What Happened On The Very First Labor Day In The Philippines?

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Here’s what the first Labor Day in the Philippines achieved and why it should still matter today.

Labor Day is the day we celebrate our achievements as Filipino workers. Although, this event was actually originated way back on 19th century America.

During the Industrial Revolution, people of all ages began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. On 1913, we did the same thing and for the same purpose.

Photo from SciDEV Org

Mayo Uno is also the day where we look back to the rights our first protesters fought for and which we continue to fight for to this day. What happened on our first May 1 didn’t only change the situation at that time, but also affected the next generations as well.

The accomplishments of the first protests

Our labor day was not only a fight for our labor rights, but also a fight against imperialism. May 1, 1913, Filipino workers and labor leaders convened a labor congress at the Cine Oriente along C.M. Recto, Manila. Around 36 labor unions United under one umbrella to fight for the rights of Filipino workers. 

Thousands of workers, led by Dominador Gomez, massed before the gates of Malacañang Palace. They fought against America’s double standards and the prevailing system in the country that allowed workers to suffer unjust conditions.

Photo from Asia Times

Workers used their voices to fight against American imperialism and the Governor General at the time grant their demands. On April 8, 1908, the Philippine National Assembly passed a law mandating May 1 as a national holiday.

What it means to us today

Labor Day is a holiday for most workers, but for our daily wage workers see May 1 as a lost income for a day. We should also take this time to remember what our labor workers have been fighting for all these year.

Photo from ASEAN Today

We can help by supporting labor groups’ causes, especially where many Filipinos are unemployed today due to the pandemic. The digital platform today not only does wonders in bringing to light things that should be talked about, but it also reaches more ears. Lending a voice for them in our platforms is no small feat.


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