Social analysis report: Health, shelter, rice key issues that influenced Pinoys as COVID-19 raged

CONCERNS for their health and everyone else’s topped Filipinos’ minds as the main issue that influenced or occupied their minds on social media at the height of the COVID-19 crisis from March-June this year, a big data analysis of close to half a billion public social media data points (posts, comments, shares, likes, and mood icons) during the second quarter of 2020 showed.

BluePrint.PH ( chief executive officer Eero Brillantes said the non-commissioned big data social analysis report for the 2nd quarter showed that Filipinos’ occupation with issues pertaining to health or “kalusugan” “dominated their mind space so much that they gave less attention than before to losing their jobs and set aside worries over the peace and order situation with the emergence of local officials showing decisive leadership skills during the crisis.”

BluePrint.PH and its Singapore-based Data Mining and Artificial Intelligence partner firm conducted a big data analysis of close to half a billion public social media data points on Facebook, from March 6-June 5 this year, to delve into Filipinos’ approach to vital social issues to help craft responsive policies and messaging campaigns of public, private sector entities, and reform constituencies.

Brillantes said more than 317 million public social media data points by Filipinos from March 6 to June 5 this year concerned health issues, as Filipinos like the rest of the world watched with bated breaths how the dreaded COVID-19 virus swept the globe and turned seven million people worldwide gravely sick and killed almost half a million of them.

“This (health) issue is a national one and the importance is persistent and overwhelmingly universal (during the period covered by the big data analysis),” said Brillantes.

He noted that anger by many Filipinos were devoted at the outset to the perceived maltreatment of health frontliners that quick government response addressed right away while positive feelings were evoked by stories of sacrifices and sharing by others despite the threat to
their health during the crisis.

“The amount of attention given by Filipinos on health issues is so much that they would act better on policy issues or proposals when these are anchored on health, even those concerning the return to work of everyone after the easing of quarantine rules, travel and even improving the quality of life of Filipinos,” he noted.

Such was the concern of Filipinos for health issues that the second key issue that occupied them was housing or “pabahay,” another reflection of the sudden forced stay of almost everyone in their homes during the three-month period when the pandemic spread throughout all communities and nations in the world, Brillantes noted.

“Housing is discussed in conjunction with work, family, security,” he said of the more than 102 million public social media data points made by Filipinos about the issue of “pabahay” from March 6 to June 5 this year.

Brillantes said that because of its metropolitan nature and the abruptness of the quarantine measures implemented by the Philippine government to control the spread of COVID-19, the issue of housing was mostly confined in Metro Manila where most of the “heated comments” in social media originated.

Rice or “bigas” accounted for the third key issue that occupied Filipinos’ minds during this period, with almost 54 million public social media data points on the issue monitored as the government at the national and local levels scrambled to mitigate the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Filipino families with supplies of food packs containing rice of varying volume during the first weeks of the crisis, Brillantes said.

“This issue represents a rare combination of national concern, local leadership, and an essential aspect of the Filipino identity, heritage, and importance,” he said of the different issues about rice and how local leaders proved their creativity and managemet skills in the amount of rice they supplied to their constituents that became social media focus during the three-month period.