There’s nothing wrong with fangirling if done at the right place and time in a respectful manner. But it seems not everyone under the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) got that memo. The agency is facing flak for a viral video of alleged airport security screening officers unwarrantedly filming and exhibiting unprofessional behavior towards K-pop boy group Enhypen at a pre-departure checkpoint.
K-pop idols are people, too. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes. If you were at an airport security checkpoint in a foreign country and you see personnel (plus a bunch of other strangers) filming you while a screening officer of the opposite gender giggles as they’re conducting a pat-down screening and unnecessarily asks you to pull down your face mask, how would you feel?
That’s what seems to have taken place in the video originally uploaded by user @heyitsdemianne on TikTok. Fans of Enhypen made #MIAADoBetter trend as they called out the “unprofessional” and “disrespectful” behavior. As they should. Anybody else put in that position would feel violated. We also have to point out that some members, like 17-year-old maknae Ni-ki, are still in their teens.
Office for Transportation Security (OTS) administrator Mao Aplasca told DZMM TeleRadyo in Filipino on Feb. 6: “If we prove that the person taking the video is a staff member, I think that’s the worst case that our colleague can do at the airport. For us, it’s like a breach of security. That’s a very serious violation of our protocols and procedures, it could amount to separation from our service… If we tolerate that, it’s possible for other people, even if they’re not VIPs, to film our screening checkpoint activities. And that is posing a danger to the traveling public.”
Aplasca also clarified on GMA’s “24 Oras” how pat-down screenings are usually conducted. “As much as possible, male to male ang magco-conduct ng pat down, female to female. But in some areas lalo na sa probinsya, we allow babae to pat down male passengers but not male OTS personnel to pat down female. Pero in Manila International Airport we have enough male personnel to conduct pat down doon sa mga lalaking mga pasahero.”
“Normally, mayroon kaming supervisors diyan [sa checkpoints]. So dapat kung may mali na nakikita, the supervisors should correct it immediately… Pati ang pagbababa ng face mask, I think, hindi naman kasama ’yon sa aming [screening procedures],” he added.
In an earlier statement, OTS reminded that airport personnel aren’t the only ones required to follow security protocols. “While we understand the excitement brought about by the presence of these Korean artists, we remind not only our personnel, but all airport users, that unauthorized filming at our security screening checkpoints is not allowed as a matter of policy,” the agency wrote.
So how can fans help protect their fave artists? Demanding more uptight personal security service from their labels and stricter implementation of security protocols from agencies are one thing. But a more all-encompassing solution is pushing for a culture that treats idols as actual human beings instead of mere objects of fantasy and for consumption. Don’t take advantage of their willingness to please fans and desire to keep a nice public image. We all need to learn that.