The global pandemic has robbed us of a lot of things including getting to celebrate special occasions with friends and family in person. For nearly a year now, we’ve confined ourselves to staying at home, occasionally meeting one or two friends for a short get together. But apparently, the same could not be said for some celebrities and influencers. Why exactly are netizens angered by Tim Yap and Raymond Gutierrez’s respective birthday bashes?
Tim Yap’s birthday celebration in Baguio
“And please don’t worry! We all took tests.” pic.twitter.com/lEUI8Zf0WI
— GaysOverCovidPH (@gaysovercovidph) January 25, 2021
Photos and videos of Tim Yap’s birthday guests partying sans social distancing rounded the internet days after his mid-January birthday celebration. It was held in Baguio, at the prestigious The Manor at Camp John Hay. The events host and social media personality included elements of Baguio’s native crafts and culture in his celebration, even having Igorots dancing around the party. Yap was seen wearing “Cordillera accouterments” while riding a white horse led by a couple of Igorots. Needless to say, it was an attempt at a “cultural celebration,” as attendee KC Concepcion put it.
In the pursuit of promoting local tourism
Media personality Tim Yap on Baguio event: I wanted to assure the public that we really followed all the LGU protocols bago kami umakyat ng Baguio. Alam po natin na ang Baguio is napaka-strict sa kanilang protocols and they will not allow anyone na umakyat ng Baguio na positive. pic.twitter.com/f7gQVDtCj9
— Jeff Canoy (@jeffcanoy) January 26, 2021
In his interview with ABS-CBN journalist Jeff Canoy, Yap said that aside from celebrating his birthday, the party was intended to help boost Baguio’s local tourism. In fact, this (promoting local tourism) is what he’s all about the past few months. (Check his IG and you’ll find endless snaps from luxurious visits to Amanpulo, El Nido, and Boracay). Yap also assured the rabid internet that everyone on his guest list tested negative for COVID and that they secured the necessary permits to hold the gathering.
Yap: It was never my intention to offend anyone. I would never do anything na makaka-endanger kahit sinuman. We are all responsible citizens of this country and all we want to do is really is to help restart the economy and the push for local tourism.
— Jeff Canoy (@jeffcanoy) January 26, 2021
ICYMI, mass gatherings still aren’t allowed
So if he took the necessary measures of testing everyone and “securing permits,” what’s all the fuss about? Well, for starters, the Inter-Agency Task Force’s (IATF) latest guidelines on community quarantine still state that non-essential mass gatherings are prohibited even if it’s a crowd of COVID-negative partygoers. Especially ones where attendees aren’t observing the proper health protocols of social distancing and wearing face masks and face shields.
Magalong admits there were violations during the event; “Even my wife violated it.”
Baguio has a city ordinance listing penalties for those who do not follow health protocols in public places.
— Jeff Canoy (@jeffcanoy) January 27, 2021
Baguio only recently opened its doors for tourists and has recorded 4,870 total COVID cases as of Jan. 26. Mayor Benjie Magalong is known for keeping a tight rein on the health measures in the city, ordering cops to arrest violators on the street — even random people putting their masks down to drink water. Ironically, Mayor Magalong, who is also the country’s contact tracing czar, was present at Yap’s birthday party.
“Nagkataon lang po na tao lang po tayo na sometimes when we’re so engaged in a particular po na activity na masayahin, minsan nakakalimutan po natin,” he said in an interview via Inquirer.
Raymond Gutierrez did the same thing a few days ago
La Picara BGC has been ordered CLOSED. (Due to a party last night) 👀
Taguig COVID Regulations Enforcement has decided to implement new restrictions for the restaurant. pic.twitter.com/2N2yW4ruGq
— GaysOverCovidPH (@gaysovercovidph) January 23, 2021
After Gutierrez’s birthday bash, Taguig City government slapped La Picara with a notice of closure for violating COVID protocols. Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano issued a statement that said establishments that endanger the city’s health and safety protocols will be dealt with accordingly. Netizens, in turn, were extremely dismayed by the repercussions of Gutierrez’s reckless partygoers.
I feel bad for the staff of La Picara who suddenly lost their income. 😔
— Shi-chan (@shizaruchannn) January 24, 2021
Of course, Yap’s own partying had repercussions too. Department of Tourism-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOT-CAR) has launched an investigation on the incident and issued The Manor at Camp John Hay a notice to explain. Although unlike La Picara, The Manor might still get to operate since, you know, Yap “secured the necessary permits” for his party.
Netizens express their anger online
Tim Yap should remember that the road to hell is filled w/ good intentions. If he wants to go there, he & his friends can go w/o dragging us with him.
Tourists are ok to enter Baguio & party but locals can’t? If it’s economic recovery they’re after, partying isn’t the answer.
— The Igorot Kid™ (@theigorotkid) January 26, 2021
Last tweet for the night.
You know what offends me more sa paandar ni Tim Yap? ‘Yung ginawa niyang party accessory, attraction, at theme ang Igorot culture. NAPAKAWALANGHIYA mo talaga Tim. Hindi ka na talaga nagbago baccla. Wala ka talagang char dev’t punyemascca. 🤬 pic.twitter.com/23UOBHgHSV
— supernegatrona AKA pink 5 🍥 (@supernegatrona) January 26, 2021
Tim Yap brand of confidence to think that Baguio needs him to place our town on the map. LGU strategy of inviting him to throw a birthday party for his friends is so effective. Maybe advertise lots at the cemetery so when you visit Baguio you can stay forever. Welcome kakabsat!
— Nash Tysmans (@nashtysmans) January 26, 2021
It shows the gap between classes…
Fuck how the likes of Tim Yap and Raymond Gutierrez can party to their death while many of us who do not have money, power, and influence are reminded to stay at home.
COVID-19 is not just a pandemic. It shows how huge the gap between classes.
— Deejay Writes (@deejaywritesbhl) January 26, 2021
Celebrities and wealthy families can afford to hold large gatherings, pay for COVID testing (with swift results too probably), and hop around the country in the spirit of promoting local tourism. Normal people “who do not have money, power, and influence are reminded to stay at home,” as one tweet put it. The pandemic has made a clear divide between the masses and people wielding power, who have gotten away with throwing “mañanitas” and “cultural celebrations”.
…And how out of touch celebrities can be
Rewatching that party video of Tim Yap and again Im shaking in anger.
Daming hindi nakamask sa mga guests.
Meron kasi dito sa Baguio, ordinaryong civilian, nagbaba lang ng mask para uminom, hinuli! Pero etong mga VIPs, lantarang hindi nagsuot ng masks, Pero scot-free!
— simply_clinton (@Simply_Clinton) January 26, 2021
Celebrities are entitled to their privileges but not at the expense of others. Commenting on the recent incidents are well within the rights of normal netizens because, after all, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. It will be the public’s business if those parties turn out to be superspreader events and even if they don’t, it doesn’t justify violating COVID protocols. On top of it all, these people are celebrities and influencers who should be setting an example for everyone else.
Stay at home. Everyone is itching to go outside and party like we used to, but if sacrificing another year is what it takes to get our lives back, we should all grit our teeth and follow the rules.
What do you think of these incidents of celebrities and influencers violating COVID restrictions?