MANILA, Philippines — One out of two Filipinos expects to be happy during Christmas this year while those anticipating a sad holiday reached a record-high 15%, a Social Weather Stations poll released the day before the country's biggest holiday showed.
The SWS said that 50% or half of Filipinos expect a happy Christmas, recording a 29-percent drop from 2019, the lowest number since the survey was first conducted in 2002.
The same survey showed a record high of 15% of Filipinos expecting a sad Christmas, surpassing the previous record-high 11% recorded in 2011.
In a release on Thursday, the pollster said Filipinos’ expectation of a happy Christmas was at 82% in 2002. It went up to 77% the following year before settling between 62-69% from 2004 to 2013.
In 2014, the number of Filipinos expecting a happy Christmas rose to 74% and reached 79% in 2019.
The SWS poll also showed that 33% of Filipinos are expecting to neither be happy or sad in Christmas, also a record-high, surpassing 29% recorded in 2006.
The survey was conducted November 21-25 via face-to-face interview—the first since the COVID-19 pandemic. SWS asked 1,500 Filipinos aged 18 years and above if “on the while, would you say that your Christmas this year will be happy; sad; not happy and not sad?”
The SWS surveyed 600 in Balace Luzon, 300 each in Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao. The poll has error margin of ±2.5% for national percentages, ±4% for Balance Luzon, and ±6% for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
Sad Christmas seen
The SWS noted that expectation of a sad Christmas is customarily recorded at single digits, except in 2004, 2009, 2011 and 2020 when it reached double digits, with this year hitting record-high.
Previous polls painted a picture of how the pandemic and government response affected the Philippines, with hunger and unemployment reaching record-highs, leading to what the SWS said was the "worst trend in survey history" in terms of quality of life.
Community quarantine protocols have been enforced since March, although restrictions have been eased in parts of country.
An earlier SWS survey showed that 48% of families or almost half of Filipinos rate themselves as poor, with only 16% saying they are not.
“The percentage of those who expect a sad Christmas is higher among Poor families (18%) than among Borderline Poor (13%) and Not Poor (12%),” the SWS report read.
It added: “It is also higher among Food-Poor families (19%) than among Borderline Food-Poor (13%) and Not Food-Poor (13%) families.”
The SWS also said that families that experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months posted higher numbers in expectation of a sad Christmas (23%), compared to those that did not experience hunger (14%).
Expectation of sad Christmas is also much higher among families that are severely hungry (35%) than in moderately hungry families (19%), it added.
There are also 17% of Filipinos who said their quality of life got worse, or termed by SWS as “losers” expecting a sad Christmas. Meanwhile, 10% of those whose life got better, or the “gainers,” said they expect a sad Christmas.
More in Mindanao, Visayas expect happy Christmas
The poll noted that a majority in Mindanao (65%) and Visayas (57%) expect a happy Christmas, however the number fell in Balance Luzon (42%) and Metro Manila (36%).
Although a majority in Mindanao expects a happy Christmas, the number fell from the 80% recorded in 2019.
Those who expect a happy Christmas in Visayas also fell to record- ow of 57%, far below the 82% recorded the previous year.
The SWS poll also recorded record lows in Balance Luzon at 42% from 2019’s 79%, and in Metro Manila where 36% of Filipinos said they expect a happy Christmas compared to 70% in 2019.
Top plans in celebrating Christmas
The SWS said the November 2020 poll was the first time they surveyed for specific plans in celebrating Christmas. They asked respondents “how will you celebrate Christmas this year?” and were shown a list of activities.
It said 55% answered “Prepare Noche Buena with home family only” while 49% said “Go to church or attend religious services.”
There are also 11% who said they will prepare Noche Buena with relatives from other homes, another 11% who said they will send Christmas greetings through letters or greeting cards, while 10% said they will send greetings online or through text.
“Obtaining single-digit percentages are Visit family and friends (9%), Put up decorations like lanterns and Christmas trees (9%), Send Christmas greetings through letters or greeting cards (3%), Let children visit their Godparents (2%), and Visit tourist spots that are open (1%). Other plans specified comprise 2%,” the SWS report said.
The remaining 5% meanwhile said they will not do anything while 2% gave no answer.
The government has said that gatherings with more than 10 people are prohibited in an effort to curb the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season.
As of December 23, COVID-19 cases in the country reached 464,004 with 9,048 fatalities and 429,972 recoveries. — Kristine Joy Patag
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