If you read the things I write regularly, it should be obvious to you that I love living in the Philippines. I love the people, I love the country. Overall, I can think of no place on the earth where I would prefer to live. However, that doesn’t mean that the Philippines is a Paradise, or that everything is perfect here.
Truth is that some things are quite annoying here. These annoying things take getting used to, no doubt. Some of these things you can probably never fully adjust to, other things are relatively easy to adjust to.
One thing that I find quite annoying is the way that time is handled here. We’ve talked about Filipino Time many times. Filipino Time is the cultural habit that people are always late. Sometimes they are 10 minutes late, sometimes they are hours late. That is very hard to adjust to. However, that is not specifically what I am writing about today. My article is related to that, but slightly shifted from Filipino Time specifically.
Time, in general is handled in a very non-committal way. One thing that particularl thing that always bugs me is when I am setting up an appointment to get together with somebody. The conversation often goes like this:
Me: What time should we get together?
Other person: I’ll come to your house after lunch.
Well, frankly… what time would that be? I am sorry, but after lunch is not a time. 1pm is a time. 2:30pm is a time. After lunch simply is not a time. I mean, I know this is not the norm, but I personally normally eat lunch at around 2pm. Most people don’t do that, but that is what I do. It fits my schedule. How do I know what time other people normally eat, and how do they know what time I normally eat? Yet, even if you follow up and ask, “what time?” they reiterate, “after lunch.” Aaahhhhhh! What time is that?
A while back, a friend texted me. He is a fairly well known blogger in Davao. He told me that there was a group of Manila bloggers visiting Davao and they had requested to meet me. Sure, I said, I’d be happy to get together. He told me, “OK, let’s get together after dinner tomorrow night, I will text you.” OK, that sounded fine for me. I figured I’d eat dinner, and just be ready to go out whenever he contacted me. Well, finally, at 9:30pm, I texted him and asked if the meeting was still scheduled? He said, “of course, but remember, I said it would be after dinner?” Hmm… well, by 9:30pm I would have figured that was after dinner, I thought to myself. Well, by the time 10:30 rolled around and I still had not heard from my friend, I texted him and told him that I would not be able to attend, because, frankly, I was ready to go to bed!
So, when people tell you that we’ll see you “after lunch” or “after dinner,” what time would you expect? How about if they say “I’ll come to your place in the morning.” Does that mean you need to get up early because they might come at 7am? Or, does it mean at 11am? Oh… hold it. I think I just figured it out.
If they tell you that they will come by “in the morning,” what they mean is “before lunch.” Ha ha… that explains it!
So, what it comes down to for me is that time is handled in a very cavalier way here in the Philippines. Not too specific. Not specific at all. I mean, if you are told a specific time like “3pm,” they may not show up until 5pm anyway. So, I guess “after lunch” is good enough…