Archive for July 10, 2011


July 10, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day, fellow global citizens!

Yours truly was interviewed anew by the TV5 program Tayuan Mo at Panindigan, with the topic focused on Filipinos’ happiness. Hosting the episode were Aida Uy, Wilma Dosent, and Izza Litton whose magnetic stage presence did give life to the occasion.

Interestingly, an urban poor woman agreed to be interviewed too, as a living witness to what makes Filipinos happy. She brought along her four (4) daughters who joined her in the customary Pinoy ‘salo-salo’ treat to guests offered by the Channel 5 network.

The latest research of the National Statistics Coordination Board or NSCB, chief government survey agency, showed that Filipinos put top priority on family, health, and religion in that rank order, when asked what are the topmost indicators that make them happy. The same research showed other important happiness sources as friends, financial security, education, love life, and work. Sex was among the bottom 5 happiness indices, which surprised the NSCB.

Being the sociologist/expert for the occasion, I was asked to explain the patterns that make Filipinos happy. I first had to weigh the results of the latest research, before I could present my own analysis.

In standard sociological discourse, values provide frames for individual choices. Values are those matters that people regard as social premiums, they are the core foundations of culture, and they are largely shared across classes and ethnicities. They are also the ones that define what is happiness for persons and aids them in prioritizing happiness indicators.

Filipinos put a great premium of relationships—to fellow Pinoys, family members, God & divine beings. Kapwa and loob are the pillars of our values, with kapwa governing the interpersonal domain while loob guides the intrapersonal.

By social relationships we refer here to the personalistic, traditional, informal ties in the domain of the ‘private sphere’. That contrasts to the that are impersonal, segmented, utilitarian valued highly in Western, industrial societies, ties that may enable one to shine career-wise but do not necessarily make people happy.

Happiness, as a positive intrapsychic state, can range from contentment to euphoria and bliss. Jobs and money do make Filipinos happy, but they matter only insofar as these enable Pinoys to have the means to face people, satisfy the needs and caprices of their fellows, and pay homage to Supreme Deity (payback through some donations to church or humanitarian groups).

Asked about the ranking of Pinoys in the global happiness surveys, I shared the facts that Pinoys would rank in the range of middle-to-high ranks. Pinoys never fell short of the middle range in happiness, and are among the happiest peoples in Asia.

No wonder that suicides don’t occur in the Philippines as high as they occur in Western/industrial countries, where as high as 5,000-10,000 deaths per year happen in major cities. Loneliness and depression are often the driving forces behind suicides, so the message is clear that Pinoys don’t do suicides a lot given their middle-to-high happiness inclinations.

It was another truly informative exchange of ideas and opinions. TV5 audiences surely will have much to benefit from such an informative program as the Tayuan Mo at Panindigan.

[Philippines, 07 July 2011]


July 10, 2011


Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Thailand’s Red Shirts are back in power, as the For Thai Party of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra won landslide victory in the latest parliamentary polls. Yingluck Shinawatra, younger sister of the deposed premier, won as premier, rendering her the first woman chief executive of modern Thailand.

The victory is a big slap on the faces of the traditional elites of Thailand, who brooked no quarters in deposing any political party or movement that will not tow the globalization line. The message to detractors is “tow the line, no matter if the poor peasants, urban poor, and lowly artisans would eke a living.” Madly insane!

Thailand’s traditional elites are the king (and family), military offircers’ corps, big business, and technocrats. The elites are largely pro-West, with the King leading them in kowtowing to the dictates of the Western financiers led by Queen Elizabeth and the House of Rothschilds.

Under the rulership of the same elites and the Yellow Shirts that they have spawned, the benefits of growth have accrued to them only, with a negligible ‘trickle down’ of the same to the clerical class and underclasses. It has been a very lopsided development for Thailand as a whole, a prosperity track that left out many poor peasants, fisherfolks, urban poor, and poor artisans.

Incidentally, a populist party, the For Thai, arose from the bedrocks of obscurity to fame, led at first by its charismatic leader Thaksin Shinawatra. Healthcare and related welfare policies were thus crafted and executed with audacity during the brief stint of the deposed leader, welfare policies that mattered not to the callous elites.

Thus, Thailand has been so badly polarized along class lines, a polarity that will ensue in the foreseeable future. The populist For Thai is back in power, and most likely Big Business is again in jitters this early over the prospects of them paying up more (taxes) for redistribution as general welfare to the broad underclasses.

Thailand’s Reds are getting to be more homogenous through time, so the other ‘reds’ (social democrats, communists, Left anarchists, nationalists) can at best play the roles of swampy fringe groups vis a vis the mainstreamed populists. The latter better play it up as coalition partners with the populists or else face the consequences of irrelevance and low esteem by the underclasses who were badly marginalized by the globalization policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation.

Meantime, let me say my own kudos to the lady premier Yingluck Shinawatra over her victory. Kudos very big! Mabuhay!

[Philippines, 05 July 2011]