INQUIRER.NET

Steadiness at year’s end

Both of this week’s two releases of the first findings from the fourth-quarter 2013 Social Weather Survey showed steadiness in the sentiments of the Filipino people, despite the horrendous suffering and damage recently wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”

The first release told of the resiliency of expectations about the Christmas season.  Last Tuesday, Dec. 24, SWS reported that 62 percent of adults nationwide expected their Christmas to be happy, whereas only 9 percent said it would be sad, and 28 percent said it would be neither happy nor sad, when interviewed on Dec. 11-16.  This is practically the same as the 64 percent in early December 2012 that were expecting the coming Christmas to be happy, the 9 percent expecting it to be sad, and the 26 percent expecting neither.

The second release told of the resiliency of the popularity of President Noynoy Aquino. On Thursday, BusinessWorld’s main story, “Aquino unaffected by Yolanda criticism,” reported that the December 2013 SWS survey found 69 percent satisfied with the performance of the President, and 21 percent dissatisfied with it, for a net satisfaction rating of +49 (correctly rounded).  This is the same as his +49 in the previous SWS quarterly survey, of Sept. 20-23, 2013.  Both ratings are at the top edge of the SWS category for “good” performance—i.e., net satisfaction of +30 to +49.

(The national sample size of the December 2013 SWS survey was 1,550, rather than our 1,200 as mistakenly reported by BW on Thursday.  The Visayan sample size was raised to 650, from the usual 300, to enable finer analysis of the Visayan situation in relation to Yolanda.  Processing of the new survey is ongoing.)

Geographical changes from 2012 to 2013 in Christmas expectations. The slight 2-point decline in the national proportion expecting a happy Christmas was the outcome of significant drops in the National Capital Region (down 11 points, from 58 to 47), the Balance of Luzon (down 10 points, from 71 to 61) and the Visayas (down 9 points, from 66 to 57), tempered by a large rise in Mindanao (up 25 points, from 52 to 77).

So it would seem that Yolanda somewhat dampened Christmas expectations not only in the Visayas but also everywhere north of Mindanao.  Incidentally, the SWS 2012 pre-Christmas survey was done on Dec. 8-11, 2012, after Typhoon “Pablo” struck Mindanao on Dec. 3, 2012.

The zero national change in those expecting a sad Christmas resulted from moderate rises in NCR (up 2 points, from 12 to 14), the Balance of Luzon (up 4 points, from 6 to 10) and the Visayas (up 4 points, from 7 to 11), combined with a large drop in Mindanao (down 10 points, from 14 to 4).

The Inquirer gratuitously commented (“Calamities test our spirit” by Michael Lim Ubac, 12/25/2013) that SWS “did not give a reason for the increase” in the expectation of sadness among Visayans.  My personal comment—without explanation, having none, and not feeling that one is necessary—is that the more interesting fact is that feelings about Christmas are weakest in NCR, among the four areas, as has been true every year since the start of the SWS Christmas survey item in 2002.  In particular, Metro Manilans expecting a happy Christmas are 10 points below Visayans in 2013, whereas they were only 8 points below Visayans in 2012.  It’s always the people in the capital who most need cheering up!

Geographical changes from September to December in satisfaction with P-Noy. The zero change in national net satisfaction with the President resulted from slight increases in the Balance of Luzon (by 2 points, from +52 to +54), Visayas (by 2 points, from +48 to +50), and Mindanao (by 1 point, from +52 to +53), combined with a significant drop in the National Capital Region (by 16 points, from +38 to +22).

Two things are interesting to note here.  First, there is hardly any change in the satisfaction of Visayans, in particular, with P-Noy’s performance, from pre-Yolanda to post-Yolanda.  Second, neither is there much change in the satisfaction of Mindanaoans with him, comparing June (net satisfaction +58), to September (net +52), and to December (net +53), despite the suffering from the Zamboanga standoff between government and Moro National Liberation Front elements on Sept. 9-28, 2013.

The drop in NCR is a downgrade from “good” to “moderate” (meaning, between +10 and +29), for only the second time in P-Noy’s term.  The first time was in May 2012, when his net rating in NCR was +18, his lowest point; but he recovered soon.  Note that his non-NCR ratings are now all “very good”; in the past they never went below “good.”

NCR has been the geographical low point in satisfaction with the President in 10 out of the 14 quarterly surveys of P-Noy’s time so far.  This geographical pattern is typical for all presidents; Metro Manilans have always been the hardest to please.

The steadiness of public sentiment is encouraging. Despite the great disasters, natural and manmade, that Filipinos experienced in 2013, the initial outputs from the new Social Weather Survey show that their spirits, as well as their confidence in government, have not flagged.  There is no reason to feel daunted about the tasks of the year ahead.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

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Contact SWS: or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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