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A Better Year

It’s the early days of 2024 and I just want to greet my readers and the entire nation a Happy and Prosperous New Year!


I hope everyone celebrated the start of a new year in the warm embrace of loved ones. The holidays are celebrated simply or grandly - with family and all the people we love. In my case, this was an exciting holiday season because we were able to do what the pandemic has prevented us from doing: be with my family on a peaceful and memorable trip abroad. 

We have this tradition of going to the United States every Christmas and New Year to get away from the jobs that kept us busy all year long and so that we can spend quality time as a family. But the pandemic halted this tradition of ours in 2020. I hope all Filipino families were able to enjoy the holiday season. 

Despite the craziness of Filipino Christmas I hope everyone had a bit of a respite as we gear up to face 2024. The previous year was very challenging because we were on the road to recovery from the ill effects of the pandemic. But our economy—despite some bumps along the road that included inflation and a flat 4.3 percent second quarter growth—was strong enough to face headwinds. The President and host  economic team have managed the economy very well with President Bongbong Marcos leading the way in projecting to the whole world a new, competitive Philippine economy. But 2023 also saw the revenge, not just of travelers, but also of consumers, which further pushed economic recovery in the right direction. It was heartwarming to see droves of shoppers filling our malls, restaurants, cinemas, and coffeeshops thereby helping businesses and generating employment for our people. I suspect 2024 will be a better year. Sure there are some dangers along the way. The Ukraine war is still ongoing and the conflict between Israel and Hamas has added a new point of tension in global geopolitics. The situation with China regarding disputed territories will probably get worse before it gets better. 

Domestic politics might produce more fireworks as the 2025 election nears. But overall, I remain optimistic. Fitch Solutions issued a report in November 2023 stating “that real GDP growth will continue to accelerate gradually over the coming quarters on the back of a pick-up in household spending and we forecast the economy to expand by 6.2 percent in 2024.” The Asian Development Bank (ADB) also forecast a gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.2 percent in 2024 “with household consumption and public spending on infrastructure and social services seen contributing to the economy’s expansion.” Those are the two critical elements—household spending and government expenditures on infrastructure. The ADB added that “low unemployment rate, sustained increase in remittances from Filipinos overseas, and buoyant services including tourism will support growth.” I think 2024 will be a bounce-back year for the Philippine economy. Public infrastructure projects are in the pipelines and will surely boost growth and employment in addition to modernizing our transport system; and, consumer spending will continue to rise to pre-pandemic levels, maybe even more. And all these statistics and projections by economists can be confirmed on the ground. During the last quarter of 2023, I observed a vast increase in foot traffic in our malls. 

Despite the flu-like virus infecting many people, we seem to have adjusted to the new normal where there will be a perennial spike in Covid-19 cases but not enough to strain our health care system. I hope all these positive aspects of our economy will be enough to withstand whatever crises 2024 brings. But more importantly, we should hang on to the hope, sense of renewal and optimism that a new year brings.


Manigong bagong taon po sa inyong lahat!




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar