‘Yaya meal’ issue: Overreaction or timely reminder?

BALESIN. Celebrities, politicians, and wealthy people are among the exclusive luxury resort in Quezon province.resort's frequent visitors. File photo by Rappler

BALESIN. Celebrities, politicians, and wealthy people are among the exclusive luxury resort in Quezon province.resort’s frequent visitors. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Is the “yaya (nanny) meal” controversy being blown out of proportion?

Netizens weighed in on the issue that caused a stir on social media after former Binibining Pilipinas-World and fashion designer Maggie Wilson Consunji on April 4, revealed in a Facebook post Balesin Island Club’s “offensive” practice of serving “yaya meals.”

According to Consunji, her mother was discouraged from ordering the same dish as her son’s nanny because it was a “yaya’s meal.”

However, the members-only luxury resort issued a statement on April 6, saying that the meal is “merely an accommodation and an option for the guest for their yaya,” and that they do not serve it if not instructed by guests.

Blown out of proportion?

Many echoed the sentiments of Consunji, including a netizen who questioned why it had to be labeled as a “yaya meal.” They argued that being a nanny is a decent job but due to high inequality in the Philippines, the word “yaya” has taken a derogatory meaning.

Despite the sentiments against the controversial meal, there were netizens who thought the issue was “blown out of proportion,” arguing it is just a “budget meal.”

Another netizen dismissed the issue, saying that there are “far more important” issues to be discussed:

Facebook user Gina Datu suggested only members have the right to speak on the matter.

This reasoning is similar to an incident concerning a condominium building which designated separate elevators for drivers and househelps, while banning them from using the regular one.

The property manager dismissed the flak it got from netizens, saying that the policy – which existed ever since the building was erected – is “not for the world. It’s just for the building.”

However, several netizens maintained that the issue is “more than just the price and the poorly thought out name.”

Despite it only happening in the resort, it is a symptom of a “bigger societal illness,” they argued.

Focusing the issue on the label “is like sugarcoating” the discrimination that still pervades in the country.

In the Philippines, several organizations have constantly called for the end of obvious discrimination in different forms through the years.

From laws discriminating against women, people with disability, and people suffering from diseases such as HIV, these clearly show that discrimination goes beyond economic status. There are also the incidents of discrimination against the LGBT sector – which sometimes lead to loss of life.

Those who don’t find the meal offensive are “obviously apathetic about discrimination,” one comment read.

Need to talk about discrimination

Many netizens believed the issue should be discussed to raise public awareness about incidents of discrimination.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said that despite the move of Balesin not being illegal – considering that it did not occur between an employer and an employee – it is still considered discriminatory as the act “robs the kasambahay of their dignity as workers.”

“(It) reflects a socio-cultural reality where some segment of our society still look down on kasambahay a grade lower than ordinary citizens,” DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.

She urges business establishments, employers, and the general public to refrain from “acts or utterances that are disrespectful of the socio-economic status of kasambahay.”

“We urge that we treat them with respect in the same manner that we treat other formal sector workers whose labor fuel the engines of businesses in the first place,” Baldoz added.

Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Ibarra Gutierrez, in a statement, emphasized that the “special” meal served to nannies by the luxury resort is a clear indication of inequality in the country.

“It highlights (the) deep-seated nature of economic inequality and the disparity of opportunities for the haves and the have-nots in the country,” he said.

The Rappler Editorial on Monday, April 13, said Balesin and “yaya meals” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Organizations from various sectors remain hopeful that the Balesin issue will pave the way for discussions and eventual end of discrimination in the country. – MaidinthePhilippines.net

Source: Rappler.com
Published: April 14th, 2015

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