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Too many non-working holidays spoil the economy

Let us fix the drainage system! Time to assess. The problem is not so much the typhoons with rains that go away in time, but how much Bicol communities can absorb the massive volume of rainwaters that come their way -- from former Sorsogon City Mayor Sally Lee.

After the Holy Week, I was ready to drive to work last Monday. I had a full schedule of exciting activities lined up for the day. I even gave last-minute instructions to the staff about what to prepare for my arrival. I checked for the replies before I happily hopped in the car.

Holy smoke! “Mam, holiday po ngayon,” came the screaming texts, exclamation points, and crying and open-mouthed surprised emojis. I just realized I failed to scroll up my messages the day before, Easter Sunday. There was a post about a “long weekend advisory” and a Memorandum from Malacanang, signed by the President. Since Araw ng Kagitingan falls on a Sunday in 2023, the President declared April 2023, a Monday, as an additional non-working holiday. I missed that crucial information. I could have made use of an extra day doing something else more productively.

Then, further up the long unopened messages, there was one from a friend who joked about more holidays coming because public holidays may fall on a Sunday, so Monday would also be a non-working holiday the following day!

I believe and practice the old saying, “All work and no play makes a dull person.” Life is boring and monotonous with an all-work, 24/7 busy mentality. The reason we work is to have a life. Working without time to rest kills creativity, enthusiasm, interest, and innovation. I work more with energy and good vibes with a balanced time of meditation, reflection, nature-tripping, and lots of social conversation for change and flexibility.

On the other hand, too much play, idleness, fun and games, Netflixing, and Tiktoking in isolation can also become destruction. Too many holidays in a country of want and deprivation can also be counterproductive. Loss of person-hours of labor to produce and create for the country’s development and improving one’s life can also be distressing.

Being jobless or without work is another related matter. Still, too many holidays affect productivity. Without or little economic activity dampens creativity and productivity. That was why I was serious last week when I announced to my family, friends, and colleagues at work and in various volunteer groups how fortunate we were to have a long four-day hiatus from work. It may be an excellent time for a much-needed break to re-invigorate oneself. For Christians, it was Lent, a period of fasting and abstinence; so too for the Muslims, it was until April 20, the period of Ramadhan. So, the break was very timely indeed. The past weeks were stressful preparations for the last day of re-accreditation with the Philippine Accreditation for Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation or PACUCOA. Everyone on the Management Committee needed a much-deserved respite. How could it not be when Mariners is up to prove again that the school’s maritime programs have met established standards and are worthy of certification to a higher level?

“Let’s have a group outing on a faraway island,” were my parting words before the holiday. Holidays are also a coping mechanism for stress and burnout. But Mitos, 32, who works as a retail sales girl at a fish and squid ball store inside a big mall in Naga City, is worried about the holidays. She, like the majority of the ordinary “no work-no pay” workers like the drivers and lowly employees in establishments, does not like the frequent holidays. It means losing a day’s minimal work pay. Even business owners are understandably worried and opposed to the holiday declarations. MSMEs and workers stand to lose each day without operations.

Holidays and No Work

According to government public information, the Philippines will have 38 public holidays in 2023, including 18 national holidays yearly. Countries like South Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, the UAE, US, the Netherlands, Germany, and France have an average of 7-15 public holidays.. In addition, there are local LGU holidays or declared days of no work and no classes during special occasions. Let us also count the countless religious festivities, including the Penafrancia Feast, Bicol’s most prominent and one of the longest-running fiestas in the country. Typhoons and disasters also cause disruptions.

Today, as I write my column, all six provinces of Bicol are on disaster alert with tropical cyclone “Amang” pulling all government agencies up on high-risk emergency preparedness protocol. Yesterday, an early warning memorandum from the provincial governments of Camarines Sur and Albay called for the suspension of work and classes. I believe this sets typhoon-prone Bicol apart from the rest of the 16 other regions in the country. When typhoons strike, government suspends work and classes. Continuous rains bring water to rise and cause flooding. Bicol has poor drainage systems, urban planning, and unabated deforestation that directly cause prolonged flooding. They pose dangers to the safety of families in many low-lying areas.

Too many holidays and no-work-days declarations? Nothing can beat Bicol regarding having the most considerable number of holidays and days off from work and school compared to other regions. The no-office and no-school declarations add to the list because of typhoons and flooding. Too many non-working days and holidays spoil the economy. Maybe it is worth listening to a former lady government executive who made her city outstanding in her time.

One resolution is to mitigate and help reduce risks. Let us fix the drainage systems in Bicol.


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