May Day

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, May 1, 2014

THE fifth month of the Roman calendar is “Maius.” The name May could have originated from this or from the Latin “majors” that means “elders” and is, therefore, the month is dedicated to the old (senior citizens). Others say that it is the term for the upper chamber of the Roman Senate, the “Majores.” This could have come also from “Maia,” the ancient goddess of spring and growth.

We also remember Taurus, the Bull (April 20 – May 20), the second sign of the zodiac and bears a horn symbol. I still remember my Greek Mythology in my English class at Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod. Zeus fell in love with the Phoenician princess Europa. He disguised as a white bull and seduced Europa to ride with him (what a ride!). With her, he swam to Crete where Europa became pregnant (after the ride).

Zeus and Europa had their children: Minos, king and lawgiver of Crete; Rhadamanthus, a famous judge; and Sarpedon, king of Lycia. In my Science class, we were told that the sun crosses the zone of Taurus during the season when fields are plowed with the help of oxen.


May Day, the first of May is Labor Day in the Philippines. (Here in Negros Occidental, it is the fiesta of St. Joseph the Worker at the Municipality of E.B. Magalona.) The day honors workers all over the country. Labor Day is not of Communist origin. In Martial Law era, when students and workers were out in the streets to protest against President Ferdinand E. Marcos dictatorial rule, they were branded as May Day communists.

I was once a part of that and I almost wanted to become a communist. Labor Day came about as part of the capitalist culture. Capitalism magnifies the need of the working class for humane and just labor standards, since workers form the backbone of industry.

Labor Day should have a fiesta atmosphere but here in Negros Occidental, we may see a different scenario. Again (just like in several past Labor Day activities), there will be a long march of workers with their leaders holding streamers and megaphones. They are shouting for social justice, salary increase, land for the landless, agrarian reforms, etc. Some will brand them as sympathizers of the leftist organizations. Others will call them the “true voice of the masses.” The military will suspect them as fronts of the anti-government fighters. I call them fellow Negrosanons who deserve attention.

On May Day of 1898, the battle between the American and Spanish naval fleet broke out in Manila Bay. The battle resulted from the growing global expansionist policy of the United States. (President Barack Obama forgot to tell that to PNoy when he was in Manila. The expansion program was started by America. China makes her own just now.) President Obama could have said that this marked the start of the American Occupation of the Philippines.

The American forces, with the flagship “Olympia” and three cruisers (Baltimore, Raleigh, and Boston), were led by George Dewey. The Spanish forces, with the flagship “Reina Cristina” and nine combat vessels (Castilla, Don Antonio De Ulloa, Don Juan de Austria, Velasco, Isla de Cuba, Isla de Luzon, Marques del Duero, General Lezo and El Cano), were led by Patricio Montojo y Pasaron. The battle started in the early morning and was over by noon, with the Americans emerging as victors.

On June 20, the first American reinforcements arrived in the country. Using various pretexts, they took over positions occupied by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, until all Filipino forces were relegated to the background. (What a pity!). The Filipino revolutionaries were not allowed to enter Intramuros, thus depriving the Filipinos of the victory that was rightfully theirs. (President Obama should have known that.)

And this is another cinematic event in our history (almost a blockbuster). The mock Battle of Manila Bay took place on August 13, 1898 (a reenactment of May Day Battle of Manila Bay). After a few token shots, the Spaniards “surrendered” to the Americans (dramatically). This marked the birth of the United States as a Pacific and world power. Do we understand that? US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin could have understood that before signing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

History is the best teacher. Many do not love history because there is always war in history. From this day onwards… America, Philippines and China will make history. Is America going to war with the Philippines? Mayday! Mayday! History may repeat itself. Your guess is as good as mine.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 01, 2014.


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