Today, Filipinos celebrate the second Labor Day whilst suffering from a crippling pandemic that our nation has failed to control.
The combination of an economy that is struggling monumentally, still-surging cases of Covid-19, and the world’s strictest, longest yet most ineffective lockdown; has resulted in the country’s laborers being among the worst affected by a pandemic whose impact was made worse by a lackadaisical government response.
Essential workers risk their lives every day, braving infections as they labor to keep what is left of a battered economy and health care system afloat.
Non-essential workers, on the other hand, have mostly lost their jobs by now. More than a year of lockdowns and quarantines has resulted in the shuttering of thousands of businesses all over the country. Those who thankfully still have their jobs do not know how much longer their employers can hold on.
In better times, the Filipino laborer would be spending Labor Day either taking a break from a workplace that provides beneficial employment or protesting on the streets and fighting for better working conditions. These days, those who are still in the workforce are simply thankful.
Let us commemorate Labor Day by empathizing with the struggles of the Filipino laborer that have been made even more difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic and an ineffective government response. Our society’s dependence on the country’s front liners such as healthcare workers; bank, supermarket, food service and delivery personnel all work every day despite the risks, has been highlighted in the past year and added meaning to today’s holiday.
Unlike this nation’s leaders who like to take credit for any success and pass blame for any failure, it is the country’s laborers who built this country who are mostly responsible for propping it up today. We have seen how our country can survive without quality leadership, but we would certainly be doomed if not for the Filipino laborers who take all the risks and still show up for work every day despite the difficulties.
This Labor Day, thank a Filipino worker.*