In a bid to boost local tourism, Sen. Raffy Tulfo has filed Senate Bill 1651, seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) 9492, or the Holiday Economics Law, which was enacted in 2007 under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

RA 9492 moves regular and special holidays that fall on a weekend to the nearest Monday. Arroyo’s successor, President Benigno Aquino III, changed this under Proclamation 84.

Tulfo’s bill seeks to revive the Holiday Economics Law but with a twist: The President must issue a proclamation on the first Monday of December setting the holidays of the following year, reports said.

The Philippines observes more than 10 public holidays in a single year. And this has advantages and disadvantages.

For this year, there are 18 public holidays that are already marked on the calendar: 10 regular holidays, six special non-working holidays and two additional special non-working holidays.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is also slated to issue separate proclamations for two Muslim celebrations: Eid’l Fitr and Eid’l Adha. The exact dates of these Islamic holidays will be determined in alignment with the Islamic calendar or the Hijri.

The Philippines will celebrate a total of 20 public holidays for this year. There are also localized non-working holidays like charter days of cities.

The country had already observed its first regular holiday last Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day) and the first additional special non-working day (the day after New Year, which is a Monday).

In the bill’s explanatory note, Tulfo said: “The increase in the number of long weekends can help reduce stress, prevent burnout and promote work-life balance for both employees and students by allowing them to decompress and spend time with their family and friends.”

The holidays are indeed “beneficial since they increase” a person’s “social contacts that cannot be maintained during the working weekdays, and the employees get enough time to relax,” according to the site World Atlas.

However, holidays could have negative effects on the economy of the country, “as the large transactions in a country, especially those related to the banking and the financial sector, may be held up. The finances need to wait for longer periods to be cleared off and become stuck, so in this case the government needs to set up a reasonable set of holidays and relevant accommodations to mitigate the problems that arise from them,” according to the World Atlas.

President Marcos earlier declared more long weekends for 2023 in a bid to aid the tourism industry’s recovery from the pandemic because holiday economics “will help encourage domestic travel and increase tourism expenditures in the country,” he said in Proclamation 90, which declared Jan. 2 a special non-working holiday in lieu of New Year’s Day, which fell on a Sunday.

Holiday economics are only good for people who have the extra money to spend for a weekend getaway; however, for people who are living paycheck to paycheck, long weekends are just temporary breaks from the daily grind in a country where income inequality remains high, the World Bank said.

The World Bank reported in November last year that “the top one percent of earners together capture 17 percent of national income, with only 14 percent being shared by the bottom 50 percent. With an income Gini coefficient of 42.3 percent in 2018, the Philippines had one of the highest rates of income inequality in East Asia.”