Holidays in the Philippines

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Holidays in the Philippines

Date English Name Filipino Name Holiday Type Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Araw ng Bagong Taon Regular Holiday
Chinese New Year Araw ng Bagong Taon ng mga Tsino Regular day Based on Chinese calendar, date varies
February 25 People Power Day Araw ng EDSA Non-working Holiday
(Metro Manila)
Maundy Thursday Huwebes Santo Regular Holiday Thursday, date varies
Good Friday Biyernes Santo/Mahal na Araw Regular Holiday Friday, date varies
Easter Sunday Linggo ng Pagkabuhay Regular day Sunday, date varies
April 9 Day of Valor (Bataan Day) Araw ng Kagitingan Regular Holiday Bataan Death March
May 1 Labor Day Araw ng Manggagawa Regular Holiday
June 12 Independence Day Araw ng Kalayaan Regular Holiday Philippine Declaration of Independence
July 4 Filipino-American Friendship Day Regular day Liberation from Japan by Filipino and American forces
August 21 Ninoy Aquino Day Araw ng Kabayanihan ni Ninoy Aquino Special Non-working Holiday Death of Benigno Aquino, Jr.
National Heroes' Day Araw ng mga Bayani Regular Holiday Last Sunday of August, date varies
November 1 All Saints Day Todos los Santos/Undas/Araw ng mga Namayapa Special Non-working Holiday
Eid ul-Fitr
(Arabic transliteration: Eid al-Fitr)
Wakas ng Ramadan Regular Holiday Based on Islamic calendar, date varies
Eid Al Adha
(End of Hajj [Meccan Pilgrimage])
National Non-working Holiday Based on Islamic calendar, date varies
November 30 Bonifacio Day Kaarawan ni Bonifacio Regular Holiday Birthdate of Andres Bonifacio
December 25 Christmas Day Araw ng Pasko Regular Holiday
December 30 Rizal Day Araw ng Kabayanihan ni Dr. Jose Rizal Regular Holiday Death of José Rizal
December 31 New Year's Eve Bisperas ng Bagong Taon Special Non-working Holiday Last Day of the Year (Official Name)

New Year's Day

New Year's Day, or Araw ng Bagong Taon is celebrated with the family in or outside the house. The year is greeted on the Bisperas ng Bagong Taon (New Year's eve) with a lavish feast, called media noche (literally, "middle of the night"). Round shaped foods, sticky or glutinous rice based foods, and various 12 round shaped fruits for each of the months of the year are served. Traditionally, Filipinos, Chinese, and Spaniards stay at home, the latter serving parties lavishly, which almost always includes a lechon (suckling roasted pig). However, more and more of the younger generation and the recent immigrants such as Americans have popularized the celebration of the New Year in grand hotels, restaurants, in parks, and in streets. Children light firecrackers such as watusi or the sinturon ni Hudas (Judas' belt), while adults spend the night recollecting the year, and, in many families, involves a Bible reading..

Last Day of the Year Celebrations

Citing the Filipino tradition of New Year's day, the Philippine Congress decided to formally recognize December 31 as an annual non-working holiday where it is sandwiched in between two official Philippine holidays Rizal Day and New Year's Day.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, celebrated by the nation's ethnic Chinese, is also recently declared as a working holiday. It is accompanied by dragon dancing, giving of ang pao (red packets of money), and eating misua (wheat noodles) by the Chinese community.

People Power Revolution

On February 25, the People Power Day commemorates the the EDSA Revolution of 1986, when the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos was toppled. Celebrations are held in EDSA Shrine (Our Lady of Peace Shrine) and in the People Power monument near Corinthian Gardens, where the vast majority of the rallies and protests are held.

Holy Week

Holy Week, or Semana Santa in Filipino (from the Spanish Semana Santa), is the only week where the whole country shuts down. It starts with Linggo ng Palaspas or Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday), then continues on until Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday.) Only after Viernes Santo or Mahal na Araw (Good Friday) does the whole country resume its operations. The old Catholic belief that Christ is dead during Good Friday at three o' clock in the afternoon is still prevalent among the rural Filipinos, and so, journeys are not continued. They believe that bad spirits roam around, with no Christ to stop them. After Sabado de Gloria (Black/ Holy Saturday), Holy Week ends on the Linggo ng Pagkabuhay or Dia de Pascua (Easter Sunday), when Catholic churches hold Masses and dawn processions (known as the Salubong). Shopping malls and hotels hold celebrations and Easter egg hunts.

Day of Valor

On April 9, 1942, 12,000 American soldiers surrendered to the Japanese at the tip of the Bataan Peninsula, which juts into Manila Bay in the Philippines. For nearly five months, the troops had fought ferociously against overwhelming odds until they ran out of food, medical supplies and ammunition. As prisoners of war (POWs), they and thousands of Filipinos were taken to a camp run by the Japanese army. This grueling series of marches are now known as the Bataan Death March.

Labor Day

For the Philippine labor movement, the 100th year of the observance of Labor Day was also the year of unemployment.

The first Labor Day celebration in the Philippines took place on May 1, 1903. In a mammoth rally in front of Malacañang Palace that day, the Union Obrera Democratica, while pressing for workers’ economic rights, also put forward the slogan, “Death to imperialism!”..

Araw ng Kasarinlan (Independence Day)

The Phlippines celebrates its Declaration of Independence from Spain on June 12, despite the fact that the true independence day is at July 4, as stated on the Tydings-McDuffie Act. This took place on that day in 1898, at the house of the first Philippine president, Gen. Emilio Agunaldo, in Kawit, Cavite. From the balcony of his house, Gen. Aguinaldo waved the national flag while a band played the national anthem, known today as the "Lupang Hinirang". This scene was immortalized on the now out-of-circulation 5 peso bill, replaced now by a coin with Aguinaldo on it. The nation celebrated its Centennial in 1998. The date of Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12 by President Diosdado Macapagal.

Filipino-American Friendship Day

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines was officially declared independent and inaugurated Manuel Roxas as the first president of the (3rd) Republic of the Philippines. When the date of Independence Day was changed from July 4 to June 12 by President Diosdado Macapagal, he created the Filipino-American Friendship Day to maintain the diplomatic and bilateral relationship of the Philippines to United States. It was celebrated from 1963 until President Corazon Aquino issued a Presidential proclamation removing this Filipino-American Friendship Day from the list of regular holidays. In 1996, President Fidel Ramos has included a July 4 ceremony among an ongoing series of events marking the centennial of the Philippine independence from Spain in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the event.

Ninoy Aquino Day

The Philippines observes the death of prominent Marcos opponent Benigno S. "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. on this day. After three years of exile in the United States, Aquino made the journey home only to meet an assassin's bullet at the Manila airport that now bears his name in 1983. It is created by the enactment of Republic Act No. 9256 on February 25, 2004 during the 18th anniversary of the first EDSA Revolution.

National Heroes Day

The Philippines, on this day, commemorates the celebration of the national heroes. National Heroes day falls every last Sunday of August. It is a regular holiday in the Philippines remembering the Cry of Pugad Lawin by Filipino Revolutionary forces called the Katipunan led by its leader (Supremo) Andres Bonifacio.

Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day)

The Philippines, unlike the rest of the Roman Catholic world, celebrates All Saints Day on this day. Families return to their provinces to clean the tombs of their loved ones and to pray for them. This day is used to be a regular holiday in the Philippines but was changed to a non-working holiday through an Executive Order issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Eid ul-Fitr

The first day of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic calendar, is declared a national holiday for the observance of Eid ul-Fitr, or the Feast of Breaking the Fast (of Ramadhan, the ninth month). It was created by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002; the date advances about 11 days every year in the Gregorian calendar. Many non-Muslim Filipinos are still unfamiliar to the new holiday, and many calendars in the Philippines don't have this holiday listed.

Andres Bonifacio Day

On November 30, 1896, a baby boy was born to Santiago Bonifacio and Catalina de Castro, they looked at the saint of the day on their calendar and named him Andres. We celebrate Bonifacio Day every year on November 30, a date that is sometimes confused with National Heroes Day.

Bonifacio Day is also odd, because heroes -- like saints -- are often remembered more for their death than their birth. Philippine national hero Jose Rizal's birthday, June 19, is a holiday in Laguna province, and the date of his execution, December 30, is a national holiday known as Rizal Day.

Anyone who knows Philippine history will understand why Bonifacio is remembered on his birthday, November 30, rather than the date of his death, May 10, 1897. Unlike Rizal who was executed by the enemy, and other heroes who died in battle, Bonifacio was executed by fellow Filipinos. This was done on the orders of the first President, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, since he was considered an enemy of the state, after the occurrences at the Tejeros convention.

Christmas Eve

The Filipino Christmas is one of the (or the) longest in the world, stretching from even as early as September until the first week of January. Parols, along with other decorations, are set up for the holidays. The Christmas season, therefore, is one of the holidays that Filipinos hold dear.

Christmas Eve in the Philippines is one of the traditions that most families celebrate. It is a night without sleep and a continuous celebration moving right into Christmas Day. As December 24th dawns, the last Mass of Misa de Gallo is attended then preparation begins for the Noche Buena (literally "Good Night" from Spanish) , which is a family feast that takes place after midnight.

The Noche Buena is very much like an open house celebration. Family, friends, relatives, and neighbors drop by to wish every family member "Maligayang Pasko!" (Merry Christmas! in Tagalog). Food is in abundance, often served in buffet style. Guests or visitors partake of the food prepared by the host family (even though they are already full or bloated!). Among the typical foods prepared in the Philippines during Christmas are: lechon (roasted pig), pancit, barbecue, rice, adobo, cakes (Western and native rice cakes), lumpia, etc. There is also an abundance of beer, wine, and liquor, which makes the celebration of Christmas indeed intoxicating!

The streets are well lit and are full of activities. The children run in and out of the house to play, to eat, and to play again. The Christmas Eve gathering provides an opportunity for a reunion of immediate and distant family members. Some families may choose to exchange gifts at this time while others wait until Christmas day.

In general, the center of a family's Christmas gathering is always the lola, the endearing term used for a family matriarch or grandmother, who is deeply respected, highly revered, and always present. Filipinos remember how their lola had their children form a line and step up to receive a small gift of some coins. The older the child, the more coins he or she receives.

Some families even have a talent show during the Christmas Eve celebration. Children are asked to perform such as singing a Christmas song, playing a musical instrument, reciting a poem or doing a dance. The celebrations continue until about 6 o'clock on Christmas morning. Those who cannot attend Mass the night before will go to the morning Mass on Christmas day.

Christmas Day

Rizal Day

See José Rizal. Rizal's Martydom

"Holiday Economics"

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo usually issues proclamations moving the holiday to Friday if a holiday falls on a Saturday or to Monday if a holiday falls on a Sunday. The sole purpose is to enable government and private employees to enjoy a three day weekend holiday. In 2004 she issued a proclamation making Christmas Eve as special non-working holiday and December 27, the Monday after Christmas as special non-working holiday.

While Arroyo's "holiday economics" has been praised for boosting domestic tourism and for encouraging more quality time among members of Filipino families, businessmen are complaining over lost productivity and the hassle of preparing mandatory holiday and overtime salaries in a short period of time.

Other Holidays declared in the Philippines

  • Constitition Day - was declared as a non-working holiday on February 2, 2002 in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the approval of the 1987 Philippine constitition.
  • National Day of Prayer and Fasting - was declared by President Joseph Estrada as a non-working holiday during the 3rd Saturday of November in 1999 and 2000 as advised by Bro. Mike Velarde, his spriritual adviser.
  • Rizal Birth Anniversary - was declared in June 19, 1961 by President Carlos P. Garcia in commemoration of the 100th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal.

Original Source

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