The History of Labor Day in the Philippines

Labor day in the Philippines

Labor Day in the Philippines, known as “Araw ng mga Manggagawa,” is celebrated annually on May 1st, honoring the hardworking labor force nationwide. It’s a time for Filipinos to gather with loved ones and enjoy relaxation. In major cities like Manila and Malacañang, workers unite in a collective effort, voicing concerns and advocating for change, addressing issues such as minimum wage and working conditions, and highlighting the challenges faced by citizens. Every dedicated Filipino, regardless of their job, is recognized and celebrated on this important day. It is common for companies to give their employees a day off as a gesture of appreciation for their hard work and dedication throughout the year.

The history of Labor Day in the Philippines dates back to February 2, 1902, with the establishment of the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas, previously known as the Union Obrera Democratica, by Isabelo delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz. This union promoted the rights of the Filipino working class during the American occupation era. It mobilized thousands of workers to demand better working conditions and fair treatment from their employers. This historic event marked a significant milestone in the labor movement’s history, leading to the recognition of workers’ rights and the establishment of labor laws in the country.

Who is the Father and Pioneer of Labor Movement in the Philippines?

Father and Pioneer of Labor Day

Isabelo de los Reyes (July 7, 1864 – October 10, 1938) is commemorated as the Father of the Labor Movement and honored as the progenitor of Filipino Socialism.

Isabelo de los Reyes was born to Elías de los Reyes and Leona Florentino in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. In 1880 at age 16, de los Reyes went to Manila, where he finished Bachiller en Artes at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. After that, he studied the Civil Code, Penal Code, the Mercantile Code, judicial proceedings and drafting documents, palaeography, and anthropology at the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas.

On February 02, 1902, Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (UODF) was established, and Isabelo de los Reyes was elected president while Hermenegildo Cruz was elected secretary during its first congress at Variedades Theather in Sampaloc Manila. The Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (UODF) aims to improve conditions for Filipino laborers. Through Isabelo’s leadership, the UODF gained significant momentum, rallying workers from various sectors. His lifelong commitment to combating imperialism and capitalism defined his legacy for social justice and workers’ rights.

In July 1902, the Philippines witnessed one of the group’s initial demonstrations, as 70,000 participants gathered to assert their demand for Philippine independence on United States Independence Day. Following this, in August of the same year, the UODF orchestrated a nationwide general strike in response to the government’s refusal to increase wages.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day in the Philippines?

May 1 Labor Day Philippines

Labor Day in the Philippines is celebrated to honor the contributions and achievements of workers nationwide. It serves as a recognition of the pivotal role that laborers play in the country’s economic development and progress. Originating from the first Labor Day commemoration on May 1, 1903, organized by the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (UODF), this day symbolizes the struggle for better working conditions and fair treatment. A decade after the inaugural protests, the first Labor Day celebration took place on May 1, 1913.

Over the years, Labor Day has evolved into a significant occasion for workers’ rights advocacy and solidarity movements across the Philippines. It provides a platform to highlight ongoing challenges faced by the labor force and to push for reforms that promote social justice and equality.

2024 marked as the 121st Anniversary of Labor Day

In December 2023, the total workforce in the Philippines was recorded at 50.5 million individuals, with over half employed in the services sector (57.3%), approximately a quarter in agriculture (24.4%), and less than a fifth in industry (18.3%).

Labor Day has evolved into a powerful symbol of hope and advocacy. It serves as a reminder of the hardship we’ve endured, the sacrifices made, and the achievements attained through collective endeavor. We may reflect on how much we have overcome over the years and the challenges we face ahead.

Labor Day Philippine History
May this occasion pay tribute to the courageous individuals who stand for our rights and represent our best interests. Let us cultivate a deeper appreciation for our own privileges and respect the spirit of the movement’s message. Labor Day is an opportunity for us to stand united and continue to improve the lives of Filipinos.

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About The Remote Group

About The Remote Group

The Remote Group is a leading provider of customized offshore staffing solutions to businesses worldwide. Their services focus on solving talent and skills shortages, scalability, cost savings, and streamlining processes that help increase business productivity while diminishing inefficiencies.

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