Philippines, SE Asia, Asean | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Philippines, SE Asia, Asean

/ 05:14 AM November 18, 2017

Whereas four out of five Filipinos (82 percent) say they feel close, if not very close—henceforth shortened simply to “close”—to the Philippines, only two out of five (39 percent) say they feel “close” to Southeast Asia.

These are among the findings of a survey for the International Social Survey Program (, done by Social Weather Stations on a national sample of 1,200 adults, on Feb. 19-23, 2014. (This was a double ISSP survey, covering both the 2013 topic of National Identity and the 2014 topic of Citizenship.)


In the 33 ISSP country-surveys of national identity, 86 percent of the respondents felt close to their country, but a minority of 42 percent felt close to the world region containing their country. Thus, Filipinos identify with their country and region to the same degree as other nationalities in general. We are very much like Mexicans, for whom the two percentages were 83 and 40, respectively.

The ISSP surveys found interesting variations from the average. In the United Kingdom, three-fourths (76 percent) felt close to the country, but only one-fourth (24 percent) felt close to Europe. In Japan, 92 percent felt close to the country, and 72 percent felt close to East Asia. Among Americans, 85 percent felt close to the United States, and 65 percent felt close to North America.


The ISSP national identity survey required similar questions about smaller geographical areas. SWS found that 77 percent of Filipinos felt close to their town or city, and 70 percent felt close to their province.

Knowledge about the regional association. Of the 33 countries that did the national identity survey, 24, including the Philippines, asked a few optional questions about the pertinent regional association.

Among the Filipinos surveyed by SWS,
16 percent said they knew a lot about Asean, 19 percent said they knew about it somewhat, 33 percent said they didn’t know much about it, and 31 percent were not even aware of it. In all, 69 percent of Filipinos knew about Asean in 2014. Perhaps there will be more in 2017; the next SWS survey will see.

In the 24 countries that asked the optional items, 18 percent of the respondents knew a lot about their regional association, 34 percent knew about it somewhat, 30 percent didn’t know much, and 18 percent were unaware of it. Britons were 91 percent aware of the European Union. Seventy-one percent of Americans, and 72 percent of Mexicans, were aware of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Benefits from the regional association. Another optional item was about whether, from its membership in the association, the country got very much, much, some, a little, or no benefit at all.

Among Filipinos aware of Asean, 49 percent said much/very much, 18 percent said a little/nothing, and the rest took the middle answer. Let us call that a 49-18 score, which is clearly favorable. (Tabulations show that Filipinos’ perception of benefits from Asean is related to knowledge about it. Familiarity breeds appreciation, not contempt.)

For the 24 countries as a whole, the score was 38-26 or generally favorable. It was 31-43 in Mexico, and 23-26 in the US—both negative, but much more so in Mexico. It was a bad 21-43 in the UK, and a good 59-11 in Ireland.


The countries are split into 12 positives (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Iceland, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Philippines, South Africa, and Spain) and 12 negatives (Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Mexico, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and US). No wonder there is so much controversy.

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TAGS: Asean, Inquirer Opinion, International Social Survey Program, Philippines, Social Climate
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