Quality of living | Inquirer Opinion

Quality of living

In our doctorate program at school, we took a course called Comparative Business Environment in which we, as a class, would assess how the Philippines would compare with its neighbors with regard to business practices, tax treatments and economic atmosphere. Of course, one can’t talk about business without talking about the people running them. Our similarities and differences, as well as our nuisances, are interesting.

In this course I learned about the concept behind a country’s quality of life. I’ve always known what quality of life means, of course. It may pertain to an individual’s living conditions and life experiences. But it may also apply to societies and even countries.


It made me stop and think: What quality of life do we have in this country? What quality of life does our country give to us? How does our infrastructure contribute to our wellbeing as citizens? Is our business environment productive enough to enable us to earn a decent living? Are our communities nurturing and cohesive, able to provide emotional and social support?

It made me think of each country as parents and their citizens as their children. Just as there are doting parents, so are there doting nations whose citizens enjoy enviable standards of living. You can tell from how people carry themselves: how the Singaporeans take pride in their economic stability, how the Australians beam about their unproblematic country, how the Koreans enjoy their national prosperity. You can tell even from how they ride their trains; how, even in their public transport, their dignity is kept intact.


There are various metrics used to quantify these qualities of life among nations and the lists are published early in the year.

The Best Countries Ranking of US News & World Report, for instance, ranks the Philippines 50th overall best country. Its rubrics include entrepreneurship, adventure, heritage and, of course, quality of life. We rank high on adventure, at 22nd, and considerably high on quality of life, at 37th. In contrast, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam rank 26th, 38th and 39th, respectively.

Human resource consulting firm, Mercer, focuses more on quality of life with its Quality of Living Survey. To quantify quality of life, its rubrics include public services and transport, medical and health considerations, and sociocultural environment. On this list we rank 137th, a little lower than our neighbor Bangkok at 133rd. Closely behind are other neighbors Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi—all beautiful cities. Kuala Lumpur is way up at 85th and Singapore at 25th.

The World Happiness Report, commissioned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, ranks the Philippines at 69th. To measure happiness, this report’s rubrics include GDP per capita, social support and generosity. We bested neighbors Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The report includes discussions on how the quality of government and the use of digital technology have an impact on national happiness.

I’ve looked differently at my fellow countrymen in light of the concept of quality of living. While there are plentiful Filipinos in deplorable living conditions, there are also many who have risen to middle class, and also a few lavish upper class.

If citizens were indeed children, and the country the parent, the Philippines may be nurturing but one with blatant favorites. Its citizens are two groups of siblings who have resources on one end and are deprived of these same resources on the other. Luxury cars dot Edsa while our transit system fails. High-rise residences are a stone’s throw away from illegal settlements. It’s a country of wide gaps and extremes, and it is obvious in our varying qualities of living.

There may be vast room for improvement on our quality of life from a political and economic standpoint. We can greatly help, however, from a social standpoint. A better quality of life for Filipinos may not be through some groundbreaking political and economic reform. All it takes is some form of altruism to make this country a better place not only for ourselves but also for others.

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