the Shadows.

FHM readers and social media users panned the cover showing Filipina actress Bela Padilla, while some of them were surprised by the fact that the magazine editors didn't find the concept racist, the New York Times reported.

Seriously, did you guys not sense how racist this concept was? a reader wrote on the magazine's Facebook page.

FHM Philippines' racist cover only shows brown-skinned Filipinos' obsession with the White Ideal, a Twitter user wrote.

Summit Media, the local publisher of FHM and more than 20 other magazines, promptly offered an apology and decided to withdraw the edition and promised to print a new cover featuring Padilla. In our pursuit to come up with edgier covers, we will strive to be more sensitive, the company wrote in its statement.

When FHM hits the stands in March it will have a different cover. We deem this to be the most prudent move in the light of the confusion over the previous cover execution, the apology said. We apologize and thank those who have raised their points. We apologize to Bela Padilla for any distress this may have caused her.

However, Padilla's take on the controversy seemed to be fixated on the sexiness of the original cover, overlooking its racial slur.

I didn't expect that it would be blown up like this, Padilla told Philippine Entertainment Portal. I was at taping when I first found out about it, so I didn't have time to entertain the remarks. It didn't sink in so much yet because I had work to do, she said.

But I'm happy that in 2 days all I've been getting are mostly positive comments, the model said.

When asked whether she was happy with the magazine's decision to change the cover Padilla said, I am ok with the new cover. I just saw it and I know why FHM chose it, it has as much 'sexiness' as the first one so I'm happy.

Padilla said the black models in the cover were Filipinas painted in black and were not representing Africans. We weren't thinking of harming anyone, and we weren't thinking of racial discrimination, she said.