If you are looking to book a hotel in the Philippine capital of Manila, one of the things that you might be looking for is a great location, safety, and accessibility as well as amenities. The up and coming, newest CBD (Central Business District) in the metropolis: BGC (Bonifacio Global City) trumps that of its adjacent Makati for having a better-planned city planning in place which incorporates the latest innovation in smart city design.
At the heart of this lifestyle district is Shangri-La at the Fort, a 5-star hotel and mixed-use development. The hotel has stunning city views and bay views from afar and is near the international airport, embassies, a world-class hospital and a golf and polo club.
However, in all of this glitz and glamour, it was plunged into a massive crisis when the management under its GM, John Rice, commissioned the Philippine branch of Pestbusters and ordered to have the beloved community cats removed from a nearby area dead of the night as per witnesses say. The beloved cats are part of the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Manage program of the local residents and office workers in the area. The tightly knit community of cat lovers and animal welfare supporters in the Philippines were devastated. The resulting uproar forced the hand of Shangri-la to release a statement through its Director of Communications Sam Gallardo who many times tried to evade the question: “Where are our cats?”.
The Cats of BGC are friendly and healthy. They are part of the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Manage program.
In the Philippines, many of the cats are cruelly disposed of by either gassing them, or putting them in sacks and then thrown away. CARA, an animal welfare group based in Manila, notes that neither CARA nor the volunteers of Cats of BGC were informed about most recent plans to hire Pestbusters to catch and remove the cats right on February 14th, 2018, Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t until volunteers and concerned citizens informed CARA that the cats were missing that the team contacted Shangri-La’s management.
According to CARA, John Rice met with animal welfare groups and were told that the cats were adopted by some of their staff and that Pestbusters had ‘relocated’ the remaining cats to an undisclosed location. However, Shangri-La management still refused to hand over proof of adoption and dragged their feet in giving the exact location and refused to cooperate with the animal welfare volunteers. Despite efforts to contact Pestbusters, the company continues to sandbag and withhold information.
By Sunday, February 18, just right after Chinese New Year celebrations, Shangri-La Fort gave the animal welfare groups the possible relocation sites of the cats, however, searches turned up nil. The cats couldn’t be found.
Now the community is looking at a possible massacre of its beloved felines. Behind its ballrooms, it’s High Street Cafe, and Kerry Sports Manila lies a sinister group of people. Shangri-La at the Fort broke a lot of people’s hearts right on Valentine’s Day.
The luxury hotel is now possibly culpable for violating Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8485 (Animal Welfare Act) which shall now become Section 9 is hereby amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 9. Any person who subjects any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect shall, upon conviction by final judgment, be punished by imprisonment and/ or fine, as indicated in the following graduated scale:
“(1) Imprisonment of one (1) year and six (6) months and one (1) day to two (2) years and/or a fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect dies;
“(2) Imprisonment of one (1) year and one (1) day to one (1) year and six (6) months and/or a fine not exceeding Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) if the animal subjected to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect survives but is severely injured with loss of its natural faculty to survive on its own and needing human intervention to sustain its life; and
“(3) Imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and/or a fine not exceeding Thirty thousand pesos (P30,000.00) for subjecting any animal to cruelty, maltreatment or neglect but without causing its death or incapacitating it to survive on its own.
So as you may have guessed it, this is not your regular hotel review, but a hotel review nonetheless. Next time, when you book the best luxury hotel in Manila or whenever you travel, what do you exactly look for on top of the amenities? For us at The Next Escape, we also look for compassion not only for the environment but also for animals and we cannot stand idly by and let this atrocity go forgotten. We have decided to skip all Shangri-La properties worldwide. It is time for brands like Shangri-La to stop lying and walk the talk and learn to read the communities around them.
UPDATE: Despite efforts of animal welfare volunteers, the cats of BGC were not found. Latest updates here.