Survey shows gloom in disaster-hit Visayas

MANILA, Philippines – It is hardly surprising but the newly released Pulse Asia survey conducted December 8-15, 2013, shows how the series of disasters that hit the country in 2013 made many Filipinos feel that life got worse.

Asked how they will compare their situation in December 2013 compared to the last 12 months, a majority of 60% in the Visayas said their quality of life got worse. It's a significant 22 percentage points increase from a similar survey conducted in September.

The quality of life survey is a yardstick often used to measure the best places to live in. 

Pulse Asia chief research fellow Ana Tabunda said the decline is attributed to the disasters in the region. "Inflation in the devastated areas is also unusually high," she added. (READ: Inflation at 2-year high after Haiyan)

The December survey followed a series of disasters that hit central Philippines. Among them was the massive earthquake in October that devastated Bohol and Cebu and the monster typhoon Yolanda in November that flattened many towns and cities in many parts of the Visayas. 

Another 29% said they observed "no change in their personal circumstances." 

But it wasn't all that gloomy for everyone there. There's an 11% that said their quality of life improved. The survey's error margin is +/- 3 points. 

Forty-one percent of the respondents there said they're optimistic that the quality of their lives will improve in the next 12 months. But 42% said it will be the same and 17% think it will get worse. 

Screenshot of Pulse Asia survey

Life is not better for big majority

The trend is repeated nationwide, but it's not as bad as in the Visayas. A big majority or 84% of Filipinos don't see improvement in their quality of lives in the last 12 months.

Forty-three percent of Filipinos said their "quality of life have deteriorated. Another 41 percent said they observed "no change in their personal circumstances." 

Only 15% of the population said they are in a better situation. The survey had 1,200 respondents nationwide.

Pulled by the numbers in the Visayas, the nationwide survey shows a significant increase in Filipinos who said the quality of their lives got worse from only 35% in the September survey to 43% in the December survey.

Rich Filipinos complaining, too

Broken down geographically, the sample is too small to show significant deterioration in the National Capital Region, Luzon, and Mindanao. 

There's a striking increase in unhappiness among the rich and middle-class Filipinos among the ABC socio-demographic class. Forty-two percent of the ABC class said the quality of their lives got worse. It is a notable increase of 27 points from 15% of them who said life was getting worse in September to 42% who found themselves in that situation in December.

Outside the Visayas, the rest of the country including Metro Manila suffered destructive typhoons. In February 2013, security in southern Mindanao was threatened when the Royal Security Force of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III attacked Lahad Datu in Sabah. In September 2013, government forces and followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari were caught in a 3-week standoff that killed hundreds. 

PH is not improving

There were differences in how the respondents saw their personal situations and in how they see the country's situation.

A majority of Filipinos or 55% said the national quality of life is worse now. This is a 25 percentage points increase from a similar survey conducted in March. This sentiment grew across all geographic locations – Metro Manila (up 15 points), Luzon (Up 15 points), the Visayas (up 33 points), Mindanao (up 14 points) – from March to December. 

It is the same trend across socio-demographic classes. Fifty-eight percent of Class ABC said life got worse (up 25 points), 57% of D (up 30 points) and 48% of E (Up 14 points).

Another 36% said the national quality of life is the same. Ony 9% said the country situation has improved.

Most Filipinos (43%) do not think that the country'a situation will improve in the next 12 months. Thirty-one percent said it will get worse and only 26% said it will get better.

Economy is not getting better

The Philippines enjoyed economic gains in 2013, but the government recognizes that these gains need to trickle down to the poorest of the population. In his July 2013 State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Benigno Aquino III vowed to focus on "inclusive growth."

The government has to work harder. Based on the survey, 50% of Filipinos said the "state of the national economy" is "worse now." Another 40% said it is the same and only 11% said it is "better now."

Even as majority of the respondents said they did not feel improvements in the economy, 61% percent said they "feel somewhat" the "impact of the growth of the national economy."

On the other hand, 62% said they "strongly feel" the "impact of the deterioration of the national economy on the respondent's life." –