Gregorio Aglipay

A history of trade unionism in the Philippines

From the moment it entered the capitalist epoch, the history of the Philippines has been dominated by imperialism, first Spanish, then American. Its strategic position in the South China Sea has placed the country in the forefront of conflicts between rival imperialisms.

The nascent workers' movement in the 19th century, lacking in political experience and separated by vast distances from the more developed socialist movement in Europe, was never able to separate itself entirely from Filipino nationalism. As a result, and despite the remarkable courage of the Filipino workers in struggle, the trade union movement soon became a battleground for the competing imperialist powers, with the different unions acting as clients for this or that power.

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