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May 1, 1903: First Labor Day in PH

On this day in 1903, Filipino labor leader Dominador Gomez, who headed the Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina (UODF), the country’s first labor union, led a demonstration of over 100,000 Filipino workers from Plaza Moriones, Tondo to the gates of Malacañang Palace. They chanted slogans against American imperialism and called on Governor-General William H. Taft to grant an eight-hour workweek and better working conditions for workers.

Taft refused to meet with the protesters. The demonstration led to Gomez’s arrest and incarceration for subversion, just like what happened to UODF founder Isabelo de los Reyes who Gomez replaced. It was the first time that Labor Day was observed in the Philippines since it became a federal holiday in the United States in 1894 and after the US occupied the Philippines.

(Photo from xiaochua.net)

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