All the armed forces live by a motto. It’s a simple creed to cling onto when you’re in the heat of battle and your faith has been put to the test. This varies from country to country, of course, but some of the more popular ones come to mind. For the marines, it’s “No Pain, No Gain!” for the air force, it’s, “No Guts, No Glory!” For the navy, its, “No Valor, No Honor!” For our local security guards, its, “No ID, No Entry!”
Don’t know about you, but for me, encountering a power-tripping security guard ranks right up there with contracting genital warts. I’m not saying that all security guards behave like this, of course; I’m just talking about the ones who are obviously frustrated cops that couldn’t make the cut and get high on the little power they are afforded. Those are the ones that really get under my skin. And when you do come across one, take my advice – do not argue with stupid people. They will simply drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.
Take this recent situation in Alabang Hills Village a few months ago. My sister-in-law is out delivering invitations to her daughter’s 5th birthday party. So, she lines up patiently in the non-residents line, comes up to the guard house, takes her window down and hands over her license.
The guard asks, “Where are you going, ma’am? What is the purpose of your visit?” She explains that she is just delivering some invitations to her friend’s houses. Big mistake. He tells her to pull over to the side while he attempts to call each house to see if they are expecting this tall, foreign-looking, invitation-bearing woman as a visitor. You can imagine what happens next.
The guard needs to dig up the telephone numbers of each resident. He will not trust my sister-in-law’s cell phone directory for the numbers, even if most of his records are, of course, outdated. How many times have you informed the village guards your change of phone numbers or contact details? Exactly. She stays idling on the side of the road for 15-minutes. Nothing happens.
Livid, she eventually walks up to him and demands to know why she is being detained so long. He explains that the he cannot get through to the numbers he has listed and that the one place that did answer, the homeowner wasn’t home, therefore could not possibly be expecting anyone, which therefore, in his own feeble mind, means that my sister-in-law is actually a terrorist and these envelopes, which look so convincingly similar to children’s -party invites, are actually anthrax letters that are designed to wipe out the entire association once they inhale the deadly spores.
The long and short of it all was that Rumsfeld wouldn’t allow my sister-in-law to enter the village, despite the fact that she had given her license, been honest about her purpose of visit, and, for-whatever-it-was-worth, was driving a new car with an Ayala Alabang village sticker on it. Benefit of the doubt would have been nice.
I thought it was something that happens to foreign-looking women only, because while I do get my fair share of logic challenged guards, I normally coast through villages with just a wave. On average, I am asked to leave my license at a gate maybe one out of every 20 or so times. Don’t ask me why, but when it’s my wife that’s driving, she will be stopped by the guards for anything and everything - even when she is leaving our village or if her bag doesn’t match her shoes.
But apparently not. The motoring Editor of the Philippine STAR’s motoring section, Dong Magsajo, was happily cruising up to his appointment with the Libyan embassy in Dasmarinas Village. He allowed himself around fifteen minutes cushion time before his appointment. As suspected, the guard says, “Park over on the side. I will call the embassy to ask if they are expecting you.” Ten minutes goes by. Dong is now running late. He has even phoned up his appointment to tell them that he is being held at the gate.
Concerned that he will miss his appointment, Dong walks out of his car, up to the guard house and asks what the hold up is. The guard tells him to go back to his car and wait. “For what? That’s all I’ve been doing for more than ten minutes. Waiting! To think that by this stage, more than ten minutes had gone by and the guard had not placed the call yet. He even had the gall to say, “We have a lot to do here. I’m busy. I will call when I get time. Dong eventually calls the embassy from his cell phone in complete frustration.
The embassy personnel demanded to know why the guard was giving their guest such a hard time, especially since they had put Dong’s name on the list of expected visitors. It was quite obvious that the guard was put in his place and had now lost face. As the guard got off Dong’s phone, he tells him, “Ok. They are expecting you. But you need to use the Pasay road gate. All embassy visits must go through those gates.”
Anyone that has ever driven in Makati will know that to drive from one gate to another at the wrong time of day will take you anywhere from 30-45 minutes. I don’t know why Dong did, but he did. But when he gets to Pasay road gate, guess what happens? Please refer to paragraph 9. He, like my sister-in-law, just turned around, missed their appointments and made a mental note never to transact any type of business with these villages. It’s just too much stress.
But while the power-tripping guard may be the perfect face to channel all your anger to, the village associations have a lot to do with this. In the case of Dasmarinas Village, there’s an on-going feud between the association and the embassies, schools and any other commercial establishments that are in the village. The association argues that all property is zoned residential and that embassies and schools are not allowed to conduct business within the village.
The schools and embassies on the other hand argue that it was fine before when the association and developers were trying to court new tenants or homeowners into the village, and now that they have enough, they are trying to enforce a rule that the association themselves broke by letting this happen to begin with.
I’m not here to argue their cases for them, but for the love of God, sort it out among yourselves, guys, and don’t leave the innocent students, teachers or embassy guests to get caught up in the crossfire.
Yet that is exactly what would happen, and is obviously still happening today. It’s a shame when it gets to the stage where people are prevented from earning an honest living by an empowered security guard and a spiteful association.
When my wife used to teach in a school inside Dasmarinas village, there were all sorts of dramas every time the issue between the association and the school would flare up. Even though the matter was still in court, that wouldn’t stop the association from handing down their own version of an early verdict. When my wife turned up for work one day in a car without a sticker, she, as well as any other teacher that reported to work would be stopped at the gate by the guards and told that there was no school by that name in the village. It’s only been there for over 30 years.
Students who didn’t have stickers would also be stopped and not allowed through the gate. These are children that have paid hefty tuition fees and were being denied an education by the internal politicking of a disgruntled few.
Once again, I’m not trying to argue the merits of the case; I couldn’t really care less whether or not there are embassies or schools in the village, but is it too much to ask for a little courtesy to be extended to your visitors while you figure it out? One guard once stopped me from dropping off our household helper and her 2 yr old daughter at a house within eyesight of his guard house. After a few minutes of arguing with this block of cheese, and asking him to be a little compassionate because it was raining and there was a child, he still flatly refused.
He made them walk in the rain. Wouldn’t allow the car in, but he had no issue with letting these two people roam freely. Brilliant.
When will our authorities, malls, buldings, villages etc figure out that effective security involves more than just double barrel shot guns, 38 caliber pistols and this useless checking of the trunk. I would swap all that for a good security guard with a sixth sense: common sense.