“If the government cannot give happiness to its people, then there is no use in the government.”
Bringing his message of happiness, Dr. Saamdu Chetri, executive director of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) Center came to Ateneo de Davao University last Oct. 18 to conduct his lecture on the pillars of GNH.
Chetri quoted former Prime Minister Hon Jigmi Y Thinley in defining happiness.
“True abiding happiness comes from serving others, living in harmony with nature, and realizing our innate wisdom and the true and brilliant nature of our own minds,” Chetri shared.
Chetri was invited by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez in order to inspire Filipinos to strike a balance between the materialistic and non-materialistic aspects of life.
Lopez stressed in a press release that it is important to reconsider development by taking a step towards gross national happiness instead of the traditional gross national product (GNP).
“We are changing the paradigm of development from the GNP to GNH. And this is the first time we are really taking a serious look of making happiness a barometer of development.”
Other speakers of the whole day lecture series included DENR Undersecretaries Demetrio Ignacio, Jr. and Nicanor Perlas. Also, consultants of DENR including Dr. Al Licuanan, Ms. Sylvia Ordonez and Mr. Philip Camara were there to give their own lectures.
Topics of the series of lectures centered on the theme of sustainable area development and management. Highlighted aspects ranged from marine life, social entrepreneurship, biochar (bio-charcoal), BK program, bamboo, financial management and action planning.
Dr. Al Licuanan, one of the speakers, stressed on how people’s disregard for marine biodiversity and development can have a drastic effect on the impoverished sector.
Licuanan said, “We should always keep in mind that the first people affected by your actions are the poorest of the poor, the fishermen. If we don’t do anything about it, the poor become poorer.”
The plenary session was attended by representatives of people’s organizations, indigenous peoples, civil society, academe, media and local government units.
Attendees also participated in the open forums after each talk and the breakout session in the afternoon. The breakout session served as a workshop activity where the attendees were moderated towards group planning and synthesis of the whole day seminar.
Succeeding lectures by Chetri and DENR are also to be conducted at University of San Carlos on October 20, Ateneo de Manila on October 22, and University of the Philippines – Diliman on October 24.
GNH was coined in 1972 by Bhutan’s former King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck and Chetri continues to be in charge with overseeing Bhutan’s happiness.