Holidays and holy days – Manila Standard


A recent news item that caught my particular curiosity was the proposal of Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas to declare December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holiday.

I studied in a Catholic school where December 8 was a very special day, what we Catholics called a “holiday of obligation,” which meant having to go to Mass, and as much as possible, taking the sacrament of communion.  The House majority floor leader is a devout Catholic and a Marian devotee, which is quite admirable.

The proposal may go against the grain of what the Constitution declares as the doctrine of separation of Church and State.  But then again, how come we already have holidays that in the strict sense of the word, are holy days of certain religions?

And on another note, do we not have so many holidays in this country, national or local, regular or special?

Let us enumerate:  January 1, New Year’s Day; Chinese New Year (to celebrate the first day of the lunar calendar year, the date of which varies from year to year); February 25, Edsa Day; Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday (movable holy days declared as holidays); April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan; May 1, Labor Day; June 12, Independence Day; August 21, Ninoy Aquino Day; August 28, National Heroes’ Day; November 1, All Saints’ Day (and oftentimes, either the previous day, October 31, or the following day, November 2 or All Souls’ Day, are likewise declared special holidays; November 30, Bonifacio Day; then Eid Al Adha and Eid-el Fitr, which have varied dates and are Muslim holy days; then December 25, Christmas Day, though hardly anybody reports for work on the 24th as well; and finally, December 30, which commemorates the martyrdom of Jose Rizal.

Then of course, there are the LGUs’ foundation day, and some of them are declared by the Office of the President itself for certain localities, such as August 19 is a holiday in Quezon City and the Province of Quezon, and who knows whatever other municipalities are named after President Manuel Luis Quezon.  Or the birth of Jose Rizal, a holiday in Calamba, the national hero’s birthplace, and perhaps countless other towns named after Rizal.  And so forth and so on.

There is also the town fiesta, a Catholic holy day which the mayor declares as a special holiday in his territorial jurisdiction.

And finally, days which the Office of the President declares as special holidays to avert traffic jams, or to spare visiting dignitaries from such traffic jams.  This year we had plenty of those, because we were hosts to the 50th anniversary of Asean, and in 2015 likewise, when we hosted the Apec Leaders’ Summit.

And when we have calamities, such as typhoons or heavy rains causing floods, we likewise declare holidays, especially for schools and universities.

Given that Saturdays and Sundays are no-work days for office personnel, including civil servants, although daily wage earners work on Saturdays as well, and given further that there are paid sick leaves and paid vacation leaves, the question we ought to be asking is:  how many productive manpower-days are inputed to the nation’s economy by the work force in a year?

On the issue of holy days becoming holidays, with the government having recognized Catholic, Muslim and even a Chinese feast day, what happens when the Iglesia ni Cristo also asks for a holiday?  Or the Protestant denominations?  Then how do we invoke separation of Church and State?

There oughta be a law, as the Americans say.  Many foreign investors rue the penchant for so many holidays, because productivity suffers.

We’ve tried moving holidays to the nearest Friday or Monday, as the Americans do, but if this was started by Pres. Erap and Pres. GMA, we reverted to the “bungi-bungi” holidays during President PNoy’s watch.

And there is such a thing as work inertia.  Right after a long holiday, the quality of productivity suffers.  So too does the anticipation of a long holiday affect the quality of work.

No better example of this is our loooong Christmas holiday season.  Hardly any work is done from December 15 onwards in many offices, most certainly in government.  Time is wasted on Christmas parties, where every section, every department, every division insists on their “own” party, instead of a single, consolidate party for the entire agency.

Ditto for the Holy Week.  Everyone is just plain lazy to do work, or goes on a long holiday.

Let me share a thought, even if I know everyone and his mother will not agree.  They will call me a killjoy, whatever.

Except for January 1, bunch together all the holidays from February to May and charge all of these to Holy Week.  Then declare no work for the entire Holy Week, with BPOs and those requiring continuous work (even Good Friday is not a holiday in many countries) being getting overtime pay.  Thus, February 25, April 9 and May 1 are charged to the “work” days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Maundy Thursday down to Easter Sunday.

Then bunch up all the holidays from July to December and charge all these to December 24 to January 1.  So, August 21, August 28, November 1, November 30 and December 30 are all charged to the period between December 24 to January 1, when the entire work force is on “forced” vacation.

As for Independence Day, that is retained as is, on June 12, and every civil servant, the military included, must commemorate the day in their respective localities, with the next day declared as a rest day as well.  There must be a grand parade at the Luneta with all government agencies sending huge delegations to fill up the Luneta Green fronting the Grandstand, and listen to the address to the nation of the head of state.

Forget Chinese New Year.  As for Eid al Adha and Eid al Fitr, let them be special holidays in Mindanao, and excuse all Muslim workers for being absent on these holy days.

You want to build, build, build a nation?  Then work, work, work!

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