You know this. You either have become a victim of it, or you operate on it yourself (whether you’re aware or not).
In the Philippines, it’s like almost nothing goes according to schedule. Or, you know, no one likes to be bothered to stick to it. You get invited to an event and it says 4PM, but you can bet it won’t start until maybe an hour after, sometimes even two. And how can they start on time, when half their expected guests are always late?
Even friends arrive to planned dinners late. (Seriously, guys.) Weddings, parties, functions. You set a meeting with a group and you can be certain someone is going to turn up late, even just a few minutes in. Ah, punctuality. The bane of every Filipino’s existence.
There was a time in my life, when I was younger, that I, too, was swept up by the flawed system of Filipino Time. But only because I feel like I was kind of pushed into it. I used to always be early—for everything—but it somehow got frustrating to always be the first one there and having to wait for everyone else (aka my friends) for hours on end. Eventually, I started showing up late, too. But I have since started correcting my ways, especially when I began working.
And same as what happened to me, there always seems to be that thought, I feel, why people keep on doing it. It’s so easy to think: oh, it’s normal, everyone’s always late. It’s okay to show up late too!
But is it really? Just because everyone is doing it, does it mean that it’s right?
Of course, even as you’re just reading that, you already know the answer: no. It’s not okay.
I learned the value of time much more when I started working. The more I grew as a professional, working with people, businesses, and clients, the more I saw that showing up on time isn’t just about punctuality and being there at the time you discussed to meet; it is more about respecting the person you are meeting, by showing them you appreciate and care about the time they allotted to meet with you. And in business and work, this is very important. Creating a relationship based on trustworthiness.
But even in the personal department, showing up on time usually speaks volumes about how a person sees you. Meeting up for a date with this guy and he shows up an hour late? That tells me he doesn’t care that he had to make you wait, which should make you think: why?
And sorry everyone, but the “traffic was bad” excuse does get old and, in this day, hardly even valid anymore. Let’s just accept this fact now: Philippine traffic is terrible. And though we all hope that it does, it is not going away anytime soon.
Do you know how to avoid being late because of traffic? Leaving early. Allotting time not just for the travel, but for the possible traffic along your route, too. This is made easy now through the apps we have on our phones. You can check Google Maps for travel time and traffic. Really, there’s hardly any excuse.
In the Philippines, it has become such a normal thing—to be late. Even foreigners now know the term “Filipino Time.” Other countries have come to recognize us for our lateness.
It’s become such a common practice in this country, almost a habit, that we’re barely bothered by it anymore. We’ve all just come to accept it, surrendered, even. But we should be bothered. We should want to stop it and then change it.
Perhaps it’s not clear, but this tardiness is one of the many things that keep us, as a country, from moving forward. For one, operating on “Filipino Time” tells us this: Filipinos refuse to face the fact that there is something to be fixed, that they have a quality that is flawed.
And this is the biggest problem as to why we find is to hard as a society to improve, to be better. Are we really that lazy? Filipinos like to complain; but no one likes to move a muscle to actually do something to change.
I don’t want to believe that it’s impossible—it’s not—but perhaps one day we could turn things around. That when someone says “Filipino Time”, it will mean punctual, because to be a Filipino means you are reliable, trustworthy, and always right there when you need them.
Please, let’s stop this bad culture of tardiness. We’ve always known this, but Filipinos can be great. We are. But maybe only if we start showing up on time, first.