May 22, 2024

Araw ng mga Manggagawa, popularly known as Labor Day (Araw ng Paggawa), was first observed in the Philippines on May 1, 1903 when a hundred thousand workers marched to Malacañang, demanding fairer working conditions from the then American-led government.
Labor Day also shares much of its ethos with other Labor Day celebrations and is marked with a regular holiday or a public holiday in over 80 countries around the world. Often many unions stage demonstrations in government institutions and in big cities to bring attention to their grievances. Issues such as raising the minimum wage, poor working conditions unemployment and underemployment are most important problems and the key indicators of the weaknesses of the economy continue to be brought before the government.
The first May Day celebrations happened on May 1, 1890 after its proclamation by the first international congress of socialist parties in Europe on July 14, 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate May 1 every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”
The date was chosen due to events on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket (in Chicago) Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
May 1 is celebrated as May Day in most countries around the world. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the bank holiday isn’t fixed on May 1but instead is observed on the first Monday of May.
In the 20th century, the holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union, and it is also celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, especially in some communist states. Celebrations in communist countries during the Cold War era often consisted of large military parades with the latest weaponry being exhibited as well as shows of common people in support of the government.
Curiously (given the origin of the May 1 date), the United States celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September (May 1is Loyalty Day, a legal but not widely recognized holiday in the United States). There is some suggestion that the reason for this was to avoid the commemoration of riots that had occurred in 1886.
The adoption of May Day by communists and socialists as their primary holiday has been as another reason for the official resistance to May Day labor celebrations in America. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands also celebrate Labor Day on different dates; though that has to do with how the holiday originated in those countries. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various communist, socialist, and anarchist groups.
Today, Labor Day is celebrated with various activities. For the Department of Labor and Employment, aside from jobs and career fairs, our countrymen can look forward to various DOLE activities in their localities.
In Baguio City, the DOLE-Cordillera in partnership with the City Government of Baguio, the Department of Trade and Industry, and other partner agencies will conduct a face-to-face job fair for local and overseas employment, career and business activities on May 1 at the Baguio Convention Center.
Highlighting the activities is the “Trabaho, Negosyo, at Kabuhayan” which aims to create decent jobs through the promotion of entrepreneurship.
Labor Day is remembered for the centuries-long struggle of the proletariat and honors their bravery for demanding better working conditions.