Pulse Asia’s March 2011 social weather survey on the Filipino’s peception towards President Noy-Noy Aquino’s performance informs consistency in the trust rating across regions in the country and comparative of its earlier survey of October 2010. Approval of the President’s performance is high by 5% and distrust is lower by 4%. Generally, the President’s trust rating is at 74% and disapproval is at 7%.
The survey points the difference in trust and disapproval of 1,200 Filipinos representing the population across classes and geographic areas, but it does not explain why the Filipino trust the president that much.
A qualitative study conducted by a group of PhD students from the University of the Philippines explored this phenomenon and found cultural links between public opinion and the president’s character, disposition and performance to explain how and why online readers trust PNoy that much (Rivera, Bana, Villena & Ortuoste, 2011).
In this study, the first 100 days of the President was explored by analyzing online texts or comments that readers posted in the inbox of a reputed national broadsheet. At an average, an inbox contains 60-80 comments and opinions from online readers, totalling 1000+ commentaries from Filipinos across the globe. Data from each inbox were openly coded, axially coded and thematized into categories and triangulated for agreement with existing literature and internally with data from other inboxes.
Intrinsic Trust Factors
Timothy Church (1986) surveyed the literature on ideal Filipino values. Comparatively, most of the ideals that Filipinos aspire for and attributed as virtues are sensed to be evident in the President, by majority of the readers included in the study. The President, in his earlier 100 days, is trusted by 91% of the readers: 27% conditionaly; 15% moderately; and 49% highly. Only 6% have strong disapproval, while the remaining three express low trust and manifest cynicism.
The independent graduate research found that P-Noy is initially trusted because of his virtue (33%), his vision for the government and the country (21%), his political influence (15%), and his leadership qualities (13%). The other 15% of the readers’ commentaries did not provide reasons but expresses strong trust. But, this can be interpreted as to the Filipino’s context of tiwala na walang paliwanag to indicate full confidence or faith, or bulag na paniniwala to indicate fatalistic blind following.
From the analysis, the virtues that influence people’s trust on P-Noy pertain to his sinscerity, simplicity, practicaliy, humility, character to be on top, honesty, transparency and trustworthiness. He is perceived to be a visionary because of a belief that he can save the country from corruption and so make it better, as he is an agent of change who is able to manage government affairs. Although little than 5% believe that he has leadership qualities.
Moreover, his political influence is reflective of his personal circumstance being the son of two icons in Philippine democracy. Futher, he is trusted conditionally because he is voted by the people, and somehow he is doing his best as servant leader and as a role model. Over this is the strong belief that he carries the genese of his parents who were icons of democracy and fight against tyranny, which reverbs to his advocacy of getting rid of corruption in the government by taking the matuwid na daan (righteous path).
Extrinsic Trust Factors
Externally, this pakiramdam is influenced by elements that are not isolated from the Filipino self, within the shared network of meanings or cultural matrix. What becomes known to the public are those presented by the media or Presidential communication’s office. The people’s perceptions are also influenced by what they hear and share about the President.
Englehart & Welzel (2005) posits that the sociohistorical heritage of a people influence their value system and that of cultural change in a nation. The trust that most Filipinos place on P-Noy is a reflection of this relatinship between the people’s political history and their value system. Another thing that makes Filipinos trust the President is that because other’s trust him as well.
The prevailing value system of the Filipinos influence an individual to put trust to another person. Clammer (1996) explains that in Southeast Asian cosmology, our cultural values bound by kinship affect our relationships and even the political processes in our nation. In this case, our value system influences our political views that we share to and put upon others. This translates to a public opinion that politicians consider a lot.
Filipino Measure of Political Trust
Trust or tiwala is an intrinsic schema or pakiramdam and value or pamantayan that a Filipino shares from his sarili (self) with his kapwa (fellow). Magaan ang loob (light-hearted) is a Filipino to someone who shares interests, values and ideals, similar to his. The intersubjectivity of the Filipino value of self with others is shared and influence the fostering of relationships bound on trust.
In the people’s pakiramdam, they sense the sincerity of the President in fulfilling his promise of matuwid na daan and paglaban sa korupsyon. But this disposition may change, when it becomes less manifest in the government under the authority and command responsibility of the President.
Political trust which is measured as the predominant degree of intersubjective confidence or approval between sarili and kapwa, for the Filipino, operates in the balance between intrinsic standards and extrinsic elements that influence their mindset to share positive attitude towards a fellow or any member of the national community. For a Filipino to trust his kapwa, the other person must demonstrate the desirable and ideal virtues that is valuably shared and reflects the ideals of the Filipino personhood or pagkatao.
While there are cynics that can influence other’s opinion, the President still needs to prove his leadership in governance, not just to convince those who do not trust for the Filipino people and the country in general. He was voted and elected in the first place because he ushered hope for to “save” the country even if he is not perceived to possess the leadership necessary to run the goernment. His challenge remains to keep his words and assume authority duly placed upon him to protect the country’s reputation.
Church, T. A. (1986). Filipino personality, a review of research and writings. Monograph Series No. 6. Manila: De La Salle University Press.
Clammer, J. (1996). Values and development in Southeast Asia. Selangor, Malaysia: Pelanduk Publications.
Englehart, R. & Welzel, C. (2005). Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. Cambridge University Press.
Pulse Asia Inc. (March 21, 2011). Presidential Performance and Trust Ratings and National Administration Trust Ratings. Media relsease from Tabunda, A. M. L. PhD., Chief Research Fellow. Manila, Philippines.
Rivera, R. C. II, Bana, R. Jr., Villena, N., & Ortuoste, J. R. A. (2011). P-Noy Online: Social Constructions of Public Expectations to President Benigno S. Aquino III in his first 100 days. [Unpublished reseach]. College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines.