A CONGRESSMAN from the southern Philippines is pushing for the declaration of the upcoming Chinese New Year to be a special non-working public holiday in the country. His intention is to express gratitude to the valuable contributions of the Chinese-Filipino communities in nation-building.

As per House Bill 2575, the proposed legislation seeks to recognize the contributions of the Chinese in Philippine society and their rich cultural traditions.

It is undeniable that we have a long standing economic and trade relationship with China which reminds me of the Chinese junks and the merchants who then traded earthen and porcelain wares, silk and other commodities from the said country in exchange for our products.

We can still recall Chinese traders who travelled to the Philippines and made barter of goods. The people from China are known for their expertise in commerce and business. In fact, this is true until today.

In our country, the Binondo and the Divisoria areas in Manila are known for Chinese businesses and residences. The former is full of jewelry shops, restaurants and boutiques while the latter is known as the “bagsakan” of almost all commodities and things needed by man.

In the world, there are many countries with their own “Chinatowns” including the United States and Europe. This fact reflects the role of the Chinese in commerce and business activities in respective countries they are in.

Going back to the Philippine setting, we can also see Chinese traders or residents in many provinces and cities in the country. They are known for big or small businesses and have carved their names in the business sector. The richest Filipinos today are in fact former Chinese citizens who have “Filipinized” themselves.

As to the legislative proposal, it also aims to recognize the contributions of the Chinese to our country by making the Chinese New Year a holiday. For this year, the said occasion falls on January 28, a Saturday.

Without opposing the said proposal, I express my scepticism to it since it might create precedence to some other race or nationality who are likewise celebrating their day in our country.

What if the Arabs, the Europeans, the Hawaiians or other nationalities would also invoke that their national days or celebrations of their important occasions be also celebrated or revered in the Philippines?

Besides, business communities would not prefer more holidays within the year since this would mean double pays for their workers and would likewise hamper in their commercial activities such as those involved in production or manufacturing.

In truth, holidays are somehow inflationary are they cause distractions to many economic activities. While they are considered as rights or privileges to many Filipinos, they are sometimes a hindrance to some industries.

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the Chinese New Year and even declaring it a holiday in the country. We must be ready however, to declare also the other important celebrations of other countries in the Philippines.

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