Why Are Filipinos Happier?

They say that Filipinos are a happy and contented people. And when Survey Research Hong Kong released its Asia-wide happiness survey early this year, it proved just that. The survey showed that despite poverty, 94 percent of Filipinos are more contented with their lives than other Asians.

In the same survey, almost a third of the Japanese admitted to being “generally miserable,” even if their per capita income of US $38, 980 is highest in Asia, and over five times more than that of Filipinos.

Why are Filipinos are happier than the Japanese or even their wealthier Asian neighbors? Dr. Ly Sycip, chairperson of the UP Department of Psychology, explained some reasons.

Economic needs: Are we happy to be poor?
In the past, Sycip says, many people assume that economics is the be-all of existence. “Psychologists like Abraham Maslow (hierarchy-of-needs theory) believed that you have to fulfill certain level of needs before you can move to the next higher level.

“Now that, of course, is being questioned in the Philippine context kasi karamihan ng mga Pilipino ay mahihirap. Kung titingnan mo, pati ‘yung mga basic needs are not met,” she says.

“Even the most basic need of shelter ay hindi na-meet. Then, if you follow Maslow’s theory, sasabihin mo na ang taong ito ay hindi na capable to experience fulfillment or the need for social relationships. When you look at Filipinos, that is not true,” she says.

She recalls how former First Lady Imelda Marcos even used it to justify her husband’s dictatorship. “She said that her people were happy people. If you look around you,” she quotes Imelda, “you’ll see that they’re all smiling, they’re all laughing.”

In terms of positive affect, she says, masasaya na ang mga tao noon. “And even Filipinos now, if you look at yung mga nangyayari sa atin ngayon – brownout, walang tubig, bumabagyo and so many things get damaged, still if you look around, mararami ka pa ring makikitang nakatawa.”

The family: Happy together
Based on the UP Department of Psychology’s preliminary findings on well-being, Sycip says that the family and other social relationships are “very important” to Filipinos. She says that it’s from there that they draw a lot of their strength. Filipinos rely on their families during their most difficult times. “In the more western orientation, you’ll think that you’re responsible for yourself, or all the burdens are there for you to carry. Dito, you’ll say that you have a family to take care of you. You’re not the only one responsible for yourself.”
Cultural systems: To cope and to be happy
According to Sycip, cultural systems like bahala na (whatever happens) and padrino (patronage) are also mechanisms for Filipinos to get fulfillment in life.

Bahala na. Filipinos cope by leaving to fate the outcome of their plans. In the western orientation, she says, an individual has a sense of control. “Iniisip mo I can play my life. I can do something with it. I can predict, let’s say, that if I put in this much effort, one year from now mapopromote ako o aabot ako sa ganoon”.

“If you look at the Philippine context, parang wala yung ganoon,” she says. “It’s so unpredictable. Given our conditions, there are so many uncontrollable factors. So if we, as people, cannot continue to persist in that kind of coping strategy, we would all go crazy. Iinit ang ulo natin. The level of frustration will be extremely high.”
“But this isn’t fatalism,” says Sycip. “We are just not attached to the results. We think bahala na pero we also do our best.”

Padrino. Filipinos know that in times of trouble, they can turn to friends for help. Filipinos have strong kinship ties and a high sense of pakikisama. “If you look at our history, patronage was really the only chance that many people had to ever get ahead or survive,” she says. Depende sa kung may kilala ka. Kahit papatayin kana eh hindi n asana.” Now, if one of your kids wants a job, that’s the only means to get him in. Hindi katulad sa US, people look at you for who you are and what you have done. It’s the individual concept.”

Religion: God can help us
Sycip says that Filipinos look toward God to help them come by. We even leave everything to Him when things come to worse.
“Religious tayo. We believe that there’s the Almighty who will, in the end, decide. So in a way we don’t have to worry so much. Nandoon ang Diyos ko,” she says.

Attitude: But we are truly a happy people!
Sycip agrees that Filipinos, despite all the ever-rising problems, are by nature a jovial and buoyant people. We’re happy, she says, because of the way we view life. “Iisa and attitude natin to cope with the kind of society we live in.”

Mababaw ang kaligayahan (lighthearted). Sycip points out: “Kung mababa lang ang expectations mo, very simple things will make you happy. May kasabihan nga tayo na mababaw lang ang kaligayahan. In a way, many of us are like that. I think that’s a quality of a survivor. You’re easy to please so you don’t look for too much.”
However, she add this has a negative effect in the sense that one may not be motivated to strive harder in life.
Still, Sycip also points: “In a way, people who are at the bottom are also afraid to hope, to expect, because hindi naman maibibigay. Magiging unhappy ka lang. They say, Mapag-aral ko lang ang mga anak ko o mapasok ko lang sila sa trabaho.”

Simpleng buhay lang (simple life)
Filipinos are not very materialistic, says Sycip. “Our attachment to them are not yet strong. Siguro ang daling mawala sa atin yun. Kaya we haven’t gotten into the mold na nasanay na tayo. The desire (to have material things) is there. Pero kung wala, okey lang. Balik ka lang sa dati.”

Madaling kausapin (high on interpersonal bonds or camaraderie).
This is where we rate high than the Japanese, Sycip says. Interpersonal relationships give us the chance to connect ourselves with others and we are happy about it.
“The Japanese culture is very formal,” she says. They rarely discuss personal matters so they have socio-personal problems. Tayo, we’re more open although very superficial ito. Hindi kasi tayo sanay to probe deeper in ourselves. That means we’re high on disclosure but we’re not introspective. We rely on our family and God.”

Always happy
Whatever other peoples and the foreign media call us, whether we’re the “sick man of Asia” or we have the shattered culture,” Filipinos will remain happy because we value it more than anything else.

“Filipinos are always complaining, but they also are always smiling. Parang schizophrenic ba tayo. Sometimes are happy to be unhappy. If the lader wil be there to solve our problems, we will reach a point na macu-culture shock tayo. But after a while, after we’ve learned to build more positive behavior, that will be good to all of us,” Sycip ends.

Source: Money Saver Magazine
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1 Responses:

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Thursday, February 01, 2007 2:12:00 AM ×

Great blog ! Love it, and would like to place a link to mine. You may do the same.
Stay in touch.

P.S. Hope all is well over there in your country by now. What a natural disaster in recent months. Sorry for that.

Congrats bro schee you got PERTAMAX...! hehehehe...