Origins of International Workers’ Day

Today, workers around the world commemorate the International Workers’ Day which celebrates the social, economic and political achievements of the international labor movement.

For most, this would be a holiday and an extended weekend here in the Philippines. It’s quite saddening that most do not know the history of Labor Day. The holiday celebrations we take today, in the years past and in the years to come have become something remote and to some extent run counter to essence, meaning and history of Labor day.

It all began 123 years ago, on May 4, 1886 with the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Wikipedia briefly describes it as:

a disturbance that took place on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at the Haymarket Square in Chicago, and began as a rally in support of striking workers. An unknown person threw a bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting. The bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of eight police officers and an unknown number of civilians. In the internationally publicized legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were tried for murder. Four were put to death, and one committed suicide in prison.

While the whole article is a good read and trip down the hallowed history of the labor movement, here’s a short documentary film providing an overview and some historians’ insights into the Haymarket affair:

Part 2

Part 3

Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest.

This was the result of the labor movement’s struggle to make the 8-hour working day a standard for all working men and women. It had origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life and imposed long hours and poor working conditions. With working conditions unregulated, the health, welfare and morale of working people suffered. The exploitation of child labour was common. The working day could range from 10 to 16 hours for six days a week. (Wikipedia, 8-hour day)

Though many consider the Haymarket affair a setback for the labor movement, it has become a central inspiration for the succeeding labor struggles throughout the world. Even today, in poor countries, many labor movements pay homage and tribute to the events of the Haymarket affair, its labor leaders and many thousands of working men and women who struggled for better working conditions and workers’ rights.

Labor day in the Philippines

Here in the Philippines, Labor Day has always been marked by large workers’ demonstrations, parades and rallies that serve not only to commemorate the International Workers’ Day, but more so to press on for the demands of social justice, better working conditions and better respect for workers’ rights.

The Philippine labor movement has a colorful and illustrious history of struggle that traces its routes to many of historical events that has shaped the past, present and future of the country.

WikiPilipinas has a short overview of this history;

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.

Ten years later, on May 1, 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.
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 May 1, 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.

For its share, the Department of Labor and Employment has a lengthier timeline of Philippine Labor’s history of which an excerpt is shared below, reinforcing what I said earlier that the labor movement has a deep and intimate connection with the overall history of the Philippines.


The establishment of guilds planted the earliest seeds of the labor movement. These were secret organizations for the mutual aid and benefit of workers. The first guild emerged in the arsenals and shipyards of Cavite and were soon found in tobacco factories, printing houses and other various trades and occupations. Among the earliest guilds were the Gremio de Obrero de Sampaloc, Gremio de Escultores del Barrio Sta. Cruz, Gremio de Carpinteros and Gremio de Impresores y Litograficos.

1872, January

Workers and soldiers at an arsenal in Cavite mutinied against the Spanish colonizers. Supported by workers and Filipino clergymen, it resulted in the execution of Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (GOMBURZA), which signaled the beginning of early workers’ protests.

The first workers’ mass action was conducted by members of Gremios deI Empresores when they walked out of a government printing press in San Fernando, Pampanga on account of abuse and maltreatment by Spanish foremen and for purposes of seeking better terms and conditions of work and higher wages.


Andres Bonifacio established the Katipunan, the core of the first nationalist and workers’ revolution in Asia.

Even today, the history and essence of Labor Day carries more relevancy and importance now that the world is facing tough economic times, our country is struggling to progress and the majority of our people are still living in poverty, while the few elite are basking in riches and power.

How we celebrate or conduct ourselves this Labor Day is our reaction to the colorful, glorious and meaningful history of the labor movement, and is a reflection of our attitudes towards our working fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts, even our selves.

5th Asian Youth Day Opening on March 14

Just won my battle with tonsillitis and so it’s back to blogging. I’d break this long hiatus by making this announcement.

The 5th Asian Youth Day which will be hosted this year by the Diocese of Imus for the Philippines will have an opening program this coming Saturday, March 14, 2009. The opening program will be hosted by my home parish of Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria, Silang, Cavite from 1pm to 3pm.

Plus, the organizers have just announced through the AYD mailing list that the dress code for the opening program would be Filipiniana. So do your best to come in your Filipino dresses or at least something that carries the spirit of being a Filipino.

I’m a bit excited already because I’ll be covering the event as part of the AYD5’s Press Relations committee. Also, I’d get to meet again the other volunteers who signed up to make the coming AYD a big success.

More so, the 5th Asian Youth Day would finally kick off and all the other youths of from all over Asia would come over to celebrate faith and the possibilites that young of Asia could do.

See you all this Saturday!

Photos: 1st Volunteers’ Meeting for the Asian Youth Day 2009

This photo post is long overdue, but what the heck, here it is finally!

AYD Volunteer plenary

Last January 31, 2008 me and a couple of SERVE volunteers attended the first volunteers’ meeting for the up coming Asian Youth Day of which the Philippines will be hosting it on November 23-27, 2009.

I saw a lot of familiar faces during the meeting which was held at the Girls’ Town in Silang, Cavite. The youthful and energetic Bishop of the Diocese of Imus, Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, DD, STD, was the keynote speaker in which he announced that the Diocese of Imus would be the particular host in the Philippines for the 5th Asian Youth Day.

Our hostDelegate sharingYes to this callingElderly sign-up tooVolunteer sign-up

An awesome and humbling task indeed for all the faithful youth in this corner of Cavite. However, the daunting task that lies ahead simply added more to the volunteers’ excitement and passion to make the up coming 5th Asian Youth Day a smashing success.

Committees were formed in order to make this possible, to spread the load and maximize the potentials, energy and creativity of the volunteers. I joined the Press Relations Committee which will be in-charge of providing media services and documentation to the event, and I’m excited to start working already because with me are really talented and creative photographers, graphics designers, journalists, web gurus and the like. It will be fun, plus I will get to learn a lot from my fellow committee members which will help me in improving my photography skills. The ultimate goal though, is to put all this creative potentials to the service of God, and of our fellow Asian Youth.

With the theme, “YASIA Fiesta – Young Asians: Come together, Share the Word, Live the Eucharist” which is the organizers’ spin on this year’s theme of “Celebrating the Eucharist“, the 5th Asian Youth Day will be exciting and an event to remember.

Watch out for more updates and stories as November gets closer and the 5th Asian Youth Day itself unfolds in the backyard of the Diocese of Imus.

Photos: Launch of DLSUD/HSI Bahay Pag-asa

The past week has been another busy one for me hence the lack of regular updates. The good side is, I have tons of photos to share and stories to tell with all of you.


This would be the first one, the launch of the Bahay Pag-asa in De La Salle University – Dasmariñas last January 19, 2009. It was a star-studded event as TV/movie personalities who received their education from a La Salle school was present to grace the event.

Center for CICLs

The Bahay Pag-asa project is a juvenile rehabilitation center for children-in-conflict-with-the-law (CICL) or those are who minor offenders. Long before the enactment of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 or R.A. 9344, children below the legal age of 18 who have been caught committing offenses or have been accused of the same, where treated like any other adult offender; they were locked up in the same appalling jails and prisons, their rights as children and accused are neglected and they are subjected to inhuman and life-scarring experiences which already do more harm than being convicted and sent to regular prison.

Fortunately, the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 changed all of that and mandated that minor offenders be not put in the same detention cells as the adult offenders. More so, the law provides them the opportunity and chance, thru alternative child-friendly measures, to reform and be reintegrated into their family and community as a productive member of society.

Bahay Pag-asa aims to be that place where CICLs are taken care of and rehabilitated pending the resolution of their case. It is a sanctuary where the spirit and letter of Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 is followed and implemented.

To this end, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas, De La Salle Health Sciences Institute teamed up with the PLDT Smart Foundation to turn this dream into a reality.

Art for life

During the opening of Bahay Pag-asa, an art auction for raising funds for the center was held with the big names in business and Philippine movie industry as guests and benefactors.

Diether Ocampo w/ PoliceMr. Anthony PangilinanBro Armin, Edu ManzanoDLSUD_048_BahayPagasa

TV host star Edu Manzano was host for the auction and he really knew how to work the crowd and entice them to take out their check books and score fine pieces of art work, created by some of the CICLs themselves, in order to raise much needed funds for the completion of the project.

Actor Diether Ocampo was also present to show his support for this worthy cause. He even bought a piece of artwork which he hotly fought for during the auction. The event was spearheaded by Anthony Pangilinan, Executive Director for Juvenile Rehabilitation of the PLDT Smart Foundation and DLSU-D and HSI President Bro Gus Boquer, FSC. Local government and police officials were also present to show their support for the project. After all, they too are important partners in implementing the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act.

The luncheon spectacle was capped by a wonderful performance of the Kundirana 2009 group from La Salle Greenhills.

It’s our calling

Completion of the Bahay Pag-asa is still on going and still waiting for more generous donors and benefactors. We hope that with this, those who would like to support this great cause would be encouraged to do so. It all starts by getting in touch with the PLDT Smart Foundation or DLSUD.

Together, let us build a better future for our children, especially those who are at risk and in conflict with the law.

US President Barack Obama’s Inaugural speech

44th President of the United States of America
44th President of the United States of America
Around lunch time midnight here in the Philippines, Barack Obama will take took his oath as the 44th President of the United States of America and its first ever African-American to assume its Presidency. Truly, his rise to the White House is one of the most memorable moments of our generation. Hopefully, his leadership will inspire everyone to do what is at the best interest of their own country.

Here today I’ll share the full text of US President Barack Obama’s Inaugural address, courtesy of a relative in the US who sent it in via e-mail.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America. [End]

I just hope the next President of the Philippines would be someone like Obama, who’ll not only be competent but will also inspire Filipinos to act for the good of the country instead of lying, stealing and cheating them of what is rightfully theirs.

Bente: LCDC 20th Anniversary Exhibit

Just this afternoon, the mother office of the student volunteer group I am part of, kicked off their 20th anniversary celebrations by opening the “BENTE: Dalawang Dekada ng Lasalyanong Paglilingkod” an exhibit which features the Lasallian Community Development Office‘s 20 years of history, origins, programs, achievements and awards.

I am part of the organizing team that spearheaded the exhibit. We spent the last two months of 2009 preparing everything for the exhibit from conceptualization, materials production and even the mounting itself. More photos of the launch here.


Along the way, I was able to put my novice Photoshop CS3 + photography skills to the test because I was assigned as the “lead graphics designer”. Would you believe that?! 😉 My task was to photograph each piece of memorabilia the office has under its roof and transform those images into exhibit-ready pieces using Photoshop CS3 and some inspiration from nearby calendars. It was a fun, challenging and learning experience as I was not only able to learn new things and be really creative with Photoshop CS3, but I was also able to learn a lot more about my mother-office’s colorful history and legacy.

DLSU-D students and faculty may visit the LCDC Bente Exhibit at the Aklatang Emilio Aguinaldo and it’s open during the library hours. Along with the exhibit, LCDC has also prepared “Sine Bente” a screening of selected documentaries about the environment, poverty, socio-political advocacies and many more.

With this, we hope that many more Lasallians will learn about the colorful history of LCDC and the Lasallian Mission of social transformation which we will continue to struggle for the next twenty years and beyond.

A Gay Womanizer

“Bading si Rizal.”(Rizal is gay.) My tall friend mused with quite an authority. He said this after I shared to him, my discovery of an article last December that talked about the insane idea of Rizal, our national hero being the father of one of the most hated man in modern history; Adolf Hitler. Thanks again to the Filipino Librarian for the link. Mr. Manuel Quezon III has gone to the bottom of this crazy idea with this article.

Now going back to my friend’s smart-ass idea on Rizal being gay, he did presented some reasons to back it up. He started by making this observation; “Sa lahat ng babaero, siya[Rizal] lang ang hindi nagkaroon ng maraming anak.” “Of all the womanizers, Rizal is the only one who has not produced a number of children.”

True, Rizal did not have many children save for the one that Josephine delievered too early into this world, only to die later as a tragic consequence of Pepe’s misdemeanors. This is despite the fact that he is well known for having many lovers and flames everywhere he went.

To this I added the following observations of my own; Rizal was among the youngest in his family. He and Paciano were the only “thorns among the roses”,
and there is a considerable age gap between him and his older brother so Rizal grew up surrounded by girls. He was described as a “sissy-looking” boy with a low height and a huge head which according to my great Rizal course professor was the favorite target for his classmates who had a habit of throwing stones around.

All of this, came from the idea, that if a boy grows and lives surrounded by girls, some of the feminimity would eventually rub off onto him. If I’m not mistaken this is commonly held as a quick explation(acceptable or not) as to how a boy becomes gay.

So adding it all up, Rizal, is gay.(joke lang! ;))

NOTE: The above contains ideas, concepts and thoughts that are purely fictitous and do not necessarily reflect proper historical reflection and are mere products of our imaginations and a sort-of twisted sense of humor. I like to thank the tallest member of the DLSU-D SERVE volunteers for the wonderfully insane ideas contained in this entry.