The true measure of prosperity is happiness

EVERYBODY was elated if not really surprised that the Philippine Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the sum of all goods and services produced in the country, grew to 6.4 percent during the first quarter of this year.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III immediately capitalized on the good news by reporting it to the nation and even United States President Barack Obama when he visited America to beg for assistance in early June. The current GDP growth nearly doubled that of last year.

The growth was attributed to an increase in government spending, the campaign against graft and corruption, and the unexpected surge in dollar remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers.

President Aquino is so confident that we are on our way to prosperity that his administration would lend $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund.

However,  the economic growth that Aquino is so upbeat about is not felt at the grassroots as there are no mechanisms in place to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth in the country. Only the rich and powerful benefit from high the GDP output.

In fact based on current government data nearly five million Filipinos or one out of four is suffering from hunger.

This appalling number does not include those who are suffering from unemployment or underemployment (around 11 million as of July last year), and the close to 30 million who are considered poor because they cannot meet the basic material requirements for decent living.

However, by sleight of hand, the government has drastically reduced these figures.

It redefined the meaning of unemployment and poverty and voila there are less poor and unemployed people in our country.

It is only in the Philippines that poverty is eradicated through definition change.

This is similar to what was done in England during the times of old when poverty was legislated out of the kingdom.

Anyway, the point is ordinary folks are not benefiting from the high GDP rate.

Experience is telling us that GDP, when used as the sole gauge of the country’s prosperity, is severely lacking.

The figure represented by the GDP is not the totality of the country’s level of prosperity.

The main and most important component in gauging prosperity, that is human happiness, cannot be measured in terms of GDP alone. A new paradigm in measuring the country’s well being is needed. What we need to use is the Happy Planet Index (HPI).

According to its website ( HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well being and ecological footprint to calculate this. The index is an efficiency measure. It ranks countries on how many long and happy lives they produce per unit of environmental input.

Based on HPI data from 151 countries, the happiest country in the world is Costa Rica surprisingly followed by Vietnam in 2nd place. Our country is in the 24th place while China and the US are respectively in the 60th and 105th place. Botswana, which landed in the 151st spot, earned the tagged least happy country of the world.

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Does boredom wear you down or is there just a nagging feeling that you want to get away from the metropolis and be with mother-nature? Then go and visit Bato Springs in Barangay San Cristobal, San Pablo City.
Located at the foot of the mystical Mt. Banahaw, Bato Springs is just one hour and 30 minute drive from Manila. You have a spacious parking space that could even accommodate tourist buses and first class amenities for all your business and pleasure needs.

For more information call Ms. Elaine Garchitorena at 0495620976 or (0916) 372-3926.

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