Text By MARYA SALAMAT
Photography By JO A. SANTOS, MARYA SALAMAT and ANGELICA DE LARA
MANILA — At 33 degrees Celsius, this May 1, so far, was one of the hottest days of summer in the Philippines. From various converging points in Metro Manila, workers and activists used various protection from the summer heat as they marched toward Liwasang Bonifacio at high noon.
A group was lucky enough to have marched under the shadow of the elevated railways, but others had no choice but walk under the sun. Many came with hats and umbrellas, shawls and fans. Some even made fashion statements out of their head gears and used them to convey their demands to the government.
The Gabriela women protesters, for example, who marched with members of Migrante International, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Health Alliance for Democracy, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, from the Trabajo Market in España to a brief lunchbreak at Plaza Miranda, had brought some purple umbrellas — each bearing a letter to form the words SAHOD ITAAS (Raise Wages). Male unionists carrying the same demands but written on bigger, heavier shield-like wood, also used it as shield against the midday sun, while another group used cardboards shaped like LPG tanks. Those who lugged along the effigy of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III on his luxurious Porsche also tried to use its shade, before it was burned at the start of the Labor Day program at the Liwasang Bonifacio.
The Labor Day protest organizers had conveniently pitched two huge circular tents to give the protesters a bit more coverage from the afternoon sun.
Meanwhile, rallyists who brought with them their children stayed close to the water fountain in the middle of the Liwasang Bonifacio, or under the trees, or under the tents. Some who came without umbrellas or hats just used their banners and streamers to cloak themselves from the sun’s rays.
For the estimated 25,000 protesters who joined the 125th commemoration of International Working Peoples Day, the scorching summer heat is nothing compared to their burning outrage over the continuing exploitation and oppression of workers under the Aquino regime, who they claim is serving big foreign capitalists and governments and the local ruling elite at the expense of the Filipino masses.