“Happy People for a Happy Nation”

Opinion by: Er Humprey Cabalan

Philippines is home to one of the most resilient and hardworking people across the globe—the Filipinos. Our contagious and genuine smiles engulfed with our remarkable hospitality have captured the hearts of our visitors, bringing them comfort and superb experiences whenever they visit our beautiful country. We take so much pride in our bright smiles that we also display them in times of adversity. However, a survey conducted this year by the World Happiness Report revealed that these smiles painted in our faces don’t necessarily make us the happiest as we ranked 76th out of 137 countries. We’re still less happy than the rest of the world, a fact that I hope to be addressed by the current administration’s Bagong Pilipinas campaign.

I won’t deny that the first year of the Marcos administration was commendable as I witnessed how the government was able to successfully lead the nation’s transition towards the new normal following the coronavirus pandemic’s drastic effect in our lives. We’re also among the fastest-growing economies in the world, recording a 7.6% growth in 2022 which is the highest in 46 years. And recently, the Bagong Pilipinas Serbisyo Fair which has helped a lot of Filipinos so far with its over 160 services and programs. Still, these accomplishments aren’t enough to make the hundred million Filipinos truly happy with their lives.

As a youth, my aspirations for a new nation lies in recalibrating our education system, focusing more on cultivating discipline and good values among the young ones, and incorporating fun in learning rather than solely revolving around rote memorization of knowledge and concepts. The cases of mental health issues among the youth have been escalating because many of them see schools as gateway to hell due to the pressure and expectations they demand them. This unhappiness in schools make our students less productive, bearing poor results in cognitive assessments—a case that is evident on the latest survey of PISA which we also placed at the bottom in terms of reading and comprehension. Making our classrooms a fun and engaging environment will most likely negate the current problems we have in education and in return, this will make our youth, the shapers of the future of our nation happier.

According to Aristotle, one of my favorite philosophers, the ultimate goal of life is to achieve happiness. Thus, I believe that our vision for a new nation should be grounded on the happiness of the majority of the Filipino people. Let’s start this in our education system.

Illustrated by: Paul Elance Pajares

Graphic by: Bonjovi Salinas

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