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.

icon_residences_vs_maids

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.]

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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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)
Guest

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

T2ed
Guest
f**k u!!! mr. paul farol…it is still discriminatory to ban them to use the facilities in a building they are working in… you have a mentality of a red neck …people like you should be thrown down the elevator shaft at the highest floor level…how can you reason like our spanish occupiers…even the americans did not treat us like subhuman slaves… you are not even a mestizo…you are in the same category as binay…if you wore a plain t-shirt and shorts…you would look like a hardinero or cook… take care less you get banned from all the building elevators in… Read more »
Amir Al Bahr
Member

Hey, their house (in this case, their condo unit), their rules. It is what it is. That’s the reality of it.

Fact is, Filipinos have not been able to look beyond their social stratification for the longest time. For all that talk about equality here, what Filipinos really want (though they’ll never admit it outright) is an Animal Farm.

archie
Guest

Fuck you ka din. Wala kang magagawa kung house rules nila yun. Masyado kang sensitive sa pagiging Pinoy mo. Nakuha mo pang magsalita na dapat itapon si Paul sa elevator. Kung pupunta ka sa mga 5 star hotels sa America, meron din silang policy na hindi pwedeng gumamit ang employees nila ng elevator, Amerikano man o hindi. Ikaw ang douche bag dahil puro ka kagaguhan.

Thoi Cam
Guest
Mr.Archie, ako po ay nagtrabaho dito sa Manhattan Hotel Cal.for 14 years, nais ko lamang po sabihin sa iyo na iba po ang rules sa hotel compara sa mga buildings.like condo, flats, luxury appartille and others. pero ang 5-star hotel po ay hindi bawal ang mga maids gumamit oo tama po kayo na bawal gumamit ang mga staff ng hotel kasi po hotel they catered services and all staff of the hotel we provide a good services for all clients of the hotet, pero hindi po kami nanghamak ng degnidad kanina man kahit anong lahiat kahit homeless po…ang staff service… Read more »
Pallacertus
Guest

Didn’t notice this one.

Siguro naman we can acknowledge Thoi’s input? At least may karanasan siya sa hotel, yeah?

Punk Zappa
Guest

T2ed – Correction sir. The Americans were much worse than our Spanish masters. The Yanquis very nearly wiped us off the map in such a short time. Adolf Hitler learned from the best.

Kurt
Guest

Please, revise history some more so you can satisfy your Anti-American agenda since hating on Spain isn’t so relevant anymore.

Punk Zappa
Guest

It is new Filipinos like you who need to read about our history.

Punk Zappa
Guest

It is still discriminatory. It is like in the old days in America when blacks have their own section in the bus and have to give up their seat for a white if the bus is full. What this country needs is an Indio Bob Dylan or Stevie Wonder. Too bad the Indios are content watching noon time shows, even participating in its parlor games and make a fool of themselves.

Gerry
Guest

@ Dweezil, LOL, so you think that Dylan and the Blind guy had something to do with the anti-descrimination laws in the USA huh?You really should get a clue, forget the ‘real’ part as you clearly are clueless.

maybe start with googling ‘Rosa Parks’ for starters.

J.C.
Guest
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 »
d_forsaken
Guest

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
Guest

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.

Dave
Guest

Where to start with how that wouldn’t be acceptable in a civilised country? Though unusually they didn’t specify ‘single,’ that’s normally one of their favourites.

What do they think happens to the human body when it hits 30 that makes people incapable of working?

Robert Haighton
Guest

Benign0,

“… 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

Amir Al Bahr
Member

Well, Filipinos can be described as a sort of passive-aggressive sort of ethnic group. On the surface, it seems calm, but it doesn’t necessarily give you a good picture of what’s going on underneath…

There are plenty of areas where the “social volcano” could possibly crack; the eruption may not necessarily be caused by the discrimination against maids and/or domestic help in general.

Gerry
Guest

@ Amir, its long overdue. A social up-heavel is what is called for.

anjuicy
Guest
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 »
Amir Al Bahr
Member

Their house, their rules. Precisely my sentiments. To the condominium administrators, it is an internal issue, and they have absolutely no obligation to explain themselves to the public.

One underlying issue here seems to be that anytime something like this pops up, the assumption is that it is automatically born out of discrimination, or something like that.

Man, do Filipinos like playing victim or what? Or maybe they just like being dramatic or playing the victim card every chance they get?

J.C.
Guest

Amir, you are a fucking retard.

If this happened in a developed country instead of our beloved Coconut Republic, the management association and condo owners would be virtually castrated and crucified.

anjuicy
Guest

I am curious as to what country is it that you are pertaining to and have there been any similar case. Please enlighten me.

J.C.
Guest

USA
UK
Canada
Germany
France

… even China.

J.C.
Guest

Regarding USA, there was a recent case similar. The city told the developer to either change it or suffer a $22 million dollar tax increase. It was in EVERY newspaper with the property developer being swiftly condemned.

anjuicy
Guest

Go check out the comments at Rappler and that’s what you’ll get.

“We should respect our househelp and nannies”
“This is rude, discrimination!”
“Disgusting!”

And so on. It all comes from an emotional place.

Pallacertus
Guest

It is a visceral issue, an emotional issue. It may stem from disgust at maid manners or maid topics or just plain maids. If this wasn’t an emotional issue, you really think management would insist that maids ride separate elevators?

jarvis
Guest

Although I don’t think this issue is as big a deal as it seems, I disagree on your “Their house, their rules” argument. We must prevent abuse as much as we can. What if it’s a notch up, say servants should only take the stairs? Their house, their rules?

piogante
Guest

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.

RAC
Guest

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

J.C.
Guest

RAC, as much as I tend to dislike Chinese, too, the fact is that this isn’t strictly a Chinese thing. Not including Hong Kong or Taiwan, people on the Mainland often have maids who, as a whole, are treated decently.

RAC
Guest

Chinese ancestry…

Kurt
Guest

Has nothing to do with the article so you’re attempts at instigating utterly failed.

domo
Guest

Your argument is invalid anti-china warfreak.

line of flight
Guest

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

nod if you agree
Guest

You Sir, deserve more likes…
Here, take my upvote.
(ooops! wrong site)

These negative reactions from the Netizens, any of them come from the “kasambahays” working in them Condo units?
Well if they ain’t complaining, why should I.
If the Unit owners want to feel privileged in using the elevators and they believe that the “kasambahays” aren’t worthy to join them in that 5 minute rise, I say let them.
-Like what Paul Farol said;
“It’s not as if the maids are being asked to take the stairs or climb down the side of the building.”
Lets’ not get too emotional about this.

m.c
Guest

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.

Lui
Guest

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.

J.C.
Guest

Name one, Lui. Precisely which Western country? Name one.

And it is not even remotely similar to airport lounges.

Service elevators are shit-stained, dirty and disgusting. That’s where the garbage is taken down as well as other maintenance junk.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

It certainly was not the tenants who “shit-stained” the service elevator. What on earth are you talking about?

You get all riled up about some nonsense like this, but meanwhile you are one of the people who are too lazy to bag their own groceries at the check-out counter at the supermarket.

Because you are entitled that someone bags it for you.

Aaah, just shut up already!

Pallacertus
Guest

So the maids take a dump while riding the elevator?

JC said it himself — they’re also where refuse and maintenance equipment are transported between floors.

Jim DiGriz
Guest

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
Guest
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 »
JC
Guest

Hyden, at least get it right …

It’s señores & señoritas.

Hyden Toro07
Guest

My computer cannot do that, so I just spelled it where it can be understood…

T
Guest

charmap, just in case you encounter grammar nazis again.

Lui
Guest
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 »
Pallacertus
Guest

Sometimes another look from a different vantage point is needed. Not that I have an opinion on this yet, but it pays to read and hear and all that.

JC
Guest

Lui, why do you lie?

You have NOT seen this in L.A. or D.C. or Manhattan in any residential building. Lying does not help your cause.

I also think your $100k butler story is bullshit. With FICA, UIT, medical and other taxes, that $100k butler costs the employer around $140k. Perhaps you conveniently forgot to mention the butler is female and gives happy endings?

Luis Antonio de ########
Guest
Luis Antonio de ########
You assume too much. If i move my family to the US (yes i am a dual national, of pure castillian decent) its not because i need a job but because ive got 40 acres in the northern California western sierras and a small commercial building i rent to to a local newspaper. And yes, their janitors use a service entrance. I didnt work because my family was poor, it was because Marcos stopped the overseas remittance of dollars after the assasination of Ninoy Aquino. Maybe you dont have access to the’ same people i do. The butlers boss, (and… Read more »
cj
Guest
Why do you assume that she is lying? Have you ever worked at any service industry? Have you ever worked at a restaurant, hotel, or in a condominium unit? There are service entrances and elevators in the United States. They are there because they are more efficient to use. Since nobody uses them except for hired help, the hired help are able to go through their work without getting interrupted. Having separate elevator is a practice done for EFFICIENCY. The 100k butler story? I know someone who earn 150k usd. Anybody who is rich enough to afford a butler is… Read more »
Ismelina
Guest

Precisely! If people could only think that the policy is nothing personal. It’s not like the maids are staying in the condo for a personal reason. They are working there.

I would rather worry about how the maid is actually being treated by their employer (benefits, living conditions, if employers are nice to them, etc) than to raise hoopla over her not having “elevator privilege”.

Leli Etitit
Guest

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

Bystander
Guest

Humurous yet very truthful observations..yes, indeed!
Now, can we just get along?! Peace.

piogante
Guest

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

Leny
Guest
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 »
J.C.
Guest
You know, Lenny, I used to think like you. I can understand your point of view. Unfortunately you fail to consider how it’s seen from the other side. As far as OFW, Hong Kong is similar to Singapore with the exception that OFW are better off in Hong Kong. Yes, on the weekend — especially Sundays — there are vast numbers of Filipinos camped outside enjoying chats, picnics, dancing, singing and even yelling with their friends. Some may even seem uncouth. And local Chinese bitch about it. Funny thing is that local Chinese do the same shit when they go… Read more »
Luis Antonio de ########
Guest
Luis Antonio de ########
It wasnt McDonalds, it was a place called Griswolds. Its one thing to insult people who steal our tax money, ( do you pay local taxes? Im in the highest bracket in both personal and Corporate thus my anger at its misuse,) you have issues and a condition that obviously requires professional assistance. The way you insult people who have done nothing to you indicates a total lack of breeding and a very apparent situation which means you probably have no prospects of real upward mobility. Based on the way you write and what you write, understanding you and what… Read more »
yup
Guest

I think the guy would be no show like Binay 🙁

chel
Guest

Fact… @ j.c

Narra
Guest

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.

Pallacertus
Guest

Makes sense.