Makati Park and Garden’s reservation system should have a disclaimer that reads: “Reserve at your own risk.” Apparently a reservation slip does not actually guarantee you a reservation even if you’ve fully paid – you can still get bumped off your time slot.
Unfortunately we did not know this could happen when we booked the reservation. We were not able to read about it in forums or blogs nor hear about it from someone’s firsthand experience. But unfortunately, it happened to us. FAIL.
Not that it was easy to book a slot. We had to secure a barangay certificate so we could avail of the Makati resident rate (currently at Php 5,000). Then we couldn’t book too early (we’ve been calling almost every month since early this year) because they don’t accept reservations too early – most likely to gauge the schedule of government functions that would need the use of this public venue. So we couldn’t book other suppliers until we were sure we had a venue for our date – there was a risk that our preferred suppliers would no longer be available but that was a risk we understood and took, because we wanted to use Makati Park and Garden for our event, because it was reasonably priced for its capacity. Then when the time came when they would accept reservations for our event date, all Saturdays were already unavailable – presumably blocked off for the government. Some Sundays were unavailable as well. One would think, at this point, that whatever upcoming political events having Makati Park and Garden as its venue would have already been factored in, and more. We settled for the Sunday the week before our originally planned event date.
When we came to the mayor’s office to pay and finalize our reservation, the elevators were broken – only one was functioning. Of course, that led to a very long line of people at the lobby (which, by the way, was not air-conditioned). The lobby was jam-packed with sweaty people waiting to use the one and only lift – waiting time was at least an hour. We couldn’t very well climb the stairs up to the 20+ floor. When we finally reached the office we were fourth in line and waited about 20 minutes for our turn. Unfortunately, that was not the end of the reservation process as we had to go to the 3rd floor to pay the cashier and go back to the 21st floor to give the receipt to the person in charge. Took almost 3 hours for the whole process, after what we went through, it was a huge sigh of relief.
Or so we thought.
A couple of months before our event date we got a call from the mayor’s office asking if we wanted to move our reservation to Saturday instead of Sunday because they wanted to use the facility for a government event. We did not answer immediately, saying we still had to check with our suppliers, though in our minds we were thinking, “We originally wanted a Saturday and you said all Saturdays of that month were booked, now you want us to move to a Saturday? So it was available all along?” After much thought and discussions we politely declined because we had booked most of our suppliers already for that date. Plus our parents had already booked their flights to attend the party. We thought that was that. To our dismay, we faced the same dilemma the month after, when we got another dreaded call asking us to move our reserved time – we could start setting up only at 4pm because they’d be using the place for another event until then. Factoring in three hours preparation time (as per our balloon/decor supplier), that would mean the kiddie party would turn into a late dinner party. That just won’t do – we can’t ask babies and kids to stay up late, and we had to be considerate to guests coming in from the north/south area especially those with babies/kids. And even if we pushed through with our event at a later time at Makati Park and Garden, there’s no guarantee they will let us in on the allotted later time if the government event extended beyond their time slot. There’s just too many uncertainties.
At this point, we knew we had no choice. Even if we had fully paid and reserved the date and time slot, ad hoc government events still hold priority. What’s more baffling was – they already blocked off certain dates for government functions (which was why we had difficulties reserving a date then), how come we’re still being bumped off if we were allowed to reserve this time slot? What’s more unfair was that we had no idea this could happen – we thought “reserved” actually meant “reserved”. Apparently, they have a different meaning for this word. Had we known, we would have chosen a different venue. The uncertainties and worries are simply not worth saving a few thousands of bucks. We’d rather pay for a slightly higher-priced venue knowing our reservation will hold until the day itself, than reserve a cheaper venue with the possibility of being bumped off anytime.
And so we rushed to find another venue, searching online, asking friends, calling up places. Didn’t get much sleep that night. Luckily, the following day we were able to find one that was still available on our event date and still within the Makati area. We booked it right away, even if it meant we had to shell out more bucks for this slightly higher-priced venue, at least we had the same definition for the word “reserved”.
Let this experience be a warning to everyone planning to use Makati Park and Garden for their event. We hope this does not happen to you.