Filipino Holidays: How to Plan A Vacation Policy to Meet the Needs of Filipino Virtual Workers and Your Business

a smiling Filipino Virtual Assistant holding the headset micIf you work with virtual assistants from the Philippines, it is best you know about Filipino holidays and how this could impact your practice. Doing so will also give you the chance to plan your leave policies while taking your virtual team’s vacation needs into account.

Some people have strong religious beliefs that are important to consider. This is especially true of people who live in the Philippines. Furthermore, employees who take time off from work for vacations tend to perform better at work than people who work through each holiday. The latter tend to have more stress-related work experiences, which may lead to health issues.

While the American work culture may thus vastly differ from those of your Filipino virtual workers, people in both countries risk burnout if they never take any time off. So, if you incorporate a flexible environment that takes Filipino holidays into account, you are more likely to end up with a thriving business and a happy, healthy virtual team that stands by you through thick and thin. And they may be willing to even go that extra mile when needed.

The Different Types of Filipino Holidays

You get three distinct types of Filipino holidays:

  • Normal holidays
  • Non-working holidays
  • Working holidays

Someone with an American background and culture may find it strange that a country can have three types of holidays. So, let us look at what we mean by each.

Normal Holidays

Normal holidays, just like regular holidays in the US, occur on a certain fixed date. Examples of these are New Year’s Day and Christmas. These occur on the same days as in the US. But the Philippines also has more religious and historical holidays than the US. It is best to take these holidays into account when determining your vacation policy.

If your virtual team works according to a certain daily rate, you should pay them for the day even if they do not do any work. However, if they work on such a holiday in the Philippines, they will get 200% of their daily wage.

If your virtual assistants work hourly, you could consider a workaround by increasing their daily hours a few days before and after these holidays so that they can make up for any potential lost time worked. This will ensure they receive their regular salaries while you have the peace of mind that the work gets done.

Non-Working Holidays

The Philippines is a country made up of diverse cultures. This, in turn, means that they have many holidays that do not necessarily affect everyone in the population. But these Filipino holidays may affect some of your virtual assistants.

In the Philippines, while people have the right to take off from work to observe these holidays, they do not receive any compensation. Yet, if they do observe these holidays but decide to go to work, they typically receive an extra thirty percent of their daily salary.

So, please also take these non-working holidays into account when determining your leave policy. Also, like before, if your virtual assistant has an hourly wage, you can try to accommodate them by allowing them to work extra hours before and after these holidays if you do not want them to work on these days.

Working Holidays

The Philippines has three working holidays: All Soul’s Day on 2 November, Christmas Eve on 24 December, and New Year’s Eve on 31 December. While most businesses close on these days, a few remain open for a few hours.

If people want to work on these days, they will receive only their normal pay rate. If your Filipino virtual assistants want to work on these days, their normal rate would apply.

The Most Important Filipino Holidays

People from the Philippines make much of the different holidays. So how could these holidays affect your different virtual assistants? And which holidays are they most likely to celebrate?


Most of the people living in the Philippines are Roman Catholics. They may start preparing for Christmas as early as September and kick off the Christmas season by attending mass on the 16th of December. They may also close their businesses early on 24 December, Christmas Eve. It is also perfectly normal for people to take off from work a few days before Christmas due to traveling long distances to meet with their families.

Because of the proximity to 1 January, many Filipinos go on vacation until after the New Year.

As someone who employs Filipino virtual assistants, you should thus make sure you know their holiday plans in advance so that you can make the necessary arrangements that suit your business.

Holy Week

Holy week extends from Palm Sunday through to Easter Sunday. Devout Roman Catholic Filipinos spend this time fasting, praying, and reflecting. Many also travel around to watch plays about the life of Jesus. They may even travel from one province to another to do so. Many non-practicing Catholics or non-Catholics also take this time off as a holiday, even if they do not participate in any of the events. The Thursday to Friday of this event is observed as a normal holiday in the Philippines. Businesses may be open from Monday to Wednesday.

Staff taking time off for a whole week may not fit with your work schedule, but do consider allowing them to take a long weekend. This would happen from Thursday onwards.

November 1 and 2

All Saints Day occurs on 1 November. Filipinos spend this day honoring the saints. The next day, 2 November, or All Souls Day, is spent in remembrance of those who have passed on.

All Saints’ Day is a non-working holiday. All Soul’s Day is a regular working holiday.


The end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, is one of the Filipino holidays brought by the over 6 million Muslims who reside in the country. The holiday heralds the end of the month-long Ramadan fasting period. Deemed a time of celebration, Muslims usually return to their hometowns for the feasting that takes place.

This holiday does not fall on a fixed date. It is determined by the lunar-based Islamic calendar.

The Feast of Sacrifice

Also referred to as Eid al-Adha, this is another holiday introduced by Muslims. Based on the Muslim lunar calendar, this is a time when Muslim families gather to commemorate the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

Chinese New Year

Although relatively small, the Chinese population in the Philippines have made their mark regarding what has now become one of the most well-loved Filipino holidays. Marked by family gatherings and great food, the pomp and spectacles of this holiday make it one where people gather and wish for peace and prosperity for the future.

While most schools and offices close during this time, the date changes yearly because it is based on the lunar calendar.

25 February

Known as EDSA the People Power Revolution Anniversary, the day commemorates the peaceful demonstrations held to overthrow President Ferdinand Marcos. It was an important moment in Filipino history. It was the largest non-violent protest the world has ever seen. This is a non-working holiday. Most businesses are open on this day in the Philippines.

Day of Valor

Celebrated on 9 April, this day commemorates Americans and Filipinos who lost their lives during WW2 while defending the Bataan Peninsula against the Japanese. It is a normal holiday.

1 May

Filipinos refer to this day as Labor Day. Introduced in 1903, they associate this day with country-wide marches and protests. These days, they tend to spend this day with family and friends.

12 June: Independence Day

This holiday celebrates the Philippine's independence from Spain. The country was a Spanish colony for 300 years. Most businesses close on this day. It is highlighted by parades and festivities across the country.

National Heroes’ Day

Another normal holiday, this day commemorates the sacrifices of the unsung heroes of the country’s struggle to become free of Spanish rule.

Bonifacio Day

This normal holiday honors Andres Bonifacio. Considered the Father of the Philippine Revolution, he was one of the founding members of The Katipunan, a secret revolutionary group.

Rizal Day

A normal holiday that commemorates Jose Rizal. He is considered a Philippine national hero and credited with starting the revolution against Spanish rule.

Determining Your Leave Policy

It is important to consider your virtual assistant’s culture when determining your vacation policy. You could go about determining this from various viewpoints.

Consider US-Only Holidays

If your practice or business is based in the US, having all your virtual assistants follow US holidays is the easiest option. But you do have to take people’s religious beliefs and cultural events into consideration if you want a happy workforce.

This approach may work best if your Filipino virtual assistants work in roles where they directly deal with people like in customer service. On the other hand, if you take this approach, nobody may man your business phones, emails, etc., because you and your virtual team may all observe these holidays simultaneously.

Consider Filipino Holidays With Certain Limitations

There are many more Filipino holidays than we have in the US. And as an employer, you would want to keep your virtual staff happy. So, how do you go about coming up with a solution that works for everyone?

Well, you can choose to observe the normal holidays and then, after consulting with your virtual assistants, consider some of the other holidays to adhere to. You could also offer them a set number of Filipino holidays that they can take according to their personal choice.

Unlimited Holiday Time Off

You could allow your virtual assistants the option to observe all Filipino holidays as long as your team has finished their work before doing so. Unfortunately, you would need to rely on your managers to make sure this option works.

Standardized Holiday Times

The easiest way of tracking time taken off from work is by closing the business or medical practice at a certain time each year. In other words, everyone takes a rest at the same time. This could make for easier planning.

In Closing

Filipinos have made a name for themselves as excellent remote workers and virtual assistants. Setting up a winning team that makes use of these professionals is easier than you may think. But do remember that as with any other worker, you need to ensure they have the opportunity to maintain a work-life balance. This is not only healthy, but helps improve trust and loyalty among your workforce.

If you would like to pursue hiring a Filipino virtual assistant or have any questions about how to go about setting up a winning team, the team at Cool Blue VA can help. You can call us at 714-695-8000.

Let us help you find the perfect virtual assistant to take your medical practice to the next level.

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