What is Labor Day in the Philippines All About?

Labor Day It was May 1, 1903, when the Filipinos celebrated Labor Day in the Philippines. The first labor group, Union Obrera Democratica, was behind the history-altering movement. Demanding absolute freedom from American capitalism and imperialism, thousands of workers marched down from Plaza Moriones in Tondo to Malacañang that day.

Formerly known as the Union Obrera Democratica, the labor group was founded by Isabelo Delos Reyes and Herminigildo Cruz on February 2, 1902. The union championed the rights of the labor force during the American occupation in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, Delos Reyes was jailed in August 1902 for sedition, rebellion, and conspiring to raise labor wages. Dominador Gomez took the helm afterward and led the first Labor Day celebration.

It was on April 8, 1908, when a bill was passed to make Labor Day a national holiday.

In the present day, the celebration of Labor Day in the Philippines is not just about orchestrating parades but also rallies and demonstrations to call for a just and livable minimum wage, among others.

The labor unions in the Philippines are recognized under the Labor Code of the Philippines, allowing them to have the freedom to self-organize. They are raising awareness of the usual concerns of workers such as wages, an hour of work, and other legal rights they are entitled to have. These labor groups are also legitimate entities negotiating the terms and conditions of employment—through the process of collective bargaining agreement—with the employers.

Founded in 1975, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines is the largest confederation of labor federations in the Philippines with 480,000 members. Another prominent labor union is the Kilusang Mayo Uno or the May First Labor Movement.


Things You Can Do During Labor Day in the Philippines

Here are some of the suggestions of the things you can do during Labor Day in the Philippines.

Join the Protest

As mentioned, Labor Day in the Philippines is also the time when labor groups voice out their concerns on pressing employment issues. You can join the mass demonstrations to show your support to the plight of the working class. It is important that their call be amplified so the government, along with the employers, will be able to hear out the issues and act on them immediately.

Joining the protest not only means going out to the streets. You can also do your part in fighting for the working class through social media. You can share your thoughts on the matter, and this can be helpful as well. Remember to educate yourself first before giving out opinions so as not to cause the spread of misinformation.

Attend LaBoracay

This has become one of the major summer events on the beautiful island of Boracay. During the weekend closest to May 1, many tourists flock to Boracay to party and to unwind. The island has many clubs where you can go and have drinks. You can also book for water sports and other fun activities while staying on the island.

Take the Day Off

Labor Day is a public holiday. You can take this time to do basically whatever you want because there is no school or work. You may binge-watch the show that you love, do some artworks, read a book, rearrange your closet, and more. The list is endless. Just make sure that you get to do the things you have to do within the day.


Malls and retail outlets usually drop their prices on May 1 as part of promotional schemes during the holiday. It helps in driving foot traffic in the commercial spaces, which results in higher sales. If you are planning to hunt for bargains, check out the promo offering of the retail shops that you love.


How Labor Day in the Philippines is Celebrated

Apart from mass demonstrations, Labor Day in the Philippines is also filled with various job fairs.

Every year, the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) post job opportunities all over the country for those who are seeking one. The job fair has themes that celebrate Filipino workers for their unyielding determination. Some of these themes are named like: “Pagpupugay sa Manggagawang Pilipino” or “Honoring the Filipino Workers.”

Usually, DOLE collaborates with more than 300 participating establishments—local employers, overseas companies, and government agencies—during this job fair.

Most of the local jobs offered were production workers, service crew, assemblers, production operators, and cashiers. However, there are also job offerings overseas for factory workers, domestic helpers, nurses, and other personnel.

Labor Day


Venues and Specials Events for Celebrating the Labor Day in the Philippines

Don’t know where to go during Labor Day in the Philippines? Check the list below.

Malls and Convention Center

The government hosts the annual job fairs in malls and convention centres across the country. It is the perfect venue because of accessibility and space. Just remember to go early to avoid long queues upon entrance. Do not forget to prepare your resume and important identification cards and documents.


This is where the mass demonstration of various labor groups is held. It is highlighted by the colourful banners about various labor-related advocacies and very detailed effigies of political figures. If you are ready to participate, have with you a water bottle and umbrella to beat the heat.


This does not require further explanation anymore. As mentioned earlier, this is the venue of one of the most awaited parties in the country. Just make sure to book your flights and hotels early.

Anywhere But Boracay

Boracay Island can be pretty crowded because of the LaBoracay celebration. So, it is advisable to look into other places as well if you want to have a get-away on the same day. Palawan and Cebu are great destinations as well because of their scenic beaches.

Labor Day