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Happy Labor Day?

Today, the Philippines and most other states in the world celebrate the International Worker's Day. More popularly known in this country as Labor Day, this is the event where the working man is the centerpiece of the celebration. Based on the original proposal for the declaration of the Labor Day, the festivities are to be started with a street parade to demonstrate the esprit de corps of the labor movement followed by a celebration of the workers and their families. Mainly, the Labor Day is intended to be a rest day for the working man.

One will wonder why is it that as far as we can remember, no such joyful celebration was ever held in this country. The answer can be traced back to the history of this holiday. On the first Sunday of September in 1882, the United States started celebrating Labor Day. To this day, such day of observance continues in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Labor Day for those countries, also signifies the end of summer.


A few years after the first celebration, a number of labor unions rallied for the holiday to be moved to the 1st of May. The intention behind the change of dates is to synchronize the celebration with the general strike of 1886 that won for American workers the 8 hour workday. Since then, most countries in the world started celebrating Labor Day on May 1. With Labor Day being celebrated to remember the worker's fight for their rights and welfare, it has therefore become unsurprising that workers in a lot of countries use this day to deliver fiery speeches against the government. In the Philippines, workers also take advantage of Labor Day as an opportunity to hold massive street protests.

During the past few years, the president has made a habit of moving non working holidays one to two days prior or after the holiday so that workers may enjoy a long weekend. A Thursday or Tuesday celebration can be moved to Friday or Monday so that workers can stretch their weekends for another day. Last year, organized labor loudly protested to stop the president from moving this national holiday 1 ~2 days before or after the 1st of May despite the benefits that it will bring to the Filipino worker. They argue that such a move desecrates the worker's holy day. Other people however, see it in another way. They believe that moving the holiday on a Friday or Monday will possibly result to workers not participating in the street protests to be able to enjoy the long weekend.

Whatever the reason may be, this overworked and underpaid worker will be resting on this day. To the workers of the world, may this day be restful and silent, like the way it was originally intended to be.

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