Aside from its bountiful natural resources, the other main wealth of the Philippines is perhaps its people. Despite the poverty and corruption that still pervade in the country, the current generation of Filipinos has ably demonstrated they can surpass the achievements of their elders and raise the standard of living in the country.
If not for the youth, the country would not have made a name in the outsourcing business. Their exposure to global cultures and practices has also pushed them to apply these yardsticks in their own country, spurring improvement and innovations.
I mean no disrespect to our elders, but I hate it when they say their generation was better in a lot of things. You know it when someone blurts out the familiar line "...during our time, it was so and so". If that was the case, then how come the Philippines didn't come out of the gutter during those years?
One of the issues that our seniors have been harping on about the past is the declining proficiency of the English language among Filipinos. There's certain ring of truth in this so I won't argue against that. But. the good news is that today's youth certainly knows how to bounce back when they recognize a problem is hindering their growth.
I'm talking about a recent survey conducted by local pollster SWS (Social Weather Station), that showed Filipinos' self-assessed proficiency in the English language has recovered in the last two years, after a decline over the previous twelve years.
The April 2008 survey revealed that, compared to the March 2006 results, more Filipinos rate themselves proficient in understanding spoken English, reading and writing, and speaking and thinking in English.
In the poll, three-fourths of Filipino adults (76 percent) say they understand spoken English; 75 percent say they read English; three out of five (61 percent) say they're comfortable writing in English; close to half (46 percent) say they speak English; about two-fifths (38 percent) say they think in English; while 8 percent say they are not competent in any way when it comes to the English language.
This is a recovery from the previous survey in March 2006, when about two-thirds of Filipino adults (65 percent) said they could understand spoken English; another 65 percent said they could read English; about half (48 percent) said they could write English; about a third (32 percent) said they could speak English; a fourth (27 percent) said they could think in English; while 14 percent said they were not competent in any way when it comes to the English language.
The survey was commissioned by an entity called Promoting English Proficiency (PEP), a project of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham), the Makati Business Club (MBC) and IT vendor, Sun Microsystems Philippines.
A statement that accompanied the survey results quoted Ramon del Rosario Jr., the MBC president, as having credited market forces, specifically the outsourcing industry, for prodding Filipinos to boost their English competence.
I certainly agree with Del Rosario. But, more than just market forces, I believe our youth consciously upgraded their skills knowing fully well that their future depended on it.