My thanks to Cocoy at propinoy.net for the following listing of Philippine holidays:
- January 1 (Sunday) – New Year’s Day
- January 23 (Monday) - Chinese New Year
- February 25 (Saturday) – EDSA Revolution Anniversary
- April 5 (Thursday) – Maundy Thursday
- April 6 (Friday) – Good Friday
- April 9 (Monday) – Araw ng Kagitingan
- May 1 (Tuesday) – Labor Day
- June 12 (Tuesday) – Independence Day
- August 21 (Tuesday) – Ninoy Aquino Day
- August 27 (Monday) – National Heroes Day
- November 1 (Thursday) - All Saints Day
- November 2 (Friday) – Additional special (non-working) day
- November 30 (Friday) – Bonifacio Day
- December 25 (Tuesday) – Christmas Day
- December 30 (Sunday) – Rizal Day
- December 31 (Monday) – Last Day of the Year
The listing has been enlarged by President Aquino's adding of the Chinese New Year to the roster of official national holidays. Not all agree with the decision, especially business people who can ill afford another day of no profit. But the President remains stoic and stalwart.
The roster of Philippine holidays reflects a different set of national celebrations than that of the US, which makes sense, as holidays generally celebrate key elements of history. The Philippine history, as represented in its holidays, has a more religious bent than the US. US holidays tend more toward military recognitions.
The US holidays that are the same, although some are celebrated on different days, are New Year's Day, Labor Day, Independence Day, National Heroes Day (Veterans Day, I suppose, in the US), and Christmas Day.
The US has a President's day, which is a combination of the former separate Lincoln and Washington holidays subsequent to the designation of Martin Luther King day as a holiday. The aim was to not add another day off whilst bringing recognition to the importance of MLK at substantially ending racism in the US. So the holiday for the two presidents was consolidated. The US also has Memorial Day to recognize those who died in wars, and Thanksgiving Day, a family day of thanks originating from the union of American natives and arriving Europeans, in peace.
The peace did not last long.
The US celebrates Easter Sunday, while the Philippines brackets that day with formal recognition of three holidays days before and after, part of a week long religious holiday surrounding the death of Jesus. Similarly, the whole country fundamentally shuts down from Christmas to New Year's Day.
The Philippines is high on revolution, not necessarily with guns, but in spirit: EDSA Day, Ninoy Aquino Day, Bonifacio Day, and Rizal Day.
Not shown in the Philippine national schedule is the local fiesta holiday, which generally lasts about a week. The larger the city, the more active the schedule, from sports events to street dancing and parades to beauty contests, and of course, a disco or two with really loud music.
In the US, there is a fundamental law that banks cannot close for more than three days in a row, so the long national holidays typical of the Philippines are not allowed. Good Friday is a half-day off by tradition; it is not recognized as a national holiday. Nor is the last day of the year, New Year's Eve, recognized as a national holiday. But it is a blow-out nonetheless.
All Saints Day is celebrated as Halloween in the US. In the US it is not a national holiday nor a religious holiday nor a day of respect for the dead, but a fun day for kids to dress in costumes and rampage the neighborhood in search of bags of candy. Valentine's Day is another fun day in the US, not official, but great for the greeting card industry.
I think President Aquino's adding the Chinese New Year to the calendar is a brilliant strategic repositioning of the Philippines into Asia and out of the sphere of prior dominance, the US. The Chinese New Year is the center of Asian celebration, and the Philippines ought to be there.
I'm sure there will be some who will criticize the substantial number of holidays in the Philippines. But I find that it reflects the true celebratory spirit of Filipinos, the enjoyment of mixing faith and family and good times. And, in a way, it correctly reflects the laid-back spirit that causes the nation to have priorities other than productivity.
I can't say those priorities are bad. I do wish productivity were a little more robust, to keep up with the overabundant birthing that transpires after such lengthy holiday periods filled with . . . well . . . fun. And to put a dent in poverty and inject a deeper level of fun into the nation.