In an interview with ABS-CBN News, event host and social media personality Tim Yap assured that the party he held in Baguio City—which was slammed by netizens over the past weekend amidst the rising COVID-19 cases in the Philippines—followed safety and health protocols set by the city’s local government. He added that the party only aimed to promote its re-opened tourism.
It could be recalled that photos and videos went viral of Yap holding a party last January 17 at The Manor at Camp John Hay. The photos and videos saw the party guests not wearing masks and not observing physical distancing.
As the images and clips have circulated online, the Department of Tourism in the Cordillera Administrative Region has announced that they have launched an investigation against Yap’s party.
By Tuesday night, Yap had an interview with ABS-CBN News reporter Jeff Canoy, saying he “wanted to assure the public that we really followed all LGU protocols” before they went to 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,” he said.
He also said that apart from him, his guests and companions all tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the party while saying that he had secured all the required permits from the local government to have the party.
Yap added that all people in attendance wore masks.
When asked to explain the video clips wherein some guests were seen dancing without wearing their masks, Yap said the guests removed them because it was dinner time. However, when community dancers entered the party, the guests joined in the dancing without their masks on.
“Dahil nga dinner, buffet, kakain na sila so tinanggal nila maskara nila. Pagkatapos noon, pumasok ’yong mga dancers na mag-community dancing, so hindi nila nasuot mask nila,” Yap explained. “Sumayaw sila doon kaya ’yon ang nakikita natin na kumakalat sa social media.”
Yap, then, went on, saying that the party, which featured Baguio’s native crafts and culture, was held in the city to help its tourism.
“Ang pakay ko po noon is to promote Baguio as a destination. Sa akin, ’yon ang hangarin ko talaga. Para mag-push ng local tourism. Kung makikita mo social media ko, lahat talaga, ’yon ang ginagawa ko for the past few months,” he said. “I’m discovering and re-discovering [’yong] iba’t ibang parte ng Pilipinas na sana ma-discover ng ating mga kababayan.
“It was really a gathering to promote local tourism, crafts of Baguio, [its] arts and culture,” he went on. “Ang talagang goal namin, ang aim namin is to help restart the economy, reopen the economy at ma-promote ang local tourism.”
Yap also addressed his critics as they chided him because of holding a grandiose gathering in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was never my intention to offend anyone. I would never do anything na makaka-endanger kahit sinuman. And siyempre, ’pag lahat kayo negative, you feel safe with each other,” he said.
“Siguro nagkulang ako na paaalalahanin na magsuot ng mask dahil may lumabas na mga litrato at mga videos na walang mask. Again, I would never endanger everyone.” he added.
Yap said he just wanted to help in restarting the country’s economy, reiterating that he was only helping the push for local tourism.
He concluded by saying that he will be “fully cooperative” with government agencies to help in forming what are the best practices during quarantine.
“Kung ano kailangan gawin, nandito ako para mag-cooperate,” he said.
However, most netizens didn’t buy Tim’s explanation as they keep calling him “feeling privileged.” His “promoting tourism” angle didn’t sit well with the netizens calling him over confident.
In an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who attended the party with his wife, told Yap not to worry about the investigation regarding his party, despite receiving public backlash.
“Nag-usap na po kami kahapon at binanggit ko po sa kanya, I understand what happened. Everybody was just so engrossed, so engaged, kaya kung minsan nakakalimutan,” he said.
“[D]on’t you worry about it,” Magalong, who is also the government’s contract tracing czar in the Philippine government’s battle with COVID-19 pandemic, told Yap. “’Yong tulong niyo na ginagawa sa siyudad ng Baguio for promoting, for saying good words about Baguio, doon sa aming mga artists, we’re considering all of this. Don’t you worry, we’ll have this thing investigated. Nahihiya sila, eh.”
Magalong said some guests were compliant with the safety protocols, but also admitted that there have been breaches in observing health and safety protocols during the party.
He went on admitting that even his wife removed her mask while taking photos with Yap’s guests, which included actress-host KC Concepcion.
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