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3 Compelling Documentaries About the Lives of Pinoy Workers

We honor them and others this Labor Day.

“Let us pray for all workers, so that no one might be without work and all might be paid a just wage,” said Pope Francis in a May 2020 Mass at Casa Santa Marta. “May they benefit from the dignity of work and the beauty of rest.”

It’s a prayer we must continue to pray, as there are never-ending stories of Filipino workers receiving less than minimum wage for long, grueling hours on the job. Family is what motivates them to go on despite the less-than-desirable earnings and challenging work conditions, and for that, they earn our respect.

“This is man’s first vocation: work,” added Pope Francis. “This gives dignity to mankind. Dignity makes us similar to God.” (Read: 5 Influential Filipina Women Who Prove Hard Work Pays Off)

To commemorate Labor Day, a secular and religious holiday held every May 1, My Pope Philippines celebrates the lives and work of ordinary Filipinos who go through extraordinary lengths to get the job done. These documentaries, which are available on YouTube, are by the GMA Public Affairs show i-Witness.

I-Witness Documentaries: Malampaya, Isang Bakal (2014)

In this 27-minute documentary, Sandra Aguinaldo immerses herself in one of the most dangerous jobs on Earth. She meets the 58 men and one woman working at the Malampaya Offshore Platform (a deep-water, gas-to-power project off the coast of Palawan), unfavorable weather conditions and fatal gas leaks are par for the course.

An 11-kg LPG used at home can burn down an entire barangay, says Shell Offshore Installation Manager Rey Barcebal. “At Malampaya, we operate 400 million standard cubic feet of gas.”

I-Witness Documentaries: Patok! (2018)

Ed Malayo had only gone as far as grade 3 in school. Still, the longtime jeepney driver managed to send all his three children to college through his humble livelihood. Can he afford the government’s Jeepney Modernization Program, where a brand-new, fully loaded model will set him and other drivers back by at least P1 million?

Howie Severino investigates in this thought-provoking documentary. (Read: Amid Issues on Rice Trade, How Do We Support Filipino Farmers?)

I-Witness Documentaries: Kawayang Alkansiya (2019)

Kara David follows the journey of the Aeta couple, Sayda and Arthur Corpuz, in this eye-opening 30-minute documentary. The two are among the many indigenous Aetas whose lives were disrupted by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Every year in December, they would travel from Zambales to Manila to sell their wares— alkansiya made of bamboo.

More than making money to survive, selling souvenirs, Arthur hopes to elevate their image in the eyes of city folk who see them as nothing more than beggars. 

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