The Official Time of the Philippines: Juan Time or Filipino Time?

The Official Time of the Philippines: Juan Time or Filipino Time?

Recently, I’ve seen many a reference being made to “Filipino Time” and thought this would be a good time to delve into this tradition to help understand why being late for everything is considered the norm in the Philippines. Being married – so to speak –  to the Archipelago (a Filipina) for over 25 years, I am all too familiar with the Filipino’s standards of tardiness.There are no standards really. Filipino Time Button



While researching these later-than-late tendencies, I have learned about what could possibly be the origin and cause of Filipino Time.  The roots of “Filipino Time” transcend hundreds of years and the term was coined to mean Filipino Indios Time. 

Back during the Spanish colonization period, whenever there were social events and parties, there was a need to distinguish between the SENIOR’s and SENORITA’s time and the Filipino Indios (or Second Citizen) time.  Filipinos were required to come at a later time during events hosted by the Spaniards, where the Spanish conquistadores, mestizos, would all have been properly hosted and seated.

The late arrival would allow for the Filipino guests to self-effacingly say they had already eaten. They would then assimilate on the sides of the party where they would quietly make their own connections for business and politics. They would also provide applause and dance as directed by party organizers. They were also often used as after dinner entertainers to their colonizers. As this became carried through time, it became tradition and culture …just remember 300 years of Spanish colonization!

Whoever coined the term “Filipino Time” would today probably realize a stark contrast from its original use.  While it originally described the Filipino’s inclination for arriving at or starting an event 15 to 30 minutes later than scheduled, it has become a notorious habit that, unknown to many and in simple terms, contributes significantly to this country’s overall lost productivity.

In an attempt to change this mindset and imbue awareness of the benefits of timeliness, the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, through the Science and Technology Information Institute, on September 30th of 2011, launched a campaign titled “Juan Time,” which is designed to promote time-consciousness among Filipinos.

Juan Time is intended to promote the nationwide use of the Philippine Standard Time (hence “Juan Time”, a word play on “One Time” and “Juan” being the common name for Filipinos) and sync timepieces with the PST. According to DOST Secretary Mario Montejo, “PST, the country’s official time, sets only one common time in the archipelago’s more than 7,100 islands” and that “Juan Time reminds Filipinos that keeping to the PST avoids the difficulties of having confusing, unsynchronized time.”

While I think it is a noteworthy attempt by officials in the country to tackle tardiness that is deemed to negatively impact the country’s economy, changing  300 + years of an evolutionary trait could be as monumental as the timely scheduling of pick-up times for Jeepneys. For me, the DOST mantra – With PST, “Filipino time” is now “on time” is almost as laughable as betting on a blind rooster at a cockfight.

An excerpt from the Urban Dictionary: 


Filipino Time

Filipino Time, which means things get done whenever they get done. Official Timing of The Philippines.

Although I fully understand the intent of the DOST, I ask the question all the time – would life be any different in my view if Filipino’s all just began to show up on time? Maybe for some, it would. 

Personally for me and others who may be at that point in life where retirement and slowing down is way more important than catching a Jeepney on time, the choice of showing up on time or being fashionably late is just an added convenience of one’s chosen lifestyle. 

More importantly, and as far as I’m concerned, the later I am the colder the San Miguel could potentially be! But, one also does run the risk of missing out on the “polutan.” For me, I simply look at exercising the option of being late as a “life” Executive Privilege.

84 thoughts on “The Official Time of the Philippines: Juan Time or Filipino Time?

  1. Randy, enjoyed the article, thanks. Haven’t heard one thing about “Juan Time” since it’s inception. You would think the government would have better things to spend their pesos on. But look at some of the bonehead projects that the US has spent money on. Here’s a little sample: “Dubious government spending schemes abound since bureaucrats play with other people’s money. For example, the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) spent $70,029 to see if the degu, a diurnal South American rodent, can help us better understand jet lag . . . they spent $77,826 to study “Coping with Change in Czechoslovakia” . . . $100,271 to see if volunteering is good for older people . . . $124,910 to reduce “School Phobia” in children . . . $161,913 to study “Israeli reactions to SCUD Attacks during the Gulf War.” Source: http://www.thefreemanonline.org/features/most-outrageous-government-waste/

  2. as i was waiting for my date to show up,now 1 hour late i asked a young man sitting by me why if a date agrees to meet at 3pm she doesnt arrive untill 3.30 or 4.00 and he said because the girls wont start gettin ready untill 5 minutes to 3.00 and then they will make numerous changes in their wardrobe.

    Then i asked him,if your mom has a party and asks you to be there at 1.00 pm what time would you arrive,he told me he would get there at 1.30,i asked why and he says because of traffic and i say why dont you just leave earlier and he says because he doesnt want to show up when no one else is there yet.

    And my date after 2 hours never showed up,next day she tells me after i go find her at work that she fell asleep and smiling at me like nothing was wrong with what she did and i tell her to stop smiling and stop thinking this is funny and i tell her she is a very rude woman and i then go and talk to her workmate and explain what happened and workmate says that what she did was bad and rude.Well it must have weighed on her mind because later that night i get a text from her telling me she is so sorry and feels bad for what she did and asks if i would like to meet her after work that night and i said No. Cross another one off the list.

    For any of you guys whom have never been here before be prepared for no shows,lateness and rejection.The woman dont just jump in your boat here,they may act like it when you first talk to them but after that its 50/50 if they act out on a promise.

    • Scott B, “no shows, lateness and rejection.” You’re describing my dating life back in the States before I met my asawa.

      No doubt it can and does get frustrating for single guys coming over. But Filipino Time figures into the equation. I personally consider being late rude, also, Scott. I don’t think that will ever change here. Hope your luck changes for the better. Lots of quality Filipinas around, just difficult to find them sometimes I guess.

      What do you other guys out there think? It’s off topic, but who ever said I stayed on topic? Any advice from you potential wing men out there?

      • During my Navy years, my asawa learned the importance of being on time from me. Now, she gets to work nearly 1 hour earlier than her posted hours. Whenever we attend a Filipino hosted party here in the states, we always make it a point to arrive a “little bit” late and we are still usually the first ones there! There are a very few exceptions to this late rule and I can affirm this: Nobody has ever shown late for a “Pacman” fight! 🙂

        • Randy, after a year-and-half in the States, my asawa got a job at a local hospital. She started work at 6:30 am. I started at 7:00 am at the time. We only had one vehicle and lived about 25-30 minutes out of town. Rest assured, since I worked for AT&T and was only late twice in 30 years (my first two years), my asawa was ready to go when our truck pulled away from our home. Whenever we attended any Fil-Am parties, I always made it a point to be a little early. Sometimes it would be an hour before anyone else showed up.

          Our “hot” laundry lady has arrived. It’s 8:22 am. My asawa is still outside but has just told me “I’ll be there.” We’re back on Filipino Time. Actually, I enjoy grocery shopping. We get separate carts. I’m done one hour ahead of her and wait outside the checkouts. Think she takes longer because she is shopping for our nieces and nephews now? Nope. I still finished ahead of her before the kids got here. 😯

          Update: Ten minutes later my asawa IS in the house and getting ready. There’s still hope for us to get to SM City today before the 9 pm closing. 🙂 For those of you concerned my asawa reads my comments, don’t worry. She doesn’t, and the bolo is still in Guimaras.

    • Scott, I would continue to evaluate her on all her other “traits” and set aside the time management… “training” …issues for a “much later” date…no pun intended. Being late is an inherent trait that can be overcome, most of the time! 🙂

      • Good advice, Randy. I just looked out the window to see my asawa doing the laundry on laundry day. Our “hot” laundry lady hasn’t arrived yet. I said to my asawa: “We are going grocery shopping at SM today, right?” “What time?” she asked. “Quarter after nine, remember, I told you before.” It’s almost 8 am now. We’ll be lucky to get out of the house by 11….am, I hope. 😀

    • I’m sure this solution has occurred to you but since this keeps happening I would consider not meeting the girls in public and waiting, unsure of what’s happening. I would just arrange to pick her up at her work or home. Of course you would still be waiting for her; she will be getting ready and you will be cooling your heels. But at least you would not be wondering where she is.

      I used to have a very pretty gf (not a Filipina) who could never get ready in under an hour. It took me awhile but I learned to wait a bit more patiently and looked on happily as she got ready, looking more beautiful by the minute. Ultimately I decided the anticipation was well worth it. YMMV.

      • That’s a good tip, Dave W. I think some of the girls might be shy to have someone pick them up at their house because of possible security reasons or, possibly, their living conditions might not be the best. But it’s a good point to consider.

        Under an hour, Dave? I’ve NEVER had any gf that could get ready under an hour. My own asawa takes at least that amount of time plus more. I’ve learned not to say anything, most of the time. 🙂

    • Scott B., maybe the woman does not like you, or just trying your patience to see your actual reaction/attitude if it’s bad. You need to learn how to court a filipina woman as some are not easy to get. They are not the same as western women.

  3. I noticed most filipinos are not in a hurry to do anything except their driving. I have called companys to come to my house to do some work and they will say we will be there in a little while and show up a week later. I have had locals working around house doing things and would tell me they have to go to town and get part and even if we give them the money still doesn’t come back for a couple of days even though they know you are waiting for it to be repaired so you can use it. I guess I am going to have to learn to shift into slow speed when living in the Philippines.

    • Some things George are just out of our control…like, between leaving to get the part and returning, there could have been a marriage, three baptisms, 2 novenas, one fiesta, and a beach event with lechon. Oh, maybe the tricycle tire went flat (twice) also. It’s always fun to Prioritize in the Philippines! 😉

    • As you well know, George, a lot of folks are laid back. We have had really good luck as far as repairs around the house go. My brother-in-law in Guimaras took care of everything or us and is extremely dependable. We’ve found a new handyman at our location in Iloilo, and he’s also very dependable and has a reasonable charge for his work, just wanted enough to buy some rice last time he fixed an electrical problem we had (of course, we had to pay him more than just some money for rice, but it was worth it.)

  4. I am gonna turn the table on this as i did 2 weeks ago when a date didnt show up at the mall and i live 3 minutes walking from the mall so i went home and then she texted me and asked where i was and i said i was laying in bed and she said why i said you are an hour late and she said traffic was bad so then i walked over and we hung out and then she asked if i wanted to go to her house and see her mom and aunt and i said ok how far do you live and we started walking and we arrived by walking to her home in 10 minutes.Bad traffic huh?

    I have many stories on this as it has become a job not even a pleasure to try to meet a nice woman here as most i feel have never been on an adult type of date where you go to dinner and actually have to talk to one another,they will text their friends during the meal and we are not at mcdonalds,i take the woman out to nice restaurants in smallville that cost me plenty and in return i get to see them texting and if you ask them to stop than you just may as well drive a stake through their heart because you just hurt their feelings as they think it is ok in their culture to text while on a date no matter during dinner or watching a movie at a theatre.I even had a 26 year old woman on a date and this was the second date and we ate at nice restaurant at the sm mall and instead of talking to me she took out her laptop that she was carrying in her backpack and asked the waiter if they had wifi and he said you can pickup the wifi signal from next door so she fired up the computer and got onto facebook as we were eating and i got up and looked as she was typing away and i told her how rude she was for being on facebook while eating dinner and she said sorry and closed it up and after dinner i paid the bill and walked outside and told her goodbye and went home and she texted me and chewed me out for telling her how rude she was and that i need to understand that this is her country not mine and i need to learn the rules on socialization in the ph.Scratch another of the list.

    • Scott, you seem to be having a real time with dating here. It is a cultural thing mostly, and sometimes you can cover some guidelines with the lady beforehand, prior to the actual date. Let her know what your expectations are and see how receptive she is with all that. Most times, the concept of western dating will be foreign to her with a little shyness sprinkled in.
      My first date ever with my asawa, she flat out stood me up after I bought a whole cooler full of mussels and shrimp, some wine and beer, some other appetizers and the like, to be BBQ’d at a friends house one Saturday afternoon. She just never showed up and me and my friend ate and drank and made an evening of it until the food was gone. Her excuse…. she forgot! I’ve learned that first dates can have a high no-show rate because of an unchaperoned situation. Good girls don’t usually go it alone first time out and they can easily talk themselves out of going alone, using one of a hundred excuses. Perseverance will pay off.

      • So you got stood up, Randy, and you guys ended up getting married. Glad it worked out. I think the chaperone aspect is a good point. I think the ladies, many of them shy, feel more comfortable bringing someone along on the first date. I still think a simple text message letting the party know you’re not going to be there is appropriate, however. I can understand Scott’s frustration, but still think things will work out.

          • Scott’s got plenty of time, Randy. He’s just been here a month, but things will work out. I’m sure he doesn’t want to rush into anything, but I guess that dating game can be frustrating no matter what country you’re in.

    • Scott, I am no dating expert, but with a couple of trips to the Philippines I was able to find the young woman of my dreams. As we approach our first anniversary I can say this has been the best year of my life.

      My advise to you is perhaps look for a more “provincial girl.” I am not great at written communications so it’s difficult for me to describe the difference, maybe it’s as simple as a “city girl” and “country girl” here in the USA? Take that advise with a grain of salt as I am from a rural farm area in Oregon, but I swear there is a huge difference between the girls in the major urbanized areas and of the province. Even if the province girl is now living in metro Manila or Cebu, her attitude, heart and family will be provincial. (Dave, can you help me on this? Was it just me that experienced this?)

      • Lee, you are spot on. Differences can be quite obvious between the proverbial “Manila Girl” and the provincial keeper. Although they may seem similarly disparaged, you are right about the heart and soul part. The city girl may set higher expectations from her new found “ATM machine” as compared to the provincial types but the country girls would be genuinely more appreciative. You know the old saying – “You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the spoils out of the girl.” Keep on scouting Scott!

        • I agree, Randy. While I’m not trying to offend any city girls out there, I believe what you are stating is true in a lot of cases, Randy. Scott just hasn’t met the right one yet, but I’m sure he will.

      • Good advice, Lee. I understand what you’re saying. Our location, Iloilo City, has a mixture of both the big city girl and the province, or “country girl.” Ilonggas are noted for being some of the sweetest, most loyal Filipinas around. While there a lot of good city girls out there, I, too, married a “province girl” who was raised on a rice farm. There is a difference in attitudes between the two, I think. I’m extremely fortunate to have been married to my wonderful wife for over 12 years now. I don’t know how she puts up with me.

        There’s a lot of good women out there. Like anywhere else, there’s the scammers you have to watch out for. There’s no excuse, in my opinion, for not showing up for a date and not letting the other party know. Glad you found the love of your life, Lee, and thanks for your comment.

      • Hi Lee,

        I have told my wife that my future wives will be found in the public market as the ones that prowl the upscale malls have such dangerous spending habits. Joke lang!

      • I willl be more than happy to come up with a title. Here I will run a few by you. “How to catch a big fish with a small worm” “Diapers and Dentures the aphrodesiac of SE Asia” and “Show me your bingo wings!” Just let me know if you want to avail my services. haha!

    • It really is your fault. If you haven’t figured out yet you are in a different culture and country then you need to wake up!!!

      You are not in America or some other foreign place you grew up in. The Philippines is completely different.

      If you are having problems with dating filipinas you need to look in the mirror…you will then see the problem.

      Filipinas are absolutely the EASIEST women to date and get along with I have ever been with…and I have been with a lot.

      One thing you need to know about filipinas…they are extremely social and texting, chatting, or being with their friends is probably a bit more important to them than being with YOU. At least until you have established a good relationship.

      Winning the heart of a filipina is so easy….be kind, courteous, respect the culture, and be funny. If you can do that…you will have an endless supply of dates and potential mates.

      • Good advice, Todd. Filipinas are certainly some of the most patient people I ever met. How in the world my own asawa has put up with me for over 12 years is completely beyond me. I consider myself an extremely fortunate guy. I can hardly put up with myself most of the time. Thanks for the input, Todd.

        • And with that response we REALLY know who is at fault. Don’t bother looking in the mirror guy, you know what YOUR problems are.

          The only guys that I know that have had issues with finding a good filipina are guys either so full of themselves they think the world revolves around THEM…or guys not smart enough to figure out what filipinas really like.

          Almost every one of my friends is either married to a filipina or engaged to one. We are amazed that ANY guy has a hard time finding a good filipina.

          Wish you luck guy…you will need it.

          • Todd, you’ve got some good comments I see about Cherry Blossoms and Filipino Time, and I appreciate them. Hopefully, Scott B and yourself can call a truce. I’ve met Scott several times and he’s a good guy as I’m sure you are. I appreciate your input along with Scott’s.

    • Scott B,
      If you live 3 minutes form the mall, I would arrange to meet at the mall and ask her to text you once she arrives as you will be “walking around the mall”. But instead of you going to the mall at the arranged time, just stay home and wait for her text and then walk over to the mall to meet her. At least that way you can get something done at home if she is late.

    • Maybe it is a lack of maturity rather than a cultural thing. Are you trolling for girls much younger than yourself and then being shocked at their lack of social graces?

      • Let me jump in, Tom. Scott B has told me he wants to meet someone in their 30’s. He realizes that the maturity level of an 18-20 year old naturally is different from someone a bit “older.” He has certain criteria and is looking for someone with high standards. He’s a good guy and is in no hurry.

  5. Scott I met my asawa on a yahoo chat site. We chatted for about 2 1/2 years before I took the plunge and met her in Cebu. We got to know each other before we got to know each other if you know what I mean. She is a provincial girl who grew up just across the bay from Randy’s house, lol. Time just doesn’t have the impact here that it does in the West.
    Give these girls a break. They don’t understand our ways and we don’t understand theirs but discovering a little of both is where the adventure lies! Texting is the national past time. They are not being rude; it’s just their way. You have to ‘dial back’ and go with the flow. Accept the cultural differences and you’ll have the time of your life. Try to convert them to Western ways and you’ll get a headache. My two cents worth is that provinical girls are much more reliable and faithful than city girls. They don’t suffer from the Barbie syndrome. Treat them well and they’ll treat you well. Respect them as people first and you’ll gain their friendship and eventually their love if that’s what you’re looking for. If it’s just a roll in the hay you want, Manila, Cebu and Angeles City are full of girls willing to accomodate. Just be prepared for all the BS that comes with that. Meet the families, enjoy the relationships. Understand that you are not dating an individual but a member of a group and as such you need to be accepted by the group before she’ll accept you, hehehe. Randy, Dave help me out here. LOL

    • You don’t need my help, Mark G, I think you made your point very well. I will tell you that Scott has been spent some time in the Philippines before and had a Filipina girlfriend. He’s well acquainted with the Philippines, but I think he’s noticed a difference in the ladies he has met here as opposed to the young ladies in the previous location he was at. But you’ve got some advice and good insight, Mark. I still have confidence that Scott will meet the right one. He’s retired like me, though a lot younger, and has all the time in the world.

    • Ditto Dave’s comments. Mark knows well enough and just explains it in more detail. In my opinion one can choose from the mall rats, or the rice charmers. Rice charmers see more easily pleased than the former.

    • Well said Mark “meet the familes, enjoy the relationships” and “respect” go a long way with a Filipina and her family. If they know you genuinely like them, the love will come back ten fold.

  6. As far as filipino time…it has ALWAYS amazed me. I was raised to always be early. In the Marine Corps it was hurry up and wait. It is the filipino culture that leads to this being late almost all of the time, that is for sure. In America I know many filipinos and they are rarely late to their jobs.

    As much as the filipino time irritates me at times, it is also one of the more charming things about the Philippines. The laid back style is something I really like.

    This WASTING of time has to affect the economy there. There is so much time that is lost that could be used for production. That cannot be good.

    • I worked at AT&T for 30 years, Todd, and I HAD to be on time. There were no excuses allowed. I’m adjusting to the laid back style here and enjoying it. Being retired means I don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time.

      I’m sure a lot of time is wasted that could be used for production, like you stated. How about the States where I would often see a city crew with six guys standing around watching two guys dig? I always wondered how I could get one of those “standing around” jobs.

  7. Hey todd,i am an ex U.S NAVY SEABEE,and you were a MARINE,I am a Green Bay Packer football fan and you probably like the cowboys and i am a a Baltimore Oriole fan and you probably like the Yankees,ok i will stop with the sarcasm.

    I dont need any enemies on this site and dont want to turn this site into another one of those sites whose name i wont mention where one statement that someone doesnt agree with gets you thrown to the wolves.

    Dave is a great friend of mine and i dont want to tarnish his site and all the hard work he puts into it so if truce needs to be called i am kool with calling it and as the late great Rodney King quoted,”Cant we we just just all all get along”

    • Thanks, Scott B. We’re not always going to agree on everything that’s for sure. I appreciate your response, Scott. Hope to meet up with you again soon and try some of that San Miguel Dark Lager you’ve been talking about.

  8. Wow, what a hot topic! This is great stuff! Three things stand out as truth:
    The province girl, “probinsyana”, vs. the city girl is a great point.
    The unchaperoned date, shyness, and talking herself out of meeting you alone is also true. Let her bring a friend or family member!
    Filipinas are, indeed, very social. Perhaps she’s texting to say she likes you! Or, maybe filling a lull in the conversation. But, Scott, you sound as if you might be making these girls uncomfortable. Sorry, but that’s how it sounds. Just chill, and give them a chance.

    • Randy’s topic has really taken off, Ice Man. You never know what will come up but that’s good. Some good advice from you guys. Scott’s a good guy. I’m sure he’ll be just fine. He doesn’t have a face like a dog’s rear end, so he’s got that going for him. Thanks for your input, Ice Man. (Did you catch that “just chill” remark coming from The “ICE MAN?” He’s good.)

  9. First of all,good article Randy. Interesting that the lateness can be traced back to the social gatherings during Spanish rule.

    Several times during my latest visit (this past May), I would know that we had plans to go somewhere for the day (say swimming), and we’d be sitting around doing nothing – a house full of people all spread out – some watching tv, some cleaning, some sleeping outside in the bamboo hut, and I would catch myself getting impatient and ask my wife “babe, are we going swimming or not? It’s frickin’ hot as hell! I’m sweating like a dog! Can we go?” ….. “oh not now babe. we will in awhile”….. ughhhh I’m paying and I have to wait! …..

    Times like that you have to “check yourself” and be patient. I guess it’s tough going from this hurry up culture in the States to such a laid back one there. Patience is a virtue I look forward to learning in good time 🙂

    • Thanks Boston Pauly for your kind remarks. I too have experienced the hoards of family members just all loitering around when something should actually be happening. If I have learned anything about being “organized” in the Philippines, it is “bahala na”. It means “whatever will be, will be” and there is no fighting it. Most times I’ll just reach for another cold SMB until the “organizers” are ready. I guess I left my “authority” in San Francisco (like the song). 😯

    • I experience what you talk about on an almost daily basis, Paul. It takes some adjustment. After three years I THINK I’m doing better. But with four extra kids in the house now, I believe my patience is going to be tried even more (but they’re good kids, so it shouldn’t be too bad.)

  10. hey dave meet me sunday at 1.00 pm at Tukis bar at smallville and we will drink the dark san miguel called Negra,its as good as a heavy dark guinnes.

  11. I can remember when I was stationed at Cubi Point and co-workers or friends would agree to meet at a specific location for a beer after work. Without having a car, the logistics of getting a taxi from Cubi Pt. to the main gate area, then the walk to the gate and the long line to get through the guard post, followed by catching a trike or jeepney to your destination could be time consuming. Then there were all the hawkers, hustlers, manok on a stick, bars, beers, and pretty pinays between the base and your destination. It’s a wonder anyone ever showed up at all for anything. Therefore being late was, in realty, being reliable!

    • Good point, Randy. No matter how early you might leave for a destination, those other factors you mention can come into play. We can make the 2-jeepney ride to SM City in 30 minutes or 60. Depends on how long it takes the jeepneys to fill up with passengers before they leave and how many stops they make. But since we’re retired and on Filipino Time, what does it matter. 😛

Leave a Comment