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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Holy days and holidays

"This is another legacy proposal for the President’s political bucket list."

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Undas is an annual holiday—rather, holidays because whatever is proclaimed by Malacanang is always made a two-day affair by Filipinos by combining the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day into a must-celebration.

Celebration, rather than commemoration, either of the saints or the dead.

These are practices difficult to expunge due to long-held tradition, but then again, with a president like Duterte, nothing should be impossible.

Undas is a take-off from the Mexican Dia de los Muertos (as well as other Central American countries like Guatemala), and is supposed to be an abbreviation of Un Dia por los Almas y los Santos.

In Taiwan, they have a Tomb-sweeping day, which is also a holiday, followed by Children’s Day (a bit weird, the dead followed by the children) so folks could have a long holiday.

I have always advocated that we should visit our departed family members on their birthdays and/or death anniversaries for very practical reasons.  The cemeteries will not be deluged by hundreds of thousands (in Manila even a million), and would be evenly distributed through 365 days.

Flowers and candles will not have an annual price spike, but their shops would be patronized all year round.  And instead of celebration, we would have real commemorations in the relative peace of the cemetery.  Workers can plan their leaves ahead of time, and there would be one or two days of no-productivity less in our calendar.

President Duterte and his Cabinet should make a review of our holidays and holy days and put some sense into celebrations and commemorations.

Remembering should not be confined to specific dates, with the exception perhaps of One, our National Day or Independence Day; and Two, holy days of our major religions, such as Good Friday and Christmas Day for Catholics, and the Muslim holy days (for both religious and political reasons).  And please, no holiday for Chinese New Year, even if many of us are tsu-zi-ya or hua-quiao (Chinese mestizoisie).

All other commemorations should be on movable dates, so as not to disrupt the inertia of work, and thus, productivity.

If I had my druthers, I would have two very long holidays, one where all the holy and holidays are lumped together, to coincide with the Catholic observance of Holy Week.  So from Palm Sunday all the way to Easter Monday, or a total of nine days, for all of us to go to the provinces or even plan long vacations.

The next long holiday would start on December 23 and end January first of the following year, for a total of ten days, or move that to December 24 until January 2.

All holidays for the first half of the year are charged to the March or April long holiday, (Bataan Day, Labor Day, and whatever special holidays therein).  All commemorated events for the second half, from National Heroes Day to Bonifacio to Rizal chargeable to the December-January long rest period.

The only exception would be Independence Day, June 12, where the president and all government workers should hold a major commemoration at the Luneta for NCR and in town plazas elsewhere, rather than the mere flag-raising activities where we assign our top officials to preside, in Kawit, before the Rizal monument, or in Balintawak.  The next day, June 13, may be declared a special holiday.

This would make production schedules predictable and work days strictly enforced.  Visiting tombs will be chargeable to the workers’ vacation leaves.  Overtime cost increments can be planned and budgeted.  

And please, no special holidays that mayors or governors can declare, other than calamities.  No city holidays, municipal holidays, provincial holidays commemorating so-called “foundation” days, neither Catholic “fiestas” to celebrate the feast day of patron saints.

Many, I know, will call me a “kill-joy.”  Surely the Sinulog, Ati-atihan, Dinagyang, Masskara and whatever else have you will balk, nay, protest to the highest heavens, their annual phantasmagorias expunged from the calendar.

But mine is just a suggestion, which is why I submit that President Duterte could form a committee among his cabinet members chaired by the Executive Secretary (with DoT, DTI, DoTr, DILG, and a few more) to come up with a more sensible annual holiday plan.

And to ensure that the same is institutionalized, he could certify it as a legislative measure enshrined thereafter as law.

This is another legacy proposal for the President’s political bucket list.

* * *

In the last days of October, Taiwan and the Philippines held both a joint labor conference and a joint economic conference.  The first was held in Taipei to discuss issues regarding our labor force in Taiwan—all 156,428 of them.  The other was about trade and investment matters, which was highlighted by an Investment Collaboration Summit held in Makati, where some 200 Filipino-owned firms had business-to-business matching sessions with 76 Taiwanese-owned firms whose officers flew to Manila for the occasion.

It was a rather hectic week, so I looked forward to having a nice rest by the beach, bonding with my grandchildren on November 1 and 2.  I went to the airport at around 7:40 pm, already checked-in online, for a flight scheduled at 9:10.  If things went right, I should have been in my pre-paid room at the Mactan Shangri-la around 11 of October 31.

First the turn-around aircraft was delayed.  From 9:10, the ground attendants announced 9:30 arrival of the plane, which meant flying to Cebu around 10 pm.  Then it became another time, until around 11 that night, we were told to go to the boarding gate at Terminal 3’s Gate 118.

 But we had to wait at the descending ramp leading to the tube for some 30 minutes, toddlers and senior citizens included, with nary a word as to when we could board the aircraft.

About half past eleven, we were told to go back to the pre-departure area and sit down while awaiting further announcement.  Then we were told, a few minutes before midnight, that  flight 5J 573 was cancelled, and we could re-book at the ticket counter.

I decided to call the trip off.  Already, I would waste one expensive night’s booking at the hotel.  Scheduled to fly back to Manila on November 2, I would basically use only one-night of a pre-paid two-night stay.  Besides which, I was so tired and furious at the inefficiency of the ground staff of the airline.

Much money wasted; worse, the airline robbed me of precious bonding time and needed relaxation during the holidays.  

The airline:  Cebu Pacific.

Why is it that in our country, hardly any public service, whether water, electricity, telephone, internet service, transportation, all regulated industries, hardly work right?

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