Resorts told: Be ‘disability sensitive’

By: Morexette Marie B. Erram - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | December 09,2020 - 10:49 AM

| Inquirer.net File Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines -The Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP) is asking the management of resorts to be more sensitive to the needs of special children.

The group issued the appeal in response to reports of discrimination that a mother and her child with special needs experienced during a recent visit to a high-end resort in Lapu-Lapu City.

“Beyond the public relations mess that this is (driven by an ill-crafted response), the noble men and women who serve to please their customers at the Plantation Bay Resort And Spa in Cebu can do better.  Even the best-intentioned organizations can always use additional knowledge and improvements in areas they are not properly trained in.  The Department of Tourism, the National Council on Disability Affairs and the Autism Society Philippines can help facilitate education in “invisible” and often misunderstood disabilities,” said a statement that ASP released on December 8.

Following the “sad incident,” ASP is asking the management of resorts to conduct disability sensitivity training and review their existing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability.

“Genuine disability inclusion ensures access to enriching opportunities and experiences… We commend Mommy Mai for fighting for her child and for speaking out!” the group said.

The group also encouraged other parents of children with special needs to report their experiences of discrimination to the authorities.

“For parents who find themselves in this situation, know that the law is on your side.  Escalating the matter to top management is the best way to amicably resolve your issues and to teach the organization what accommodations are needed by guests who manifest their disability uniquely.  Very often, top management responds with kindness and compassion,” the ASP statement reads.

“If the issue is not resolved, you may file a civil case in court or with the Commission on Human Rights for violations of the RA 7277, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability. Please take note of names, places, events, dates, times and screenshots, to complete documentation of the incident. You may also fill out the form below to reach out to the Autism Society Philippines,” it added.

Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan Island recently gained the ire of netizens over its poor handling of a negative TripAdvisor review from a mother of a child with special needs.

On December 8, the resort issued a public apology following criticisms of their “poorly handled” response to a negative review from maipages.

The statement was signed by Manny Gonzalez, a resident shareholder of the luxury resort that is based in Lapu-Lapu City.

“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,” Gonzalez stated.

On December 7, maipages posted a review on TripAdvisor on her recent visit to the resort which she titled “Not an ideal place for a child with special needs.” Her review immediately went viral online.

maipages left a one-star review for Plantation Bay Resort and Spa and said that its staff and management have not been ‘empathic and friendly’ to guests with kids and families with special needs.

She said that the resort staff asked her to prevent her son from squealing as this would disturb their other guests.

“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. But then I realized this is so wrong? This isn’t right at all!” maipages said in her review.

“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,” she added.

A day after maipages posted her review, Gonzalez, in a now-deleted comment, responded a lengthy statement accusing maipages for “most likely deliberately lying uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism.”

Screenshots of Gonzalez’ reply, which was published using the account of Efren Belarmino, the resort’s general manager, still circulated online. Netizens were quick to criticize Gonzalez, particularly on his ‘poor handling’ over maipages’ review and that ‘he even went as far as instructing the parent to Google Autism’.

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TAGS: autism society of the philippines, discrimination, maipages, negative review, Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, Tripadvisor

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