Thursday, December 17, 2009

EDSA Shang's Big Mistake

.:EDSA Shangri-la Security Personnel Harrass And Publicly Humiliate Ms. Cleo Caliente: A Breach Of Protocol, And Then Some:.

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.
Normally, birthdays are supposed to be really happy days, but the fine folks over at EDSA Shangri-la in Mandaluyong clearly had different ideas.

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.


Aileen Apolo-de Jesus said...

I have colleagues who got asked the same "question" at Makati Shangri-la a few weeks ago. To think my colleagues were in t-shirt and jeans! It was past ten in the evening when I dropped them off at the hotel. To think she was a hotel guest. Bad, bad Shangrila!

Anonymous said...

not cool at all...super disrespectful >:(

Mia said...

There's a sign above one of the employee entrances of the Makati Shangri-la, IIRC: "through this door pass the most efficient and courteous employees in the world." Something to that effect, at least. It's awful to see employees practically spitting on that philosophy in such a manner. The way they treated Ms. Caliente was appalling.

Vince said...

I want to hear about what happens next. Let us know if Shang does anything to try and better the situation or if they just continue to suck...

Roy said...

agree with Vince, would love to see a follow up on this...

or whether Shang-rila is really as bad (and judgmental) as they are.

really, if this could happen to her, I fear what they could do to others

Unknown said...

if this ever happens to me... i'll make sure you'll be the one to blog about it. thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Security Personnel of EDSA Shangri-La in Mandaluyong are under SAFEGUARD SECURITY AGENCY thus I suggest you make a complain on Tulfo, XXX or Imbestigador. It's time to teach these non-courteous people how to treat guests.

Eric said...

My prediction:
Without public humiliation via television, the hotel will simply ignore this. And guests will continue to patronize the place. Radio and Internet humiliation are not enough. Unfortunately, that's the way it works.

Anonymous said...

Geez... if only the management of Shang have kicked those bastards out of their jobs! I'm sorry Ms.Cleo for the harsh words

James Habitan said...

LOL, what's with those dudes? Such insult and humiliation should never go unnoticed.

KDl did the right thing phoning that guy named Eric, at least people would know how terrible not just their hotel security's courtesy to their guests but also how lame Shang's customer service is.

Rachelle Rule said...

What the heck do they have asking why Ms Cleo was there? Is that not invasion of privacy? Do they have any brains at all?? I say everyone gets on the Net so foreign visitors who come to Manila would think twice before booking into the Shang. Imagine, if these visitors were here on business trips, does that mean that even their business contacts who come to the hotel will be perceived by Shang security as prostitutes and call boys?

Dennis said...

Enough of power tripping security personnel! These bullying guards who oftentimes have the IQ of mice think their presence deter security hazards in their establishments when they have not done anything about inside jobs and arrogant foreigners. All they do is discriminate in the worst possible way - by the way people dress. If a foreigner walks in with slippers and shorts; these stupid guards wont do anything and would even be courteous to them. If a fellow Filipino walks in a slippers and shorts; these 'mata-pobre' guards would subject the Filipinos with security checks, questionings and humiliation. Did they ever think that foreigners can be terrorists themselves?? You people at Edsa Shang who hire power tripping guards don't know how much these abusive security people reflect on your hotel.

Kel Fabie said...

Lots of responses, so here goes...

@Aileen: Profiling is their job, but they could employ more tact and treat people better than that.

@Anon 1: Very disrespectful, and no apology has been made as of this moment.

@Mia: I remember that sign. Empty words, so it seems.

@Vince: Will certainly keep you updated.

@Roy: The security personnel would be at fault for being judgmental, but the establishment's refusal to make proper amends is a point against the establishment itself.

@Erasmusa: You know how protective I am of my friends, and Cleo happens to be one of them.

@Anon 2: Thanks for the heads-up. I used to work for QTV 11 and might have some favors I'd want to call in, if ever.

@Eric: While I don't necessarily disagree with you, I believe that any establishment worth their salt will not ignore persistent bad press especially with how far this is spreading now.

@Anon 3: I'm hoping against hope the right thing would be done here.

@James: Yeah, but poor Eric. I thought he was reading through the employee manual or something each time he put us on hold.

@Rachelle: There is a way to ask these questions without insulting the person. Clearly, the security personnel didn't do that at all.

@Denisa: Couldn't have said it better.

skysenshi said...

The heads of Shang should do something about this. I don't want to completely blame the guards because there might be some policies that aren't very clear to them. Still, this is going to scare away people.

Sarah said...

Sheesh, that is so WRONG!

Seven MEN to one WOMAN.
Judging by her looks.
Escorting her to the phone booths.
The "question".

Ay, grabe, nakakapanggalaiti!

Azrael Coladilla said...

this post deserve a reblog in my network

tnx kel for this info
must warn everyone their bad habits

Anonymous said...

that's off the hook for sure and yes, it was not that even also.

me and my girlfriend was treated that way in shang not to long ago when we were about to meet up with our former classmates back in Letran and Sta. Rosa, Int. we were held back and advised to wait outside nalang. to our disappointment and para hindi nlng humaba usapan, we decided nalang to meet sa mall. kainis :|

Digital Manila said...

This is so bad Edsa Sahngri-la. YOu should at the very least apologize.

And they make it a standard to dress well in hotels? maybe ladies should come in slippers and rag clothing so as not to be construed as prostitutes; but then again they wouldn't let her in. So, which is which, eh?

Eric said...

Has any of the tv networks picked up this story? Ang bagal naman kung wala pa. Or perhaps they've also been bribed with freebies?

Regarding your comment "any establishment worth their salt will not ignore persistent bad press", sige, isigaw mong "not worth their salt" ang snotty hotel na yan, their occupancy rate will remain the same, perhaps even increase a bit because this "bad publicity" does not affect the other clients who are treated like royalty.

If those jerks in the hotel treat me like a VIP, and treats the others like stray cats, I won't care. Basta ako inaalagaan ng maayos, pakialam ko ba sa iba diyan.

Kel Fabie said...

@Eric: Considering how Cabalen Trinoma's fate was affected by a blog, I wouldn't count on it.

As for television, it appears Cebu is picking up the story (since Cleo's from Cebu, but yeah, that's neither here nor there.

In any case, I can understand the cynicism, but we do what we must. The odds of something happening are significantly higher if something was actually done about it.

Unknown said...

The entire blog is baseless and is just a rant. Please present real evidence, not hearsay.

Renzie Baluyut said...

Dude. I'm posting this and reblogging.

Christian said...

Those guys are a disgrace to the hospitality industry! People like them are the reason why hoteliers like us are being looked at with suspicion and disgust by some esteemed guests.

Unknown said...

what?! so disappointing >.< Shangri-la is a high class hotel pa namna ~.~ taas ng tingin ko sa hotel na yan, then maririnig ko ito? so disappointing, thanks for the heads up =3

Iggy said...

Hahahaha! OMG!

Let me throw in a bit of trivia from my *ahem* experiences in the Philippine internet underground...

Folks, it's Christmas season. The incidents of 'hotel room escapades' are much, much higher at this time of year because for one, a good number of expatriates and foreign nationals visit our fair shores for vacation, and yes, majority of whom require a little... 'companionship'. Second, because these incidents are much higher during the holiday season, a good number of security breaches have been reported, i.e. 'companion' comes in late at night, leaves early morning with everything in hotel guest's wallet, etc. The usual protocol is, the guest phones reception to inform them that 'hey! I've got a, uh... friend coming in later... please let her in...'

Now I mean no disrespect to Ms. Cleo, but hotel security are like horses with blinders on. They're given instructions to follow by management (in this case LOOK OUT FOR THE HOT CHICKS!) and make sure to clarify what the hell it is they're doing in our hotel!

But now that I've shed a bit of light as to why these creeps acted that way, and after the experience of Ms Cleo, and Ms. Aileen's friends as well, I do hope that people will know what to do... SUE THE HOTEL. Lol.

I agree 100% with you on this one Kel. What the hotel did was not cool and grossly disrespectful. Any person walking into their hotel, whatever gender or physical appearance, is a potential or actual guest. That kind of behavior is inexcusable.

EDSA Shangri-La pa naman... tsk tsk tsk.

Kel Fabie said...

@skysenshi: People can follow orders without having to offend people. Or look like they want to take your clothes off right then and there with the way they stare.

@Sarah: Yeah, it's really wrong. Which is why we're making sure people know about it.

@Azrael: Thanks, Az.

@Anon 4: Ouch. That's all I can say about that.

@Digital Manila: Yeah, that's just it. An apology shouldn't be too difficult, right?

@Renzie: Thanks, too.

@angelinyou: There are many slights that we allow to slide all for keeping the peace. This isn't one of them, in my opinion.

@Iggy: Thanks for your input. I'm glad people understand that this situation should have been handled better.

Kel Fabie said...

I'm saving this comment for last, since it's a juicy one.

@Michael: So, you're on the payroll, then? I've been doing PR and damage control for years, so I know the machinations I'm dealing with and against.

How about we consider the facts? A PERSONAL, EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT made by Ms. Caliente ON NATIONAL RADIO should be more than enough "evidence" for you.

A sheepish confession by Kevin himself, ALSO on national radio, that the questions asked of Ms. Caliente by the security personnel were NOT protocol should also stand as enough acknowledgment that the issue exists.

The archives of the radio show should be available for anyone who wishes to look it up with, say, the KBP. There's your evidence, son. I suggest you use your brain before you naysay around here, because I never write down stuff like this if I didn't have good reason to.

Kel Fabie said...

As I sorta botched moderation, here are some of the more recent comments and my responses to each...

From Anonymous: Shouldn't the security agency be scrutinized more? Training is done by them, isnt' it?

Not to defend Shang, but if they weren't told by the security guards, then they wouldn't be able to respond. I hope there was some record of the complaint made the first time. For sure there's a record of the second time!

At the same time, if this isn't the first person this happened to, then Shang's in deep doo-doo. That's just wrong.

Freebies are a common way of "apologizing" without admitting guilt, I'm afraid. Way of the world, man. Way of the world.

Yup, I know what you mean, but I think we can afford to remain principled here and expect an apology. :)

From Fjordz:
I shared this post to my friends.. Hope EDSA Shagri-la will do something about this. And, by that time, a better way of addressing this kind of problem. tsk tsk!

One can hope, and that's all we have to go by at this point.

From Yel: got me thinking 'ano kaya suot ni Cleo that time'. don't get me wrong, it's appalling to treat guests like that and very embarrassing on her part. tsk tsk

As I mentioned, she was dressed to impress. She looked... stunning, to say the least. I wouldn't have mistaken her for a hooker in a million years.

From Khrysler Jericho: A lot of the local hotel establishments actually ask that question (about the guest being Filipino or a Foreigner). I actually work in an office situated inside the Discovery Suites hotel and since we use the same doors as the hotel guests, we are always popped that question, IDs notwithstanding.

It's as if there's discrimination going on in these hotels.

That's... sad.

From Randell:
What those security personnels did was just disrespectful and out of line. It probably has something to do with the flawed policies of the hotel. She really ought to file a formal complaint about this.

She has. Twice. But clearly, they're not acting on it appropriately.

From Noemi: @michael- Cleo is my best friend's niece and confirmed this incident.

Well, that settles that.

Unknown said...

after I told my friend about this incident, he told me that there are also some incidents happen on other hotels din pala :o but some have already cover it up by bribing the guest to keep them quite ~.~ but some of the guest did keep quite just because they got the hotel perks by agreeing on some conditions ~.~

Kel Fabie said...

The update: The hotel has taken steps to rectify the issue, and I thank them for that.

As I promised that the post only stands for as long as they do nothing, now that they've done something, I have no problems with removing the contents of the post, although the comments, I can't do much about.

Thanks for all your input and help, and I'm glad that this issue has been resolved without much need to drag it out.

Eric said...

Does anybody know how the issue was rectified? Free overnight stay? Gift checks?

Kel Fabie said...

@Eric: In case you have ignored the original post, she wanted an apology, NOT compensation.

Ergo, a resolution must involve that.

skysenshi said...

Hm. It's just my personal experience that a lot of guards follow blindly (even when they interpret a policy erroneously) and they really do not know how to be respectful because...well, if they did, they wouldn't be guards. ^^;; Like in our company's case, I had to talk to the head of the guards to get his men to stand down. That one has a master's degree, which is why he is the head of the guards. The rest...very very few can think for themselves and know how to be courteous (you'll notice that international and Pinoy security personnel have different interpretations of the word "tough") which is why I'm extra patient with them.

But this should serve as a lesson to Edsa Shang and their security agency. Train your guards well. That would include lessons in GMRC.

Jessica Ortiz said...

To Michael...
I am Jessica Ortiz-Anderson...your living proof. A proof on how Edsa Shang personnel discriminates Filipinas! My husband and I booked a room in October this year at Edsa Shang. My husband, an American was the first to notice how Edsa Shang's staff (from housekeeping to security staff) would just acknowledge him and not even look at me.
I didn't mind it at first but got upset when a security staff grilled me with incessant slighting questions when i entered the hotel after a trip to McDonald's in St. Francis Square late at night.
I told the guard that i am booked in the hotel under my husband's name Will Anderson. They did not look up his name or allowed me to call him from the front desk. One guy even told me that they did not allow food from outside to be brought in.
I had to call my husband from my cellphone and he picked me up at the lobby. My husband was infuriated and told the staffs at the door how they dare think that all Filipinas with foreigner companions are whores. Ever since we stayed at the hotel, the staff would only address my husband but not even look at me as if I am not allowed to stay at the hotel. All that time, I let it pass. I did not want to stoop down to their level of prejudice. But it does hurt. I am an MBA student from Stanford! I graduated from Ateneo. And I was even courteous to the hotel staff. The interrogation at the hotel entrance was the last straw. We were supposed to extend but checked out the next morning. This blog was forwarded to me by my sister in Manila. I could not help but feel for Ms. Cleo. The prejudice can be wounding. A Filipina friend of mine who recently got married to an Englishman this 16th of November also had the similar experience as mine. They had their mini-honeymoon at the Edsa Shang and she recounted how the staffs would only greet her English husband in the morning on their way to have breakfast at Heat. “I am not asking for an iota of recognition from the staff as a valid guest” she said “but the least they could do is at least glance at me while they greeted my husband”. My friend stayed there for 4 nights under her husband’s name Mike Symes. This is another proof for you Michael and not just a mere hearsay. My friend Shakira is a top live events director in Manila. She even holds events at the hotel. “It felt like a cheap motel policy wherein the employees are not to look at the guests for some illicit reason. But I cannot comprehend why they would be all smiles at my English husband and yet act like I am not supposed to be there or beside him” she said. “It seems like if I was alone I would be treated better than if I was with my husband just because he is a foreigner” she added. This is discrimination and is abusive to women. A comment here from Denisa said it aptly; Ms. Cleo’s, Shakira’s and my unpleasant episode are not just mere inconsequential incidents; the experiences are true accounts of racial and sexual discrimination from a hotel that insensitively allows prejudices like these to happen.
I wrote this WITHOUT seeking for any form apology or recompense. I wrote this to spread awareness that these incidents are forms of bigotry that should not be tolerated.