$125,000 In Tips?! For A Six Day Trip?!?

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.

Related Posts:

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

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70 Responses

  1. what an outrage!!!….and the sad thing is, a lot of people still seem not to care anymore, what else is new daw, they’re just waiting for the next scandal to hit, to fade away, just a viscious cycle….when will it stop :(

  2. Please don’t fool the people!

    We work hard to earn for a living, we pay our taxes which is part of our hardwork and yet a lot of insensitive people waste the people’s money!!!

    No wonder a lot of politicians will pawn their souls just to be in power

  3. grrrr….thanks for the exhaustive analysis, MM. it’s a good guide for those of us who are too tired or too shocked to dissect the figures.

  4. kaya nga when we were paying our real estate taxes —an arm and a leg for us—it was more an agony than an act of doing our obligations as citizens of this country.

  5. hmmm..no wonder many people of this country is still on the low end of life quality. IF that money was poured on JOB creation it might help many of our kabababayans. This is just in time MM, the election is coming near and I hope people would elect who can best serve this land (sana?) ;(.

  6. The next government should definitely gather enough evidence against Arroyo and her cohorts to convict them and when that happens, no pardon shall be granted. Let them rot in jail, the same way that convicted plunderer of an ex-president should be rotting in jail right now if not for Arroyo’s indulgent quid pro quo for survival.

  7. what the….tsk tsk tsk… some people are just ‘makapal ang mukha’, acting as if they’re entitled to spend so much when a lot of Filipinos can’t even afford 3 decent meals in a day…

  8. when would all these outrageous and insane extravagance stop?! matinding kakapalan ng mukha na eto.. sobra, sobra na!

  9. Akalain nyo. Ang yaman pala natin…Tsk,tsk. Again, I keep thinking of the number of meals for public school children this 6M could have provided.

    I think I’m going to cry. (sniff,sniff)

  10. this is just so outrageous. and so unacceptable. she really has to go! gads, what a mistake the Filipino people did by allowing her to warm the Presidential seat. she really believed we owed her a favor by being around to replace Estrada when that buffoon was ousted (that was told to me by then Makati Business Club Chairman Dick Romulo who realized early on what kind of person she really was)

    Marketman, would you allow me to repost this blog entry of yours in Facebook? let me know please. Thanks.

    yours IN OUTRAGE!


  11. it’s sickening! i don’t know how these government officials could face the people and say they love this country. ang kakapal! i’m sure 80% of the “tips” went to their own pockets. nag-tip sila sa sarili nila.

  12. Speechless. Or can only think of nasty words that won’t pass the moderator. No wonder many of us hate having to pay taxes, knowing they’ll be spent this way.

    Why the need for such a large entourage?

  13. MM, you said, “One has to wonder if all of the funds were really given out as tips.”—-> All I can say is a big I DON’T THINK SO! (grrrrr, sobra na talaga!)

  14. MM, YOU are raising people’s Blood Pressure up….do you think it will make a difference on which way People will be VOTING this coming election? I will vote for “Pacquiao” if he will be a candidate….maybe HE has more brains and heart to be President…he he he he….

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT…..we bought a Bus (Mercedes-2nd hand)Aus$150,000.00…our senior residents was so happy. It seats
    20 plus the driver and it took us 2 years to campain and fundraise to get this replacement BUS…Thanks to West Australian Lotteries Commission who gave us part of the money to buy the MERC. Can you imagine your politicians in a Merc BUS around New YORK City ???

    It’s THE FILIPINO VOTERS FAULT !!!! Mang JUAN round the tindahan probably will make a better President than those WHO grew up and TASTED the “PHAT LIFE” since birth? Pick someone who has lived the life of a local labourer, one who knows what being really poor means….??? just my 2 cents for today.

  15. This is exactly why I feel justified that I do not pay as much income tax as I should. Instead, I pay my help well, donate whenever I can, assist needier people in my life. At least I can see exactly where my money goes.

    Can’t run away from EVat though, drat.

  16. it’s really disheartening to see the things happening in our political scene… those in power have no conscience! hopefully we’d have elections in 2010, and hopefully the one who wins will have some sort of decency not to fool us… we are not idiots to believe those in power now!!! stop belittling our intelligence!

    i was thinking… it’s a scary thought that one of the candidates has several billions in his campaign kitty… how will he recover this when he becomes president??? what’s scarier is that the current admi endorses this candidate and do some dirty tricks to “make” him the winner in next year’s polls… im sure there are “deals with the devil” lurking around our political arena now…

    i have serious doubts if we can have credible elections even if we’d all be vigilant etc etc… i think we really need some divine intervention…

  17. I AM FUMING MAD, MM!!!



  18. apparently, “TIPPING” is not a city of China..Mrs. Arroyo, would it be much more easier if you fling out that huge amount of cash somewhere in the streets of the Philippines?

  19. as in the words of my ancestors…suss ginoo wala na sila kuyapi!!! 6 Million pesos that could have saved so many lives from hunger!

  20. A couple of thoughts MM:

    1. As the amount “cannot” be accounted for, it could have been “per diems”, which would have been taxable right? So instead, declare it as tips, no one is taxed and everyone’s got shopping money…

    2. A bit off tangent but I was just thinking of emailing you about an article on tipping, service–non food within the food industry. You touch on these briefly, once in a while, what about your views, practices, etc?

  21. dragon, I tend to tip heavily where I know it will matter for good service in the future (i.e., I will likely be back) or where the service was just unusually good.

  22. GMA is so out of touch..same thing with Obama on his vtrips when the citizens are having a hard time with the current state of the economy and the continuous bleeding of jobs.

  23. UNbelievable. I’ll post on my Facebook too, MM. I’m hoping anyone who still thinks GMA is clean will finally be convinced she’s corrupt.

  24. I felt so bad with all the statistics of money that our government spent on such trip. I wish that our entrusted leaders will instead throw that money to OFW in the Middle East that really need some real financial assistance. To think of it, part of that tips might come from the hard earned savings of our hardworking countrymen overseas.

  25. This is the kind of article that should be circulated around. Imagine if this article would land in the front page of a local newspaper. I’d like to ask permission too if I can circulate this article with reference to you of course. Thanks!

  26. No wonder the French ended up using the guillotine on their nobility during their revolution!

  27. MM, I will post in my Facebook too… Nakakagigil. Sana lang nasulit nila yung ginastos nila sa food. I hope nagtagal ng 1 week sa mga tyan nila yung mga kinain nila hehehe. Dinadaan ko na lang sa joke, pero nakakagigil talaga!!!

  28. GMA is going out in disgrace…such a shameful legacy

    at least “The Obamas are paying for their share of the vacation home; taxpayers are picking up the tab for security and White House staff, which is customary for all presidents.” (Asso. Press) they are known to eat hotdogs and burgers, and POTUS pays for them from his own pocket plus tips…

  29. Like Tita Cory, let’s pray, pray, pray for our country! Re: PGMA and other corrupt government officials, grabe, sobrang kakapal ng mga mukha nitong mga ito! I cannot comprehend how people can get that way, I really can’t. I don’t know how they can even consider themselves decent human beings. They’re monsters! Mas tao pa yung mga snatchers sa kalsada na nagnanakaw dahil nagugutom ang pamilya nila.

  30. soooo true …here we are the little tao…paying taxes… skimping and worrying where the payment for next month’s bill will be coming from…

  31. i will be posting on Facebook duly credited to you. I really want this post read by as many individuals as possible. many thanks.

  32. I will also be sharing this on my social networks. thanks for this report. It’s heart-breaking. =((

  33. My friends and I put in a lot of effort to send students from Payatas to school. Our annual costs are as follows:

    Daycare – US$9.80 per child, per year
    High school – US$80.90 per student per school year
    College student – US$1,090 per school year

    US$125,000 on tips??!!! US$20,000 on one dinner??!!!

    BTW, can anyone tell me how to post this on Facebook?

  34. Hi MM,

    “The pen is mightier than the sword” please keep exposing her nonsense and arrogance. What is she thinking? Spending like a drunken sailor when more than half of the populations of the country she govern are borderline starving, if not living a half-life. Now I know the feeling of what it is like to truly despise someone. Is she so detached to reality? What planet is she in?

  35. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the “tip” money was pocketted or spent on shopping since it was not documented diba?

  36. seeing those poor, average, traffic beaten common everyday people in the streets anywhere in the Philippines, the OFWs braving challenges in everyday life working abroad.. there is NO MORE EXPLANATION OR EVIDENCE THAT CAN EXPLAIN these SHAMEFUL SPENDING WITHOUT REMORSE NEEDED.

  37. Ginang Roberts, Sangayon po ako sa inyong punto na kailangang malaman ang lubos na katotohanan tungkol sa mga nakasusuklam na pagmamalabis ng ating mga opisyal at namumuno ngunit ito po ay hindi lamang nakalaan sa mga tagapagbalita o pahayagan kung hindi sa buong sambayanang Pilipino. Sa aking lang pong palagay ay ginawa na ng ating mga tagapagbalita ang kanilang tungkulin na ihayag ang mga bintang. Katungkulan naman ng mga mamayan na magusisa at idemanda ang katohahan sa mga kinauukulan (Senado/Kongreso/Ombudsman) upang siyasatin ang mga nasasakdal. Kung inyo pong gugunitain ang mga kasong Watergate, Iran-Contra Affair, Whitewater, Lewinsky Scandal, atpb. ay sinumulan lamang (leak out) ng mga tagapagbalita. Hindi po sila ang nagbigay ng mga katibayan sa pagsisiyasat ng hukuman.

  38. I totally agree with Mang Batangueno! Granted that the entire characters are known, an investigative inquiry by an independent task force should be made….a task force that cannot be bribed! …like MM?…

    What I knowis that any impropriety made by government officials, here, an independent inquiry is already on their backs

  39. The most glaring evidence is the number of people who accompanies the glorious Queen. At one point she had 200.
    Isn’t that insane? The presidential entourage dwarfs
    the rest of the world’s leaders. It is comical that
    the diminutive person needs that much protection and for what?

  40. The Philippine government has always been asking us to pay our taxes honestly…but who would be inspired to do so? when we know that bulk of what we pay won’t be used to build hospitals or school buildings but will be used instead on various unaccountable miscellaneous expenses. ( From ERAP’s time till the present)
    I’ve noticed that the Philippine government is one of the few countries in Asia whose leader travels in style even if their country is considered a third world. Nakaklungkot isipin.

  41. Comments by “Hill Roberts” before and after this comment have been intentionally deleted.

    Hill, this particular report comes from GMA news, who took it directly from the expense report provided by malacanang staff. The expense report detailed total government expenditure for the trips to Washington and New York (not yet San Francisco) where PHP37M was officially spent. Therefor, the data is from Malacanang regarding the $125,000 in tips, but they didn’t provide a breakdown for the tip expenses. As for previous posts on dinners, all of them have been confirmed by various guests in the Presidential party, but the amounts are still in limbo for 3 out of 4 dinners. Congressman Suarez did confirm the $15K spent at bobby Vans and presented a receipt. Before you shoot off your fingers as usual, go read the links and decide for yourself. The post in Manolo Quezon’s blog is particularly comprehensive in terms of a timeline of events and sources for stories. I agree that not all press reports are accurate, but if you read enough of them for long enough, you learn to try and pull out the most important points and wherever possible facts. In this case, the Palace has reported the tips in their own expense reports, the Press Secretary has acknowledged them in interviews, and that is the basis for this post. Read the post well before you say things that only display that you haven’t bothered to read and comprehend. I too believe in free speech, but free speech doesn’t have to include brainless and in my opinion idiotic speech on this blog. Keep at it and I will simply moderate your comments in the same manner that the issue on letting steak rest was drawn to a close.

  42. The easiest and simplest way to settle this issue is indeed show the receipts (which will never happen). Having been around diplomats and bureaucrats & politicos, “tip” is one way of diverting income/expenses: consider it legal misdeclaration–a loophole with tax reporting.

  43. “READ AND COMPREHEND” …readers of MM’s blog are not just people that fire their guns to agree or just make a comment for everthing that MM is posting here.

    We read, we watch, we experience!

  44. ” that’s America,expensive and rotten service, otherwise, they’d spit on your food behind the scenes. Haven’t some of them been caught on camera, spitting on customers’ food?” not all, Ms Hill…you just have to know where to go, and most of the time, “you reap what you sow”. i’ve been here 31 years and i’ve only had good experiences dining out.

  45. I’m right there w/ you, Natie. I was about to cut and paste that exact quote fr Ms. Hill’s post.

    Note to Ms. Hill: please try not to make such broad generalizations as the above statement, as those tend to fan the flames that are already burning mightily here.

  46. i think those are unexplained cash disbursements/ those w/ no receipts, disguised as “tips”…

  47. hill roberts is at it again, pontificating. I remember reading also some of his pro-administration posts in feedback columns of newspapers. She’s one of those government apologists always ready to challenge any accusation against it but turning a blind eye on its excesses. She says ‘We are hurting our beautiful country needlessly’. It’s good she knows what group she belongs to – with GMA as their goddess.

  48. hill, all comments from you are now being deleted. You are welcome to start your own blog for your opinions. In my opinion, they don’t have a place on marketmanila.com. Goodbye. :)

  49. I just learned from a national geographic feature that the US president is billed for food he, his family and personal guests consume privately at the White House- only official functions are paid for by taxpayers. I wonder when that will happen here?

  50. Good call MM.

    I hear London is the next stop. This time please go to Wong Kei instead of The Ivy.

  51. ChrisB: I also wonder if that will happen in my lifetime…not! Will other HEADS OF STATE take note of POTUS’ example and take heed?

  52. Regarding corrupt Philippine leaders: Is anyone surprised? For the pinoy here, tell your family to STOP ACCEPTING MONEY FOR VOTES. Get people to stop selling their souls for P20. Only then can you begin to fix things.

    To the person who said that American service is bad and the food is rotten: either you haven’t lived there (I did for 40 years, BTW) or you have simply had bad luck. Usually, the service and food are both good.

    Unlike in the Philippines, American food safety laws are enforced. A restaurant with filth problems gets shut down. Here, convenient payments to the right inspector keep even the worst offenders open.

    And, while I’ve received very good service here in the Philippines, I’ve found that the staff at some higher-end restaurants can be rather snobbish. They act as if they’re doing you a favor merely by being there. They forget that it is the money that you bring and spend that provides their salaries.

    I would rather eat at a simple carenderia with a friendly staff than be subjected to the boorish behavior of some pathetic waitress who thinks her HRM “degree” and her uniform at an expensive restaurant somehow puts her above us … and treats us that way.

  53. Folks, that’s not including their San Francisco tips expenses and tips. Eh ang mahal2 dini sa Bay Area ah.

    Mga tiga Quezon, hwag nyo ng iboto yang si Suarez, aba’y kayabang ay!

  54. Bettyq, sadly you may be right but I do hope you’re wrong, kawawa naman ang Pilipinas. We really need a leader who will inspire change.

  55. I’ve never trusted the biatch of Malacañang. For me, she always came across as insincere, someone who saw us as beneath her stature.

    MM, I’d also like to repost on my FB as link.

  56. ChrisB: I sincerely hope that Obama’s fire about change will rub off on someone back home and have the guts to turn the government around. When that someone is elected, I hope the GOOD LORD keep him safe and under HIS WING, free from all harm and evil!!!

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