SWS at 34 | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

SWS at 34

/ 05:08 AM August 10, 2019

Social Weather Stations turned 34 years old last Thursday, from the date (8/8/85) it was registered by the Securities and Exchange Commission as a nonstock, nonprofit corporation organized for scientific purposes. That makes it a few months older than the Inquirer.

When SWS was born, more than half of the present regular staff who celebrated the anniversary were not alive yet. The new generation needs to imbibe the history and traditions of their unique organization, so as to effectively carry on the teamwork and innovative spirit necessary for their mission into the future.


SWS is a private, independent, non-partisan, social science research institute. It is not a company or business. It earns its keep from research projects, mainly social survey projects, sponsored by others. Its stakeholders, called Fellows, receive no dividends; all operating surpluses are plowed back for further development.

SWS was established as part of the anti-authoritarian reaction to the Aquino assassination in 1983. The precursor 1984-85 surveys of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development had found the majority of Filipinos opposed to Marcos’ legislation by decree, and detention by fiat. In the first SWS survey of 1986, 60 percent said they had voted for Cory Aquino in the February 1986 snap election. (For an institutional introduction, see my book “The Philippine Social Climate: From the SWS Surveys,” Anvil, 1994.)


Though possibly best known for surveys on elections, SWS’ basic agenda is to generate meaningful, timely and realistic indicators of the people’s well-being for public use. It does this by including poverty, hunger, quality-of-life trends and expectations, crime victimization and public safety, life-satisfaction and happiness, joblessness, satisfaction with governance, and many other dimensions of the quality of life, along with public opinion issues of its choice, in the quarterly Social Weather Surveys of adults. More than half of the items in these surveys are noncommissioned.

SWS has done special surveys about coup attempts, foreign military bases, the youth, children in difficult circumstances, government programs, public- and private-sector corruption, and the Mindanao peace process, and other topics. We have interviewed judges, lawyers, legislators, businessmen and disaster victims.

As of mid-2019, the SWS archive includes 642 datasets, of which 303 are national in scope, by conducting 1,002,521
interviews on 118,003 survey questions. These data are all ultimately usable to researchers. Even privately-sponsored political surveys are open, upon expiry of a three-year embargo.

SWS people are active members of the International Society for Quality of Life Studies and the World Association for Public Opinion Research. As an institution, SWS represents the Philippines in the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), the World Values Survey (WVS), Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and Asian Barometer, and is the Philippine fieldwork provider for the Gallup World Poll.

Each week, after the national anthem, we sing the SWS Hymn:
Samu’t saring pananaw, aming binibigyang-linaw
Isyung makabuluhan, una sa aming listahan
Hustisya’t Edukasyon, Kalikasan at Eleksyon
Maging ang paksa sa pulitika’t ekonomiya
Lahat tinatala bawat opinyon ng madla
Nang sa gayon ay malaman ang hinaing ng mamamayan
‘Yan ang aming hangarin, demokrasya’y pagtibayin
Instrumento ng masa sa kanilang karaingan
SWS ay tinatag, layon nitong magampanan
Nang ang baya’y magising sa katotohanan

Contact [email protected]

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