What does it mean to be Filipino? Like, what does it really mean? When you look past all the obligatory platitudes and the zealous flag-waving of “Pinoy pride,” being Filipino means what any other nationality means—that is, among other things, being free to live in a certain environment, figuring into a certain economy, and having access to certain opportunities within a certain geographic region. Strip away the sentiments and that’s what nationalities are, after all: imagined communities upon which we’ve built social, political, and legal constructs. And from this pragmatic point of view, it’s possible to compare nationalities objectively, based on all these certain factors.
Such is the premise of the Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) of the global firm Henley & Partners. In an effort to achieve a dynamic understanding of nationality, they’ve prepared a numerical scale to answer the question: How valuable is your nationality to you? Their 2017 numbers have just rolled in, so we can get an idea of what it really means to be Filipino in that sense.
For 2017, Henley & Partners gave the Philippines a 25.9 on its scale of 100. This ranks the Filipino nationality 125 out of 168 countries surveyed in the world (down from 120 in 2016, and 112 in 2015), and only seventh in Southeast Asia. We’re immediately behind Zambia (124th in the world) and East Timor (fifth in Southeast Asia). Not so good, comparatively.
France, Germany, and Iceland took the top spots for 2017, while the U.S. came in at 27.
But before you bust out your pitchforks, remember that this scale is about the objective realities that dictate the concrete values that your nationality affords you—not race or anything subjective like that. The QNI is based on the internal value of nationality (which refers to the quality of life and opportunities for personal growth within our country of origin) and the external value of nationality (which identifies the diversity and quality of opportunities that our nationality allows us to pursue outside our country of origin).
A nationality with high internal value would belong to a country that is economically prosperous, peaceful, and whose citizens have good opportunities and a long life expectancy. A nationality with a high external value would belong to a country whose citizens can freely and adequately travel, work, and live in other countries. The QNI crunches factors like these and churns out a general measurement of nationality value, allowing us to situate the countries of the world in a unique way.
It's a shame that we scored so low, but the admirable thing about Filipinos is that we'd always be just as proud regardless.