In the Philippines, Millennials Demonstrate Resilient Spirit

Christian Kurz by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom
The International Filipino Association at NYU hosted a musical showcase in which 100% of proceeds were donated to NAFCON USA's Bayanihan Relief & Rehabilitation Program. (Photo: Justin Manolo)

The Millennial members of the International Filipino Association at NYU hosted a musical showcase in which 100% of proceeds were donated to NAFCON USA’s Bayanihan Relief & Rehabilitation Program. (Photo: Justin Manalo)

Our research has found that Filipinos are among the happiest people in the world. Right up there with Latin Americans and Nigerians, 83% of Filipinos aged 9-30 consider themselves to be “very happy” – making the Philippines the fifth happiest country in the world, according to Viacom’s recent 32-country survey.

Then last month, Super Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda, as it’s known in the Philippines) hit the country. As Yan Yuzon, one of our MTV Voices correspondents, writes, “the geographic middle of [his] nation [was] literally punched in the gut by […] possibly the worst storm in recorded history.” You can read his captivating story on MTV Voices.

The images of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan are shocking and reminiscent of the destruction of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Japan tsunami – devastation everywhere. Natural disasters have had a great impact on shaping the Millennial generation around the world, ranking as the third most important subject globally behind the economy and terrorism. In Asia, the impact of natural disasters has been even more prominent, often emerging as the #1 factor shaping the generation. The impact of these events resonates for many years after the initial clean-up and of course has a profound effect on the affected countries and beyond.

Yet, even in the midst of despair and desperation, hope is beginning to emerge after Typhoon Haiyan and Millennials in the Philippines are demonstrating their resilient spirit. They are a highly positive group of people, practically facing up to reality and identifying ways and means by which they can help.

Young Filipinos are very active on social media and with new technologies – more so than the global average – and with so many of their relatives living overseas, they learn at a very young age to engage with people in the virtual world. Today, in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, these skills are being put to good use. Relatives are being tracked down through social media, videos are being created and shared, and survivors are reporting the news firsthand.

This behavior reflects the general attitudes of Millennials in the Philippines that we found in our research late last year:

  • 90% agree that their generation had the power to change the world for the better, and
  • 85% say that the internet has changed the way they think about the world.

As with Millennials all over the globe, family bonds are incredibly important to Filipino Millennials and they play a vital role in keeping them happy; for example, 62% of Filipinos name a family member as their #1 best friend. But they also take inspiration from themselves – their own judgment and decisions – to a higher degree than the global average. Teachers are important sources of inspiration and religious leaders are much more trusted than elsewhere in the world.

The international community is responding, too. In addition to the large appeals for assistance through global organizations such as UNICEF, individuals are mobilizing. A 6-year old preschooler in Tokyo has donated his piggy bank to typhoon relief – and the Embassy of the Philippines has welcomed his donation. Many young people and celebrities alike have taken to social media and other platforms to express their solidarity and help in the best way they can.

Here are some thoughts from Viacom’s offices in Manila and New York:

“When catastrophic events hit home, sometimes you wonder if anyone cares or is listening… especially when ‘home’ is literally on the other side of the globe. As a Filipino–American here at MTV, I am truly grateful for and humbled by the overwhelming generosity and outpouring of support from everyone at Viacom to help those affected in the Philippines by this horrible tragedy.  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you very much… or as we say in the Philippines – ‘Maraming salamat po.'” -Jeff Castaneda, VP of Communications, MTV U.S.

“The resilience, bayanihan (cooperative endeavor) and positivity of Filipinos are the traits that I will always be proud of.  We will always find, even in our small way, to help each other, put smiles on our faces. The Yolanda relief efforts showed massive assistance, from those who can, to those who gave whatever they have. I saw a girl who helped seek donations from the streets for victims. This is only one story from thousands. We will get up and move forward.” – Ana Maria Pulido, Director, Nickelodeon Brand, Philippines, Viacom International Media Networks

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