National holidays in the Philippines

National holidays in the Philippines

There are several advantages to learning about the national holidays in the Philippines. Firstly, public holidays are a great way of discovering more about Filipino history, tradition, and culture. Secondly, if you have business or personal interests in the country, it’s good to know when public services might be on limited schedules.  

The Philippines shares many holidays with other countries and religions all over the world. These include:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1st 2022).
  • Lunar New Year (February 1st 2022).
  • Ramadan (April 2nd 2022).
  • Good Friday Fri (April 15th 2022).
  • Christmas Day (December 25th 2022).

Below we discuss a selection of holidays in the Philippines and their connection to the country

Bataan Day (Apr 9th 2022)*

Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as Bataan Day and Bataan and Corregidor Day, is a national observance in the Philippines which commemorates the fall of Bataan to Japanese troops during World War II. 

In 1942, over 70,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war were captured by the Japanese in Bataan, in the Luzon region of the Philippines. They were then forced to march 63 miles to a prison camp which was later dubbed the Bataan Death March

That’s because only 54,000 prisoners lived to reach the camp. In 1946 the Japanese commander of the march was convicted by a U.S. military commission and executed.

*Although Bataan Day usually falls on April 9, its celebration was moved to April 6th to avoid it clashing with Maundy Thursday.

Maundy Thursday (April 14th 2022)

The Philippines has the largest Christian population in Asia. Consequently, Maundy Thursday celebrations usually envelop the whole country. 

Maundy Thursday is the day during Holy Week (Semana Santa) that commemorates the Washing of the Feet and Last Supper of Jesus Christ. The word ‘maundy’ comes from the Latin word mandatum meaning ‘mandate’. 

In the Philippines, Maundy Thursday is officially known as Huwebes Santo (the phonetic transliteration of Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) in Spanish).

Did you know? Over 86% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic.

Most businesses are closed during Holy Week, with shopping malls only re-opening on Black Saturday, the day after Good Friday, and the day before Easter Sunday. TV and radio stations either go completely off-air or operate on shorter hours with special programming. Similarly, many newspapers do not publish on Good Friday and Black Saturday.

On Maundy Thursday most Pinoys will visit seven different churches – an ancient practice originating in Italy. In the Philippines the tradition is called Visita Iglesia (Spanish for “church visit”) – where people typically praying in front of the Stations of the Cross – a series of 14 pictures depicting Jesus’s condemnation up until his death and burial.

Labour Day (May 1st 2022) 

Labour Day in the Philippines is a public holiday marked every May 1st to honour the Filipino worker. It is a chance to remember hard-won workers’ rights. Labour Day is also a day for unions to bring attention to current issues affecting workers.

Labour Day was first observed in the Philippines on May 1st 1903 when 100,000 workers marched through Malacañang, demanding fairer working conditions from the ruling U.S government.

On April 8th 1908, the Philippine Assembly passed a bill officially recognising the first of May as a national holiday. The first official celebration of Labour Day took place on May 1st 1913, when 36 unions convened a labour congress in Manila.

Philippines Independence Day (June 13th 2022)

Filipino Independence Day commemorates the anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain. It’s called Araw ng Kalayaan in Filipino and means “Day of Freedom”. Although the anniversary is marked in mid-June, the preparations start as early as mid-May.

Flags, bunting and other decorations are raised well in advance of the anniversary. Additionally, shops and other businesses will also start independence day promotions to increase sales and enthusiasm for the celebrations. 

On the main day, however, festivities centre around the public parade in Manila. 

With schools, banks, and government offices closed, the procession in the capital will feature President Rodrigo Duterte. The Philippine Police and the armed forces will join the President and oversee the procession, including a 21-gun salute and fireworks display. 

National Heroes’ Day (Aug 29th 2022)

National Heroes Day is a public holiday that celebrates the people who helped the Philippines win independence and grow as a nation. Often confused with Philippine Independence Day, National Heroes Day does have strong associations with the country’s independence and the Philippine revolution. 

That’s because both days honour the people (or heroes) who freed the country from Spanish – and later US-rule. Some of the most famous heroic sons and daughters of the Philippines include José Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and Gabriela Silang.

Bonifacio Day (November 30th 2022)

Andres Bonifacio Day is a national holiday celebrated every November 30th, honouring the life of Andres Bonifacio. A founding Philippine national hero, Bonifacio is also known as the “Father of the Philippine Revolution”.

Bonifacio Day is celebrated on the anniversary of his birthday, November 30th 1863, rather than his death, May 10th 1897.

Bonifacio was a leading member of the secret Katipunan revolutionary movement that secured the country’s independence from Spain. From the position of Chief Officer, Bonifacio would eventually rise to Supreme leader of the movement in 1895. 

Rizal Day (December 30th 2022)

Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday commemorating the life and works of José Rizal, a writer and national hero of the Philippines. Rizal Day was first celebrated by President Emilio Aguinaldo on December 30th 1898 as a national day of mourning for Rizal and all the other victims of the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines.

Did you know? Incoming Filipino Presidents are usually inaugurated at Quirino Grandstand which faces the spot where José Rizal is buried.

Rizal Day ceremonies are held all over the country, including at Rizal Park in Manila. The event is normally attended by the President and involves the raising of the Filipino flag, a flypast by the Philippine Air Force, and the laying of a wreath at the Rizal Monument. Due to the timing of Rizal Day, the President will also use it for their end-of-year address to the nation.

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