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The Origins of Labor Day in the Philippines

On May 1, 1903, the first Labor Day celebration in the Philippines took place. It was organized by the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas, the first labor federation in the country. Thousands of workers marched from Plaza Moriones in Tondo to Malacañang to demand complete independence, while chanting anti-American capitalism and imperialism. The Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas formerly known as the Union Obrera Democratica was founded on February 2, 1902 by Isabelo delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz. It advocated the rights of the labor force during the American occupation of the Philippines. Delos Reyes who was arrested on August 1902 for sedition, rebellion and “conspiracy to the raise the price of labor” was succeeded by Dominador Gomez. It was Gomez who led the first Labor Day celebration.

Later on, April 8, 1908, the Philippine Assembly passed a bill making the first day of May Labor Day, a national holiday.

Today, Labor Day (or Araw ng Manggagawa) in the Philippines is commemorated not only with parades and other forms of celebration, but also with rallies and demonstrations of the labor sector.

In addition, Philippines has several official holidays observed throughout the year. The exact number of holidays can vary slightly from year to year due to special non-working holidays declared by the government or the observance of certain holidays based on regional or cultural significance. However, as a general guideline, the Philippines typically observes around 18 to 20 public holidays each year. These holidays include both regular holidays (fixed dates) and special non-working holidays (movable dates). Some of the major holidays in the Philippines include New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day, and Eid al-Fitr, among others. Additionally, there are local holidays observed in specific regions or provinces to commemorate local events or festivals.

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