Filipino maids banned from using elevators in Manila’s luxury condos!

The management of an Icon Residences luxury condominium building in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig has been called out for what Filipino netizens allege are “discriminatory” building access policies. A certain Poch Ceballos posted a photo on Facebook of a letter issued by the building management with the following caption:

When Filipino maids in HK get banned from using the “regular” elevators (you know, the ones that “regular” people use), the country throws a hissy fit. Guess what? It’s happening in our own backyard! Dear ?#?iconresidences?, f-ck you. Katherine Garrido, you’re an ignoramus. Please resign. You have no place being a building administrator.

The letter, signed by property manager Katherine Garrido reads:

To our valued Unit Owners / Tenants,

We would like once again to request all Unit Owners and Tenants to remind their household employees, i.e. drivers, housemaids, outside contractors, to strictly use the Service Elevator only.

The Administration Office has had a number of enquiries from owners in the building on why helpers are using Passenger Elevators when only Unit Owners / Tenants and their guests are allowed to the Passenger Elevators.

Please instruct your helpers to use the Service Elevator only.

Your cooperation is appreciated.


Since then, a lively debate on the merits of this policy has erupted with some commentors noting that such policies are commonplace in buildings all over the Philippines. Indeed, in most Filipino households, domestic employees hold a very low place — and are constantly reminded of that place as a matter of family tradition. Filipino maids are often relegated to sleeping on floors and in cramped windowless mosquito-infested “maids’ quarters” which are often just converted pantries and storage rooms.

The Philippines’ Republic Act 10361 or the Batas Kasambahay (Domestic Workers’ Act) has been in effect since March of 2013. The law seeks to raise living standards for the millions of domestic workers toiling in Philippine households by, among others, implementing higher minimum wages, formalising the sector by requiring employment contracts, and mandating social safety net coverage through the Social Security System (SSS), the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG).

But the sub-human treatment of maids and other household help in the Philippines has continued despite scores of outrage fads erupting in recent years mainly focused, interestingly enough, on the treatment of Filipino domestic workers overseas, particularly in Hong Kong and Singapore where thousands of them — many of whom are university-educated — are employed.

Pandering to Singapore OFWs: President Aquino visits Jollibee Singapore at the Lucky Plaza Mall (November 19, 2014)
Pandering to Singapore OFWs: President Aquino visits Jollibee Singapore at the Lucky Plaza Mall (November 19, 2014)
Back in June this year, an Al Jazeera report described how, in a Singapore mall, domestic workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Myanmar were on display on store windows, sometimes advertised as being on “super promo” or “special discount” rates. The report sparked a furor over what was regarded as a degrading commoditisation of migrant workers in Singapore. No less than the Philippines’ Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay reportedly expressed “deep concern” over the report calling on the Philippine embassy there to “make proper representations with the Singapore authorities” to investigate this “indignity” these workers are seemingly suffering.

Stepping back to take a broader perspective, it can be noted that the perceived stereotyping of Filipinos as domestic workers by the global community has been a source of outrage for many Filipinos. At almost the same time the furor over maids-on-display in Singapore came to light, another “racism” row erupted in Hong Kong over the depiction of Filipinos as maids in school textbooks.

Indeed, when seeing the elevator access issue from the point-of-view of the Philippines’ luxury condo administrators and their well-heeled owners and tenants, some insight may be drawn from this collective national insecurity. The Philippines, despite its aspirations to becoming a modern democratic egalitarian nation, remains a severely socially-stratified society with hard cultural lines dividing the landed classes consisting of fair-skinned Filipinos descended from the country’s former Spanish and American colonial masters, the mercantile classes dominated by the Filipino-Chinese and Korean community, and the vast “99 percent” working masa classes consisting mainly of the dark-skinned indigenous island population often referred to as the Indios. The legacy of colonial rule in the Philippines remains so potent that the marketing of skin whitening products and surgical procedures that obliterate indio facial features are hugely profitable billion-peso industries in the Philippines. And most revealing of all, the archetypical Filipino showbiz celebrity is overwhelmingly fair-skinned and “blessed” with caucasian or North Asian physical features.

Suffice to say, this recent “racism” incident involving the banning of maids’ access to condo elevators is but the tip of the iceberg of a profound cultural malaise that continues to grip Philippine society much to the consternation of “progressive” new-age “activists” and politicians who espouse modern notions of equality and freedom. Unless Filipinos learn to evaluate these realities about their cultural character with eyes wide open, the Philippines’ “social volcano” will continue to rumble, and may one day erupt violently.

[Photo of President Aquino with Filipinos in Singapore courtesy President Noynoy Facebook Page.]


Post Author: benign0

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97 Comments on "Filipino maids banned from using elevators in Manila’s luxury condos!"

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Paul Farol (@paulfarol)

It’s not as if the maids are being asked to take the stairs or climb down the side of the building.

Excellent post and analysis, benign0. More disgusting than the douchebag Katherine Garrido, however, are the property owners who complain because they have to share an elevator with a whole class of people they obviously consider subhuman. Of all the things that are fucked up in the Philippines, the way Filipinos exploit those less fortunate says the most about this society. I’d love to buy an entire building, rent out each unit and then force the tenants to ride the service elevators while only domestic helpers and pets are allowed in the main elevators. Now THAT would be justice. It’s also… Read more »

You know, there are some words I’ve known since I was a schoolboy. With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably. The first time any man’s freedom is trodden on, we’re all damaged.

Sea Bee

If you want to see discrimination look at the job ads for a sales associate:
“Help Wanted: fit, female 20-29 with a helpful, pleasant personality.
Candidates must fill the height and weight restrictions and maintain an attractive appearance. Born again, Christian, English speaking college graduates will only be considered for employment.

Robert Haighton


“… with eyes wide open, the Philippines’ “social volcano” will continue to rumble, and may one day erupt violently.”

I actually dont see that eruption going to happen one day soon. Maids are too dependent on that income. So, I guess, they follow the “rule” blindly

For whatever it is worth this is an internal issue of the building’s Condominium Corporation and that Property Manager is just executing the will of the Board Members which is comprised of the Unit Owners. Their house, their rules. I would like to believe that this is not a blatant discriminatory action, and that there is an underlying reason as to why this move was done. I have seen the condominium and I would not classify as it as ultra high-end thus you would have a mix of people from middle class to the elite. These people would have househelp… Read more »

in this case, the property manager is just responding to the request of some unit owners and tenants who feel squeamish at the sight and smell of lower class people who ride the lifts with them but the management can’t really do anything if some open minded units owners will allow or even encourage their staff to continue using those ‘tenant only lifts’ and that will surely make the ‘well heeled’ even more be dismayed.


Condos mostly owned by fucking chinese/chinese migrated in the Philippines and chinese ancestral!


Chinese ancestry…

line of flight

no one would feel demeaned taking the service elevator if they were paid a living wage. equality of elevator riding while maintaining the feudal slave wage system is not create dignity


i don’t see any discrimination here. i’m not the type who discriminates anyone but… rules are rules. there is a service elevator, it’s not like they’re asking them to take the stairs. if the “regular elevators” is being used by service personnel which is obviously intended for tenants and people question that??? then they might as well agree to maids using bathrooms and bedrooms of their masters whenever they wish too? let’s not be too sensitive about this.


This isnt very unusual. I know of a lot of upper end develpments in western countries that do the same thing. Its the priveledge of wealth. Not anymore than having “executive toilets”, “executive lounges” etc. even in Airports, you pay for business class tickets and you get your own lounge apart from the masses in cattle class. I think how you personally treat household help is more important than what elevator they take.

Jim DiGriz

This is just another useless idiotic outrage.

It’s like a directive that says, “hey can you please tell the people who cant afford a car to take the bus and not try to ride in my car which I paid for”. Oh my! The discrimination!

So? So what? People who find this offensive are people who feel guilty.

Hyden Toro676
India has its Caste System. The “Untouchable” Caste do all the menial job. The U.S. has its slavery issue, and its Jim Crow Laws. Whereby you are discriminated on the basis of the color of your skin. In the old U.S. slavery days. Slaves were sold or auctioned; standing on an Auction Block. Where slave buyers, can examine the potential of a slave. They arew doing the same now, to Filipino OFW slaves. In the Philippines; people who do menial jobs, or lowly jobs, are discriminated, according to the work they do. They are not required to ride on elevators,… Read more »
Ive been on both sides of the fence. I put myself through college (in the US) by washing dishes, bussing tables and doing janitorial work. And yes, i have had to take service elevators. No big deal, they were jobs. I worked hard and am damn proud to say i scrubbed clogged ip toilets for a living. The pay was good. Now that i am on the other end of the scale, i know that its all about pay, working conditions and benefits. Im equally as comfortable in a jeepney as i am in the back seat of my S… Read more »
Leli Etitit

Gosh, after all these years, still talking about slavery????? Fuck you all idiots, housemaids and nannies are part of the world. You can even see them taking selfies in the elevators of the world tallest tower (Burj Khalifa) in Dubai. If you are all professionals and human being, who cares being with these people. Kasi naman me mga amo dyan na mukhang katulong pag itinabi sa maids, aminin, yun lang yun. Naalala ko tuloy yung tsimis na ipinasara ni Binay ang isang resto kasi napagkamalan siya ng waiter na driver na naghihintay sa amo LOL


i wonder what would the reaction be if the slaves were asked to instead use the chutes:)

One Friday, i craved so much of Pinoy food. Being here in Dubai you don’t get a lot of good Filipino food outlets (a Jollibee would have sufficed). So i googled my way to this Filipino restaurant called “La Mesa” located in a 5 star hotel. I got there and was excited to be ushered in right away even if from outside and through the glass windows, I can see it’s full. Just stepping inside, immiediately I was transported to another world – a jungle. It’s not about the rowdy actions but THE NOISE, i can’t believe a place can… Read more »

Perhaps the reason why they are loud or hyper-spirited during these breaks is for the first time after a week(s) of non-stop hard work and strict “silence please” library rule in the place they serve, they again could talk freely and feel that they are part of the world.