How family businesses and others spend Holy Week

How family businesses and others spend Holy Week

Holy Week is a busy period for us,” says P, the head of a medium-sized fishing business.

“Many people eat fish instead of meat for Lent, so everyone in our company works at this time. We give employees double pay, of course, and make sure that they take off in the middle of the year, when things slow down.

“My two sons and my two daughters are married with children,” P continues. “My male in-laws are bankers who stay in the city at this time—they play golf and mahjong with friends. But the spouses of my sons are homemakers who love to travel abroad. They want to bring the children, even if some grandkids tell me they would rather spend Holy Week playing online games at home. To pacify these in-laws, I pay for business class airfare and five-star hotels, even if I myself just do economy and three-star chains when I travel. I love my sons, but their spouses do not often fit into our family culture.”


“I work every day and I love it,” says T, the founder of a manufacturing firm. “I used to stress out when I travel, wondering what will go wrong in my absence. But two years ago, you advised me to upskill my employees, and some of them can now handle things when I am away. You helped us identify career tracks for half a dozen of them—they got promoted, with huge bumps in pay, and they run the day-to-day affairs of the business during Holy Week. The rest of the employees take the mandated break.


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“Frankly, I still prefer to stay home [during] Holy Week,” T laughs. “But my wife, who works with me, wants a weeklong break, while she is still fit enough to travel. We cannot take off during Christmas, which is a mad time, so our clan takes a cruise [during] Holy Week. Cruise ships have different activities, so my wife and I eat and drink a lot, our children frequent the casino, our grandkids stay active on board.”

How do young people spend Holy Week? Some of my college students, who are financial-aid scholars, return to their hometown and spend Holy Week with loved ones. Sometimes they accompany family for the Stations of the Cross and Visita Iglesia.

Majority of my students, who are economically comfortable, go on vacation, cheered by the fact that Monday and Tuesday of Semana Santa are already no-class “reflection days” in our school.

Prioritizing pleasure above all else

Take this time to ponder what you feel you were called to do in life, I remind them weeks before, but even as they nod politely, their thoughts are filled with beaches and shopping and adventure. And who can blame them?

What I am disappointed in though, is the entitlement shown by youngsters who prioritize pleasure above all else.


Student C said, “Ateneo should return to the June to March school year, like what [the Department of Education] told schools to do. In elementary and high school, we finished classes in early March, so we stayed in Boracay for a month—before, during and after Holy Week. What do you think, Ma’am?”

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“The old calendar accounts for sweltering weather in April and May, so it holds merit,” I said. “But vacationing for a month seems excessive to me.”

“But we only break for a week now, which is not long enough to fly to Maldives!” C said. “I will have to stay longer in Boracay and come back after Easter.”

“Take note of your cuts,” I warned. “You already incurred several absences to see Taylor Swift abroad.”

“I forgot about that,” C said, “but I just had to see her.”

As he was cutting my hair, my stylist J narrated how he and his band of 20 friends planned to motorcycle to Batangas starting on Holy Thursday.

“Stay away from the expressway,” I told him. “We will take the backroads—and where will you go?” J asked.

“We will stay home,” I said. “I will finally read American monk Thomas Merton’s autobiography of faith, ‘The Seven Storey Mountain.’”

J looked at me, and smiled. “And everyone’s out, so no traffic, no crowds, no hassle—you can go anywhere in the city.”

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A blessed and restful Holy Week to all.

TAGS: family businesses, Holy Week

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