Demystifying Filipino Time
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Demystifying Filipino Time

Filipino Time is a concept that has been around for centuries, and it’s about more than just being late. It’s about how Filipinos interpret time in their own way.

If you’re an expat mingling with Filipinos and are feeling frustrated by Filipino Time, this article is for you!

What is the meaning of Filipino Time?

What is the meaning of Filipino Time
(Image Source: CandyMag)

“Filipino Time” refers to the tendency of Filipinos to arrive late to appointments, events, or gatherings. 

It is a cultural norm in the Philippines, where punctuality is relatively less valued. Oftentimes, it is not considered a big deal if someone is late. 

Where did Filipino Time come from?

During their occupancy of the Philippines, Americans invented the term “Filipino Time” to describe the tendency of Filipinos to arrive late for scheduled meeting time. 

Generally, Filipino Time is rooted in both the country’s history and culture. Read on to find out more.

1. Colonizers

The Philippines was colonized by the Spanish and Americans, among others.

Spanish colonizers brought a more laid-back attitude towards time. Their influence can be seen in the way Filipinos approach the idea of time, which is often more relaxed and less rigid than other cultures.

But the Americans weren’t too happy about this. During their colonization of the Philippines, they coined the term “Filipino Time”, which referred to Filipinos’ chronic tardiness and their nonchalant – and sometimes humorous – attitude about it.

This phrase eventually became synonymous with the cultural practice of having a relaxed approach to time management and punctuality. 

2. Family and community values

Filipinos place a high value on relationships and prioritize spending time with loved ones over adhering to strict schedules. This is reflected in the country’s strong sense of community and the importance placed on social gatherings and celebrations. 

The traditional Filipino culture is also known to have a strong sense of “pakikipagkapwa” or empathy. This often results in Filipinos being flexible with time to accommodate others and not wanting to cause inconvenience.

It’s why Filipinos always stay longer at a friend’s house even if they are tired and always make time for that extra round of “karaoke” with cousins.

Why do Filipinos follow “Filipino Time”?

Why do Filipinos follow “Filipino Time”
(Image Source: Philippine Primer)

Let’s be honest; the most pleasing part about Filipino Time is that it’s an excuse to be late without feeling guilty. It’s like a get-out-of-jail-free card for tardiness.

Filipino Time is a cultural norm deeply ingrained in Filipinos, and it’s hard to change. 

Practical issues that contribute to Filipino Time

In all fairness, there are a couple of systemic public issues that encourage Filipino time. Here are a couple:

1. Traffic 

(Image Source: When in Manila)

If you live in Metro Manila, you know the traffic here is a nightmare. In fact, it’s been voted as the “worst traffic on Earth” by Waze. 

The heavy traffic, particularly in urban areas, is due to high population density, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of proper public transportation. 

This traffic congestion can cause significant delays for commuters, making it difficult for them to arrive on time for work or social events. 

Additionally, traffic in the Philippines can be unpredictable, and it’s common for people to leave earlier than necessary to ensure they arrive on time.

With traffic this bad, it’s a miracle if you make it to a meeting on time. It’s like trying to navigate through a labyrinth, except the Minotaur is a traffic jam.

2. Terrible public transportation 

Terrible public transportation
(Image Source: Interaksyon)

The LRT and MRT lines may be a convenient way to get around, but with no set times for the trains to come, it’s like playing a roulette game. 

The LRT and MRT are the most popular forms of public transportation in urban areas, but they can also be a source of delays and inconvenience for commuters.

One reason is that the LRT and MRT systems are often overcrowded, with trains and stations becoming packed during peak hours. 

Making it difficult for commuters to board and disembark the trains, causing delays and difficulty for people to arrive on time.

Another reason is that the LRT and MRT systems have frequent breakdowns and technical issues, which can cause delays or disruptions in service, which is a disaster for commuters who rely on these transportation systems.

Will you make it to your destination on time? Only time will tell.

What are the negative effects of Filipino time?

What are the negative effects of Filipino time
(Image Source: Listen Notes)

Filipino Time can manifest in employees arriving late for work or meetings or having a tendency to take extended breaks throughout the day. This can result in a lack of productivity and inefficiency in the workplace. 

For example, in a typical 9-5 work schedule, it’s common for some employees to arrive at 9:30 or 10 am and take several breaks throughout the day. 

This can hurt the company’s overall performance, as well as affect the morale of other punctual employees.

In social gatherings, Filipino Time can be observed in the tendency for events to start later than the scheduled time. 

Weddings or parties that are supposed to start at 7 pm may not begin until 8 pm or later. This can cause inconvenience for guests who arrive on time.

How to handle Filipino Time

How to handle Filipino Time
(Image Source: JeremyVista)

Are you a foreigner visiting the Philippines or working with Filipinos and finding yourself frustrated with the concept of “Filipino Time”? 

Here’s how you can navigate this cultural phenomenon with ease:

1. Understand, accept, and learn to adapt to Filipino Time.

It is essential to understand that “Filipino Time” is not a habit intentionally created to offend you; but rather, a reflection of the relaxed and laid-back lifestyle in the Philippines. 

Unfortunately, it’s not going away anytime soon, so getting frustrated won’t lead to anywhere productive. 

The best thing you can do is learn to find a way to accept this reality and work around it.

2. Set realistic expectations and communicate as politely and consistently as you can.

It is crucial to set realistic expectations and communicate them clearly with your Filipino colleagues or friends. 

If you have an important meeting or event, make sure to remind them in advance and to allow for some extra time in case of delays.

Pro Tip: For those who you know are consistently late, set your meeting time half an hour (or more!) earlier than you intend to begin – especially if you have succeeding appointments.

3. Stay informed about traffic and transportation issues.

Be aware of the traffic and transportation issues in the Philippines, as they can cause significant delays. It’s always best to leave and arrive extra-early.

That said, bring along your laptop or work essentials so that you can still get things done while waiting for the rest of the party.

What is the solution for Filipino time?

What is the solution for Filipino time
(Image Source: Business Mirror)

The Philippine government is taking steps to address Filipino time with the creation of Republic Act (RA) No. 10535, or the Philippine Standard Time (PST Act). This law aims to remind Filipinos that time is a valuable commodity.

To concretize this, both government offices and media networks are mandated to align their clocks with PAGASA’s atomic clock as the basis for real Philippine time.

In addition, the third week of January has also been dubbed “National Time Consciousness Week”. 

The goal of this week is to encourage Filipinos to reflect on their relationship with time and to make a concerted effort to be more mindful of punctuality. 

During this week, Filipinos are encouraged to be on time for appointments, meetings, and events, promoting a more efficient and fulfilling life.

Filipino Time is a cultural phenomenon deeply rooted in the Philippines’ history, culture, and values. By understanding the cultural roots and strategies for managing it, we can navigate the challenges that come with it and find a way to work together effectively. 

Share your experiences of navigating Filipino Time in the comments section below. Whether it’s your own experiences or insights on handling the challenges, we would love to hear from you!

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