I do not want to sound negative on my own country. I am writing this just to do a little story-telling while on lunch break about my own personal challenges with regards to punctuality and this thing they call FILIPINO TIME. Besides, no one can deny the fact that we all were once under the same spell or curse that made our DTRs and Attendance Sheets messy in school and at work. So ride along!
I grew up in a traditional way in our province which is an hour away from Manila. Life is not as fast and hectic in a small town than in a metropolis so I was able to enjoy my childhood so well. Besides, I SLOWLY enjoyed everything then because I never wanted to grow old. I wanted to play and be worry-free the entire day. Even when I was young, I was an OC (obsessive compulsive) so do things slowly but surely.
Because of my fondness to do things right the first time, I use too much time. Thus, I would soon make a name in school by having the record of arriving late almost daily. My manager may read this but that was then. I am a PUNCTUAL person now! Hehehe. So I was late in most of my classes even if our house is just a short walk away from school. Basically, I was too slow in getting up, taking a bath and eating breakfast!
In grade school, this was fine but not in high school. There was a flag ceremony every Mondays that we all are required to come to school early for the raising of the national flag and for singing the national anthem. Students arriving late are given broomsticks to clean the school surroundings for an hour before they are allowed to go to their classrooms. Thus, I brought my own broomstick every Monday!
In my junior and senior years, I got fast in doing things almost perfectly but the punctuality issue was never resolved that my teacher gave me a condition that if I arrive late, I have to do 2-3 rounds of jogging at our school oval. Thus, I took 2-3 rounds of jogging each day before I enter our classroom tired and wet. This may be embarrassing to some but I got used to it. Besides, I get to skip the first class!
I got this habit until college. It’s good that universities are not particular with attendance but rather with performance. The only issue is that when you have poor attendance, you get to miss lessons. Thus, performance goes down. At any rate, I passed college and was able to have a good career afterwards. Soon, I would work with foreigners and end up learning how they value time so much.
Realization came a little later. Often, I would meet friends elsewhere at 08:00AM and end up arriving myself an hour late. Thus, my friends get to adjust by arriving an hour late too. Even on meetings, they would schedule me at 08:00AM when the meeting usually starts 09:00AM or 10:00PM. Everyone wanted to make sure I make it on-time. Hahaha. Amidst this, I deliver work on-time but I arrive late always!
In the last 3-4 years of my 13 years as an IT professional, I was able to work with clients and employers from other countries. I was forced to correct my habit and realize the difference between being on-time and being an hour late. Thus, I started using a planner and alarm clock. I wore a watch as well and I would often set my time way advance just to get used to doing things on-time. Change was quite harder but doable!
In the business world, even a minute counts to a revenue. More so, not all people in this world are Filipinos who are used to waiting. Other nationalities are so keen in having 7:00AM as 7:00AM and not 7:01AM or 7:02AM or even 6:59AM. Thus, we all should be sensitive enough to change. Besides, we would not want our doctors, policemen and firemen to arrive an hour late during an emergency. Right? Thus, I changed!
Well, I had a hard time in the first few months until I got used to it. I was able to change my FILIPINO TIME to the ACTUAL TIME and it’s an achievement. I may not be perfect in terms of my attendance even as I write this but I have improved a lot. Sometimes, I would be late not because I got up late but because I had to go back forgetting my wallet or ID. Thus, I missed the train this morning by 1 minute! Huhuhu!
In other places like Europe, people value time. When you get a ticket for a 07:56AM train for work, you need to be there or you will be left behind. Thus, you will have to wait for the next trip. When a poster says that the bus arrives at 08:26AM, it really arrives on-time regardless of where it came from. When you call for a taxi over the phone and the driver gives you 2 minutes, he arrives in 2 minutes as promised.
To conclude, Filipinos were regarded as very talented and skilled people but then because they have too many things too worry about, they often are late. Some are just too lax and easy on schedules thinking that people will wait for them anyway. Often, we would think that an hour late is okay but it’s not! Thus, we all have to break away from this curse. We need to make sure that FILIPINO TIME is ON-TIME ALL THE TIME!