There is a big discussion going on in regards to another post on this blog regarding tardiness, time keeping and such. It’s a subject that we all know as “Filipino Time.” Generally speaking (very general, OK?) Filipinos living in the Philippines tend to “ignore” things like punctuality and such. At least that is what is generally said. I am not sure if I fully agree with this, though. Let me tell you why.
When Feyma and I had both read Pete’s post about making appointments with Filipinos yesterday, we both looked at each other, we discussed it a bit, and after a few minutes I said to Feyma – “Is it just me, or is Filipino Time starting to fade? It is not nearly as bad as it was when we first moved here.” As we talked about it, we wondered if it was that Davao was different, or if the concept of “Filipino Time” was starting to fade away. When we first moved here in 2000, we had some rather major conflicts in our lives that were the result of Filipino Time (I am not talking about conflicts with each other, but both of us being on “American Time” while others we dealt with being on “Filipino Time.”). In recent years, we rarely have a problem. For instance, tonight we are having dinner with a Filipino couple who we consider to be quite close friends. I know for sure I don’t need to worry about the timing, because we go out with these folks a lot, and sometimes they even beat us there, and we believe in being 15 minutes early. Honestly, I am having a hard time remembering the last time that I had a problem with people being late.
In so many ways, I see Filipino culture changing. Sometimes the changes are good from my perspective, sometimes they are bad. For example, one change that I would consider bad is that I see a lot of Filipinos falling into the “fast food” culture of the United States. They eat out at McDonald’s or Jollibee all the time, and I see Filipinos becoming fat. I know that I am fat, and so many of my countrymen are fat, it’s not a healthy thing! Because of this, I hate to see this change in Filipino culture. Instead of the family meal of adobo, they stop for spaghetti at Jollibee and a couple pieces of fried chicken. Fifteen years ago they would have eaten some rice and grilled fish. Certainly a change in the culture. I also feel that the culture of “Filipino Time” is fading too.
Yesterday, I had a meeting with a language instructor (thanks to you, Shannon for putting me in touch!) at a local coffee shop. Not only was she right on time, she texted me about 5 minutes before schedule to let me know that she was almost there. Wow, refreshing!
Another thing that I see happening is that a lot of Filipinos set their watches 15 minutes ahead of what the real time is. Even radio stations will announce the time as 15 minutes ahead. Do you know why? Because if the Filipino is 15 minutes late according to his watch, it means that he is actually arriving right on time! I know that this is the reason, because a number of Filipinos have told me this.
What about other ex-pats who live here? Do you see more and more Filipinos being on schedule? Is it just the way things are going in Davao, or can you verify this in other parts of the country too?