Labor Day in the Philippines was borne out of workers’ demands for fair working conditions and just wages, as thousands marched to the seat of power in Malacanang in 1903. Decades later, workers continue to march on the streets for the same demands, as they continue to sustain our economy with livelihoods that have become the lifeblood of our communities. 

A couple of days ago, we received news that the Bangsamoro region had the second-fastest growing economy in the country in the past year. The Bangsamoro government feels pride and finds relief in this good news, because it tells us that our collective efforts in the midst of the pandemic have paid off. This, however, would not have been possible if not for the workers whose labor have built and rebuilt our communities, time and again.

We offer our every deed to Allah, and our work is an offering made in faith. As we commemorate this year’s Labor Day, we reap the fruits of our labor as the world slowly but surely springs back to life. We have weathered the worst days of the pandemic, and even then we continue to be accountable for each other as we take care of one another. 

This sense of responsibility towards ourselves and others is of utmost importance, especially during a global pandemic. In the same breath, those of us in government, civil society, and the private sector must embrace and fulfill our responsibility to uphold the rights of every worker, especially those who remain at  the frontlines of keeping the pandemic at bay. We must also acknowledge and address the needs of those who have lost their means of living, and extend our support to those who need it the most. As we turn a new page in our country’s history, we must not simply rebuild the world of old. We must build our world anew, and bring those who have been pushed back to the margins back to the fore.

Now more than ever, we must remember the lessons of the past, build on our shared struggles in the present, and work together towards a future where rights and freedoms are upheld and protected.