On an article that I wrote yesterday, there has been some discussion about the Philippines being the land of Mañana. Well, what exactly does Mañana mean?
I just went to Dictionary.com and looked it up. There are a number of listings shown there but here is what most of them say:
2. An unspecified future time
Hmm… very interesting! Seems that the problem comes in when it is an “unspecified future time.” Pete mentioned in the comments on that post that the Philippines has a Mañana culture. He talked about how nothing much gets done on time. If you go to a lawyer to pick up some papers that he is supposed to have ready, it’s usually not done. Mañana. It will be done at some future (unspecified) time. It’s really true, much of the time.
It seems that the Mañana mentality is really in existence in most countries that were colonized by the Spaniards. It is a Spanish word, after all, so I guess that makes sense. Why is it?
In surfing the net, I found an interesting article by a fellow named Shep Lenchek. Shep is an American who is living in Mexico. Seems that he has the life that a lot of us talk about here (and some of us actually live out), except he is in Mexico instead of the Philippines. Shep’s article has the title, “Is it Mañana yet?” I really like the title. It shows a sort of sub-meaning that “tomorrow may never come,” if you know what I mean. As westerners, we are used to doing everything on time, within a schedule. We feel pressure to get things done. If we don’t show up on time, we feel bad. Here in the Philippines, if you do show up on time, it can be considered rude! Can you imagine? But, we have to adjust, and get used to that. It is, honestly one of the hardest things for me.
Reassured, we headed for south of the border. Never even wondered why we didn’t find the word when we first tried to look it up. It should have been a warning to us. Like many things in Mexico, it just isn’t that simple. It was only after we lived here for a while that we began to understand the word. It certainly does mean tomorrow when saying good-by, but at other times, maybe not. We found out the true meaning of the word, when a plumber, electrician, carpenter, auto mechanic or other tradesman told us he will take care of our problem Mañana.
He didn’t mean tomorrow at all, just, – not today.” By now, we know the word also means, “in the morning”. When the man we’re waiting for doesn’t show up we start to wonder. Did he mean Mañana, tomorrow, or en la Mañana, some morning of some Mañana? We’re learning that Mexican society operates within its own time frame. It leaves time for socializing and attending to personal affairs. It gives priority to living rather than working. It also produces a word, momentito. The accompanying hand signal given with the first finger and thumb, indicates a small delay. The actual wait can stretch almost to infinity. Always carry a good book. Maybe a biggie, like ”Gone with the Wind.” A friend of mine swears he read the whole bible, during momentitos. He sure can quote scripture!
Ha ha… As far as I know, there is no Filipino word for “momentito” but maybe their should be. Well, one thing they do say here is “unya na lang,” or “just later.” That really drives home the Mañana attitude, don’t you think.
When it comes to daily life, maybe the Mañana attitude is better for our health. You’ve heard of the book, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” Well, it seems that what our Filipino (and Mexican) friends are telling us is that the things that we consider to be important are really the “small things,” and those things that we consider less important are really the most important things in life. The business stuff can wait for Mañana. The family and personal things take priority. But, can we ever learn those lessons? I know that it has been difficult for me.
Shep goes on to give sage advice:
The secret of living here happily is to adopt the Mexican time-frame. When you do, you will find yourself free from deadlines, unafraid to postpone things or be late for appointments. Take the time to talk with friends, smell the flowers. Retire from the stress that the clock and calendar have imposed on us. We are not going to change the habits of our Mexican hosts. We came of our own free will. We were welcomed. Let us act as guests.
I think every one of us can learn from that one paragraph. If we all adapted to the Mexican, or Filipino time frame, maybe we could add a few years to our lives. It’s one less thing for us to worry about, right?
Great article, Shep! Good luck to you with your life in Mexico!