Philippines Labor Day is celebrated annually on May 1 to celebrate hardworking Filipinos across the country. In Filipino, it is known as ‘Araw ng mga Manggagawa’. People in the Philippines relax and spend the day with their family and friends. At Malacanang (the previous American Governor’s residence, now Presidential palace) and in major cities like Manila, labor movements and parades are a part of the celebrations. These activities draw attention to their complaints, which include the minimum wage, inhumane working conditions, and other issues that undermine the rights of employees. Every hardworking Filipino is celebrated on this day, no matter their job.
History of Philippines Labor Day
Philippines Labor Day was first celebrated on May 1, 1903. More than 100,000 employees were organized by the country’s first labor organization, “Union Obrera Democratica de Filipina (U.O.D.F.),” to march from Tondo’s Plaza Moriones to Malacanang. These workers protested and demanded fair wages and better working conditions from the then-American-led government. The event is considered one of the first protests in the streets of Manila.
The U.O.D.F. was formed in February 1902 by Isabelo Delos Reyes” and “Herminigildo Cruz” to defend the rights of the working class while under American occupation. In August 1902, the American-led government arrested Delos Reyes for rebellion, sedition, and “conspiracy to raise the price of labor.” Post his arrest, “Dominador Gomez” succeeded him. Under Dominador Gomez’s rule, the U.O.D.F. led the march alongside 100,000 workers, where he was also arrested on the same grounds as Delos Reyes. Five years later, on April 8, 1908, the Philippine Assembly passed a bill recognizing May 1 as Labor Day. It was declared a national holiday.
The first Labor Day celebration was held on May 1, 1913, when Herminigildo Cruz, the other founder of U.O.D.F., put together the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas. The party demanded fair working conditions for the labor sector, including eight-hour working days, an end to child labor, equal labor standards for women, and employers’ liability to their employees. Labor Day has been synonymous with demonstrations and rallies organized by the labor sector since 1903. To convince the Philippine government to raise the minimum wage, eliminate labor contractualization, and control market fuel prices, more than 40 labor federations joined forces to form the NAGKAISA coalition in 2012.
Philippines Labor Day timeline
Isabelo delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz together form the U.O.D.F.
More than 100,000 Filipino workers march against the American-led government to demand fairer working conditions.
The Philippine Assembly passes a bill to recognize May 1 as Labor Day and declares it a national holiday.
The Philippines holds its first Labor Day celebrations.
Philippines Labor Day FAQs
Is May 1 double pay in the Philippines?
Yes, workers who work on Labor Day in the Philippines get paid double their salary.
Is working seven days a week legal in the Philippines?
No employee can work over eight hours a day, according to the labor code in the Philippines.
What is R.A. 11058 in the Philippines?
The new R.A. 11058 law modifies the country’s 41-year-old Labor Code and applies to all establishments, projects, and locations, including Philippine economic zones, except the public sector.
How to Observe Philippines Labor Day
Learn about Labor Day's history
Celebrate the day by learning about the Philippines' Labor Day history. It helps to appreciate the people who fought for workers' rights.
Buy a local product
Buy a Philippines-made product to celebrate the day. It encourages Filipino workers and promotes the production of more locally-made products.
Watch a documentary
Celebrate the day by watching a documentary. Many documentaries on the formation of labor day in the Philippines and child labor worldwide are available online and would be an excellent watch to commemorate the day.
5 Interesting Facts About The Philippines
There are over 175 languages
It is one of the nations with the highest number of languages in the world, and at least 171 are still in use today.
Fifth-largest English-speaking nation
At least 52 million Filipinos speak English, making it the fifth largest English-speaking nation in the world.
World's longest underground river
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, found deep underneath the St Paul's Mountain Range on the island of Palawan, is the world's longest underground river.
More volcanoes than towns
Camiguin, an island in the Philippines, is the only island on the planet with more volcanoes than towns.
Jeepneys are the most popular transport
Filipinos transformed the tens of thousands of Jeeps that American soldiers abandoned after World War II into public utility vehicles that can transport up to 20 people at once.
Why Philippines Labor Day is Important
It gives us a break from work
Labor day gives everyone a break from work. You can relax and celebrate the day with family and friends. You can spend the day watching many documentaries which are available online.
This day ensures fair rights of workers
Philippines Labor Day ensures fair rights for all workers. No matter the sector you work for, it is a day to ensure you are treated fairly.
It celebrates those who have fought for better working conditions
Having fair working conditions has been a long-drawn battle over the years. The day honors those who have fought for suitable working conditions and those who continue to do so.
Philippines Labor Day dates