The holiday season is the perfect time to start planning for a trip somewhere. Not only does it usher in one of the longest breaks of the year, but for employees, it also signals the arrival of the much-awaited 13th-month pay.
In the Philippines and a number of other countries, all private employers are required to provide rank-and-file employees with 13th month pay by law, based on the individual’s basic salary. It’s basically an extra month’s pay at the end of the year, often providing jet-setters with the budget they need to hit the road.
But where to go?
A trip to a tropical paradise is always a good idea, especially during the holidays. After a six-month rehabilitation period when the island was closed off to tourists, Boracay is still the picture-perfect beach destination of your dreams. Everything you’ve fallen in love with in previous trips are still there: the sublime white sand shores, crystal clear waters, and a thriving nightlife scene.
Prices are a bit steep on the island in December, but if your 13th month pay allows it, consider a trip to the Philippines’ most famous island. There’s something for everyone in the family in Boracay, from simply lounging by the beach to enjoying some of the island’s exciting activities.
If you prefer a more laid-back beach experience than what action-packed Boracay offers, Bohol is another Philippine destination that’s ideal for the holidays. It’s home to the famous Chocolate Hills, a vast expanse of land with over a thousand hills that turn a chocolate brown during the dry season.
While the hills are the province’s most famous attraction, Bohol has so much more to offer travelers, including white sand beaches, remote islands, and spectacular diving and snorkeling opportunities. Meet notoriously shy endangered tarsiers at the conservation area, then cruise along the tranquil Loboc River on a wooden boat.
Some people prefer a cooler travel destination than sunny Philippine beaches, like Baguio and Sagada. Those who are deterred by Baguio crowds and heavy traffic can opt for the cozy sweater weather of Sagada in the Mountain Province.
While it’s quite a long trip by bus to Sagada, it’s the perfect destination for adventurous travelers who want to explore mountains, caves, rice terraces, and ancient hanging coffins. Spend a day hiking Marlboro Hill to watch the sun rise spectacularly over a thick sea of clouds.
Craving for a snowy holiday? Fly to Japan in January or February to witness the famous Shirakawago Winter Light-Up event, when the charming farmhouses of the Ogimachi Village are all lit up in an idyllic winter wonderland setting. The event only happens six days in a year with tourist numbers limited, so booking in advance is a must.
Travel to New York to take part in extravagant non-stop festivities during the holidays. From parades to countdowns to extreme holiday displays, Christmastime in the Big Apple is a treat for the senses.
Head to Central Park to ice skate, then visit the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Experience something new and drop by New York’s LuminoCity Festival, a dazzling light festival with three different theme parks and 23 sets of light art installations.
Here’s How to Compute Your 13th Month Pay
Before deciding on a holiday destination, make sure you figure out how much extra money you’re going to get for your 13th month pay—or if you’re eligible to get it.
Under the Philippines’ Presidential Decree No. 851, or 13th month pay law if you will, all rank-and-file employees in the private sector who have worked at least one month within the calendar year are entitled to 13th month pay, regardless of position, designation, or employment status.
It’s best to clarify with your office’s administrative and finance departments, but basically, your 13th month pay computation depends on your basic salary, which excludes monetary benefits, such as living allowances, holiday pay, overtime pay, and the like.
If you worked the entire year in the company, you simply get the amount of your monthly salary. If you worked less than a year in the company, you can figure out how much your 13th month pay by multiplying your basic salary with the number of months you’ve worked and dividing the total by 12.
Keep in mind that 13th month pay and other equivalent benefits are not subject to tax with a maximum of ₱90,000. Anything that exceeds ₱90,000 will be part of the computation of taxes of an employee’s gross income for the applicable year.