We all look forward to making our lives better regardless of what ‘better’ means for us. We all strive at our own pace, focusing on working hard in order to reach our personal end goals. This is why some of us also look forward to a deserving relaxation time alone or with family, friends and loved ones, especially on Labour Day. It is, after all, the day for the hardworking ones, a holiday meant to honour the efforts and contributions made to have a better life and a community.
But while Labour Day provides the hardworking Pinoys to get a day off, many still do not have the luxury of celebrating the day on their own terms.
Last Labour Day, we asked five different workers how they manage to persevere despite having a job that barely affords them the opportunity to enjoy the holidays, even the one that is intended for them.
Rhea Abiada, 29
“Nung simula mahirap, pero masasanay ‘din ‘yung sarili mo. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung profession mo kaya walang problema. Nakakatuwa kasi sa pedia ako [naka-station]. Nakakatuwa ‘pag ngumingiti na ulit sa ’yo ‘yung mga bata, ‘yung sa una parang hindi na sila magsu-survive pero gagaling sila at pagbalik nila dito ang lulusog na nila.”
(At first it was difficult, but you’ll get used to it. That’s what your profession calls for, so it’s not a problem. I enjoy being stationed at the pediatric ward. It’s great when the kids are finally smiling at you, especially when earlier you worried about their condition and then they recover and come back and they’re all healthy again).
Mary Grace Arca, 31
“Nung una, lumuwas ako dito sa Cavite para mangamuhan para maging mas malaya ako. Pero gusto ko talagang makatulong sa pamilya ko. Syempre mahirap na hindi ko sila nakakasama pero na-realise ko na mahirap talaga ang buhay namin sa probinsya. Kulang talaga. Kaya natanggap ko na ako ‘yung nasa posisyon para makatulong sa kanila.”
(At first, I moved to Cavite to work as a housekeeper so that I could live independently. But I really wanted to also help my family. Of course, it’s hard to be away from them, but I realised how hard our life in the province truly was. It really wasn’t enough. So, I’ve accepted that it’s my responsibility to help).
Marlon Bucad, 30
“Mas mahirap pa nga pag sinesermonan ako ng asawa ko. Pagdating sa pangarap, wala, masaya na ‘ko sa gan’to. Ang pangarap ko na lang ay para sa mga anak ko. Gusto kong mapatapos ko sila.”
(Getting nagged by my wife is harder. As far as dreams go, I’m already good with what I’m doing. My only dream is for my children. I want them to be able to finish school).
John-John “Ambo” Maeso, 29
“Mahirap ‘pag mainit. Pati na ‘din ‘pag umuulan. Mahina kita. Pangarap ko kasi magkaroon ng motor para lagyan ng sidecar pang-service. Para kahit umuulan, kahit walang benta, may pagkakakitaan pa rin ako.”
(It’s challenging when it’s too hot. The same when it rains. Sales are slow. My dream is to buy a motor that I can attach a sidecar to and then use for [school] service. So even if income from selling taho is low, I’d still have another way of earning money).
Juliet Carrascal, 50
“Kahit Pasko man ‘yan o baha, nagbebenta pa din ako dito. Minsan hindi na nga ako nakakauwi sa amin. Wala kasing papalit. Pero okay naman kasi dito na lang ako kakain. Bibili na lang ako ng makakain, at may makakain naman sila doon sa bahay. Nalilibang ako dito. Nauubos ‘yung oras ko. Masaya siya, marami kang nakakausap, marami kang nakikilala at marami kang nae-experience. Dito na ‘ko tumanda. Mahilig kasi ako magsugal dati. Lagi akong nagsusugal, pero pagkatapos kong magsimulang magtinda, natanggal na lahat ng bisyo ko. Imbis na magsugal ako, e di magbenta na lang ako. May kikitain pa ‘ko.”
(Whether it’s Christmas or even if there’s a storm, I remain at this post to sell goods. Sometimes, in fact, I don’t get to go home anymore as there’s nobody to take over my post. But that’s okay. I can just buy food and have my meals here knowing my family has food on the table at home. I enjoy my work here. The time just passes by. You get to talk to a lot of people; you meet a lot and you get to experience many things. I’ve spent a good number of years here. I used to gamble a lot but after I started being vendor here, I stopped all my vices. Instead of gambling, I might as well just sell and earn.)
The working Filipino has many different faces. He could be Ambo, who continues striving to earn more for his family. She could be Mary Grace, persevering for her family despite being away from them. This present-day hero could be Marlon, chasing not their own dreams but for others. Or she could be Rhea and Juliet, who see their roles as something more than a job but rather as a vocation and a source of joy.
No matter the kind of worker one is or the kind of job he or she has, anyone who makes an honest living should be celebrated for their hard work and contributions to their family and communities. We salute our fellow Filipinos who face life with great optimism and perseverance to make lives better.
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