As a Filipino magician, darting in and out of hotels and clubhouses around Metro Manila is the main energy-sapping job I routinely do to fulfill my gigs.
I cart around many large props, as I want to bring the best equipment to perform my programs. My goal is not only to do a creditable job but also to give my clients a smashing show.
Because of my large carry-on load of equipment, I often have difficulty going through security checks at hotels, exclusive subdivisions and even fancy restaurants.
I know that security guards and other hotel staffers are just doing their jobs of verifying the fact that my entourage and I are not terrorists. In most part I let them be security guards and hotel staffers. I cooperate with the checks when they are conducted politely. To the credit of the security guards and hotel personnel, the majority of them are courteous and friendly.
It is only when security guards and venue staffers become overzealous in the performance of their jobs that problems do arise. They seem to forget their job titles and job descriptions. Some think they are little emperors who hold absolute power over the issue of letting us in or keeping us out of the performance areas based on their stringent security risk assessment on us.
In cases where the little emperors act on their whims and fancies, I just roll my eyes in surrender. I always aspire to remain unruffled. In most instances I practice self-hypnosis to keep control of myself. I just tell myself that the security guards or venue employees didn’t get enough intelligent genes when God made them, so they couldn’t function intelligently outside the memorandum upon which they base their decision whether to let us enter their premises or not.
There was this security guard in a five-star hotel who wouldn’t let us in until we listed everything in our luggage. Normally, in other hotels, I would just list, say, “one roll-on bag containing magic props”, and the guard would accept that. In this instance, the guard wanted us to itemize these “magic props.”
Obediently I did, until I reached the part when I listed, “five boxes of Bicycle Playing Cards.”
The guard was not satisfied with that. He wanted me to list every playing card inside each box, as in “Ace of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts, 7 of Clubs, etc….” There were five boxes, remember? How in the world could I list all those many cards and still reach the party on time, I had no idea…
Silently, I blamed his mother for his low IQ. I then took my cell phone from my pocket, called my booking agent, who pulled strings upstairs. In two minutes, the guard let us in without requiring us to finish writing down the remaining playing cards.
And then there was this guard at the gate of an exclusive subdivision who wouldn’t let us in because we didn’t know the name of the street where the clubhouse we are performing at was located.
In another instance, in a huge mall, the security guard challenged us to produce a gate pass issued by the building administrator. I came prepared. Two days before the show (it was an important show; my client was the mayor of the town where the mall was located), I applied for a gate pass at the mall’s administration office. The process took about two hours, as there were a dozen or so other suppliers applying for gate passes.
On the day of the show, the guard checked our belongings against what were written on the gate pass. When he found everything in order, he let us in with a stern warning, “You can bring your stuff in, but you can’t bring them out.”
I did a double take. I have shows the following day. How am I going to work those shows if I couldn’t bring out my equipment?
“Why can’t we bring out my props after the show?” I asked the guard.
“Your papers are marked Gate Pass, so you can enter. But you need an Exit Pass to bring them out. You need to apply for it at the administration office.”
I knew where to get the papers. I knew also how long it would take to process them. I’m going to be late for the show and won’t get to collect my professional pay, all because this guard required an Exit Pass for the same equipment we’re bringing in and out.
I looked at the pass, and indeed it had Gate Pass on it handwritten in block letters.
To my consternation, I borrowed the guard’s ball pen and wrote /Exit Pass next to the words Gate Pass. I handed back the document to the guard. It now bore Gate Pass/Exit Pass. “Now are you satisfied?” I asked.
He was not. He still wouldn’t allow us to bring our equipment out after the show.
Another cell phone call to my booking agent who called the office of the mayor saved the day. A pale and shaken guard let us in with profuse apologies. He tried to justify his action by quoting instructions from a memorandum.
In a future article, I will tell you how a little emperor broke my patience and provoked me to do a “walk out”. As in I left the venue without performing, and she scrambling to find alternate entertainment in a short notice to appease the birthday mom.
But before I decide to write that article, please head over to popular blogger Connie Veneracion’s House on a Hill: the Mommy Journal and read Reverse Racism. Her observation is oh-so true. I think the malady that afflicts Pinoys and make them treat shabbily other Pinoys is what led to my walk-out.