I know I have touched on this topic before, either in the forum or one of my articles, but it simply needs more attention, especially for ANY man out there who is known for being on time or early for anything! I was late once, when I was born. Two weeks actually, and then I decided I was missing Christmas and wanted out! So, I induced my labor, and was late for Christmas by one day. Since then, I have been early or on time for just about everything. In fact, when I was working in an office setting, everyone knew it was 4pm because I was walking out the door. I’ve been told they could set their watch on that. I also show up for events or appointments 15 minutes early. It’s just how I am… I mean was. You see, when you marry a Filipino time changes. It becomes Filipino time! Which means, if you are supposed to be somewhere at a given time, you will be at least 30 minutes late!
While I still struggle with this issue with my wife for doctor appointments and such, it’s not usually a big deal to me anymore if we are a LITTLE late for something. Now, as long as I have arrived safely, I can deal with not being there at the time I was told to be there. Official appointments excluded of course! I had to explain that here in the U.S., if you’re late for your appointment for the doctor, they might not see you. In fact, they will still probably charge you as if you had been seen!!!! She was pretty shocked by this and was in disbelief until we got a bill from the dentist for just such an event. $40 for not showing up for a teeth cleaning. I called and talked them out of the billing, but it impressed upon her the fact that Filipino time can’t be used all the time.
I’ve said this little bit of introduction, so that I can bring you to the real story about Filipino time, and the first time I encountered it. Where else? The Philippines of course!! I knew that when I went to the Philippines, I would most likely be asking my girlfriend to marry me. So, I bought a ring, and took it with me. I told her I was, but I don’t think she believed me. Anyway, after meeting her in person and having a great time meeting and talking with her family I decided to ask her to marry me, and she said yes. I also figured that the wedding is a very important thing for a woman, and that since we would be getting married in the U.S. I thought it would be nice to have an engagement party.
The party setup itself was pretty simple. We drove in a van to a restaurant that was known to be nice. It was an open style restaurant, on the river. It looked nice. I was told, stay in the van, and don’t be seen by anyone! What? I was told that the prices would go up once they saw a white guy! I agreed and stayed in the van. After a short time I was waved into the restaurant. I saw the blood flow from the face of the manager. Oh, the money he lost by not knowing he could overcharge me!!! The look, was priceless! We made the arrangements and tried the food we would serve, and left. Our party would be the following night at 6pm.
Now, you should know that I NEVER wear a watch. I tell time by my cell phone, and since I was in the Philippines, my cell phone was in the U.S. I LOVED not knowing what time it was, or the fact that the only thing that mattered was the then-and-now moments with my wife and her family. The day of our engagement party I awoke to the sound of women talking outside. I showered, got dressed, and went outside to find my wife getting a manicure and pedicure by a cosmetologist. My first thought was this was going to be expensive. But when they told me how much it would be, I was no longer worried. CHEAP!!! Especially by American standards! They asked if I wanted a manicure. I figured, why not, they could use being trimmed, and it was my engagement party that night after all. I should look good! So, when my wife was finished it was my turn. I sat down, and the girl went to work trimming and putting all kinds of weird orange and pink stuff on my cuticles. The trimming and softening commenced. I was about to get up when they stopped me. They said, don’t you want nail polish? Nail polish? Are you kidding me!?!?! NO!!!!! I am a man, not a woman. They tell me that the guys there get a clear on their nails. I was hesitant, but reluctantly agreed to it. Once they finished one hand, I couldn’t take it anymore, and ordered it off!!! No way!! I can take a trim and cuticle softening, but nail polish was OUT OF THE QUESTION!!! And, it was removed without any further question. Ah yes, I’m a man again. It felt as they I had been neutered for those few minutes I was wearing that stuff!
Back to Filipino time! So, the day progresses, and I know we have to be at the restaurant at 6pm. But again, I have no idea what time it is. I figure my wife or someone else surely is keeping an eye on the clock. We shower again, get dressed for the party and get into the van, as the driver has arrived. We begin to drive and drive, and drive. Where are we going? I find out that we need to pick up a couple people. So, after numerous stops the van is properly loaded. We have the driver, the renter of the van, friends we invited, the Vice-Mayor, some people I don’t know, and my wife and I in the back. We are now, officially on Filipino time. We begin to get phone calls from my mother-in-law asking our whereabouts. We explain that we are on the way and that we will be there soon… only another thirty minutes! When we arrive, all 50 of our guests are outside the restaurant waiting our arrival. The van comes to a stop, and upon our exit from the van, applause begins. I don’t know if they’re happy to see us, or If they are simply hungry and want to eat. We are after all over an hour late! But in Filipino time, it’s like 10 minutes late at most, or even on time!
Our engagement party was wonderful, and our guests had a great time! There was a band playing, dancing, food, drinks, and the Vice-Mayor of the city where my wife was from acted as MC. It was truly an honor to have her there! My wife had taught me enough tagalog to impress the crowd when I gave my speech and officially asked her to marry me in front of the crowd, and there was a lot of cheering and applause. A good time was had by all, and the fact that we were so late didn’t seem to bother people once the food was flowing and the party had begun. All was forgiven, if in fact, they ever really cared that we were late. And to be honest, I was not concerned or stressed out, like I would have been in the U.S., about being late.
Any man wishing to marry or even date a Filipina simply has to know that this kind of time does exist, and that you will either have to adjust to it, or become stressed out and have a heart attack trying to change something that has been in existence, probably, since the Philippines was inhabited. After all, why should you be in such a hurry to do something, when you’re surrounded by the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen?
Life is not just about the destination, it is about the journey. Stop along the path during your journeys and enjoy what is between point A and point B. You might be surprised at what you see!
Until next time, paalam, ingat, and God bless!
At the time of this writing, I am 40 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.