Filipino time is something that we have talked about extensively here in the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine, but I want to revisit it today. For any new visitors who don’t know what “Filipino Time” is, it is the very common practice of coming to everything late! In general, if a party is scheduled to start at 7pm, many Filipinos will come at 7:30, 8pm, even 9 or 10! In my experience, adjusting to Filipino time, or even just coming to accept it is one of the hardest things for an expat to adjust to when coming to live in the Philippines.
Recently, Rob dela Cruz, a new writer on the Philippine Voyager website wrote an article “In defense of Filipino Time.” For long time readers, Philippine Voyager is the site of former LiP Columnist Julius Bantigue. Many of Julius’ articles can still be found in our Guest Blog for interested readers. I found Rob’s article to be quite interesting, although I found myself disagreeing with much of it.
In his article, Rob, who is currently living in the USA for work, tells about a dinner he had with his officemates, and how punctual it was. The dinner was supposed to start at 6pm and run until 7:30. Rob showed up at 6:15 and it was already well underway. He found this unusual, and apparently it lead to an uneasy feeling in him, feeling pressure from the clock! Rob was particularly confused about the dinner ending on time and so very early! He went on to compare this to the way things are in the Philippines, where schedules are not really followed. Rob’s conclusion was that having such a schedule leads to a more stressful environment in the USA. He feels that back in the Philippines, people are more stress-free since they don’t have such a schedule. Rob even goes on to conclude that having no real schedule leads to better health and mental outlook for Filipinos.
Actually, I find this to be the opposite. When we throw a party, or agree to meet somebody for dinner, the timing of the thing can absolutely drive us crazy! I can assure you that my “mental outlook” doesn’t improve when I have agreed to meet somebody for dinner at 6pm and at 7:30 I am still waiting in the restaurant for them to show! Actually, not only does it stress me, I find myself feeling that the other person must feel that my time is not valuable. Honestly, I can think of better things to do than sitting around waiting for somebody who is an hour or more late. We have actually had incidents when people have been up to 3 hours late for a function. It just really grates on us when this happens.
Rob talks in his article about how having a schedule leads to so much stress. Interesting, I find that I get stressed out when waiting for people to show up! Feyma and I worry about “what time should we really be there?” In the comments on the article, people mention that such scheduling probably leads to suicide and such. I just don’t see it that way. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in the Philippines (if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have this site), but the whole issue of Filipino Time is one of the stressful things about living here that I think I could never fully adjust to.
I can only conclude that Rob, and other Filipinos who have grown up with Filipino Time are more comfortable with it for that precise reason – because that is what they grew up with! I am more comfortable with a more precise schedule because that is what I grew up with too. Some of Rob’s other conclusions are also a bit askew from what I feel. It is interesting to see the different thinking, and I believe it is simply based on our background.
How about you? Do you have any ideas about Filipino time? Any stories about how it has affected you or your plans at some time in the past?