PHP6 million in tips!?! For bellboys, butlers, security escorts, drivers, porters and what not? Have they absolutely lost all sense of reality? Propriety? Are we well into the Sultan of Brunei (a notoriously GREAT tipper) syndrome, sans the $20+ billion in oil based personal net worth? And this is INDEED OUR tax money, as part of the OFFICIAL declared expenses of the recent GMA trip to Washington and New York. Apparently, according to data submitted to GMA News by Ms. Susanna Vargas, Malacanang’s Deputy Executive Secretary for Administration and Finance, which was quoted in two GMAnews articles here and here, the Presidential Party spent a total of some $760,000+ for six days, and of that amount a whopping $125,000 was for tips, the expense of which is mostly or entirely not documented nor receipted. And now we know who was along for the ride. Reportedly, the “official party” included the President and husband, Senators Santiago and Lapid and House Speaker Nograles. Two palace officials and FIFTY, yes FIFTY support staff from the palace! And this DOES NOT include the 28 congressmen/women who probably found out after the fact that they better pay for their own expenses, as it was not something Malacanang was going to cover this time around… And no mention of the prominent businessmen who tagged along as they always do, presumably having paid their own way.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of tips. I tip well when the service is great. At a top restaurant, I might tip a total of 20-25%, including the service charges in the bill. So let’s say the total bill is $200, including a 12% gratuity, I might add say another $20 in cash when I have signed my bill. That would be a tip of $45 or so in total. For bellboys, I would tip a maximum of say $5 per bag and that’s only on arrival or departure from the stay in the most chi-chi hotels. Chambermaids/housekeepers I only tip if they have been particularly good, as I know they share in the overall service charges of the hotel. Drivers and porters would also get modest tips. (But, what happened to all that talk of moving around in a bus or two while in New York? That means two drivers total for the party of 75-80…)
It simply boggles the mind that the Palace would think that giving out $125,000 in tips in CASH during such a brief stay at two hotels, and several restaurants where they reportedly DIDN’T pay the bills! I can’t imagine how 57 people, officially in the President’s entourage, mostly with one piece of luggage for the brief stay would give out $125,000 in 6 days. That would be roughly $20,800 per day, or each person, including all staff members, were theoretically handing out $365 EACH DAY they were in the United States. That is simply ludicrous. LUDICROUS. And this time around, this is NOT private money, but officially taken from the government coffers. One has to wonder if all of the funds were really given out as tips. One has to wonder if the 50 staffers on the trip didn’t somehow get a “traveling allowance” but where would that expense fall under if it was actually given? The bulk of the expenses for the trip reportedly went to airfare (transport $265,000), duh, that’s what happens when you charter jets to ferry you from one city to the other. At the cheapest end of the spectrum, they could have mostly flown economy advance purchase and for $1,200 each max, the 50 staffers would have cost $60,000. Stick the 2 senators, one Speaker of the House and 2 senior staffers in business class at say $5,000 for another $25,000. And the first couple in first class at say $10,000 each for $20,000 more. Even for the estimated 57 people in the Presidential party flying commercial, that would be a total transportation bill of $105,000. But no, I think the palace style counter argument would be why not fly all 57 on commercial first class for $10,000 each or a total bill of $570,000, so the logic makes sense to rent private charters instead at $265,000… yeah, right.
PHP6 million in tips, in six days. Wow. I didn’t realize we as a nation were rolling in so much dough that we could give it out so generously. And they had the nerve to complain that the service was so slow and the food was of poor quality during their stay? What a joke. What a big fat joke. The problem is, it isn’t a joke.
Reported Meals at Four U.S. Restaurants
GMA’s $20,000 Dinner at Le Cirque in New York?!? – 8 August 2009
Do The Math – 10 August 2009
GMA & Party Enjoy $15000 Dinner at Bobby Van’s in Washington, DC?!? – 12 August 2009