Labor Day, also known as Araw ng mga Manggagawa, is a regular holiday in the Philippines. It has always been known that we celebrate Labor Day on May 1st, 2022 but what is the significance of Labor Day? Labor Day is most usually connected with celebrating the events and accomplishments of the labor day movement.
History of Labor Day in the Philippines
The first Labor Day in the Philippines was celebrated on May 1, 1903. This was when thousands of workers from Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas (UODF) the first labor union, marched from Plaza Moriones in Tondo to Malacañang Palace, then the seat of the governor-general of the Philippines, seeking equal rights and improved working conditions. These issues such as raising the minimum wage and inhumane working conditions continue to be brought before the government.
On April 8, 1908, the Philippine Congress approved legislation designating May 1st as a national holiday in the Philippines. The inaugural Labor Day commemoration took place on May 1, 1913, when 36 unions assembled a labor congress at the Cine Oriente in C.M. Recto Avenue then known as Azcarraga, in Manila.
Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day in the Philippines?
Labor Day is a secular and religious holiday. It originated as a secular holiday as a result of the labor union movement to commemorate the economic and social significance of workers which is observed in many nations throughout the world.
As a result, the significance of Labor Day may also be recognized in the commemoration of St. Joseph the Worker, a feast that has been honored liturgically since 1955. To this day, the Church remembers the human and spiritual significance of labor in a distinctive way, inspired by the example of St. Joseph, who taught Jesus his skill.
In addition, from a political standpoint, Labor Day is a significant holiday. The significance of Labor Day is that many individuals use this day to express their dissatisfaction with employees or laborers. Many employees are abused or even taken advantage of by their bosses. Labor Day is also a day for unions to raise awareness about current concerns impacting workers. Unions in the United States were successful in their demand for an eight-hour workday in 1886. Workers in the Philippines, however, which was colonized by the United States, organized a march to the American Governor-mansion General’s to demand better working conditions. This is officially recognized as the inaugural Labor Day in the United States. However, it wasn’t until 1913 that employees were allowed eight-hour days, as well as other workers’ rights. Workers’ efforts throughout the last century have resulted in far better lives for them. Even though we are in a new millennium, employees continue to face severe exploitation and abuse. Certainly, as workers celebrate their accomplishments on Labor Day, they should not lose sight of the fact that much work needs to be done.
Trade unionists are taught that the only way to win labor rights and improved working conditions is for employees to take direct action. Unionists think that the great majority of firms and even the government will not improve workers’ circumstances out of altruism. In the United States and many other nations, unfortunately, the eight-hour workday was only possible at the expense of employees’ lives. Better salaries and working conditions may only be obtained by worker groups and the use of protests, strikes, and other forms of protest directed at the government or employers.
Labor Day in the Modern Times
In celebration of Labor Day, Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Presidential Decree No. 442, known as the Philippine Labor Code, on May 1, 1974. The decree stressed that the employer and employee are on the same workbench, each with a separate function, but they are joined by their common goal of efficient production to fulfill the needs of their fellow people. Thus, the rise in wealth that would satisfy man’s demands might be generated by private initiative. Labor and capital are not opposed and should work together.
Labor Day is a holiday, and it should be celebrated. However, it appears that only officials and workers of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) have cause to rejoice on this day. They have a solid job because it is their joint obligation to reconcile and balance the competing interests of labor and business. Because the labor-capital relationship is frequently characterized by disagreements, if not addressed justly, it will end in a catastrophic economic calamity. Indeed, the most essential reasons for the department’s founding and continuous significance are the necessity to regulate the ties between employers and workers to enforce work, health, and safety standards and to address workers’ concerns. The department is also tasked by law to promote employment, particularly through the facilitation of the Filipino workers’ desire to work overseas. DoLE has veritable achievements in the overseas employment program so that the overseas Filipino workers are considered “Bagong Bayani.”
Even during the epidemic, the department’s personnel had reasonably secure jobs. Except for the department’s contractual workers, their pay is above the minimum wage. Yes, the Department of Labor, like all other divisions and agencies of government, employs short-term contract employees, sometimes known as “555” workers.
Because of Covid, Labor Day marches and demonstrations to voice concerns against the government may have been more subdued over the past two years. Only because of the pandemic are the employees’ protests being moderated. However, workers’ protests and direct actions must continue since working conditions can be much improved and breaches of workers’ rights are still rampant. Militant union leaders continue to face persecution, disappearances, and jail. Labor unions are now the targets of red-tagging by the military and police.
While applications for higher minimum salaries were filed in several regions last year, the National Wages and Productivity Regional Boards have yet to issue pay orders. Minimum wages in the Philippines have remained steady after the latest hike in 2019. While workers are typically dissatisfied, they are not fighting for salary hikes. They’ve recognized the epidemic as a fair reason why salaries can’t be raised right now.
Workers’ protests may not be as fierce or as numerous as they were in the years preceding the pandemic. This should not lead us to conclude that employees are content with their working circumstances or that trade unions have grown soft and subservient. There is a historical example that should be explored. There were extremely few strikes and even fewer protests and rallies in the Philippines during the years of martial law. In 1987, once democracy was restored, there were over 700 strikes around the country. Work stoppages began to decline around the conclusion of President Corazon Aquino’s administration.
Labor Day through the Years
Isabelo delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz created the UODF on February 2, 1902. During the American occupation, their union battled for worker rights. Dominador Gomez succeeded Delos Reyes after he was jailed in August 1902 for sedition, insurrection, and a “plot to increase the price of labor.” Under Gomez’s command, the UODF spearheaded the aforementioned march, for which he was also detained on the same charges as Delos Reyes. Herminigildo Cruz, the second founder of UODF, convened the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas on May 1, 1913. This congress advocated for fair labor conditions, including 8-hour workdays, the eradication of child labor, equal labor standards for women, and employer accountability to their employees.
Since then, Labor Day has become synonymous with labor-organized marches and rallies. In 2012, more than 40 labor federations joined the NAGKAISA coalition, which lobbied the Philippine government for an increase in the minimum wage, an end to labor contractualization, and other reforms. This day honors our country’s industrious men and women. Most workers utilize this holiday to organize rallies and marches in which they voice their complaints and demand reform.
One hundred and nine years after the inaugural Labor Day demonstration, the Filipino working class still has a long way to go before they can enjoy fundamental legal rights.
Wage-earners in the nation are entitled to equitable work opportunities, weekly day-offs, wage-related benefits (e.g., 13th-month pay), and fair compensation under the law. They are also given the right to on-the-job protection, collective bargaining, and tax-free pay.
According to a survey, Filipino employees continue to be among the lowest-paid persons in the world. According to data released by the e-commerce site Picodi, the Philippines placed 95th out of 106 nations in terms of the average wage, which was $308 or PHP15,200 in 2020.
How to Have a Fun Labor Day Weekend?
We’ve been adjusting to the new normal for two years now. Many of us have been working from home, confined to our four walls. The pandemic has changed the way we do things; even the most basic duties must be rethought. Here are some suggestions for making your Labor Day weekend extra special in the new normal:
1. Learn About the Origins of Labor Day.
Above is a brief history of Labor Day in the Philippines. However, the exact facts are so many that it may take a long time to learn the complete tale. Consequently, you could wish to commemorate this day by purchasing a book or taking notes on the history of Labor Day and reading them.
2. Become acquainted with labor unions.
Labor unions are organizations that ensure that the opinions of employees are heard. They ensure that employees are not mistreated by their employers. These groups are heavily active on Labor Day. So, you may choose to commemorate this day by becoming acquainted with these organizations. And by standing by what they believe in.
It’s been a long time since you and your co-workers bonded over lunch or chit-chatted at your workstations. Organize a virtual or even a face-to-face get-together with your coworkers to enjoy the holiday from the comfort of your own homes or condominiums provided that you follow the minimum safety protocols. An hour or two offline with your friends and family may be just what you and your friends need to get through the week. TIP: You may try to get an Airbnb house in the nearby Metro.
4. Take-Out Dinner
If you don’t have the luxury of time, go to a restaurant that you want to go to and order their most lavish meal. You deserve a treat, especially on Labor Day. You may also invite your family and loved ones to join you for your takeout meal. There are several meal delivery applications available, such as Grab, FoodPanda, or any of your local food ordering apps. Remember that it’s always a good idea to stay safe and secure on these special occasions.
5. Date to the Movies
If you’re a movie buff, you might want to grab some popcorn and settle down for a Netflix movie or series binge. Decide on the movies or series ahead of time so you don’t fret over the next movie in line. You have the option of watching the movie by yourself or with your family. From romantic comedies to horror films, there is something for everyone. Meanwhile, choose a series from documentaries to your favorite Korean dramas.
6. Game Night!
If you want to be more competitive this weekend, invite some buddies and host a virtual gaming night with your coworkers over Discord or Zoom. You may also play games with your family and friends. Choose two to three of your favorite games that you used to play with your buddies before the lockdown.
Treat yourself to a nice spa or massage. You have been a hard worker, and you deserve such pamper and self-love. There are a lot of affordable spas and massage houses around that have opened up again. If you didn’t want to go out, they offer home services too.
8. Invest in Real Estate
Invest your hard-earned money in properties and enjoy its benefits when you retire. You may want to reconsider building your dream home with Bria Homes. We offer several Ready For Occupancy House and Lot and also affordable condominiums for sale. You may check the following links to invest in real estate:
- Angelique Affordable House and Lot
- Elena Affordable House and Lot Bria Homes
- Bria Condo General Trias – Affordable Condominium in Cavite
The significance of Labor Day remains as we commemorate how our ancestors fought for the just work conditions as they earn a living. And up until now, as times have improved, we celebrate their bravery. The pandemic should not prevent you, your friends, or your family from enjoying life’s special moments. But keep in mind that the safety and security of those we care about should always come first. Follow these suggestions to have a safe and pleasurable Labor weekend with the hardworking people we know. After all, people matter.
Written by Ruby Baclid