I came across a 4-year-old prenuptial video of construction scion Victor Consunji and 2007 Binibining Pilipinas-World Maggie Wilson by the Holy Grail of videographers, Jason Magbanua.
Intrigued, I watched the YouTube video and searched for more videos about the couple. I found several but what struck me, aside from the daring and unique prenup video, were their wedding at Misibis Bay in Legaspi, Albay and their Powerhouse interview with Kara David.
In one video, I heard Maggie saying: “it was a beautiful wedding that even heavens cried for us.” The bride was in a beautiful Vera Wang gown while the dashing groom, in an impeccable Rajo Laurel suit. It was indeed a beautiful wedding, a dream wedding for most of us.
I learned that they only had 180 guests — friends of the couple consisting of businessmen, showbiz personalities and politicians, including Vice President Jejomar Binay who, at that time, was enjoying his honeymoon as the newly-elected veep.
The Powerhouse video, on the other hand, is a glimpse of the private life of the beautiful family—Victor, a loving and generous husband and father who never misses lunch with his family in their mansion; and Maggie, a happy wife who personally attends to the needs of her family.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Manila, is a girl named Sara, daughter of a construction worker who used to work for DMCI. Sara’s father, Mang Romy, not his real name, came to me days ago when he read my first column about Victor’s grandfather, David Consunji.
“Di ko makalimutan, Sir. Excited pa akong pumasok noon dahil araw ng sweldo,” Mang Romy said. “Sabi ng bunso ko, “Pa, pasalubong, ha?” He said it was his daughter’s 7th birthday and even if he was only paid P290 per day, he wanted to surprise her with her favorite spaghetti from a fast food chain.
But Mang Romy’s excitement turned into frustration and anger— he, together with 18 other laborers, was refused entry at the construction site. They have been dismissed from work. “Paano na kami ng pamilya ko? Di ko man lang din maililibre ng Jollibee si bunso,” Mang Romy thought.
It struck me that besides worrying about his family’s future, Mang Romy’s other important concern was his bunso’s spaghetti. And then I realized 7th birthday is a significant occasion for us Filipinos. I once came across an article saying the 7th year is the age when a person enters a milestone. Besides entering grade 1, it is when one becomes “susceptible in keeping the experiences in our minds, meaning memories, constructive ones, are being saved by our brain.”
Mang Romy and his fellow dismissed workers went to the NLRC where a complaint was filed known as Ireneo Arias et Al vs V. Consunji Inc. and/or Victor Consunji. Victor is the chief operating officer handling the contractors of DMCI.
The labor arbiter dismissed the case but in May 2012, the NLRC reversed the decision of the labor arbiter, saying Mang Romy and his co-workers were illegally dismissed. The labor court ordered the payment of backwages to and reinstatement of the 19 workers.
DMCI did not give up and sought the reversal of the decision but it failed. In March this year, the NLRC affirmed the decision with monetary award of reinstatement wages for all 19 complainants in the total amount of P7,174,060.02 from June 30, 2011 to October 18, 2013. The NLRC likewise commanded the NLRC sheriff to proceed to the premises of the respondent Consunji, Inc. to seek payment.
Unfortunately, the 19 workers have not received what is due them until now. Worse, according to the sheriff, there is nothing left in the DMCI BDO account which is subject of NLRC garnishment order.
It has been a 6-year legal battle for Mang Romy and his co-workers. And the decision has become final and executory.
Sara is 11 years old now. She still thinks jolly spaghetti is a special birthday food. But that is not her wish for her next birthday. Instead, she wishes that her dilapidated shoes be replaced by a new pair so she could avoid being teased as smiling Sara. (I can only imagine wishes like these by those little girls and boys of Mang Romy’s co-workers.)
On the other hand, while Mang Romy and his 18 co-workers are deprived of their money, DMCI boasts of P3.1 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2015. It also sees P13 billion profit this year.
I can’t imagine how much of that earning will be spent for trips abroad and lavish parties by the Consunji family but it’s not difficult to see how that P7.1 million award could change the lives of 19 dismissed workers and their families.
So, why doesn’t DMCI pay its legal obligation to Mang Romy and his co-workers who have contributed their sweat and blood so Consunji could earn billions? Anyare?
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