A WELL-KNOWN beach resort in Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) is under fire after a customer complained of the homophobic response of the resort's management.
In a Facebook post on Monday evening, May 10, Facebook user Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga detailed how she was discriminated against while staying at Isla Reta Beach resort on Saturday, May 8.
Gonzaga, who identifies herself as transgender woman, said the incident happened around 6 p.m. when she was about to rinse in the female restroom. She said she was barred by a female employee of the resort from entering and was told "bawal ka diri, sa pikas ka kay gay ka (you are not allowed here. Go to the men’s bathroom because you are ‘gay’)."
She explained that she needed to rinse at the lady's bathroom since she is uncomfortable in using the men's restroom considering she already has feminine figure, and that they might be wondering why she was there.
"[S]o ako nag educate ko gamay sa iyaha, ante dili ko gay, trans ko, nag take ko hormones since 18 pa ko, wala ko nag insist sa iyaha na babae ko na dapat allow ko sa female's bathroom, kutob ra pod ko sa shower. [sic] (I educated her, saying that I am a transwoman, not gay, because I have been taking hormones since 18. In the first place, I never insisted that I am a woman and I should be allowed inside the female’s bathroom because I just wanted to take a shower)," the guest said.
Gonzaga said the employee even asked for proof through video that she already underwent gender reassignment. She decided to head back to her tent and reached out to the upper management to air her complaint.
She told the manager that she is complaining not because of the issue of her being barred from using the bathroom, but how she was humiliated by their employees.
"[D]idto nakig estorya kog tarong very professional kaayo ko nag share, ‘Sir! embarrased kaayo ko sa inyuhang staff the way mag approach, akoa lang man nangayo kog gamay consideration kay gusto lang ko mamanlaw pero daghan paa kaayo siyag estoraya na burag siya pay naay alam sako pagka tao, and nag expect ko na akoang complain mag favor sa akoa na samotan na noon ko! ‘AI BAWAL TALAGA! KAY GAY KA! [sic] (I decided to talk to someone who is professional. I told him, ‘Sir I was embarrassed by the way your staff approached me. I only asked for consideration because I just wanted to shower. But your employee had been saying things.’ I was expecting that the manager would favor me. But I was surprised when he also responded ‘You are actually prohibited from entering because you are gay’)," Gonzaga said.
She also educated the head manager about her gender, and eventually the latter apologized.
Gonzaga said she walked out after she cannot handle how the management responded to her complaint.
"Wala na nko na kaya nag walk-out nako kay obvious kaayo na transphobic og homophobic ang owner ani na resort [sic] (I walked out because it is obvious that the owners of the resort are transphobic ug homophobic)," she said.
Meanwhile, she called on her fellow LGBT members to boycott the resort as they will only be discriminated against.
The post, as of Tuesday evening, May 11, has already more than 9,000 reactions and 10,000 shares.
Several netizens flooded the resort's official Facebook page, airing their disappointment to the management's action.
SunStar Davao reached out to Isla Reta via Messenger but they have not yet responded. SunStar also reached out to Samal City Tourism Office for their side on the matter, but has also yet to respond.
Meanwhile, Igacos Councilor Gie-arr Requina Valdez said in his Facebook post that prior to Gonzaga's post, another complaint also went viral last week.
Valdez said they are going to take action on these complaints by raising recommendations to the City Council tourism committee.
These include issuing warning or sanction to resorts through the Tourism Office for poor customer service treatment or handling of tourists, the conduct of Proper Customer Service Handling Training or seminar to make the island "tourist-friendly," and the mandatory creation of Facebook pages to all resorts for easy access and monitoring of reviews and feedback from guest and clients.
"[T]he City officials are working properly and take actions immediately sa mga (to) problems sa (in the) community. Take note also that before this issue migawas sa news gahapon (went out to news outlets yesterday [May 10]) [,] we already have solutions," Valdez said.