December 30 is a special non-working holiday in the Philippines, known as Rizal Day.
Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday celebrated to commemorate the life and works of José Rizal, a national hero of the Philippines. The date is the anniversary of Rizal’s execution in 1896 at Bagumbayan, Manila.
This holiday commemorates his strong patriotism and sacrifice, as he lost his life at the hands of the Spanish through a firing squad, facing charges of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy. President Emilio Aguinaldo initially introduced Rizal Day through a proclamation in 1898, and the Philippine Commission later formally recognized it as a national holiday in 1901.
Most workers take the day off as a paid workday. Individuals who are required to work on Rizal Day get twice their normal daily rate of wages.
History of Rizal Day
Dr. José Rizal is recognized for significantly contributing to the initiation of the rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. Born on June 19, 1861, in Calamba, he held the dual roles of a medical practitioner and a writer. In his 1887 novel “Noli me Tangere,” he strongly denounced the oppressive governance of the Philippines by the Spanish. Historians widely acknowledge that the concepts articulated in this novel, along with those in “El Filibusterismo” (Reign of Greed), catalyzed the revolution.
On December 30, 1896, Rizal met his end through a firing squad execution at Bagumbayan field. Although he did not actively participate in armed conflict, authorities arrested him and tried him for treason.
In 1898, Emilio Aguinaldo, the inaugural president of the Philippines, established the first Rizal Day, marking it as a national day of mourning to honor Rizal and all those who suffered under Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. The town of Daet in Camarines Norte became the first to adhere to this decree, constructing a monument designed by Lt. Col. Antonio Sanz and funded by the residents of Camarines Norte and the broader Bicol Region.
Following the U.S. victory in the Spanish–American War in 1901, the Americans assumed control of the Philippines. American Governor-General William Howard Taft’s gesture supported the Filipino cause, designating Rizal as a national hero of the Philippines. A year later, on February 1, 1902, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 345, officially naming December 30 Rizal Day.
President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act No. 229 on June 9, 1948, ensuring solemn observance of the occasion. The law prohibits cockfighting, horse racing, and jai-alai on December 30. Flags must fly at half-mast nationwide.
In 1996, the centenary of Rizal’s death included retracing his final journey from Fort Santiago to the execution site. The event included a reenactment of his execution and a flag-raising ceremony.
To simply put, December 30, 2023, will indeed be a special non-working holiday in the Philippines as the nation observes Rizal Day. This significant day pays homage to the life and legacy of Dr. José Rizal, a pivotal figure in the Philippines’ struggle for independence.
On this day, Filipinos honor Rizal’s patriotism and remember the sacrifices made during the struggle for freedom, reflecting on the enduring spirit of the Philippines’ national hero.
See the list of the remaining official regular and special non-working holidays in the Philippines in 2023 below:
- Bonifacio Day – November 27, 2023 (Monday nearest November 30)
- Christmas Day – December 25, 2023 (Monday)
Special non-working day:
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary – December 8, 2023 (Friday)
- Last Day of the Year – December 31, 2023 (Sunday)