Hope springs eternal
DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - January 1, 2020 - 12:00am

People will keep on hoping, no matter what the odds. A good example is the lotto. People keep buying lottery tickets even if mathematicians say odds of winning is almost nil.

This expression coined by Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man) comes to mind as we approach the new year. A survey of the Social Weather Stations show how we are almost all hopeful the new year will be good for us.

It is difficult to understand. Given what we go through daily, it is surprising Filipinos still have high hopes that the New Year will be better. SWS had been tracking this yearend sentiment for years. No matter how bad the year had been, most folks remain hopeful for the new year. 

Hope for the New Year had always been high, starting at 87 percent when SWS first asked the question in 2000. It rose to 88 percent in 2001 and 95 percent in 2002 before easing to 90 percent in 2003, 81 percent in 2004, and 85 percent in 2005. It ranged from 91 percent to 92 percent from 2006 to 2008, and went up to 89 percent in 2009. It rose to 93 percent in 2010, and has since then been at 90s levels, reaching as high as 96 percent in 2017 and 2019.

This year, SWS found out that 96 percent of Filipino adults are entering 2020 with hope rather than with fear. This is according to the Fourth Quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey conducted from December 13-16, 2019.

This is 4 points up from the 92 percent in 2018, and ties the record-high level that was first achieved in 2017.

On the other hand, 4 percent will enter the New Year with fear. This is 4 points down from the 8 percent in 2018, and matches the record-low levels in 2017 and 2011.

The December 2019 survey also found 33 percent made a list of things they want to do or change in 2019. This is down by 13 points from the 46 percent who made New Year’s resolutions in 2017.

SWS reports that the 4-point rise in the overall New Year hope from 2017 to 2019 was due to increases in all areas except in Mindanao.

New Year hope continues to be widespread in all areas – a record-high 99 percent in Balance Luzon, 97 percent in Visayas, 96 percent in Metro Manila, and 90 percent in Mindanao.

Surprisingly, it rose in Metro Manila, up from 94 percent in 2018 to 96 percent in 2019. This matches the record-high levels achieved in 2017, 2011, and 2010.

Despite the President obviously favoring Mindanao, hope fell slightly there, down from 94 percent in 2018 to 90 percent in 2019.

It is tempting to say that the high hopes and expectations this year mirrors the high favorable rating of President Duterte. There could be some relationship between the two. In both instances, people seem to disregard reality.

Then again, the high numbers pre-date Duterte. Through the years, SWS numbers show we have always been hopeful as we approach the New Year. We tend to erase the old year with all the bad memories and start the new year fresh, with brand new hope.

It doesn’t seem to bother us that we go through the same routine of high hopes and end up with crushed dreams year after year. We still remain hopeful the next year will be better.

But many are getting the idea. Even if people remain generally hopeful, fewer and fewer are making resolutions or more specific expectations of good tidings for the new year. There is a 13-point decline in the overall proportion of those who made New Year’s resolutions from 2017 to 2019. And decreases happened in all areas.

Being hopeful is a wonderful thing. It is a good coping mechanism that helps us survive daily challenges. Hope is even a basic Christian tenet that keeps us focused on the life ever after.

But in daily temporal life, hope has kept our people enduring lives that could have been better. Hope made our people resilient to the negative impact of bad governance in our lives.

I cannot imagine Filipinos telling survey takers that they have lost hope that the new year will be happy after expressing high hopes on Duterte. Never mind that the respondent still expects to endure five hours in traffic jams daily. Never mind that a farmer cannot expect to recover production costs for his palay.

Bad experiences are in the past. The New Year is a new ball game, reason enough to be hopeful.

But passive hope is hopeless. We must work to fulfil our hopes and dreams for the new year. And that means demanding good governance from our officials.  Let us make sure they get the message.

Let hope reign! But let us not allow anyone to take advantage of us just because we choose to be hopeful.

Happy New Year to everyone. We deserve to have one... all 12 months of it.

Boo Chanco’s email address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him Twitter @boochanco

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