Thursday, May 1, 2008
Today, here in the Philippines, we are celebrating Labor Day or otherwise known as Araw ng Manggagawa. It'll be a non-working holiday for the Filipinos.
Here's a brief explanation and history of the Philippines Labor Day....
Labor Day in the Philippines was first celebrated in 1903. Organized by the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas (UODF), more than a hundred thousand workers marched to Malacañang on May Day that year to demand better working conditions.
The demonstration alarmed the American colonial government. The Philippine Constabulary, composed of Americans and Filipinos, raided the printing press of UODF. They arrested its president, Dominador Gomez, for illegal assembly and sedition.
Undaunted, the labor movement continued its struggle. On May 1, 1913, Congreso Obrero de Filipinas was organized. Led by Hermenegildo Cruz, it battled for an eight-hour working day, abolition of child labor, just labor standards for women, and liability of capitalists.
Throughout the years, the Philippine labor movement grew despite some factional differences among adherents. There are now unions for almost every type of worker and these unions are affiliated with some national confederations. The unions help workers gain more benefits under existing labor laws. A militant federation, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), even involves itself in political issues. All these make slogans and streamers during May Day rallies more colorful and forceful.
However, some May Day events can turn into riots. Just in recent history, it was also on the first day of May in 2001 when “EDSA 3” or “People Power 3” took place. It was the ‘surprising uprising’ of the “masa”—the supporters of impeached president Joseph “Erap” Estrada against newly installed president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It was however more of a political revolt.
This year will be no different when May Day is celebrated. Rallies and demonstrations are expected to take place as labor makes its needs known.