The ‘yaya meal’ is real

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SECOND UPDATE (4:45pm, Apr 4): Maggie Wilson-Consunji finally replied to our Facebook message. “Already clarified it with management,” the fashion designer and model writes. “We’ve been a member of Balesin for over a year now and this is the first time this has happened.”

She mentions that Balesin has already apologized for how its wait staff had addressed the ordering of the meals. Balesin has also clarified that they [Balesin] won’t stop nannies from ordering what they want. “I hold this true because because again, we’ve been on the island multiple times and this is the first time this has happened.”

Maggie goes on to say, “Balesin is trying their best to appease and make all of its members happy.”

She also mentions that she “understands that there are people who would rather have their help eat the ‘yaya’s or staff’s meal’ for whatever reason, but I still find that sad and offensive.”

It’s true what she says: “If members can afford such membership to an exclusive club and spend thousands of pesos on other things, I feel they should be able to afford a meal of their nanny’s choice.” 

Never been said better, Maggie! 


UPDATE (2:23pm, Apr 4): Maggie Wilson-Consunji posted an update regarding the ‘yaya meal’ incident. Apparently it was her mother who wanted to order the same thing as the nanny but wasn’t allowed because…it was a ‘yaya’s meal.’ See the screen cap below:


What’s a private exclusive club to do, when its very members are the ones who requested it?

On the morning of Black Saturday, fashion designer/model Maggie Wilson-Consunji posted a disgruntled message on Facebook about how Balesin wouldn’t let her son Connor’s yaya order a regular meal. Instead, they offered her a ‘yaya’s meal.’

Of course comments started flying.

Apparently, the ‘yaya meal’ has always been available in the exclusive members’ only club since it started operations, but it is only an option. It is not required, as what the Consunjis experienced.

“Of course we treat yayas as guests but the ‘yaya meal’ [option] was requested by members who don’t want to pay the full guest rate for their help,” said Jason of reception when Coconuts Manila called to clarify.

Two things we’re learning from all this: 1) Not all employers are as generous as the Consunjis. And 2) we’re thinking the Consunjis probably got a virginal new trainee as their server that morning. We sent Maggie Wilson-Consunji a message on Facebook but she has yet to reply as of posting this story.

The ‘yaya meal’ is an off-the-menu option that guests can ask the wait staff about, if they don’t want to pay the full meal price for their helpers.

There are two types of ‘yaya meals’ in Balesin Island. In the main restaurants, members can order the ‘yaya meal’ which is chicken or pork adobo with rice. Alternatively, members can opt for a package that comes when availing of the yaya’s room. Pay an extra PHP200 a day and yaya can get 3 meals in the employees’ cafeteria.

There are 22 restaurants in the 500-hectare island, some 21 kilometers southeast of Polillo in Quezon Province. All villages in the island have one dining place, where the ‘yaya meal’ is available.

Unfortunately, this ‘yaya meal’ thing is an unspoken dirty little secret in Metro Manila. At the Manila Polo Club, guests who don’t want to pay the full price for their helpers would send them to the employees cafeteria where helpers can have a PHP75-meal comprised of any pork dish and rice.

In 2014, a few hundred Metro Manila residents were thrown off by Icon Residences’ policy of not allowing helpers to use regular elevators. See below:


When Filipino maids in HK get banned from using the “regular” elevators (you know, the ones that “regular” people use),…

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You can look at this ‘yaya meal’ thing in two ways: it’s considerate that these posh clubs are offering such an option to their members. Prices can get steep at such places, after all.

Or, you can focus on the fact that it is discriminatory.

So the question remains. What’s a private club to do when its members are the ones requesting these things?

Photo: Wikihow (for illustration purposes only)

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