For the past two weeks, a video has been making the rounds of Manila’s society-attuned Viber, Facebook and Whatsapp threads. The one-minute and 37-second video shows a man in a dark plaid shirt and dark trousers screaming to a woman in red, asking her to settle her bill. Granted, the scene is heated enough to land and get shared in social networking sites even if there were no known personalities involved—but the man raising his voice was very recognizable, especially to people who read the society pages.
The personality in question is Ricco Ocampo, famed fashion retailer, husband to 80s top model Tina Maristela. Yesterday, the Manila House Private Members Club, that members-only establishment in BGC where the shouting incident took place, showed it was aware of the situation and was on top it. In an email sent before 6PM, September 24, from its president Katrina P. Craig, Manila House sent a clear message to its members and shareholders: despite the delayed reaction, the club had their best interests in mind.
The controversial video began circulating a few weeks ago, although the incident, as Craig’s email states, happened in late June. The video features a very composed lady in a red dress who identifies herself as Ina Fuentes. With her phone to her ear, she talks to a woman named Jo—presumably her sponsoring member in the club—about a food tasting that happened with her team where they were served aburi sushi and salmon. Before she could finish another statement, Ocampo, with his back to the phone camera, begins screaming at the lady, asking her to pay her bill.
According to various online interpretations of the exchange, the lady hosted an event for a Sun Life official and was complaining that the portions served at the event was markedly smaller than the ones presented to Fuentes and her team during the tasting.
In the video, Ocampo snatches the phone away from Fuentes, while the latter is still in mid-conversation with the person on the other end of the line. Ocampo is restrained by the establishment’s security personnel who are doing their own bit of damage control.
A second video that surfaced, also from the same encounter, has the voice of Ocampo asking the lady to, “Please stop acting like that, you are not even a member of this club. You do not belong here.” Ocampo’s voice is heard reiterating his request for the lady to pay—or the member who sponsored her “will be in trouble.” All throughout the video, delectable pinoy expletives are uttered. It’s the stuff of absolute class melodrama. As a representative of a posh establishment, Ocampo isn’t very classy in the video—something the Board and Management of Manila House have striven to correct as they released the following statement:
“The Board and Management of Manila House regrets the unfortunate incident that occurred last June 29, involving a Founding Member of the Club,” wrote Craig. The email doesn’t readily name Ocampo as the offending “Founding Member” but goes on to say “Mr. Ricco Ocampo has personally expressed his deepest apologies and remorse to the parties concerned, to Sun Life Asset Management Co. Inc., and to the Manila House Board and management.” Addressing a detail the video might have suggested, or what has been written about online, the email states that “Ocampo does not hold any management position” in the establishment. “To further demonstrate his regret,” the email continues, Ocampo had “graciously agreed not to run as a member of the Board of Directors in the last Annual Stockholders’ Meeting.”
The email follows a joint statement issued earlier by Sun Life and Manila House saying “the situation had already been amicably settled,” asking the public to stop sharing the video. This short two-paragraph statement did not name Ocampo.
If those not connected to Manila House find the video “painful to watch,” imagine how its members and shareholders must feel. According to Manila House club members ANC-X communicated with, Ocampo had already stepped down from his post in the Manila House board. “Mali si Ricco,” one member who refuses to be identified said. “Even if that PA was an annoying [expletive]. Lesson nga is never lose your cool, [otherwise] talo ka.” The club member goes on to say, “He apologized but the damage has been done. Meanwhile this PA was lapping up the attention.”
“It’s about time they have good leadership in Manila House. Unfortunately, Ricco didn’t handle the incident well,” says another club member who refused to be named. She says she and her friends are only too happy Craig has taken over. Craig, our source says, comes from the family of the Panlilios “who are really F&B people. We are greatly relieved.” Craig has also successfully worked on various hotel and resorts assignments all over the world as CEO of Hotel Solutions Partnership, a consultancy that helps hotel and resorts clientele conceptualize, develop and market their properties.
At the time of writing, the beleaguered Ocampo issued a public apology to Manila House members stating that he has “personally apologized to the guest and to all the parties concerned including the management of Sun Life Asset Management and Co. Inc. and Manila House.” Ocampo expresses remorse over his actions, and states that the matter was settled amicably. He also says that while he had the best intentions, he went about the matter incorrectly. By this, we can perhaps glean that he is sorry about the expletives, and that heart-stopping moment he yanked the phone away from its owner dangerously.
Manila House is a private club (membership is by invitation only) that opened in 2017. It houses a few restaurants and remains a preferred venue for society and product events. In its earlier days, premium memberships went for P150,000 per person, while the more accessible membership, for aspiring younger members, cost P50,000. By addressing the situation of the Ocampo outburst, the establishment didn’t only show their interest in appeasing those who’ve shelled out money to continue enjoying the services and safety of the club; it also showed it was a serious establishment, and that erring representatives, no matter how high up, will always be held accountable for their actions. Take a lesson from Manila House, and keep it classy, Manila.