Now isn’t that remarkable?

According to Jetpac, a social travel app guide, the Philippines ranked as the 8th smiliest country in the world. Jetpac scoured through more than 150 million Instagram posts and arrived with the 124 happiest countries based on how much their people smile. Brazil topped the list. The Philippines is the only Asian country to make it to the top ten!

8 truly must be a lucky number. So flash those pearly whites because here are eight reasons why these magical, mystical 7,107 rock formations we call our humble abode is the 8th happiest place on Earth.


Those showbands in cruise ships, casinos and hotels abroad? Ask them. They’re probably all-Filipino. It’s a no-brainer: Take a cursory glance at your sari-sari store and you’d see sando-clad townsfolk doing their renditions of never-dying staples like “My Way” or “Hotel California” that could put American Idol hopefuls to shame.

As a bandmate once put it, we are the Africans of Asia—we’re a very musical people, if not, the most musical in Asia. It’s all in the chemicals, baby—if leading neurologists say that music releases endorphins in the brain, then by God, we Filipinos must really be high on the happy juice.


Speaking of chemicals, it’s a proven fact that Vitamin D from the rays of the sun increases levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for combatting depression. A lack of this vitamin often leads to Seasonal Affective Disorder. (Or SAD, in short. Hey,who thinks of these clever acronyms?) It is reported that SAD or Winter Depression increases suicide rates in icy Western countries.

So complain all you want about how face-meltingly hot it is in your one-horse barrio, but if you look on the bright side, all that sunlight is gifting us with happy thoughts, enough to levitate the entire barangay to Neverland.

So it’s high time we stop singing that overplayed Disney snowman song. Write one about a Vitamin D man or something. Because that is what Filipinos are—Vitamin D Men, people oozing with serotonin, people who are too happy from a generous sun.


Need I say more? Blame it all on the red insect. Give me one person who does not come out of Jollibee without a smile. There’s just something magical about the food. Heck, you can even ask the grinning expats who visit our shores.

Our very own homegrown QSR brand, Jollibee, truly makes us Filipinos happy. There is no question about it.


Complain all you want about democracy, but hey, I think that it’s democracy that makes us happy. Would you rather us be communists? Or would you prefer us to be like North Korea?

If you think about it, democracy (or the unspoilt idea of it) makes life simple. Just get a job, work nobly as you can and spend your money on things you love. You can be born as penniless as a rat, but if you keep you nose to the grindstone, you’ll eventually be able to buy things. As long as you have a job, you’ll be happy.

So yes, complain all you want about democracy, but it’s what we have right now. It’s not perfect, but it’s working.


Ditch the government. Complaining about it is the kind of stuff that leads to cancer. Yes, give up on the Philippine government already. Besides, we pay for our food, water, electricity, healthcare and education with our own money and not through our taxes. Hell, we even pay exorbitant toll fees when using new roads. All the bare necessities are privatized now. And yes, it always has been the private sector that rocks, never those buffoons in office.

So how can we still be happy folks when our very own leaders are as crooked as scoliosis? Well, we’re happy because of the two F’s—family and friends. What the government can’t provide, our family and friends often do.

Consider: In the Philippines, there are no homeless shelters or soup kitchens or let alone, hobos on the streets. Because when the world comes crashing down on you, chances are you won’t end up homeless upon a trashfire.

It won’t be some social worker that will come to your rescue. It will be those two F’s I mentioned. They’ll give you a couch to sleep on and a freshly pressed t-shirt. And that, ladies and germs, is one of the most overlooked reasons why we’re happy.


According to the journals of Antonio Pigafetta, when he and Ferdinand Magellan landed on our shores, he was shocked to see how lazy the natives were. They were all fat. They slept in hammocks all day, as they feasted on piles upon piles of fruits and lechon kawali. Some natives even wore edible clothing and they ate their own shirts. There really was no need for agriculture because the natives could just pick stuff off a tree.

So what’s the moral of the story here? We live in an island full of volcanoes. And volcanic soil gives us an embarrassment of natural resources. Our land provides us with much supplies, that if you think hard about it,we don’t even need to wake up at six in the morning, slog through the godless caravan in EDSA, and grow cancer cells as we sit in front of our laptops all day. All we ever need to do pick stuff off a tree.


To paraphrase the great Joey Ayala, we are not a marching people; we’re a swaying people.

What one can call undisciplined, another can call light-hearted. By the nature of our DNAs, we Filipinos are fun-loving people. And yes, discipline may sometimes get in the way of fun. Hey, come on, at least we’re not as stiff as those Singaporeans, right?

We are Filipinos. Fun is our middle name.


I spent more than a year living in North America, in the Pacific Northwest to be exact. I have tried the food trucks, those hipster cupcakes and whatever food blogger trends there were in Vancouver and Seattle. I’ve also had my fair share of trips around Asia where I got a feel of their restaurant scenes.

And listen up: No matter what anyone tells you, food here in the Philippines is the finest. Period. Just the bananas here that you can buy from the corner store tastes better than most countries’. That, and we have the best chefs.

Just ask any OFW what they truly miss about home. More often than not, it’s the food.

Great food is what makes Filipinos happy.

Wincy Aquino Ong

Wincy Aquino Ong is a writer, musician, filmmaker, actor, and comic book illustrator. His works have been published in The Philippine Star and Esquire. His horror fiction was part of Neil Gaiman's Expeditions anthology. He is best known for the indie film San Lazaro, which was released in 2011.

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