Before anything else, happy birthday, dear Cleo!
Ladies and gentlemen, today is the birthday of a good friend of mine, one of the hosts of the radio show I usually guest on, the Disenchanted Kingdom on 99.5 RT. Her name is Cleo Caliente.
Around the stroke of midnight, Ms. Caliente was on her way to the hotel room of her friends who flew in all the way from the United States. She was going to celebrate her birthday with them, as is customary. What is not customary, though, was the manner she was treated by the hotel’s floor security, from the moment she stepped into the vicinity of EDSA Shangri-la.
Upon approaching the door, instead of being subjected to the standard check of bags by security, she was immediately asked a question by the man at the door, pretty much asking her what room she was supposed to go to. She promptly answered which room. While this might still be construed as routine, what followed certainly wasn’t.
After stalling for a while, she was escorted by several security personnel not to the reception area which is standard operation procedure for any clarifications regarding rooms and the like, but to the phones hidden away in the corner of the first floor of the hotel. It was as if they didn’t want people to see her, which was bizarre, to say the least. Instead of calling her friends at the reception area, she was calling from the phone booths. Does this count as protocol?
As you might’ve seen in the picture above, Ms. Caliente is quite a looker, and she was, as is customary with Chinese women, wearing a red dress on her birthday, as well as some jewellery. She was dressed to impress that midnight, and wanted nothing more than to just hang out with her friends and chill out with them, especially since it was her idea to make them move from Makati Shang-rila to EDSA Shang-rila because she lives closer to the place.
Instead, she found herself surrounded by seven security personnel, repeatedly asking her questions in the vernacular while she was answering the questions in flawless English. That they were disregarding her mode of expression with the way they were speaking to her was unmistakeable, and at the same time, immensely disrespectful. Cleo comes from Cebu, and Tagalog is not her native language, although she can speak and understand it.
Then, at some point, they asked her a question that just completely went beyond the acceptable boundaries of protocol. They asked her: are you here to see a foreigner guest, or a Filipino?
Let me ask this of you, dear security personnel of EDSA Shangri-la: exactly what the blazes are you implying in asking her that question? Are you implying that you are assuming that the person who brought you business by having her friends check into your establishment, a person who has repeatedly gone to your establishment in recent days to see said friends, just so happens to be a prostitute? Really?
The line of questioning was foul and out of line. There is a protocol by which security personnel must conduct themselves, and while I am not 100% familiar with it, I don’t think asking a visitor if she’s there “to see a foreigner or a Filipino” constitutes protocol. This was downright insulting, demeaning, and given how this scene lasted for over ten minutes, this was practically criminal.
To make matters worse, given how Ms. Caliente was dressed, the security personnel who circled her and were accosting her were eyeing her in a very uncomfortable manner. In her words, she said that she felt like “they were stripping her naked in their minds,” with the way they ogled her. This was harassment, and they were attempting to bully someone whom they assumed was merely a “poor, helpless little girl” who also happens to be a hooker.
They couldn’t have been more mistaken.
After over ten minutes of being questioned relentlessly and treated like a common criminal, Cleo’s friend finally came down to pick her up and at this point, Ms. Caliente filed a complaint after she recollected herself in the hotel room. This was a travesty and a gross act of disservice to her, and they just had to do it on her birthday.
This morning, on 99.5 RT, King DJ Logan, the host of Disenchanted Kingdom, decided to call EDSA Shangri-la to perhaps get the establishment to issue a decent apology for the mistreatment Ms. Caliente has received at the hands of the security personnel. The first time he called, the person who received the call immediately put the phone down on him upon hearing the words “This is King DJ Logan of 99.5 RT.” It boggles the mind why she would do something like that, but they called the hotel again, this time with Cleo making the call.
Soon enough, they were transferred to a guy named Kevin, and he offered to clarify the matter when Cleo asked whom she could speak to for her to register her grievance. What followed has got to be one of the worst examples of customer service I have ever witnessed, as he fumbled his way through, put Cleo on hold multiple times, trying to come up with answers for her questions. It got to a point where Logan had to take over, and cow Kevin into admitting that in reality, he was not in a position to address the issue himself.
Now, take note that this was the second time the complaint was filed, and clearly, there was no log of the first complaint, as Kevin had no idea about what was going on at all despite putting Cleo on hold multiple times. He had to realize he was actually on the air before he realized that he couldn’t just sweep this complaint under the rug.
To make matters worse, after this call, the hotel attempted to bribe Cleo’s friends by offering them freebies on the hotel’s tab. Now, if I recall correctly, it was Cleo who got harassed by these security personnel, and not her friends. So why are they being bribed, when all the were asking for was accountability and a written apology for her ordeal?
Real classy, EDSA Shangri-la. Way to address the situation. Wasn’t it bad enough that you thought Ms. Caliente was a prostitute? Now, you have to try and pay her off (Actually, pay her friends off, even!) as if she really were one? Customer service at its finest! Well played, EDSA Shangri-la! Bravo!
A simple, straightforward apology and accountability for the security personnel who accosted Cleo would’ve been more than welcome, dear EDSA Shangri-la. In case you haven’t realized, at no point did she even flaunt her status as a radio broadcaster throughout her ordeal. Apparently, her desire to not act like she was entitled to any special treatment was taken as a sign by your goons, I mean security, to instead harass her as they please.
Seven guys to deal with one person, ladies and gentlemen. Does this not scream “excessive” and “abusive” to you?
Seriously, EDSA Shangri-la. Do you actually need to step on powerful people’s toes before you realize that you’re mistreating people? Has it gotten to this point already? Can you not simply do the right thing and apologize for treating people the wrong way without having to look at their status in society or in the media industry? And do you think that bribing them with gifts will just make them look the other way? You think you can buy off principles?
Well, at this point, the answer to that is moot, and let this post stand as a warning: unless EDSA Shangri-la decides to do the right thing and issue a public apology in writing to Ms. Cleo Caliente, then we are left with no recourse but to let this post stand as a testament to the discrimination and inhospitable treatment the employees of EDSA Shangri-la clearly are capable of.
I will categorically say that I have no desire to patronize such an establishment, and I certainly hope those who see this will know better than to as well.
Not cool, EDSA Shangri-la. Not cool at all.