Baguio hotel told to explain reported protocol breaches at celebrity party
This photo from the Baguio City Facebook page shows city hall.
Baguio City Facebook page

Baguio hotel told to explain reported protocol breaches at celebrity party

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 9:33am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region and Baguio City government on Tuesday asked the hotel where a controversial celebrity party was held to explain why it should not be sanctioned.

In a statement, the DOT-CAR said it is investigating the reported party at The Manor at Camp John Hay in Baguio City.

“A Notice to Explain has already been issued to the establishment,” it said.

On Wednesday, the Public Information Office of Baguio also said the city government said it gave the “hotel 72 hours to explain why it should not be sanctioned over celebrity party protocol breach.”

'We followed protocols'

While the DOT and Baguio LGU did not name the establishment and did not identify the celebrity party they were referring to, social media was abuzz this week after videos of the party — where guests can be seen gathering without face masks — circulated online.

Social media users also criticized Tim Yap, who celebrated his 44th birthday at the hotel, for the lapses seen in the videos online.

The Manor has yet to respond to Philstar.com's request for comment on the celebrity party.

In a televised interview on Tuesday night, Yap confirmed that he organized the reported “party” at a 5,000-square meter outdoor area of The Manor.

Yap said that he and the guests followed health and safety protocols of Baguio and of the establishment.

“We all followed the safety protocols. Everybody was tested…everybody was provided a mask,” the celebrity host said.

He also claimed that the videos circulating were edited, citing that the guests took off their masks since they were about to eat dinner. However, he claimed this was followed by an unexpected cultural community dance that was captured in an Instagram story that has gone viral.

“Everything looks like it was a party but it was edited to be that way but if you will see the other days that we were together,” Yap told CNN Philippines.

“What actually happened behind this video… They are on their way to have their dinner…All of a sudden, a cultural dance happened and so the cultural dancer pulled everybody... we got carried away and we invited everybody to do the cultural community dance,” he narrated.

Yap maintained that each activity was supervised throughout that weekend, citing that he “worked with people of Baguio from LGUs to Baguio venue” in organizing the event.

Event to promote local tourism

In a separate interview with ABS-CBN, Yap said he chose Baguio City as a venue for his celebration to promote local tourism.

“Ako po yung nag-organize noon. Ang pakay po noon is to promote Baguio as a destination parang local tourism. Sa akin, yun ang hangarin ko talaga. Para mag-push ng local tourism. Kung makikita mo social media ko, lahat talaga yun ang ginagawa ko for the past few months,” Yap was quoted by ABS-CBN reporter Jeff Canoy as saying.

”We made sure that we secured all necessary permits para matuloy ito dahil ang talagang goal namin, ang aim namin is to help restart the economy, reopen the economy at ma-promote ang local tourism,” he added.

Meanwhile, entertainment news website PEP.PH cited in its report a Facebook photo of contact tracing czar and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong with his wife and actress-singer KC Concepcion supposedly attending Yap’s celebration.

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Magalong confirmed that he was there with his wife. He said that he had been invited to the event by Yap, mentioning also that the events organizer's friends bought a lot of pieces at an art exhibit for Baguio City artists prior to the event.

He acknowledged that there were violations like people taking their masks off, which he attributed to people being excited and being carried away by the mood of the party. The mayor also said that, from what he saw while he was at the event, protocols were generally followed.

Fines for not wearing masks in Baguio City range from P1,000 to P3,000, depending on whether one is a repeat offender, Magalong said.

Mayor Magalong is also the government's contact tracing czar and earned praise in 2020 for how Baguio City managed to handle COVID-19 cases in the city.

Baguio City open to tourists

Baguio City, an area under modified general community quarantine, opened its doors to tourists from GCQ areas in Luzon last October 22.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases through Resolution No. 88 said that minimum health protocols shall be complied at all times in areas under MGCQ.

"Mass gatherings such as but not limited to, movie screenings, concerts, sporting events, and other entertainment activities, religious services, and work conferences shall be allowed provided that participants shall be limited to fifty percent (50%) of the seating or venue capacity," it also said.

Prior to the opening of the City of Pines, the IATF's Resolution No. 73 allowed antigen testing and other COVID-19 testing methods to be used on domestic tourists, including authorized and essential travelers.

It also launched Baguio Visitor Information and Travel Assistance, or VIS.I.T.A., the visitor management platform used to track the activities of visitor and protect the tourists and the communities.

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