As the pandemic tightens its grip on an already incapacitated nation, privilege still plays a part in who gets to breach quarantine protocols, and who gets to bear the brunt for them.
This was the general sentiment of social media users when they called out TV host and celebrity Raymond Gutierrez after he hosted his 37th birthday last January 21 at La Picara in Bonifacio Global City, which allegedly led to the establishment’s closure.
Photos posted on Instagram by several guests at the party and later circulated on social media show Gutierrez surrounded by dozens of people, including famous celebrities such as Sarah Lahbati, Yassi and Issa Pressman, and Kobe Paras, as well as other A-list friends of the birthday celebrant, none of which were wearing a face mask.
One story included the following caption: “Happy Birthday, @mond! Note: everyone was PCR-tested.”
The following day, the local government of Taguig swiftly issued a notice of closure to La Picara for breaking rules against the wearing of face masks and observing social distancing protocols.
While the closure didn’t directly cite Gutierrez’s party as the reason, the event proved to be the last nail in the coffin for the authorities.
Speaking about the matter, Taguig City Mayor Lino Cayetano clarified that La Picara has repeatedly violated health protocols ever since being allowed to resume business. This is despite their several warnings to the resto’s owners, Spanish expats Felipe Antonio Díaz and Isabel Calvo.
“While we are aggressive in wanting all business to reopen, there are some restaurants and tenants which are just abusive. Their co-tenants are the ones reporting to us their rampant violations,” Cayetano shared.
Though the restaurant has yet to issue a formal statement on the matter, a representative told Spot.ph that they failed to keep some customers, who perfectly followed rules during the night, properly distanced for a minute of a cake moment.” Whether this “moment” refers to Gutierrez’s party is unclear.
Despite this, netizens were still adamant about assigning the blame to Gutierrez, saying that innocent people lost their jobs due to the celebrity’s irresponsible desire to throw a party for his birthday.
Some netizens also reiterated the fact that merely getting tested for COVID-19 before a gathering isn’t enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As clarified by the US’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one can still contract the virus even after testing negative for it, and can still unknowingly transmit it, especially when attending a “super-spreader” event, or an event where community transmission is perceived to be higher due to the volume of people.
Taguig Representative Lani Cayetano echoed this sentiment, saying that a negative COVID-19 test result “is not a ticket” to throw parties and disregard standing health protocols. She also reminded influencers and celebrities to set a good example and “do the right thing for everyone’s safety.”
“People look up to you and admire you. This responsibility should not be taken lightly. Now is the time to use your platform, do good, and perform your civic duty to society,” Cayetano said.