thanks and acknowledgment to canstockphoto.com!
[ Note : With permission to repost from publisher Didith Tayawa-Figuracion and editor Meia Lopez of Kabayan newsmagazine, for and of the members of Wellington Filipino community. Thanks again Didith and Meia, and sorry for not participating in the presswork! This blog also appears in issue no. 6, now out in Catholic parishes and Pinoy stores throughout Wellington. Please catch other magnificent Kiwi-Pinoy human interest stories by clicking on this link, mabuhay po tayong lahat! ]
I HAVE been lucky enough to be invited four times to functions at either the Philippine Embassy in Wellington or at Ang Bahay, the official residence of the Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand. These were four different events, with different kabayan in attendance, and diverse weather conditions and number of people attending.
The singular common denominator at the four shindigs? Each event started on the dot, regardless of how many among the invited had arrived, with the Ambassador herself among the earliest attendees. No Filipino Time observed here, obviously.
Parallel to their Government’s efforts, OFWs are doing their darnedest best to be exemplars not only of efficiency, honesty and cheer, but are also becoming quite reliable in punctuality, which as you know Filipinos are not always famous for.
According to research done by retiredinsamar.com (many thanks for the data!), Filipino time finds its origins in the colonial tradition requiring indios to attend parties only after all the Spanish masters and lords had been seated. Accommodating or even feeding Pinoy guests was definitely not a priority, and over the next few decades this set-up solidified into the institution known as Filipino time. In so many words, to be late was to be fashionable.
But the modern milieu abhors a vacuum, particularly where it is caused by waiting for someone who should be there, no matter how important that someone may be. Life nowadays is divided into slices of neatly scheduled hours, minutes and seconds, all spent doing worthwhile endeavors. Wilfully breaching these schedules shows a general disrespect for the time of everyone else, while believing that one is not bound by rules of courtesy followed by all others.
How many times have we heard overseas guests arrive at the appointed time in our beloved homeland, only to be made waiting for 10, 15 and upwards of 30 minutes by our kabayan, who act like as if being late was the most natural thing in the world? Or how events are held up by an embarrassing amount of time because of the guest of honor was fashionably late?
Ask a random number of expats or dayuhan married to Pinay wives and a strong majority will give you at least one anecdote concerning Filipino time. When everyone else scorns the appointed time on the invitation, almost like the latter is an RSVP if you will be inexplicably early, you can expect almost no one to be there on time. Pinoys are early in discount sales, opening day premieres and A-list concerts, but not to parties. Sadly, if you want peple to attend your affair at a certain time, it is practical to schedule it an hour earlier. Only in the Philippines.
But there might still be hope for us. Remember all those events I mentioned at the Embassy ? Because each started on time, each also ended promptly, with enough space for all of us to catch the late-edition news. Filipino time won’t last forever, as long as we keep fighting. Sugod, mga kapatid!