THE WORLD’S major religions all extoll the virtues of gratitude. From Christianity to Islam, Buddhism to Hinduism — some reference is always made to the importance of gratefulness to achieving a good life.
Even science has shown that adopting an “attitude of gratitude” yields immense benefits — including better mental health outcomes and higher “quality of life and well-being” responses.
In fact, a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that participants who were asked to accomplish a daily list of things they were grateful for actually slept up to 30 minutes longer and exercised an average 40 minutes more per week than those asked to jot down a daily list of hassles. Apparently, the mind can have an effect over matter — especially when one counts their blessings, and not their burdens.
One may wonder whether similar benefits accrue when an entire nation espouses this attitude of gratitude. Which in turn begs an even bigger question — do Filipinos have things to be thankful for as 2018 wraps up?
A portion of the population would probably cite our recent Miss Universe victory or even the unexpected journey of the UP Fighting Maroons’ Men’s Basketball Team to first runner-up.
But an even greater number would be happy that the budgets for higher education have greatly increased to roughly P50 billion in 2018 — from only P10 billion a few years ago. The huge infusion of funds was of course due to the enactment of the Free College Law.
Even more would be glad to hear that both houses of Congress have recently ratified the bicameral conference report on the Universal Healthcare Act, which is only a few steps away from being forwarded to Malacañang for the President’s signature. Once enacted, this law will greatly expand the coverage of PhilHealth and ultimately afford every Filipino family access to free check-ups and lab tests.
Consider this with the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, which has also been approved by a bicameral conference committee. This measure aims lays out a comprehensive program aimed at lessening the incidence of preventable cancer in adults and children. Not only are we making healthcare more accessible, we’re also working towards making it more effective.
Another reason to be thankful is the Philippine economy’s performance. Despite a year’s worth of inflation, high world oil prices and geopolitical tensions, we appear to have weathered the storm and are primed to continue with our booming economic growth.
Other things to be thankful for include the enactment of such laws as the Free Irrigation Act which waves the fees some farmers have to pay to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA). Or the Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act, which when fully implemented should reduce the interface with government to only 3 days for simple transactions and seven days for more substantial processes.
There is also the enactment of the Mental Health Law, which establishes a comprehensive policy framework for the Department of Health (DOH) and other related agencies to provide affordable and meaningful mental health care to our people.
President Duterte also signed the First 1,000 Days Act or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act which mandates the government to focus more on improving the overall health and well-being of new mothers and their babies. As a principal author and co-sponsor of the measure, we see this as an urgent response to the long-standing problem of malnutrition across the country, especially among our children.
The Expanded Maternity Leave Act, calling for the extension of the allowed leave period of new mothers to 105 days, is also close to enactment, since Congress already approved the bicameral conference report. Clearly, decisive steps are being taken to protect and support our mothers.
Taxpayers can expect to receive an amnesty in the coming months pending the signature of the President for their obligations on estate taxes, general taxes and even their delinquent accounts.
Filipino athletes can likewise look forward to finally having a world-class training facility soon. Recently, a bicameral conference committee approved a measure establishing the Philippine Sports Training Center (PSTC), where up to P3.5 billion will be set aside in 2019 for building a 40-hectare facility in Region III.
Clearly, the Philippines has faced many challenges this year. But it would be incorrect to say that we haven’t seen our fair share of positive developments in 2018. So perhaps this holiday some effort must be paid towards counting our blessings — not just our burdens.
Sen. Sonny Angara was elected in 2013, and now chairs the Senate committees on local government, and ways and means. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara)/PN