Ambivalences in Cohesion and Dissociation Framing of Labor Migration in Philippine Presidents’ Labor Day Speeches (1974 to 2016)

  • Jonalou S. Labor University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Knulp D. Aseo University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Meghan Therese M. Reyes University of the Philippines Diliman


How do Philippine presidents frame their Labor Day speeches? What strategies do they employ to address the concerns of labor migrants? This paper answers these questions by applying textual analysis to 26 recorded and transcribed speeches covering the period of 1974 to 2016. Through framing analysis, which finds binding threads of tactics that enabled these national leaders to shape their stance about labor migration issues in the country, this paper argues that political leaders select and sustain common yet ambivalent and nuanced forms of cohesion and dissociation frames to appeal to their audiences. Philippine presidents position themselves strategically through the discursive use of cohesion frames by emphasizing the role of unity-through-sacrifices that the government has taken in order to protect the workers and by repeating unity-by-surrender to remind the workers that they have to give up their desires for additional worker benefits. Further, the presidents have used the discourse of dissociation to frame themselves as heroes who are able to solve the would-be issues of labor migrants and willing to fight along with the workers against common antagonists. In this research, seemingly innocent special occasion speeches like Labor Day speeches are seen as platforms not only to commemorate the value of labor migrants but also to reassert the power of the state to proclaim itself as a protagonist in its own myth.