Thankful for 2017, hopeful for 2018


EVER the optimists, Filipinos—at least 96 percent of them—will welcome the New Year with hope, and only a tiny minority, 4 percent, are fearful of what’s in store for 2018.

According to the Social Weather Stations, this is a record high since it began asking the poll question nearly two decades ago.

But hope has been preponderant ahead of the New Year since the initial result of 87 percent in the year 2000; prior to 2017, record highs of 95 percent were achieved in 2002, 2011, and 2016.

The SWS data is also reflected in the central bank’s quarterly consumer expectations survey, where optimists continue to outnumber pessimists. The central bank described the consumer outlook on family finances and income as“buoyant,” with more survey respondents expecting to spend more on goods and services next year than those who expect to tighten their belts. In fact, consumers think 2018 would be a good time to buy durable goods—a home, a car, or a motorcycle.

One begins to wonder where the wellspring of this hope is, given the vicissitudes of Filipino life, not to mention the serious problems faced by the nation.

As we have written earlier in this space, Filipinos are said to be fatalistic, as exemplified by the so-called “bahala na” or “come-what-may” attitude. F. Landa Jocano views bahala na as an expression of the Filipino’s confidence on his problem-solving skills, making it both an indicator of an optimistic outlook and a coping mechanism.

Hope, of course, is a theological virtue, and the fatalistic-optimistic Filipinos understand this, even those who do not know much about theology. This means hope is really the desire for the kingdom of heaven and the happiness of eternal life. This may manifest in positive outlooks on the economy and finances, but in reality is anchored upon the ability of Filipinos of all faiths and walks-of-life to look beyond material things and value the things that really matter—family and life on this earth and the next.

The Catechism sums it up beautifully: “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men’s activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.”

Filipinos are hopeful because they are also grateful—a disposition that gives them reason to expect that this tide of blessings will continue whatever the odds.

Indeed there is a lot to be grateful for in 2017, among them a booming economy and stable currency and inflation, and a responsive government despite many shortcomings.

The Manila Times joins everyone in welcoming the New Year with a strong resolve that with the grace of the Almighty, and with the gratefulness, perseverance, and resiliency of the Filipino spirit, even greater things are in store for the nation in 2018.

Happy New Year!


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