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The Filipino Time: A National Embarrassment?

Angelica Mae D. Gomez | Feature Writer

Have you ever experienced waiting for someone who was supposed to arrive half an hour before? Or to wait for some people to do a school project with but arrived an hour later because they were either stuck with some personal errand or was sleeping and haven’t taken a bath yet? Did you also say that you were “on the way” but in truth, not really?

These are just some of the frank truths of what we famously call “Filipino time”.

The Famously Coined Term
The term “Filipino time” has been very common among us Filipinos and has become part of our culture. However, not all Filipinos follow “Filipino time” nor is it applied to every occasion.

Oftentimes, this has been observed when going to some events like parties or a simple meet up with friends for some group work or get-together and such.

But when it comes to class schedules, work, or important work meetings, punctuality is always a must.

But for everyone’s curiosity, this matter about Filipinos being always late is a historical thing.

Historians claimed that our ancestors inherited this from the Spaniards when they were colonized for more than 300 years. It was told that whenever Spanish royalty would go to a gathering, they would always enter last. Thus, Filipinos followed suit to get a feeling of importance.

On the other hand, one contributing factor for one’s tardiness would be that traffic and travel times are inevitable. If one lives in a very busy urban city, the number one excuse a Filipino would give is that he/she was stuck in “traffic.”

Another factor centers itself on this certain social stigma that being early or on time will earn you the reputation of being an eager beaver, or of having nothing better to do. That’s why some people would say that it is chic to be “fashionably late.”

It’s a given that there are hundreds of excuses to make by just living in this country, but we’ll not dwell much on that, given that every reader can totally relate to it.

Proclamation No. 1638
But did you know that in 2008, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a Proclamation No. 1638 which declares the month of November as National Consciousness Month for Punctuality (Respect for the value of time) and Civility (Respect for the rights of others)?

It’s true.

According to the public journal and main publication of the government of the Republic of the Philippines, The Official Gazette, the Organized Response for the Advancement of Society, Inc. (ORAS), a non-government, non-profit and non-stock organization composed of leaders from all sectors of society, has continually and effectively promoted a national campaign for the transformation of the habit of our people in respect to the value of time and respect for the rights of others.

Pursuant to the said directive, all local and national government offices, and all public and private schools, colleges and universities in the country are enjoined to observe the said month with appropriate programs to promote the twin values of punctuality and civility.

Embedded in our Culture
Yes, “Filipino Time” is an annoying trait because “time is gold” and time that is not spent wisely is time wasted. It is also a complete disrespect for the time and effort of the person who was waiting.

Is there no way for Filipinos to arrive on time? Is it really endemic in our country?

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