Written by : Alix Schwartz 

Earth Day is Every Day in the Philippines

The Philippines, a country of beautiful scenic islands, unique emerald rice fields, graffiti-splashed jeepneys, smoldering volcanoes and happy, hardworking and generous people, is unlike any other nation in the world. The beautiful mixture of culture and tradition unites thousands of islands into one shared and increasingly vulnerable land.

The archipelago’s geography lends itself to extreme weather. With an increase in deadly typhoons in recent years and rising sea levels, any discussion about well-being or happiness returns to the topic of protecting the Earth to ensure future generations can enjoy nature’s benefits and not suffer as greatly from disasters.

The Philippines’ Climate Change Commission emphasized the critical importance of both well-being and environmental protection as they unveiled their Happiness Wall at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the senate house in Manila, Philippines, just a few weeks ago on March 20. Climate Change Commissioner Rachel S. Herrera, said, “As we celebrate the International Day of Happiness today, let us keep in mind that the more we preserve and treat our environment with kindness, the more we ensure our well-being and security as a nation.”

Senator Loren Legarda, chairwoman of the Philippines’ Climate Change Committee, is working to adopt a policy similar to Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) rather than Gross National Product (GDP) to reflect the happiness and well-being of Filipinos. The goal is to pursue a holistic development of their country to boost equality and environmental protection amid threats of climate change and increased risk of disaster.

The panel’s efforts to connect happiness and environmental sustainability in the Philippines strives to create positive effects in many ways. The Live Happy article, “Can Happiness Save the Planet?” cites the Happy Planet Index’s conclusion that societies that practice sustainability are shown to be happier than their less environmentally minded counterparts.

The global measurement standard multiplies an index of life satisfaction and the life expectancy average of each country’s residents, then divides that by the ecological footprint of the country. Results consistently show that residents with a smaller ecological footprint register greater levels of happiness, satisfaction and well-being.