I recently read a post on another blog describing a “Filipino Timed” event. This newcomer to the Philippines described how untimely his engagement party went down and his take on how Filipino time affects the daily lives of nearly everybody that lives in the Archipelago. He learned quickly that Filipino Time affects nearly everything during one’s daily routine. What really needs to be understood is that there are many underlying problems to why this is, which is better understood as “Filipino Timing.”
Photo Source: Zazzle.com
My previous post described the origin of “Filipino Indios Time” and its historical significance. If you remember in that previous post, Filipino Time was described from the Urban Dictionary as “The official timing of the Philippines” which simply means things get done whenever they get done.
You see, there are many factors which dictate timeliness across this island nation. Take transportation as a prime example; while the majority of the population does not have their own private transportation, they must then rely on another driver’s timing, and essentially the “clock of an entire nation.” This is probably one of the single most contributing factors to bad timing.
Then you have a myriad of other things that can affect whether anyone ever shows up anywhere on time. Here is a short list of reasons to ponder – all major contributors to “Filipino timing” which can and usually compounds one’s tardiness.
3. Power outages
The Scenario: Imagine yourself and three others all going to meet for couple of evening cocktails and conversation. You have all decided to meet at a predetermined place at a scheduled time of 4:00 pm. With just the five variables listed above, it can equate to hundreds of possible scenarios as to why it simply will not happen. Your asawa has gone to the market and knows to be home in time (a variable all its own) so you can promptly leave for your 4:00 meeting.
She must return before you can leave because today there is nobody else available to stay home and keep an eye on things. She leaves the market on time to head home, but her tricycle driver has trouble. She unloads and loads into another tricycle and is then taken to the jeepney pick-up spot.
There, she waits through 4 jeepneys until one comes along that can accommodate her with space for her and two large packages. But, all of a sudden, cousin Jamille (who she hasn’t seen in months) appears, and for nearly ten minutes they carry on with each other (yes, she did miss that jeepney!). They say their good-byes and it’s another 5 minutes before another partially filled jeepney arrives.
Now on the jeepney, she heads home but a large thunderstorm rears its head producing frequent lightning and heavy downpour. For everyone’s safety, the driver decides to park alongside the road for 10 minutes until Mother Nature lets up. While sitting idly by waiting for the storm to pass, the driver comes to the realization that when the rain stops, it would be an opportune time to re-fuel the jeepney. So he pulls into a station that has a rather long line of customers.
(Photo Source: AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
After sitting in line for over 5 minutes, it becomes known that the pumps are not working due to a malfunction likely caused by a lighting strike. So off the beaten path he goes thru traffic, three blocks over to another station where it takes over 15 minutes to complete the re-fuel and get back on the road. By this time traffic after the storm has picked up and it’s become slow going heading out of town towards the Barrio.
All’s going well until the jeepney and passengers head up the steep hill to where they come upon a very large flatbed truck carrying coco lumber (that was overloaded to begin with) that has navigated itself onto a berm while attempting to make a short right-hand S-turn, dumping half of its cargo all over the roadside. After nearly a 20 minute clean-up, traffic once again begins to move. The asawa finally reaches her drop off point and from this intersection will spend several minutes hailing for a tricycle for the final leg of her trip.
She arrives home precisely at 3:55 pm. When you give her that look and ask “Where have you been? You know I have a meeting!” “But your meeting is not until 4:00 and it’s not even 4:00 yet!” she responds with. This is where your Bart Simpson impression will be used, most emphatically, as you head out the door (you experienced husbands know this precisely.)
Your trip takes you 30 minutes to get to your meeting place and you think to yourself, not bad, it’s only 4:25 and I’m the first one here. You are feeling good because you consider yourself “on time” (regardless of how late you may be, if you arrive first, you are “on time”.)
You order a beer and relax to wait for the others. You order another beer…and another…then your phone rings. It’s one of your buddies who you were supposed to meet at 4:00 and now it’s 5:05. He asks you where you are at and you state “I’m here at The Emerald waiting on your guys. Heck, I’ve been here nearly 40 minutes and have had three beers already.” Your friend surprisingly responds “The Emerald?” And you say, “That’s right, The Emerald!” Your friend then replies “But my asawa said Joe’s asawa said that your asawa said to all meet at “The Imelda!”
It’s just more fun in the Philippines!
(Footnote: As a blood pressure reduction and control method, as related to Filipino Timing, it is highly recommended never to wear a watch in the Philippines.)
Randy Landis is a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer who has worked a combined 25 years in Meteorology and Oceanography, both with the Navy and the National Weather Service. Randy has traveled to and visited most major Asian and Australian cities, having previously lived in the Western Pacific region for over 8 years, including 3 years in the Philippines.