Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. V,    No. 13      May 8- 14, 2005      Quezon City, Philippines

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PHOTO ESSAY

Silver Day

The 25th anniversary of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement), observed last week with rallies all over the country, was a day of both joy and grief for those who took part in its observance. So it was in Manila, where the main rally was held.

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Bulatlat

The 25th anniversary of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement), observed last week with rallies all over the country, was a day of both joy and grief for those who took part in its observance. So it was in Manila, where the main rally was held.

The workers rejoiced as they reminisced victories earned in countless fights against tyranny and social injustice: the ousting of two presidents, Ferdinand Marcos, a dictator, and Joseph Estrada; as well as triumphs in countless labor battles including strikes. They also remembered that even before the birth of the KMU it was workers who staged the first open protest action under the martial-law regime, namely the strike of La Tondeña brewery workers in 1975.

But even as they celebrated their hard-earned victories, they also mourned for all fellow workers and friends of the labor movement who in the past 25 years either fell in the line of battle – like Rolando Olalia, the seven slain Hacienda Luisita workers, and Edwin Bargamento; or died of sickness or old age but were dedicated to the workingman’s cause to the very end, like Felixberto Olalia, Sr., Nonoy Librado, Serge Cherneguin, and Isabel “Ka Chabeng” Olalia.

In last Sunday’s rally they reiterated the six-year-old call for a P125 wage increase, even as they called for the ouster of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who, they said, has been working against the interests of the workers and other impoverished sectors.

Of course, like previous Labor Day rallies, last Sunday’s activity was a day not just for workers. Joining workers in their observance of the big day were activists from other sectors.

Artists had designed the giant mural on stage and they gave a variety of cultural performances, migrant workers and their families talked of common problems of Filipino workers whether at home or abroad; scientists came with their computations on the country’s latest hunger and poverty statistics; church leaders spoke of the liberating faith as one that sides with the oppressed.

Peasant leaders spoke of how closely linked are the fights of those who till the land and those who toil in the factories and other workplaces. Danilo Ramos of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement) was as always in his element, speaking of the woes and rage of the peasantry while holding a stalk of palay and a placard demanding a stop to the killings of “peasants who feed the nation.”

Urban poor leader Carmen Deunida was also there with her always-quotable tirades against the current Malacañang occupant, driving the protesters to laughter as she said of President Macapagal-Arroyo: “Mas malaki pa ang nunal niya sa mukha kaysa sa nagawa niya, kung meron man, para sa kapakanan ng manggagawa at ng buong sambayanan” (The mole on her face is bigger than what she has done, if any, for the good of the workers and the entire people).

The long day (the program in Manila lasted from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m.) ended with the workers and other activists raising torches to the tune of the classic “Internationale,” even as they worried that they might be hit by sparks from the fireworks that exploded above them. Bulatlat

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© 2004 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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