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Saturday, May 18, 2024

‘Siete Diretso?’

"Mar Roxas appears to be busy with new fatherhood."

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If you’ve been quite observant, you would notice that what was billed as the Otso Diretso, that coalition of the Liberal Party, Magdalo and some independent candidates has of late become Siete Diretso.  It’s ocho menos uno.  Eight minus one.  Eight minus Mar.

The leading senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party was expected to also lead their eight-man slate.  But thus far, hardly have we seen Mar Roxas on the hustings together with the “diretso.” Reelectionist Bam Aquino, yes, but Mar Roxas, grandson of the party’s founder, its presidential contender who finished second to the incumbent, is nowhere to be found.

Que pasa, ocho derecho?

Of course, Mar has not been too active on the hustings either, preferring perhaps his multi-million peso advertorials to speak for his being an “ekonomista.”

But then again, he is a new father to twins, so we ought to understand why he and Korina are doting parents who need more private and family time, and less time for physical campaigning.

Still, being the “timon” of Otso Diretso whose candidates other than Mar and Bam are still low on the public awareness meter, one can’t help but feel sorry for the six “orphaned” senatorial wannabes.  Even if some of them sport illustrious surnames like Diokno and Tañada, unfortunately the Filipino voters with their characteristic short memories may find it hard to appreciate the Siete, or shall we say, Seis, Diretso.

Speaking of senatorial candidates, a recent SWS survey claims that the most important consideration of voters in choosing who to vote for is that the senatorial candidate is “not corrupt.”

If we go by the public experience over the last two decades, one is likely to comment: “tell that to the Marines.”

Obviously, while many of those surveyed claim they have a negative perception of “corrupt” or corruptible candidates, their voting patterns do no quite support that qualification.  And the contention that they will not support the “corrupt” is true whether in NCR, Balance Luzon, Visayas or Mindanao.

The only conclusion one can get is that voters still need a lot of education to be able to distinguish between perception based on popularity, manufactured image and creative perception versus reality.  Quite sad.

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report, an annual publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its 2019 findings ranking the Philippines as the 71st “happy” population among 156 countries where South Sudan, Burundi and the Central African Republic are the “saddest” while the Nordic countries, Finland, Denmark, Norway are the “happiest.”

Taiwan News reported quite proudly that Taiwanese are the 25th happiest.  Above us are the following Asean countries: Singapore which is 34th, Malaysia 35th, Thailand, 46th.  Below the Philippines though in the happiness index are: Vietnam which is ranked 95th, Indonesia 96th, Laos 110th, Cambodia 120thand Myanmar at 130th.

In fact, we are supposedly “happier” than China, which ranks 86thand Hong Kong SAR which is 76th, although the Japanese rank 54th, which is higher than our 71st. 

Of course these are perceptions cross-checked with other indicia such as the cost of living, the state of conflict if any, the individual rights and freedoms citizens enjoy, and so forth.

I sometimes wonder whether Taiwan, whose land area is one-ninth of the Philippines, but with a population one-fifth of ours, could make its people as “happy” with their more affordable basics and higher quality of living if they had pro-created as fast as we did in the past 50 years.

Numbers do not lie.  Our government is strained to provide basic education, basic health care, even the tools necessary to keep our citizens safe and secure, because our numerous religion frowned on population management measures while the State was either too timid to contradict the Catholic Church or was stymied by the judicial challenges coming from the same.

With land limited and supply logistics expensive due to the archipelagic territory, food is relatively more expensive than in other Asean and Asian countries.  Nobody can be happy when the stomach grumbles.

This is especially true in the urban centers, where the cost of living is higher compared to the countryside.  And contrary to common perception, there are now more Filipinos living in the cities than in the rural areas.   

Speaking of food, do you now that our cuisine is among the “least liked” globally?

A survey conducted by a UK-based market research and data analytics firm, YouGov, among 25,000 people in 24 countries, showed that Filipino cuisine had an average popularity around the world of 36 percent, placing it in the bottom four out of 34 cuisines included in the study.

But Filipinos are the most appreciative of other countries’ food.  We are probably Asia’s best fans of Japanese food, including its “ramen,” the outlets of which are so ubiquitous in NCR, even if the Japanese least like our cuisine.  Only 21 percent of Japs liked Filipino food, with Australians the most appreciative of our cuisine, at 56 percent.

Understandably, pizza and pasta, Italy’s contributions to international cuisine, are almost universally liked, and thus qualify as the world’s “most popular food.”

Our Department of Tourism, which wants to promote culinary tourism, has a big challenge ahead.

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