Anyone who’s ever worked with Filipino remote talent would tell you that they’re generally a very hardworking bunch. To provide for their families, they often work through sickness, inconvenience, and on several holidays.
So, while their office-bound counterparts typically get local non-working holidays off, remote workers are still grinding away. Most foreign clients don’t recognize PH holidays. This is understandable because these don’t apply to their businesses, which still need to operate on such days. And Filipino remote workers would rather keep toiling than take unpaid time off.
There is, however, one holiday season that even the most hardworking Filipino remote worker will pause for. (Though calling it a holiday somehow feels wrong, as you’ll see).
I’m talking about Holy Week.
When Does Holy Week Start?
The season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the forty-day period. This ends on Easter Sunday, so Holy Week begins a week prior, on Palm Sunday.
In Catholic countries, it’s business as usual from Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday. They typically hold ceremonial rites in the period between Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, which covers Good Friday and Black Saturday.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, while Good Friday is all about the Passion, or rather, the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Black Saturday, on the other hand, invokes the darkness of the tomb. Of course, Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. It also officially marks the end of both the Lenten season and Holy Week.
Catholicism in the Philippines: What Observing Holy Week Traditions Means For Remote Workers
With an estimated 86% of the population identifying as Catholic, the Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country that observes Holy Week on a national scale.
Thus, it’s no surprise that there’s no shortage of Holy Week traditions.
There’s the traditional pabasa, which involves reading or chanting verses about Christ’s suffering. This begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Maundy Thursday, which is when the Washing of the Feet is usually re-enacted. Some Catholics also like to do a Visita Iglesia at this time, where they visit seven churches and pray at the Stations of the Cross at each one.
Good Friday is an exceedingly sombre affair. This is the crux of the entire Lenten season, so practicing Catholics abstain from meat the entire day, or go on a fast altogether as they pray and reflect. Even the most vibrant cities emit radio silence at this time, and things don’t go back to normal until Easter Sunday.
Holy Week is sacred to Filipino Catholics, even if the younger ones increasingly prefer to hit the beach during the holiday rather than go to church. Still, there’s a good chance that your remote workers will be doing more of the latter. Plenty of practicing Catholics on this side of the globe see Holy Week not just as an opportunity to rest and reset, but also to reflect on their faith and to carry out their devotions.
What You Can Do As An Employer
For starters, don’t act too surprised if your remote workers ask for some time off for Holy Week. This holiday is sacred to many Filipinos and their families, as we’ve just established.
Secondly, if it really won’t be possible for you to give your remote staff time off, you can offer to either pay those coming in on those days a little extra. Allowing them to work in shifts can also make things more bearable, without compromising your business’ functionality.
Lastly, just be respectful. It doesn’t matter if your Filipino staff will be spending the Holy Week at the beach or in church. They could do with a break every now and then when they work so hard for you, and this is their chance to do just that.
Centuries of Western influence have all but closed the cultural gap between Filipino and Western culture. Thus, many Westerners find Filipinos a lot easier to work with, which is a bonus on top of their competitive rates.
However, it’s still important to meet them halfway, especially if you want a harmonious and lasting working relationship. Respecting their observance of Holy Week rituals as much as you can is one way to do this. You can bet that your staff will appreciate it more than you realise.
Remote Staff has more than ten years of experience in recruiting and onboarding top Filipino remote talent for various AU entrepreneurs. We’ve assisted countless AU SME’s in navigating their working relationships with their Filipino remote staff to ensure the best possible outcome for both sides.