2018 in Numbers
There are many ways to define a year. Lexicographers recognize words of the year to signify what most have discussed in the past 12 months. Others commemorate the year that was with photographs that have been engraved the most in our minds. Today, we dare to look back on the past 365 days with figures and statistics that made the headlines.
Three hours and 57 minutes
In January, Filipinos were found to be the most social media savvy in the world as the 67 million Internet users in the country were estimated to spend an average of three hours and 57 minutes per day on a social media platform last year.
While that is slightly less than the average time Filipinos spent on social media sites in 2016 at four hours and 17 minutes, the country’s 2017 average is still the highest in the world. This is the third time the Philippines held the top spot.
The finding came from Digital in 2018, a series of reports by social media agency We Are Social and social media management platform Hootsuite. The report provides an overview of the digital landscape of over 230 countries, describing usage and penetration of Internet, mobile data, social media, e-commerce, and more.
Overall, Filipinos spent an average of nine hours and 28 minutes a day on the Internet in 2017, just the second highest in the world. Thailand claimed the top spot at nine hours and 38 minutes.
“Six-month” rehab period for Boracay
On April 26, the world-acclaimed Boracay island was closed for a six-month rehabilitation, almost three months after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to order a closure of the tourist spot since it has become, in his words, a “cesspool.”
The hasty and bold decision drew mixed sentiments at the start, especially when at least 17,000 workers were displaced by the closure, not including the thousands of construction workers to be affected by the halted projects in the island.
It didn’t help that the country’s economic performance was also affected by the closure, as it was cited by Socioeconomic Secretary Ernesto Pernia as one of the reasons why the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) rate slowed down to 6.2 percent in the second quarter.
But when photos of the “new” Boracay—without a hint of algae along its powdery white shores—were published just days before the island reopened on October 26, many became hopeful. The Department of Tourism is now limiting the number of visitors inside the island and the local government has imposed stricter measures against businesses operating in the tourist spot. Still, government officials say the rehabilitation of the island will still most likely be completed by the end of 2019.
Philippine Peso-Dollar exchange hit Php54.33
In September, the Philippine Peso closed at Php54.33 against the US dollar, the weakest it has been in almost 13 years. Yes, that was the time when Nokia was the biggest mobile brand, Kodak was still relevant, and the iPhone was not even in anyone’s radar.
Business experts say, however, the worst isn’t over yet. London-based Capital Economics said the Philippine Peso may further slide to Php58 against the US dollar by 2019. Better buy those US Dollars for that vacation abroad ahead!
GDP growth rate slowed to 6.1% in the 3rd Quarter
Another historic number recorded this year was the country’s economic slowdown in the third quarter, when the GDP hit 6.1 percent. That is the lowest ever recorded by the country in three years.
While that still puts the Philippines as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia—just after Vietnam’s 6.8 percent and China’s 6.5 percent—the 2018 average slowed down to 6.3 percent, below the government’s full-year targets.
Economists and business analysts all just blame one thing for these historic economic numbers: inflation. The annual inflation rate, a measure of how fast consumer prices have risen in the past year, reached 6.7 percent in September and October. That is a nine-year high, mostly fueled by the lack of cheaper rice varieties sold by the government (but that’s for another story).
Prices of goods grew so steep that most vegetables doubled in cost. Some even surged in ridiculous levels. Remember when photos of chilis priced Php1,000 per kilogram went viral online?
Fortunately, inflation has since eased. It dropped to six percent in November and is expected to continuously dampen until 2019.
Lotto’s 6/58 Jackpot of Php1.18 Billion
In October, Filipinos from all walks of life, including the President, took a chance at winning Ultra Lotto’s 6/58 jackpot that reached Php1.18 billion by the time two contenders claimed the prize. For weeks, the rest of the nation watched the jackpot reach historic numbers, from the time it crossed the Php500-million mark in September up until it breached the billion point.
In a Facebook post last October 14, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office announced that two winners were able to guess the winning six-number combination of 40-50-37-25-01-45. It beat the highest recorded jackpot won in the history of the PCSO, which was a Php741.2-million prize for the Grand Lotto 6/55 back in 2010.