Filipinos feel hopeful about 2017: What are you hopeful for?

“Hope for the New Year improves to 95% in 2016, up by three points from 92% in 2015”, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) December 3-6, 2016 Survey.  When SWS began this survey in 2000, Filipinos’ hope for the new year reached a record high of 95% in 2002 and 2011, eased in the coming years, and has since remained at the 90s levels.

Ninety-five percent of adult Filipinos are entering 2017 with hope rather than with fear, according to the Fourth Quarter 2016 Social Weather Survey conducted on December 3-6, 2016. Image via SWS. Some rights reserved.

What are Filipinos hopeful for? For peace? for prosperity? For jobs or a better world economy ? That the war on drugs will have no more casualties? That the President will instead focus on educating the country about the depth and extent of the illegal drug menace?

Are we hopeful, with another extension, that the President Duterte will be able to keep his promise during the election campaign to end the drug menance? or all of the above?

One can make many assumptions from the SWS survey. The sense of optimism has always been there even in times of disaster. We have demonstrated time and again that “Filipinos can bounce back from a tragedy, emerging stronger and better than before. In the middle of a disaster, Filipinos can still manage to smile and be hopeful that the next morning brings new hope.” Is there hope because the current situation is so bad that it can somehow only get better? Or perhaps Filipinos like the policies of the Duterte administration and accept whatever may happen to them as a result.

During the first New Year of former President Noynoy Aquino, University of Asia and the Pacific economist Cid Terrosa said the hopefulness could be a result of “a new administration, the cultural trait of Filipinos to be optimistic and overseas Filipino workers’ remittances.”  Looking at the past surveys, it is clear that it has always been the case about being hopeful. In 2010,  Ateneo de Manila University political analyst Benito Lim adds that “Filipinos are hoping that things will be better, maybe because we did not get the good things that we want or we were able to survive our previous problems.”

Looking forward to 2017

“As your President, I will bring food on the table; create more job opportunities; and make our people feel safer and more comfortable,” Duterte said in his Christmas message.  He might have more to say in his New Year message but his New Year’s resolution is “peace on earth and goodwill to all men” in 2017.  I hope that peace does not equate to terrorism in the war on drugs. There have been so much collateral damage and innocent lives lost already.  The human rights abuses, summary executions, and extra judicial killings are NOT the change we seek in their #PartnerForChange campaign.  Duterte was hopeful that by next year, there will no longer be armed conflict so the public will feel secure and safe in the country.

There are many things to be hopeful  according to Presidential Spokesperson Abella. “President Duterte’s ultimate dream is for all armed conflict to stop and for the Filipino people to live in peace, safety and security”.  Let’s look at a few hopeful things for 2017.

1. The war on drugs has entered its second phase, which is treating it as a public health issue, with an education aspect to warn the youth about the dangers of drugs.

2.  Duterte’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit next year would be a “perfect” opportunity for the country to forge more partnerships with its neighboring countries.

3.  In order to fast track poverty reduction program, the National Economic and Development Authority was setting a growth rate in 2017 between 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in the gross domestic product (GPD).

4. The government is ramping up public infrastructure spending next year, allotting at least five percent of the GDP to go to the infrastructure projects until 2022.

5.  The government will fully implement the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law to make women as more productive members of the labor force.

6.  Departments like  the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) , Department of Education (DepED) and the Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCOO) and others who are doing their jobs give me hope.

7. President Duterte has a list of promises based largely on a collection from the book “The Duterte Manifesto” that offers to reduce poverty. The Third Quarter 2016 Social Weather Survey, conducted from September 24-27, 2016, found a new record-low 42% (estimated 9.4 million) of families considering themselves as Mahirap or Poor. Promises that will reduce poverty makes us hopeful.

  • Create jobs for the poorest in the countryside through infrastructure and irrigation
  • Exempt P25,000-below monthly earners from income tax
  • Support ‘entrepreneurship’
  • Implement programs encouraging personal savings
  • Create an OFW Bank
  • Improve collection while implementing simplified progressive taxation: those with more carry the bigger burden
  • Provide employment and livelihood generation programs
  • Strengthen DSWD programs
  • Optimize the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plans to provide income opportunities for indigenous people
  • Make irrigation free for farmers
  • Create agri-financing reforms to expand agricultural production and rural incomes
  • Cut electricity costs by encouraging smart grids, small scale power generation, and household solar power generation
  • Continue to expand  the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program)

There are many more Duterte Promises other than stopping criminality and illegal drugs as well as reducing poverty.  I want to see progress in the  fight against corruption; solving hunger ; decongesting traffic; improving healthcare; managing climate change; beefing up employment ; strengthening foreign relations; and making things right for Mindanao.

Photo of Hope taken at the Singapore Art Museum. Some rights reserved.

In being hopeful

A friend is hopeful, that the Philippines will have a better economy. She hopes “that our President will lead in righteousness and wisdom. She adds  “I hope and pray that each and every Filipino people can be a hero even in their small ways of being obedient to the laws. I hope and pray that beyond the Chaos, we would choose to love, at the end of the day we pray that our faith in God , in our Lord Jesus will be a reminder that yes there is still HOPE for this world, because as the Bible say 3 remains in 1 Corinthian 13:13”.

Yes, we pray and hold on to this hope. Still we pray. An Inquirer editorial describes hopeful not just for the season but beyond it. Indeed, “we hold our loved ones, especially our children, close, and dream of a new day for them. We hope for the best for each other and wisdom for those who lead us. We hold this hope in our streets and our homes, and even beyond our shores; we hold this hope for the people of Aleppo and everyone else suffering around the globe.”

Hope is that feeling that the things we want will be achieved or certain events will turn out for the best.  There is no other way forward. Hope is the one thing that sometimes keeps us going. “In being hopeful, we must continue to rail against injustice, to work to right wrongs, to uphold human rights and the preciousness of life, each life, and to seek enduring peace and a better future for the children, the weak and the powerless.”
Yes, I hope the Duterte administration realizes why 95% of the Filipinos are hopeful for 2017.

What are you hopeful for in 2017?


This post is supported by a writing grant from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)