Saturday, December 03, 2011

Christmas Notes 3: December and the Filipinos

I wrote this four years ago:

Christmas and Filipinos' happiness

December 20, 2007

The Social Weather Station (SWS) reported in its Fourth Quarter of 2007 Survey, public sentiment on Christmas since 2002 showed once again a high percentage of people in high spirits —- 64 percent expect Christmas this year to be happy, only 8 percent feeling unhappy, and 27 percent say it will neither be happy nor sad.

Filipinos' "don't worry, be happy" general attitude, at least during Christmas, is among our greatest traits. Kumbaga eh, "Si Gloria pa rin ang president, be happy" or "Russia's Putin is Time's man of the year, be happy" or "mornings are getting colder in this month of warmest year in decades of global warming, be happy".

What makes Filipinos happy, despite many things to complain about, like high oil prices, high bangus and tilapia prices, etc.? It's those endless reunions with family and friends. Gift-giving is part of this, but it's the togetherness of families, clans, friends, former classmates, former neighbors, and so on.

So the transpo and telecomm, tourism, food and beverages sectors, are among the busiest and highest-earning industries and sectors of the economy. Like airlines, shipping lines, bus lines, and gasoline station lines, hehehe.

I have wished that the government, especially the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), would have waived their P200 domestic "terminal fee" per passenger, say from Dec. 16 to 31. Or at least gave a 75 percent discount and collected only P50 per passenger. The national government gave P10,000 christmas or "productivity" bonus to its employees, can't it give some "bonus" to the taxpayers, especially those in the private sector? It's the latter that give the government billions upon billions of taxes to spend anyway.

Of course one can only wish and don't expect that his/her wish can come true, no matter how modest. In a period of endless greed by the state for more taxes from the citizens, even a temporary reprieve from some taxes and fees that it confiscates from their pockets is an idea that is "far-out" from its imagination.

But as the SWS survey would show, even if the government will possibly increase its domestic "terminal fee" to P500 or even P1,000 per passenger (a monopolist can charge any price it wants, right?), many people will still travel and fly -- if only to be reunited with their families and folks, no matter how far those provinces and barrios are.

Last December 2010, SWS head Mahar Mangahas published the result of their 4th Quarter 2010 Survey, showing that 69 percent of Filipinos expected their Christmas last year to be happy, 24 percent said neither happy nor sad, and only 7 percent said they would be sad. Towards the end of 2010, the tail end of the global financial turmoil that started in the US in 2008 was still being felt, and more than 2/3 of Filipinos surveyed said they would still be happy that Christmas. The 2002-2009 happiness index was at 62 to 64 percent, but in 2010, it was 69 percent. See how optimistic and happy-leaning the Filipinos can be.

I do not know if the SWS will release another report on the degree of happiness or sadness of the Filipinos this Christmas 2011. But I think it will be safe to assume that more than 60 percent (best case will touch the 70 percent) of us will say they will be happy this season. Viva Pinoy!

Happiness or sadness is mainly internal. As it is us, ourselves, who determine how we should live our lives, not the government nor the church nor the big corporations (although these groups and institutions have significant effect on our lives one way or another), then it is us who will determine whether we should be happy and hopeful, or sad and pessimistic, about our current and future lives.

So we go back to more personal responsibility, more individual freedom. Freedom and responsibility, they are two sides of the same coin, and that coin is us, each individual. "More government responsibility" to run our own lives is a huge racket, a monster scam that is peddled by many sectors who benefit from more and bigger government, more and bigger taxes, more and bigger regulations and prohibitions.

I do not know how those figures of happiness index of Filipinos would compare to other nationalities -- are they even happier than us, or more sad. But a 2/3 rate is already high. Material deprivation may be a factor but if people know how to appreciate simple blessings in their lives, like perhaps a poor household but all the kids are healthy, then happiness should find its way in our faces, in our smiles.

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