In an interview for my Anthropology paper, one staff member of Sogo agreed that the Hotel has a negative image, i.e, a place where “ang habol lang ng tao e init ng katawan,” but refuted it by saying some guests check straight from the airport for the lack of place to stay. Then he claimed,
“Iba ang dating ng Sogo Hotel. Iba sahod dito, may benefits pa…Ang panlaban ng Sogo hindi ganda ng room o sarap ng pagkain. Dito sa’men implemented ang courtesy. Tinuturo sa staff ang Japanese bow. Administrative, employee, or staff kailangan [marunong] ng Japanese bow.”
Based on guests he served, he could say that Sogo is a walk-in hotel for the masses.
He amusingly recalled some guests who would rather take the stairs because they do not know how to use the elevator. This made me ask a rather silly question, “Tinatawanan nyo ba yung mga ganon?” which made him talk about ethics in service:
WAITER: Ay hindi ma’am, hindi po pupwede yung ganon, very unethical po kasi yung tawanan nyo …[ibang tao.]
AI: Totoo ba yung sinasabi ng iba na bawal kayo tumingin sa mata ng customer?
WAITER: Yes ma’am, kasi po once na tinitigan mo isang guest, …halimbawa may kasamang lalaki…e yung babae maganda, [hindi mo maiiwasan mapatingin] …tiisin mo na lang, sabi nga ng manager namin, hindi naman mapupunta sa inyo yung babae kaya wag mo nang tignan.
AI: E kung yung lalaki ang tignan mo?
WAITER: Ok yun sir kahit mula ulo. [laughs]
During the interview I would also notice that the ones who open the door to receive the delivered food are males. Indeed, according to the interviewee, most of the time the females remain in the inner room. This nurses a kind of binary function: whereas males are the active doers of tasks, females (or those who perform the female role) are the passive ones who wait for the action to get started.
AI: May ghost stories ba dito…
WAITER: Ghost stories…[usually daw di ba sa mga gantong hallways pag madaling araw. Pero] wala…
AI: E sex scandal
WAITER: Sex scandal, wala naman po akong nababalita. Malabo kasi sealed na sealed mga kwarto rito. Meron daw, ibang customers…pinaglalaruan mga kasama nila, pero sa tingin ko wala naman. Kasi mahigpit po ang management dun sa baba, binabantayan nila, at least walang camera, yung malalaki, pinapaiwan pa rin.
Once again, this kind of strictness against recording devices is a telling sign that scandal or no scandal, Sogo is a potential porn site. More importantly, this is a place for a kind of fun and relaxation that is not quite wholesome.
*part of paper submitted to Anthropology 292 (UP Diliman) submitted on Oct. 2008