Labor Day

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Labor Day in the Philippines
Labor Day May 1 2019 Protest Manila 3.jpg
Caption: Labor Day 2019

Araw ng Manggagawa or Labor Day is a nonworking holiday celebrated on May 1 of every year in the Philippines. This day is to celebrate the achievements of workers all over the country. For years, this day is also often marked by demonstrations and rallies as the labor sector airs its grievances and fight to demand better working conditions.


In 1884 in the United States of America, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States, effective 1 May 1886. This demand resulted in a general strike and the U.S. Haymarket Riot of 1886, but the eight-hour workday was eventually approved officially. Afterwards, Labor Day came to be celebrated on the first of May in commemoration of this event.[1]

History in the Philippines

Labor Day in the Philippines was first celebrated in 1903, when the Philippines was still under U.S. rule. That year, more than a hundred thousand workers organized by the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas (UODF) marched to Malacañang on the first of May to demand better working conditions. The American colonial government was alarmed. The Philippine Constabulary, composed of Americans and Filipinos, raided the printing press of UODF and arrested its president, Dominador Gomez, for illegal assembly and sedition.[2]

Ten years later, on 1 May 1913, Congreso Obrero de Filipinas was organized. Led by Herminigildo Cruz, it fought for an eight-hour working day, abolition of child labor, just labor standards for women, and liability of capitalists.[3]

Since then, Labor Day in the Philippines has been commemorated not only with parades and celebrations, but also with rallies and demonstrations of the labor sector.

On 1 May 2001, “EDSA III” or “People Power 3” took place; it differed from EDSA One and EDSA Dos in that the main participants were the masa—the supporters of impeached president Joseph Estrada-- against newly installed president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It started as a demonstration that became a political revolt and degenerated into a riot that left in its wake torched vehicles and garbage along portions of EDSA and Mendiola.[4]



  1. May Day. Featured article on, written May 20, 2005 (accessed December 8, 2007).
  2. 100 significant dates in Philippine history. Article from the Manila Times, written September 20, 2006 (accessed December 8, 2007).
  3. The Philippine Labor Movement--1850-1900 The Spanish Era: Seeds of a Movement. Timeline on the labor movement in the Philippines (accessed December 8, 2007).
  4. Civil Society in Southeast Asia. Book by Hock Guan Lee, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies accessed December 8, 2007).

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