Why do you work?

“The dignity of work is founded on love” – St. Josemaria Escriva
Why do you work? For whom do you work?

Some of us, work because of the paycheck, status or because its a requirement in life. These are the usual motivations of the corporate or formal workers.

But have you looked around towards some of the informal workers: like street vendors, the garbage man, and the pedicab drivers.

They do not have enough formal education to work at multinational company, climb the corporate ladder and enjoy big paychecks with security benefits.

What they have is faith and a great motivation: their love for their family. With faith and love as their only credentials, they work against any odds as long as it is an honest and dignified work –this is the story of most informal workers.


Today, while we are celebrating Labor day, I met the family of Mary Grace, she has 2 children. Together with her husband they sell used clothes and items (“Ukay Ukay”) along  post  office area park.

With the help of her other family members who collect plastic bottles or reusable things from the garbage and sell it (“kalakal”) they earn money as a family.


Ms. Emelda, a street vendor (Photo by: Shirley Paynor)

Aling Emelda, is another worker I encountered. She has been a store vendor since 1991, she resigned from her formal work in a cigarette company before she started being a vendor because of  a misunderstanding with her employer.

To keep up with the demands of income supporting the basic needs of her family, she decided to put up a small “sari-sari cariton store” along post office. Her daily income is just enough for her family, she earns Php 400 pesos on an average day.

Even if she stopped working in the formal sector, she continue her contribution – voluntarily – to the Social Security System and PhilHealth. She trusts that she will get sufficient pension and  help in her medical needs.

Ms. Emelda just turned 65 years old last December and she submitted all the requirements to SSS so they’re now waiting for the monthly pensions. She continues working with the hopes that their daily earnings from the small store and the pensions from SSS will be more than enough to support all their necessities, especially her children and grandchildren.

“Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery” – Blessed Mother Teresa

If you get tired from your current work in the office, inside an air conditioned room, in front of a computer… just look around you — look to the informal workers: the vendors, janitors, bus/jeep/pedicab driver, and garbage man working under the scorching heat of the sun, exposed to air pollution and handles dirty stuffs.

Informal work, we may think of it as a menial job – but do not miss out that this it is work out of love for the sake of their family.

Celebration of Labor Day is honoring all the workers from all walks of life for all the sacrifices they made, for the love and sacrifices they put into their work for their loved ones. (Written by: Shirley Paynor)

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