April 24th, 2012

Philippines Celebrate 110th Labor Day

Manila, Philippines - Since its adaptation as a local celebration in the Philippines, Labor Day has been characterized by rallies and demonstrations from various labor groups which has been the norm for over a hundred years.

The celebration of Labor Day was first celebrated in the country when the Philippines were still a colony of the United States. The said celebration commemorates the rally of the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Union against the US Government in 1884. Back then, the labor group demanded that the ten hour work day be cut down to eight hours which the group hoped to begin on May 1, 1886.

In the Philippines, the first local celebration of Labor Day was held in 1903. In true Labor Day fashion, the celebration saw more than a thousand Filipino workers marching to Malacañang to voice out their sentiments about their current working condition. The said rally was organized by the Union Obrero Democratico de Filipinas and its President Dominador Gomez. The Philippine Constabulary was alarmed by the protest which led to the arrest of the labor group’s leader for illegal assembly and sedition.

Ten years after the first Labor Day in the Philippines, the labor group Congreso Obrero de Filipinas also rallied on May 1st for various labor rights. Led by Herminigildo Cruz, the labor group demanded for an eight-hour working day, equal labor rights for women as well as the abolition of child labor.

Another famous May 1 rally in the country was in 2001’s “EDSA III” or “People Power III rally” which is more related to politics than labor issues. The said rally was composed of supporters of former President Joseph Estrada who rallied against Estrada’s ouster earlier that year.

This year, though there would still be rallies and demonstrations, the good news is that the Department of Labor and employment announced jobs and livelihood fair which will be held in 40 different venues in the country in commemorating the country’s 110th Labor Day. Over the years, Labor Day has been viewed as an important celebration all over the world about the real value of workers and a show of solidarity to improve the working condition of the masses such as wage hike, employment opportunities and additional benefits for workers.