“I know she has cancer,” remarked the Executive Director.
“Of what?” Another attendee inquired to which she replied, “Breast.”
The conversation took place after the Board Chairman announced my resignation from the committees due to “health reason.” I already indicated it in my resignation letter. The Chairman even added, saying, “She’s not doing chemo.”
I sure was offended when this was relayed to me.
In my previous post, I talked about a chapter that has recently closed — my involvement as a committee member, volunteering my services towards the improvement of the management of our building. The said conversation took place during the last committees’ meeting.
Talking about someone in their absence is disrespectful, even more so, to talk about something as private as the individual’s health condition details. It is utterly wrong, outright offensive, totally unacceptable and inexcusable — a violation of one’s right to privacy.
I do not intend to keep the breast cancer diagnosis a secret; after all, I have written about it on this site, which can be read by anyone else who has access to the Internet.
But if there’s anyone who has the right and in the position to disclose any details in connection with my health condition, it is me and me only; no one else. I did not give anyone and am not giving anyone any permission to disclose any information about my health.
If I felt the need to include any more details regarding my health condition, I would have included it in my resignation letter. The fact that I didn’t clearly and only means that I didn’t feel it necessary and wanted to keep other details private.
I have high behavioral standards and ethical values that I expect of our Board of Directors. Of any Board of Directors.
Given what had transpired at the said meeting, what then is the message and impression that they are giving to those who were in attendance? That the unit owners’ private and personal lives and information are subject to disclosure by the Board — at their whim and even with no compelling reason to do so?
As a unit owner, I’m presuming and expecting that the Management is not only respecting such a right, but that the Management is committed to ensuring that the said right — together with all our other rights — are being respected by the community in general.
How can they ensure something they are not doing?
General Rule on Human Relations
I consulted with a lawyer who pointed to me the general rule on human relations under Article 19 of the [Philippines] Civil Code which states that,
“Every person must, in the exercise of his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and good faith.”
The said disclosure of the details of my health condition without my consent, in my absence, and without any legitimate purpose is not an act of good faith; it is a violation of the above Article 19.
It is my first time to have come across such a law. Funny how I become aware of the laws of this land usually only when I find myself in situations where I’m compelled to examine if any of my rights or related laws have been violated.
The typical Filipino has a penchant for talking about other people, especially in their absence. We call it ‘chismis [gossip]’ mentality.
I wonder how many of the people of this gossip-laden country is aware of such a law? If this law is strictly enforced, whoa, countless would be its violators!
Right to Privacy is a Universal Right of Every Human Being.
Whether or not there is a law that governs and ensures the protection of such a right, I expect and presume it to imply that the management of our building is ensuring the enforcement of its protection judiciously in our community.
I can only hope that the said incident is an isolated case. That it was just a lapse in judgment out of the ordinary, one that I do not wish to see repeated, be it involving me, any other resident, or even the staff.
I expect to see more prudence in the behaviors displayed by all the members of the Board. I also expect our Board of Directors to be exemplary models and leaders of our community by leading by example.
To be accorded professionalism and exceptional services from the management team, I believe, is also one of my rights as a member of our condominium corporation and unit owner of a high-end residential building such as ours.
What’s My Next Move?
Instead of sending a formal letter of complaint, though, I opted to send a private message to the two concerned Board Directors.
Lo and behold.
There was no apology extended by either of them!
The Executive Director didn’t even send any reply, not even an acknowledgment of my message. That wasn’t surprising, though. I had expected that. Oh yeah. She’s known to be that disrespectful and unprofessional! She who has been running our building for almost 20 years now — much to the disgruntlement of our community!
The Chairman immediately sent a reply. No mention of an apology, though. Oh, I was shaking my cell phone, hoping an apology would fall off somewhere from my internal storage! I even restarted it in case the apology may have just been lost in the transmission!
He even managed to twist the message around, expressing concern for me and my health. Like I’m the one now who should thank him and appreciate his concern for me.
“Palusot” [finding excuses, a typical Filipino habit] and avoiding ownership and responsibility for one’s wrongdoing at its finest — and coming from the Chairman himself!
What a management team, eh?
The lawyer advised me to send a message reply reiterating that I felt offended.
But then, for what?
I’m dealing with people who refuse to take ownership and responsibility for their wrongdoings. No amount of reiteration, not even an official complaint letter, even a legalistic one will make them behave otherwise.
Alright, most likely, they will be compelled to extend an apology should I demand it. But I don’t feel it’s worth my effort, time, and resultant stress. I don’t see any benefit. Such an apology wouldn’t be heartfelt anyway. What for, eh?
Simply put, these people are the kind who are too proud to acknowledge their failures. Even more so, to extend an apology.
That’s just their make-up. And I’d rather leave it at that.
It doesn’t take away anything from me when the offending party does not apologize. It’s not a reflection of my character but theirs.
Self-expression. Self-assertion. Familiar Manipulative Energies.
When I sent them my message expressing that I took offense, it wasn’t really because I was expecting an apology in return. I mean, yeah, of course, I admit, a part of me was. After all, apologizing for a wrongdoing, for having offended someone is basic courtesy: basic good manners and right conduct. In my vocabulary, at least.
Sending them my message was more an opportunity for me to practice expressing myself and asserting my rights, especially when they’re violated.
Now, what caught me by surprise wasn’t so much the lack of an apology. It’s more how the Chairman twisted matters around.
And yeah. There go the familiar manipulative energies once more that I had gotten accustomed to in my home environment.
But I didn’t bite the bullet. I didn’t fall into his trap. I didn’t express appreciation for his concern for me. Didn’t even acknowledge his message. That was my way of not getting sucked into his drama of manipulative energies.
It was enough that I sent both of them my message, where I expressed myself truthfully and courageously — no matter if they are of so-called ‘authority.’ It’s enough that I showed my little Nadine that she need not be afraid of asserting herself to Mom and Dad when they have wronged her.
Walking away from a situation isn’t a sign of weakness or being afraid. At times, walking away is the wisest thing to do because the people one is dealing with wouldn’t get it. It’s just a waste of one’s time and energy engaging with such a lot.
This incident may be uneventful to others, but it is one of those pivotal episodes for me — especially as I am healing through breast cancer, which, as I’ve written here, is emotionally rooted in my mother wound.
Self-assertion and overcoming my fear of speaking out when my rights are violated are lifelong lessons for me. My fear of speaking up is rooted in my mother and father wounds.
Opportunities to heal such core wounds continue to show up in my life for me to respond to the same unhealthy and unloving energies differently — such as this situation with these two Board directors.
My right to privacy may have been violated. But I have asserted myself enough with that private message. No need to engage in toxic energies.
I’d rather use my energies interacting and connecting with those whose values and principles align with mine. Those to whom I don’t have to point out their offensive behavior because they are self-aware enough and practice self-reflection to offer an apology when needed readily. Or at least those who know what to do when they’re told that something they said or did offended another. Those who are secure in themselves enough to demonstrate humility and respect towards another whom they have offended.
The unprofessional behavior they displayed just validated — not that I ever doubted — that I made the right decision when I turned in my letter of resignation.
And I am focusing on that message and being thankful for that gift of clarity, as well as being grateful for having been gifted with another opportunity to overcome and transcend my little Nadine’s fear of Mom and Dad.