Philippine mayors ask urban workers to smile or face disciplinary action

As a mayoral candidate, Aguirre, 47, promised that the smile mandate would be one of his first acts in office. This was his first political campaign; mr. Aguirre said he was his family’s “last hope” of defeating a rival political clan in the province. An occupational therapist, he returned to the Philippines in 2016 after living with his wife and children in New York for 10 years.

“The funny thing is that I worked in the Bronx – one of the most disadvantaged areas,” he said. “So I’m used to people not smiling.”

When Mulanai residents go to City Hall, he said, “they face a lot of frustration because the services are very slow and sometimes the civil servants are not so friendly. One of my battle cries during my campaign was to change that behavior.”

mr. Aguirre joined another newly elected Filipino mayor, Alston Kevin Anarna of Silang, a city of 296,000 in the province of Cavite, and dictated smiles to everyone around. mr. Anarna, 37, another first government official, also vowed during his campaign that all civil servants at City Hall would be taught to smile.

“Civil servants should smile. Anarna said in an interview: “Moreover, those who usually go to the municipal hall are people who have nothing, people who have big problems. Imagine if those who greet them were unsmiling and angry people, what then? But if they are treated well, with people who visibly smile and are ready to help them, they feel a little better.”

The mayor of Silang banned municipal employees from frowning, although during his speech he wondered if some of them were “conceived out of resentment”, as reported by local media. According to the rules of the civil service, Mr. Anarna said that those who disregard his order could be fined or suspended from work.