Have We Forgotten About Why We Celebrate Labor Day?



Nowadays, when we think of Labor Day, most of us who are privileged enough are thinking of LaBoracay. Every first of May, we usually spend this holiday with our family or friends to take a break from responsibilities. It’s a day when we can go to the beach and get some well-deserved R&R. It’s all very ideal to have an extra day of rest right? Because let’s be real: we need a break from life.

But because we’re so caught up with ourselves, maybe we’re forgetting about why we celebrate this holiday in the first place.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

Labor Day in the Philippines usually falls on the first day of May. But it started on May 1, 1903.

During the American occupation, Union Obrerar Democratica de Filipinas (UODF) organized a march where 100,000 Filipino workers rallied to Malacañang Palace to demand independence from American capitalism and imperialism.

In February 1902, Isabelo delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz founded UODF, where they advocated the rights of the labor force. They were arrested for rebellion, sedition, and “conspiracy to raise the price of labor.” Six years later, on April 8, 1908, the Philippine Assembly passed a bill, making the first day of May a national holiday for Labor.

What is the true meaning of Labor Day?

Though we’ve broken free from American capitalism and imperialism, the issue that our ancestors fought for is still here. Our fight for independence may be over, but we still fight for a just and equal pay.

Labor Day should be the opportunity to address the problem of long working hours, no time off, and endo. This should be the day when we can hear the pleas and grievances of Filipino workers.

So in our celebration of Labor Day, we highlight the reality of our country’s employment situation. Hopefully, if we speak up about it louder, they would eventually hear us out.

We dream of the day when we eradicate unemployment, unequal pay, and underemployment.