WE JUST bade farewell to 2016 and joyously and simultaneously welcomed 2017. New Year’s Day is celebrated around the globe full of high hopes for a fresh start. Traditionally, New Year’s Day is the time to job down resolutions and aspirations for the year. But in this age, what we do is go online to post on social media our “New Year, new me” resolutions ranging from relational to personal to physical: everything aimed at hoping for a better version of one’s self. I was scrolling down my newsfeeds on Facebook and I found it hilarious how others post throwbacks from the previous New Year Day of their missed goals and resetting the same targets for this year. I never posted mine but I sure do have my mental list of broken promises to myself, too, from last year.
On a wider perspective, allow me to point out here the changes that Filipinos have been yearning for. In a 2016 survey on urgent national concerns by Pulse Asia, the results showed increasing workers’ pay on top of the list followed by creating more jobs, controlling inflation, fighting corruption and reducing poverty to complete the Top Five concerns among those who responded in the survey. Others related to peace and order, the environment, taxes, population, welfare of overseas Filipino workers and terrorism were ranked of lesser priorities. In December 2015, the results showed controlling inflation, increasing workers’ pay, reducing poverty, creating more jobs, and fighting corruption as the national concerns ranked in order of urgency as foreseen by the respondents. Public concerns remained essentially constant under two different administrations. This may not come as a surprise since the Duterte Administration has just begun halfway in 2016.
What is more striking is looking at the survey results in 2006 which listed the same urgent national issues in the Top Five as viewed by most Filipinos. That survey was conducted more than 10 years ago. Now that is a major throwback! This is enough reason why, as a nation, people thirst for change to happen not soon, but here and now.
Isn’t it appalling for an ordinary Filipino to be in this new age yet unequipped to meet the demands of modern society? Technology has connected nations, yet governments had passed, failing to connect to the needs of the ordinary Filipino. On psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (formulated in 1943), most of our people are still pre-occupied in the most basic needs, which are the physiological needs, even today. I go out to the streets and the sight of children, even adults, with their palms up as a gesture of pleading is hard to miss. Year in and out, we face the same society where progress shows very little benefits to the majority. And I can’t help but question, “Where did my taxes go?”
As hopeful as most Filipinos naturally are, I continue to look forward to the changes this new government would bring. It is true that the concerns besetting our country is an Everest to conquer but people had long been waiting for what is due to them. The process may be gradual and excruciating at certain points, given there will always be pros and antis, but there is no other way other than through it. Well, it is good that we hear of plans targeted to address the concerns of the common Filipino, but I guess people are now on the lookout for their careful implementation because we have had enough of empty promises. It is high time for the Philippines to move forward. Personally, I would hope for real changes that are truly felt by the masses and not just as reported in the government statistics. Of course, the change will never be without individual active participation in the process. As inspired by Gandhi, do add this as a note to self for 2017 and onwards: “Be the change that you wish to see in the Philippines.”
Maricor Fernandez is a Manager of Audit & Assurance at P&A Grant Thornton Cebu.
As published in Mindanao Times, dated 9 January 2017