If you’ve been following the Philippines’ or the Worldwide trends in Twitter, you probably noticed the constant appearance of the hashtags #NotoSofitel and #BoycottSofitelPH since July 14. And just like many, you’re probably wondering why.
A place of opulence, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is a 5-star luxury hotel situated in Pasay City, Philippines. Sofitel is a brand of French luxury hotels across the globe, with 120 addresses in more than 40 different countries.
Some describe the hotel as posh or magnifique — however, its Manila chain has been a subject of criticism and uprising amongst netizens recently.
The birth of #NotoSofitel and #BoycottSofitelPH
On July 14, Doctor of Humanities Daniel S. Razon aired his sentiments against the hotel during his morning show, Good Morning Kuya aired on UNTV 37. The audience picked up and right after, twin hashtags #NotoSofitel and #BoycottSofitelPH were born.
And although the hashtags aren’t always side by side in the trends list, they’re always just around the corner for each other — on a daily basis now.
“During the sixth day (July 19) of the protest, the boycott hashtags reached top 3 and 4 of Worldwide Trends as of 9:17 PM (PHT). Then by 9:23PM, #NoToSofitelDay7 reached the No. 1 Worldwide Trends ladder.”
“UNTV has a strong followership across the globe, particularly from Overseas Filipino Workers in Asia-Pacific, Oceania, Middle East, Europe, North America and Canada.” — Ryan Borja
The Top 3 Reasons Why Filipinos Boycott Sofitel Manila
- Reason #1: For Violating Senior Citizens Rights. In this embedded video clip, Atty. Romulo B. Macalintal explains how Sofitel Manila denied him and other senior citizens their lawful 20% senior citizen discount. Atty. Macalintal, a Sofitel Accor Advantage Card member, cited that Sofitel must still honor the senior citizen discount on top of promotions that does not have a DTI Sales Promo Permit. Atty. Macalintal reviewed that the types of promos under the “no double discount” rule are those that have DTI sales promo permit — which (typically) runs over a course of several months only. Is Atty. Macalintal just being a cheapskate crying for a 20% discount? That’s very unlikely. According to the lawyer, in the past cases that he won against establishments that violated the rights of Filipino senior citizens, he asked the establishments to donate the damages to organizations catering to senior citizens instead of pocketing the sum of money.
- Reason #2: For Discriminating Fellow Filipinos. In the video below, Dr. Sarah Barba verbalizes her experience with Sofitel Manila. In her statement, Sofitel’s staff denied entrance to her nannies in the VIP buffet area simply because they were wearing scrub suits. What made the ink of discrimination darker was the fact that there were foreigners dining in the said area wearing casual shorts. As a result of Sofitel’s bigotry, even Dr. Barba’s children had to skip dinner that evening and sleep with their stomachs empty.
More reports came in after a couple of days of campaign against Sofitel Manila. Filipino families who came with fast food items were denied entrance while foreigners carrying boxes of pizza bought outside the hotel were warmly welcomed.
These weren’t just recently. There are documented reviews about Sofitel Manila’s discrimination issues. The following is from 2012:
“By which time the lounge was full and there were no more tables available (this was 05 April 2012 at 3:30PM). We had to wait for a table and this is the first time I had to wait for a table in a hotel lounge! But what was really surprising was an Arab, walking in with three girls, getting food from the buffet and opening the conference room so they can eat there! What was going on?” — TripAdvisor
Hence, Sofitel Manila (who also have Filipino managers) really has a history of prejudice against fellow Filipinos.
Reason #3: For Intentionally Delisting UNTV from its Channel Lineup. In retrospect, UNTV used to be a client of Sofitel. As a matter of fact, Razon himself closed the Grand Ballroom Plaza of Sofitel Manila on November 28, 2013 for the exclusive screening of Isang Araw.
At that time, Sofitel was able to include UNTV on its TV programming lineup but after the event, they’ve delisted the channel deliberately.
Sofitel’s cable provider is Sky Cable, a cable TV company in the Philippines that carries UNTV in all of its packages. In this regard, Sky Cable is in compliance with NTC’s “must carry” rule on the broadcast of free TV channels by all cable operators.
Aiming to help, educate and inform the public, UNTV is a broadcasting network that isn’t only about charity. Prominent people of the country support UNTV. The country’s leaders, public servants and legislators even have shows on UNTV. The network has programs dedicated to different government agencies including the Department of Justice (through “Justice On Air”), Deparment of Foreign Affairs (“Frontliners”), Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and many others through “UNTV Cup.”
To the supporters of the said network, it’s quite shady for a luxury hotel to discriminate a small yet important TV station.
With these facts at hand, yours truly shall leave you with this question: Is it alright to tolerate Sofitel Manila for their acts of discrimination against their fellow Filipinos?