Plantation Bay draws flak for "insensitive, arrogant" response to mom of child with autism; shareholder apologizes

by Rachelle Siazon
Dec 9, 2020
Manny Gonzalez, a resident shareholder of Cebu-based Plantation Bay Resort & Spa, issues letter of apology for "poor handling" of complaint made by mom of child with autism. Gonzalez drew the ire of netizens following his lack of empathy to the situation of the mother-and-child resort guests.

Buong araw nag-trend sa Twitter ang Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, isang five-star hotel sa Marigodon, Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

Umani ng batikos ang kilalang Cebu resort dahil sa umano'y "tone-deaf, insensitive, at arrogant" na paraan ng pamunuan sa pagsagot sa reklamo ng isang guest hinggil sa pamamalakad ng resort.

Noong December 6, 2020, isang netizen na may username na maipages ang nag-iwan ng bad review laban sa Plantation Bay Resort and Spa sa Trip Advisor, isang website na naglalaman ng feedback ng travelers sa iba't ibang tourist destinations.

Nagpakilala si maipages bilang isang ina na mayroong anak na may autism, isang developmental condition na maaaring may kinalaman sa social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

Bungad ni maipages: "It could’ve been the perfect getaway for Fin, my child with special needs.

"When something excites him or when he is happy, he makes it known by squealing with delight. Fin is happy! That is what I always tell him every time he does that.

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"I thought that was okay until we were told from afar (a lifeguard)."

Dalawang beses daw silang sinita ng lifeguard dahil sa ingay na likha ng excitement ng anak niya.

Paliwanag ni maipages: "As a mother, your initial action would be directed to your child. So I told him not to squeal because it wasn’t allowed. Quite frankly it was a difficult moment.

"Another lifeguard came and told us the same thing. I had to explain that he is a child with needs.

"Every time Fin jumps in the water he’d be so happy that he’d laugh and squeals again. I tried hushing him and at one point tried to cover his mouth."

Sa puntong ito, naglabas ng saloobin si maipages na dismayado siya sa kakulangan ng pang-unawa ng resort staff sa special needs ng kanyang anak.

Katuwiran niya, hindi naman daw basta niya lang pinabayaan ang anak na mag-ingay na para bang walang pakialam sa ibang guests na nagbabakasyon sa resort.

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"But then I realized this is so wrong? This isn’t right at all!

"The plan to swim the whole morning came to a halt. I asked Fin if we could go back to the room because we weren’t allowed to squeal and be merry the special way."

Diin ni maipages: "It’s a discriminating experience.

"We often get this a lot. When normal people who are ignorant of people with special needs, give us that stare of please control your child.

"My Fin is a happy child. He has autism. He is special. Very special! I will never consider staying here ever again.

"No luxury of this proportion can make this experience okay because that is not what we need.

"We need a friendly and empathetic environment for kids and families with special needs."


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CEBU RESORT REPLIES TO MAIPAGES'S COMPLAINT

Sumagot ang resident shareholder ng Cebu resort na nagngangalang Manny Gonzalez, gamit ang Trip Advisor account ng general manager na si Efren Belarmino.

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Inakusahan ni Gonzalez si maipages na sinungaling.

Hindi raw autism ang kondisyon ng anak ni maipages kundi "lack of discipline due to parental neglect."

Pangaral pa ni Gonzalez, i-Google daw ng ina ang "autism" at makikita nitong "autistic children tend to be silent, non-verbal, and overwhelmed and withdrawn when faced with strangers."

Marahil ay sumisigaw at nag-iingay raw ang anak ni maipages dahil sa kagustuhan nitong makuha ang atensiyon ng ina.

"In our experience, one word from a responsibile parent is enough to make a child quiet down."

Ipinaliwanag din ni Gonzalez na bahagi ng safety protocol ang pagbabawal na mag-ingay sa resort, upang marespondehan agad kung mayroong lehitimong sigaw ng sinumang guest na humihingi ng saklolo.

Hindi raw iyon magagawa ng resort kung masasanay ang staff na pabayaan lang ang ingay na naririnig ng mga ito.

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Ayon pa kay Gonzalez, malinaw na nakasaad ang rules and regulations ng resort sa confirmation letter para sa guests.

Bahagi ng pahayag ng resort shareholder: "Therefore this parent is trying to blame the resort for her own failure to look after her child's interests.

"While we are sorry that we are not the right resort for this parent and child, we hope that in the future other parents who want their children to scream constantly and bother other guests, will do their homework and choose another resort, one which doesn't care about the 99% of guests who want to relax in peace and quiet."

Deleted na sa Trip Advisor ang pahayag na ito ni Gonzalez, pero nakunan ito ng screenshot at naging paksa ng usap-usapan sa social media.

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NETIZENS' REACTIONS

Pinuna ng netizens ang umano'y panghihiya at aroganteng pananalita ni Gonzalez sa ina ng batang may autism.

Hindi raw katanggap-tanggap ang sarkastikong pagkuwestiyon ni Gonzalez kung totoo nga bang may autism ang anak ng guest na inirereklamo ang Plantation Bay Spa and Resort.

Matatawag daw na "gaslighting" ang ginawa ng resident shareholder sa reklamo ng resort guest.

Ang gaslighting ay tumutukoy sa pagmamanipula ng isang tao upang kuwestiyunin ng isang biktima ng pang-aabuso kung valid ang nararamdaman nito.

Sabi pa ng isang netizen, "This manager, blinded with arrogance, really had the guts to talk about autism based on a Google search. And for the purpose of shaming this family? How low can you get."

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Tinawag din si Gonzalez na "unprofessional" at walang "empathy" sa kondisyon ng isang batang may autism.

STATEMENT OF AUTISM SOCIETY PHILIPPINES

Nailathala ang isyu sa website ng Autism Society Philippines, isang non-profit organition na layuning pangalagaan ang well-being ng mga may autism.

Nabahala ang organisasyon dahil sa umano'y kawalan ng simpatiya ng resort sa special needs ng anak ni maipages.

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"The first part of the response is ignorant of what the autism spectrum is — even going as far as to shame the parent and question the veracity of the child’s diagnosis," saad sa bahagi ng statement ng Autism Society Philippines.

Umapela rin ang organisasyon na gawing oportunidad ng resort ang kontrobersiyang kinasasangkutan upang magsagawa ng disability sensitivity training sa staff ng resort.

Dagdag pa rito, sinabi ng Autism Society Philippines na handa silang tumulong mag-endorso sa mga ahensiya ng gobyerno para sa mga reklamong may kinalaman sa paglabag sa Republic Act 7277 o the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability.

MANNY GONZALEZ ISSUES LETTER OF APOLOGY

Nakarating sa pamunuan ng Cebu resort ang mga pambabatikos ng netizens kaugnay ng reklamo ni maipages, ang ina ng batang may autism.

Gabi ng Martes, December 8, pormal na naglabas ng letter of apology si Manny Gonzalez sa Facebook page ng Plantation Bay Resort and Spa.

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Inamin ni Gonzalez na hindi maganda ang naging pagtrato niya sa reklamo ni maipages.

Hindi rin daw niya dapat kinuwestiyon ang health condition ng anak nito.

Kabuuang pahayag ni Gonzalez (published as is): "This is in response to my poor handling of a guest complaint a couple of days ago. I was wrong to question the mother's motives, and deeply regret leaving the impression that we are not supportive of the community of parents with children who have special needs.

"Our hotel's policy on keeping noise levels down in the pool and at the restaurants is geared towards safety and relaxation for all guests. We try to apply this policy even-handedly.

"As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we have never had a child die here. A mother's pride is important, but more important are the lives of the children who come here.

"Regardless, I handled this case poorly, and apologize to all the parties who felt offended by my reply."

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Manny Gonzalez, a resident shareholder of Cebu-based Plantation Bay Resort & Spa, issues letter of apology for "poor handling" of complaint made by mom of child with autism. Gonzalez drew the ire of netizens following his lack of empathy to the situation of the mother-and-child resort guests.
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