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Hotel and restaurant industry stresses importance of treating servers with respect after Alex Gonzaga blunder

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 18, 2023 11:01 am

Vlogger Alex Gonzaga has trended anew for the wrong reasons. She was celebrating her birthday in a restaurant on Jan. 16, when she smeared a server’s forehead with icing from the chocolate cake he was holding for her during a birthday song.

The incident was caught on video originally posted on Instagram Story by Gonzaga’s guest, fellow content creator Dani Barretto. Though she already deleted it, the video spread like wildfire online.

Many netizens took Gonzaga to task, with their criticisms mostly revolving around her “prank” lacking respect, and her “kalog,” playful personality just won’t cut it.

"Service workers are our equals. It's their job to serve, but it's our job to give them the respect they deserve," content creator Janina Vela said in quote tweeting the viral video.

Most importantly, the blunder struck a chord the most with workers from the hotel and restaurant industry themselves.

“It's a conduct unbecoming of an esteemed guest,” Chola Viray, a former food and beverage trainer in a five-star hotel, told PhilSTAR L!fe. “Di ginagawa iyan ng isang maayos at desenteng tao.”

Viray emphasized that for over 20 years that they attended to guests, including many local celebrities, it was only Gonzaga who she heard of doing such a thing.

Hotelier Moses Matsuzawa told L!fe that personal boundaries were violated, pointing out how the server in the video looked uneasy and was caught off-guard.

"Di kasama sa bayad ang pag-smear ng cake," Matsuzawa said.

For a restaurant owner in Metro Manila, Gonzaga’s actions were totally uncalled for, especially that in the business, they uphold a strict guiding principle to always maintain professionalism among themselves and toward customers.

“Having a staff that I employ, it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth,” the restaurant owner told L!fe.

The interviewees said it would’ve been acceptable if Gonzaga did it to her loved ones, not to someone who’s just there to work earnestly.

The incident, according to Viray, should be a cautionary tale not only for celebrities but customers in general.

“Maging mabait tayo sa mga waiter. Kahit holiday, kahit madaling araw, kahit bumabagyo, kahit malayo sa pamilya nila, papasok iyan para makapagsilbi lang,” she said. “Frontliners din sila.”

The Gonzaga camp, through friend and publicist Peter Ledesma, in a statement sent to News5's MJ Marfori on Jan. 18 said the server, Allan, is close to the family matriarch Pinty as well as the Sorianos. Alex’s sister, actress Toni Gonzaga, is married to director Paul Soriano.

“[I]tong si Allan ay laging kabiruan (nina) Mommy Pinty and Alex,” Ledesma said. “Kaya majority of the event of Gonzaga and Soriano family ay sila ang kinukuha ni Mommy Pinty.”

Ledesma noted that Alex won’t simply do it to the server if they don't know each other at all.

In any case, the restaurant owner L!fe spoke with pointed out that just because customers are paying for services, it doesn’t give them the right to “cross a certain line.”

“It's common sense, basically,” the owner said. “We have to be responsible and extra careful in our actions. Mahirap na ngayon, especially in this day and age when social media is accessible to anyone and it's easy to post things like these.”