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Thanksgiving holiday an economic boon to many Fil-Ams

/ 05:44 AM November 29, 2013

Rica Guerrero, shown here with her kids, is working on Thanksgiving for extra income. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

NEW YORK—As millions of people head home and travel across the United States for Thanksgiving, many Filipinos see it more as an economic opportunity, taking advantage of special compensation that employers give for those working during the four-day holiday weekend.

“Honestly, we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving because we don’t have that tradition in the Philippines,” said Rica Guerrero, a part-time speech and language pathologist at a nursing home in Chicago. “So, I’m going to work and, hopefully, earn more.”

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Guerrero, 39, says she will be filling in for regular employees who are on vacation for Thursday and Friday, which will give her longer work hours and beef up her paycheck this week. Her husband, who works on night shift, will take care of their children while she’s out.

“Instead of four, I’d get seven hours of work each day,” she said. “That would definitely help increase my income.”

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According to AAA (American Automobile Association), about 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more to be with their loved ones over the Thanksgiving weekend. It also means that there are numerous jobs across all sectors that need to be temporarily filled up from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1—or even longer.

Juggling between 2 hospitals

Margie Garcia, 51, will be spending her Thanksgiving working at a hospital. Earlier, she declined her friends’ invitation to a Thursday festivity and a visit to the mall to shop for bargains on Black Friday.

A Filipino registered nurse, Garcia will be working two jobs this holiday weekend. She plans to juggle a 15-hour shift between two hospitals in the New York area.

“It’s double pay for working around Thanksgiving,” she said. “I’d be lucky to have a four-hour nap on the weekend. I know it’s going to be tough, but I’d be able to send more money to my family in the Philippines.”

Some employers in the healthcare industry, for example, offer extra overtime pay and bonuses. In retail and services, those who work on Thanksgiving get a turkey dinner, gift checks and additional store discounts.

“In my experience last year, I earned almost $2,000 for the weekend, plus free food and lodging,” said Marie Lopez, who lives in New Jersey but works full-time as nanny and housekeeper in New York City. “I hope I will earn more this year.”

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Lopez, 41, says she will be working this Thanksgiving at an opulent mansion on the north shore of Long Island, N.Y. She will help serve food and clean up for her employer who holds lavish parties starting Thursday morning till the wee hours of Sunday.

“This opportunity is too good to pass up. It comes once a year,” Lopez said. “It makes me feel as though Thanksgiving is just another day.”

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TAGS: Employment, Fil-Ams, Global Nation, Holidays, income, Thanksgiving weekend, US, work, work hours
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