MARCH 2, 2019


Are Americans Overworked, No Time to Enjoy Life?

by Elpidio R. ESTIOKO

There is a popular perception that the average American, FilAms included, is “workaholic” or overworked and does not have enough time to enjoy life.

Compared to workers in other countries, this idea is backed up by cold statistics leading to a conclusion that Americans don’t have much time for vacation and that they have little time off for rest and pleasure. In fact, most Americans don’t even use any vacation time at all, making them full-pledged workaholics!

In his article entitled, “Great Careers with long vacations,” Gabby Hyman got this idea based on cold statistics, pointing out that most Americans, again Filipino Americans included, only earn an average of 14 vacation days a year. Compared to our Italian counterparts, they earn 42 days a year; French, 37; German, 35; and Canadians, 25 days. As to the Japanese – long considered the most overworked or workaholic people on earth – they earn an average of 25 vacation days a year.

So, statistically speaking, Hyman is correct! In fact, many people believe that Americans are overworked and are considered “workaholics” because of their short vacation hours earned on a yearly basis.

This, however, was negated by a recent research showing that Americans are spending less time at work and more time at leisure.

In his article “Upwards Leisure Mobility: Americans Work Less and Have More Leisure Than Ever Before,” commenting on the recent research conducted concludes that since the mid-1960’s, the amount of time that the typical American spends working fell by almost eight hours a week. On the other hand, the time spent on leisure activities rose to just under seven hours per week.

The research by Sherk challenges the popular perception that the average American is overworked and does not have enough time to enjoy life. The research attests to the fact that Filipino Americans plan yearly long vacations to the Philippines and Europe, even if they have to file leave without pay. Filipino Americans look to attend family reunions, alumni homecoming, visit sick family members, go for nostalgia trips; even “therapy” trips or “ego boasting” trips.

Only last month, about 25 FilAms who were graduates of three high schools in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, attended the first-ever The Global Urdanetanians (TGU) -sponsored Multi-High School Homecoming on February 1 – 3, 2019 held at the Urdaneta City Cultural Center. Many of the attendees were not back home for years but found a way to go home and visit their long-lost friends in high school and walked the memory lane together. Thanks, by the way, to TGU president Yvonne San Juan-Sera for spearheading the homecoming project from three high schools in Urdaneta, an activity never thought of to be a very successful project ever. The Southern California-based TGU non-profit organization was ably supported by TGU-Urdaneta members of the organizing committee headed by Dr. Belinda San Juan; TESDA Cabinet Secretary Ret. Gen. Isidro Lapena; Ret. Gen. Jess Fajardo; Dr. Clare Adalem; Dr. Fe Ranada; Ramil San Juan, Engr. Elpidio Angeles, Jr.; and UCHS Batch ’65 President Minda Ventanilla Tomines, among others.

In fact, when you meet a longtime friend, their first statement is, “I just came from the Philippines… you know…” full of bragging rights! Sometimes, going home for vacation has become a status symbol for FilAms… that the more they are able to go home for vacation, the more they are in to the circle of friends and among relatives.

FilAms from Hawaii, most of the time, go home to the Philippines to visit their relatives. I have an uncle who hails from Oahu, HI and when he and his family went home to the Philippines last year, he was welcomed by relatives with a lot of fun fare … and the whole barrio celebrated with them.

A family friend who has been in the US working for 10 years, once said that: “I need to accumulate enough leave days to be able to go home to the Philippines this December. I should go on paid vacations because I can’t afford leaves without pay.” They really have to make sacrifices to be able to attain their goal… their planned vacation even for a longer period of time.

Another friend, however, said, “I will go on a 3-week vacation to the Philippines with or without pay! I need it, and my family needs me!” emphasizing the importance of vacation to our native land after so many years of absence. It also suggests that FilAms, regardless of their jobs in the US, work… even for a longer period of time, to be able to go home to the Philippines for vacation.

In fact, not even the consequence of losing a job will prevent some Filipino Americans to go home for vacation to visit their loved ones and close friends. I have a lot of friends, who went home and after coming back to the US, lost their jobs. They don’t regret it, all they do is look for another job in their return. After all, FilAms are flexible and can take any kind of job to survive. Some even have to borrow from their 401-K, or apply for a loan before or after the much needed vacation.

Others, when they lose their jobs, that’s the time for them to go home for vacation. They get their separation pay or apply for employment benefits after losing their jobs to be able to finance their vacation.

Leisure time is inherent to FilAms! Yes, I agree… many are workaholics, but they also need vacation time… at all costs!

They are workaholics, alright, but they also need vacation time!

For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.


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