Because Every Day is International Workers’ Day

Photo by Michelle Ortuoste-Rollenas

by Reyna Ramolete Hayashi

Because every day is International Workers’ Day I send love, gratitude, & hustisya to all of the powerful, loving, and courageous workers I shared space, histories, and healing with in my motherland.

To my ancestors who worked, lived in relationship with, and honored the sacredness of the land that nourished them. To my family in the Philippines that continues these practices to this day;

To my mother, grandparents, and ancestors who were forced to migrate from their motherland due to the violence of imperyalismo, pyudalismo, and kapitalsmo;

To my uncles and cousins who worked picking asparagus in California, and in fish canneries in Alaska;

To my aunties and cousins who worked as domestic workers, care workers, health workers, and hotel workers in Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the US;

To MUFAC (Municipal Farmers Association of Carigara) in Carigara, Leyte who began their farming cooperative after Typhoon Haiyan annihilated their livelihoods, and are being targeted, harassed, and murdered by the military who accuse them of being NPA (New Peoples’ Army) for simply organizing to demand justice, accountability, and reparations from their government;

To the mineworkers of CTP (Clarence Ty Pimentel) and Mark Ventures in Carascal, Surigao Del Sur, Mindanao who were displaced from their livelihoods of subsistence farming and fishing after nickel mining poisoned and decimated their lands, making 240 pesos ($5) a day in the mines and fighting like hell with the KMU (Kilusang Mayo Uno) for union recognition, reinstatement, a wage increase, a cost of living allowance, and health and safety in the mines;

To NAGAMI small scale people’s mining cooperative outside of Surigao City, who are continuing their ancestral practices in sustainable small scale gold mining, using their hands, shovels, and picks, and prohibiting the industrial machinery, deforestation, and toxic chemicals used by foreign multinational, large scale, extractive mining, refusing to destroy our mother earth for her minerals;

To the indigenous Manobo community in Hanayan, Surigao del Sur, and the 22 Lumad communities who are members of MAPASU (Continuing Struggle for the Next Generation) fighting for & building cultural, political, and economic sovereignty, formed their own self-government, subsistence agricultural economy, alternative indigenous schools, and people’s court, in the face of continued military and paramilitary occupation and repression, the kidnapping, torture, and murder of its communities leaders, all to pave the way for logging and mining in their jungles; Yours whose land-based indigenous resistance, economic, political, and cultural autonomy has proven powerful enough to continuously beat back logging, mining, and agribusiness from encroaching on your ancestral lands;

I am humbled to call you my sisters and brothers in struggle. When figuring out how to shape and engage in immigrant worker resistance in solidarity with indigenous resistance here in Hawai’i, I look to you. I see your smiles. I hear your voices. I cry your tears. I retell your stories. I sing your freedom songs. I feel your blood coursing through me. I feel the weight of your lineage … in my bones, in my heart, and in my work. May I let your love, wisdom, experience, intuition, spirit, courage, beauty, and power run through me.

You are my roots, my teachers, my mentors, my compass, and my living proof, not only of what resistance and revolution can and should be here in the US, but that personal, political, and spiritual liberation is not only possible, it is REAL; it’s a way of life and a way of being in the world. Salamat po, mahalo nui loa for that gift, for showing me that impossible is a name we use for things we haven’t yet known or experienced.

Reyna is an activist and organizer who lives in Hawai’i. She wrote this for International Workers’ Day, otherwise known as May Day (May First).

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