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Social Climate

The SWS Knowledge Center

/ 05:10 AM August 19, 2017

Social Weather Stations marked two milestones recently. One was on Aug. 8, the 32nd anniversary of its registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1985, as a nonstock, nonprofit, scientific institute. The other was the formal launching of the SWS Knowledge Center on Aug. 17.

The impetus for establishing SWS was a project to do four national surveys in two years, leading up to the presidential election of 1987. The SWS surveys would proceed from where the 1984 and 1985 sociopolitical surveys of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) left off.


In late 1985, when Ferdinand Marcos suddenly set a snap election for February 1986, he falsely claimed that the 1985 BBC survey predicted that he would win it. The public outrage that the official snap election count put Marcos as the winner over Corazon Aquino, whereas the parallel count of the National Movement for Free Elections put Cory as the winner, led to the Edsa Revolution and Marcos’ ouster.

In SWS’ first survey, done jointly with Ateneo de Manila University in April 1986, 66 percent said they had voted for Cory Aquino. That was just a few points short of Ramon Magsaysay’s 69-percent victory in the 1953 presidential election.

In 1985-99, SWS held office at the Philippine Social Science Center, on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. It started with one room of 30 square meters and one employee, and grew to several rooms of about 240 square meters for 20 employees (according to my fading memory). The staff need was relatively small since field interviews and data processing (DP) were outsourced.

In 1999, SWS acquired a property at 52 Malingap Street, Quezon City, of 900 square meters of land, on which were two residential bungalows with about 500 square meters of space, which it then remodeled for a new office. It steadily grew to 40-plus regular employees, especially after 2004 when it established its own field and DP capacity. Since then, SWS has had an in-house core of senior field and DP staff; it directly hires temporary personnel for specific project needs, and no longer outsources any operations.

From the very beginning, SWS has been committed to preserving and archiving all its surveys, including commissioned ones, for the sake of public research. Private sponsors’ data may be embargoed for at most three years after project completion. Thus, all SWS surveys dated 2013 or earlier are already open to the public.

The SWS archive has 574 datasets, 281 being from national surveys, as of mid-2017. A dataset has the responses of every respondent to every questionnaire item. These datasets encompass 896,463 interviews and 105,445 items. They include 38 surveys for the International Social Survey Program, the World Values Survey, and other cross-country networks in which SWS represents the Philippines.

In 2013, SWS demolished the smaller of its bungalows to make way for a five-story building with 1,250 square meters of office space, plus a basement and roof deck. Last Thursday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, assisted by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, cut the ribbon to the new Knowledge Center.

SWS has done many surveys on the legal profession and the judiciary in the last 30 years, and continues to do so to this day. The Chief Justice spoke generously of SWS’ dedication to truth in research, in her extemporaneous speech. It is SWS’ privilege and pleasure to be of direct service to the judicial branch of the government.



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