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Lucid Thoughts

Pilipino Time Oct 30, 2015

Pilipino Time

Location: Cebu City, Cebu (province), Philippines

What is Pilipino Time
For backgrounders, it's only in the Philippines that when 2 people decide to schedule a meet-up, it's perfectly acceptable to ask, "Pilipino time?". Pilipino time, being, the other person (or both) will be late - not by circumstance, but by culture, as nobody seems to come on time. Just how late? Very late. If it's just a matter of a few minutes, nobody would bother to clarify if it's Pilipino time. It is not unusual for the late comer to arrive an hour late. What's more unusual, is that the other guy is still there, waiting - not even pissed, but smiling. And that seems to be acceptable and understood in the culture.

The Extremes

I've had my fair share of waiting for the other guy. Some are extreme - they deserve their place below:
  • UP Skindivers - I was a freshman in UP (University of the Philippines) joining the now-defunct UP Skindivers. We were meeting up at the bus station for a dive in Puerto Galera. The org head organized the dive. He was the last one to arrive at the bus station, being one hour and 30 minutes late. When he arrived, he was smiling and started small talk with the rest of us, completely oblivious he was very very late. The other guys were smiling and went on with the conversation, also completely oblivious that they waited 1.5 hours for this guy.
  • Tanjay Horseback Riding - I was invited by my Dumaguete friends to join them horseback riding in Tanjay. I was on time at the bus terminal. An hour later, I was still alone. I would have left earlier but I didn't know where the place was. Then I got a call from the organizer who told me he just woke up. Containing my outrage, I politely said I will make other plans instead. This actually pissed him off that I would bail on him. I never got another invite from him - I'm glad.
  • UP College of Fine Arts - I was part of the faculty then. There was a faculty meeting for one teacher to make a presentation. This teacher showed up one hour late - he was the last one to arrive. Upon his late arrival, that was the only time he started setting up the projector and all his paraphelnalia for the presentation. It took another 30 minutes. I was thinking, "This is UP? Cream of the crop? What a waste of tax payer money."
  • UP Mountaineers (UPM) - This is the only organization in my experience with the strictest adherence to promptness during the application period. As an applicant, if you are late for even a minute, you fail and have to wait a full year to apply again. Many applicants falter on this benchmark. I applauded this. To my dismay however, I realized that once they become members, they revert back to being late - not all, but a lot. They've already trained hard to be on time. Why drop the ball?

Jeanne and Ricco
A person who comes on time in the Philippines is rare. I could name two in Cebu who are never late - Jeanne and Ricco. They represent the few who are careful not to slide on this slippery slope - making a mindful decision to always be on time no matter how frustrating. They make good role models.

The Upwardly Mobile Executive
I had a conversation with a smart and educated upwardly mobile Filipina executive who heads a department for a multinational company. On the subject of being 'on time', she said a few things that underscored for me, just how deeply ingrained Pilipino time is, in our culture. The conversation went like this:

TheLoneRider: "Can I request you to come on time?"

Executive: "You are strict. I don't want to feel pressured about being on time."

TheLoneRider: "Are you late for business meetings?"

Executive: "Of course not! But this is not business."

TheLoneRider: "If you can be on time for business meetings, then it means you can come on time. Why deliberately choose to be late if it's not business?"

Executive: "Business is different from personal."

TheLoneRider: "7pm is 7pm, regardless if it's personal or business."

Executive: "I'd like to take my time if it's personal."

TheLoneRider: "What about the other guy who made an effort to come on time? His time is not important?"

Executive: "You're pressuring me."

TheLoneRider: "Am I twisting your arm? Coming on time is basic. We shouldn't even be having this conversation. What I am asking for is not unreasonable."

The conversation was coming to an impasse and would inevitably lead to something unpleasant. We both realized it and we both changed the topic. My realization was never talk to a Filipino about religion, politics or being on time!

Ending Thoughts
Here in the Philippines, there is a strong pressure to be late yourself even if you are prompt. Why come on time when everybody else is late? But being late is rude and disrespectful. You're saying the other person's time is not important. Being late also cascades into a domino-effect - a late start pushes everything back to a late finish. Being late puts you in bad light - that you can't manage your time, and therefore unreliable.

My metaphor for Pilipino Time is the lady executive. I was dumbfounded to actually have that conversation - an educated, smart, upwardly mobile executive in the big city who doesn't see anything wrong about being late!

--- TheLoneRider

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Google Map Cebu City, Philippines

tourist attractions in Cebu City tourist attractions
  • Tops in Cebu City Tops - hilltop offering panoramic view of the city
  • Taoist Temple in Cebu City Taoist Temple - temple on a hillslope in Lahug with panoramic view of the city
hotels in Cebu City hotel
  • Hostel Seven Cebu - newly opened, resto/bar, central location, solo/group travellers
    Juana Osmeña Street, Cebu City
  • S Hotel Cebu S Hotel & Residences - new hotel, luxury rooms, central location
    827 M. Velez corner Andres Abellana St.
cafes in Cebu City resto / cafe / bar
  • Fujinoya Fujinoya - new and refreshing twists to Western style desserts using Japanese techniques
    Wilson St., Lahug, Cebu City - tel. 888.6075
  • Bad Boys Wingz Bad Boys Wingz - Buffalo Wings, unique versions of sauces! Great service, accommodating staff, bad boys vibe
    Kasambagan, Cebu City | (032) 415 4811
yoga in Cebu City yoga
  • Love Yoga World Love Yoga World - yoga studio
    11/fl, Skyrise 2 Tower, IT Park, Lahug, Cebu City
  • Yoga Now Yoga Now - first Yoga and Wellness studio in Mactan offering daily Yoga Classes
    at The Yacht Club Mactan
mountain biking in Cebu City mountain biking
  • Cebu Mountain Bike Adventure Cebu Mountain Bike Adventure - MTB tours, bike sales and repairs. Bed and Breakfast + Resto Cafe + wifi
    1298-b V.Rama Ave, Guadalupe, Cebu City | 0942.959.7451

More Information about Cebu City

Currency Converter

Suggested Destinations in Cebu

  1. Camotes Islands - caves, beaches
  2. Cebu City - rich in culture and history, 2nd largest city in the Philippines
  3. Moalboal - amazing coral reef system, sardine bowl, deep drop-off for freediving
  4. Oslob - Butanding (whale shark) watching
  5. Bantayan Island - long stretch of fine white sand beach, Virgin Island for snorkeling
  6. Malapascua Island - divers' paradise for seeing the rare Thresher Shark
  7. Cantabaco Cave - Toledo
  8. Barile Waterfalls - Barile
  9. Whale Shark Tour - Oslob
  10. Carcar - chicharon and lechon in public market

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