Because of the creative hand of the worker, the face of the world is transformed. Human society has become progressive and colorful.
By DON J. PAGUSARA
A driftwood — maybe a twig ripped off from a tree. Or maybe a chipwood torn apart from a fallen log — and carried by the running water of a river to the sea, then tossed about by the seawaves and then stranded on the seashore, may not stand a chance for an engaging attention by a human eye. Or if it catches even an iota of a passing glance by someone, most likely, it would be ignored and be left to time’s decaying cycle.
By the very fact of its driftwoodness, it possesses no value at all. It does not have an equivalent in any amount of money. It is worthless — of no use to man and to human society. Its existence is just an insignificant by-product of the life processes of the planet earth. It’s just garbage.
But the moment it is touched by the hand of a worker and made into a thing of some use to humans, or perhaps, its form and shape is transformed into something that has caught the appreciative valuation of humans; the nature of the poor driftwood is raised to a valuable change. It undergoes a delightful metamorphosis.
It has now acquired a value. It now becomes an object of safekeeping because it has acquired usefulness for the benefit of human society. As such, it has also acquired an equivalent in money value. In fact, it can now be exchanged with another thing of value.
Or it can now be sold for a price. The more useful things are created, the greater amount of value is created. And when value begets more value and begets still more value and so on, it results in accumulation of value or what is commonly called CAPITAL.
Who gives value to the driftwood? No other but the worker — he or she who makes or creates things useful to society. He (she) is the real creator of capital! Not the capitalist!
The capitalist does not produce value. He (she) cheats the worker, exploits the worker, deprives the worker of his (her) just due. The so-called “surplus value,” appropriated unconscionably by the capitalist, is supposed to be the worker’s. It is the product of his (her) skill and labor. The capitalist only knits his (her) brow to devise ways of cheating the worker.
If so, the worker is a noble person. He is worthy of our salutary regard, admiration and, above all, our respect. He (she) should not be scorned and despised and oppressed. Be he (she) a blacksmith, a mason, a carpenter, a mat or basket weaver, a factory worker or an OFW. He (she) deserves our utmost deference for his (her) immeasurable worth as an honorable member of human society.
Such is the honorable dignity of the working man (woman). He (she) deserves to be addressed as “Honorable,” not the charlatans in Congress!
Because of the creative hand of the worker, the face of the world is transformed. Human society has become progressive and colorful. Parks and plazas have been laid and spread on bounded spaces. Streets, boulevards and bridges have stretched across rivers and waterways into infinite lengths. Buildings of all sorts, sizes and heights have modified the landscapes and skylines of towns and cities. Vehicles resembling the creatures of Nature have crawled the streets. Oceans and seas are plowed daily by sea vessels as big as cities. And the skies are no longer the exclusive play spaces of birds, they also apportion passage lanes for airboats and airships.
All of these are the spectacular handiworks of the workers of all races in all places of the world!
But you, Filipino workingman! You, Filipino Anakpawis!
What have been your sad fortunes? How did it happen that you have by your fingernails been scratching the dirt of the rich soil of our lands? Collecting raindrops as large as teardrops from your mothers’ eyes? Whilst your own eyes protrude with dreams dreamt by your ancestors? Since time immemorial?
Since that historical season of our society when the word in your tongue was ripped off and your taste buds dipped in the bitter sauce of slavery, and your knees forcibly bent to adore the white countenance of the foreign colonialists!
The shaft of dream was pulled out violently from your breast, the sprouts of generations of strivings for prosperity were uprooted from your orchards, the victuals you have kept in the pots on your hearth were stolen, and you were stripped of your precious dignity, sweat and blood streaming down your back whiplashed by untold misery!
Then on a momentous dawn in history, the toes of your feet wrote a dream of salvation on the sand. And soon the seedlings of struggle began to grow on the brown land! And the crown of victory glittered splendidly on your head! But O my God! The treacherous Americans came and took away with vile trickery the banner of your liberty!
Since then, in the cogon fields of history the Filipino worker lost the space where he used to tether his dream, hoodwinked by the disguised leaders of the land! Cheated! Cajoled! Fed with lies and promises! The heroic sons of Inang Bayan have since sunk in the mire of infamy!
But who nestled in his heart the soul of the Filipino nation? Who gathered the shreds of our shattered economic life? Is it not the so-called Bagong Bayani — the working men and women whom our leaders have shamelessly made milking cows for their personal selfish ends?
Who have cradled in his (her) lap the prostrate body of Huwan, who has always been betrayed by the occupants of Malakanyang and the reptiles in Congress and the Cabinet men and women and other leeches in government? Who have always nursed the bullet wounds, caught in his palms the teardrops of the victims of militarization? Who have always been at the losing end of the bargain between the landlords and the farmworkers in disputes that result always in eviction of the poor toiling people and or demolition of their houses? And yet who are readily available in emergency situations that require retrieval of dead bodies beneath landslides, rehabilitation of areas devastated by natural calamities or man-made disasters?
Who else but the toiling masses in the urban communities and in the countryside! These are they, the reserved contingent of slave labor exploited by the heartless capitalists — they who are paid measly wages enough for them to return for work the next day, they who do not have enough food for their families, they who cannot send their children to school because of utter poverty.
And the principal apparatus of oppression of the exploiting capitalists — the government machinery — would pay lip service to the nobility of the working people. The President, on May One, would recite sweetened phrases to flatter and cajole the workers to appeasement and inaction. He would mouth what the capitalists have invariably dangled over the heads of the workers every time, words that serves as the logic of capitalist exploitation, namely “industrial peace.”
But, the conscience of the working people of the world knows much better and apt celebratory phrases to fill the air on May Day:
Arise from your sad plight, Filipino workingman!
Arise noble slave workers of the brown race!
Arise and reclaim the fruits of your skill and labor!
Fight for social justice and principled peace!
Install genuine democracy and sovereignty!
Reshape the face of our unjust society!
Don J. Pagusara is a native of Mindanao, a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.davao, Labor Day, workers