UK-based magazine condemns Cebu resort’s treatment of guest with special needs
MANILA, Philippines — The woes of the Cebu-based resort over its alleged discrimination of a guest with special needs are far from over after a United Kingdom-based Autism Parenting Magazine slammed it for its “unacceptable” treatment of a mother and her child with autism.
“We were saddened to hear about the incident regarding a mother and her son at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa. Unfortunately, there is a lack of public awareness about how children with autism spectrum disorder express themselves,” Dul Alim, Operations Manager of Autism Parenting Magazine in the Philippines, said in a statement sent to Inquirer.net on Wednesday.
“It is common for children with autism to respond vocally and physically in moments of excitement or to high sensory environments such as water. For the mother to be publicly reprimanded despite explaining her child has special needs was, in our view, unacceptable,” Alim added.
Plantation Bay Resort and Spa came under fire when a resort guest identified as Mai Pages posted a negative review about the establishment. According to Pages, she and her six-year-old son with autism were repeatedly told by the staff to keep quiet while staying at the pool.
Pages said she had explained that her son has autism that made him predisposed to having squeals of delight when he is happy or excited, but a staff supposedly continued to tell them to keep it down.
In responding to Pages negative review posted in a travel app, the resort’s resident shareholder Manny Gonzalez instead tried to school Pages about autism and accused her of lying about their experience. He, in his now-deleted response to Pages, attributed “lack of discipline due to simple parental neglect” for Pages’ son’s behavior.
Call for action
However, on Tuesday, Gonzalez released a statement of apology, citing his “poor handling of a guest complaint.”
“It is encouraging to see the resort has made a public apology and lessons can be learned. We hope this incident will spread greater awareness in the tourism industry about children with autism,” Alim said.
Still, the Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that it is already investigating the resort. DOT also noted that it will coordinate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for proper action under the Disability Law.
The Autism Society Philippines on Thursday reiterated their call for disability sensitivity training as well as a review of the resort’s policies and procedures.
“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,” the organization said in a separate statement posted on its Facebook page.