New Year, New You: Filipino Time, Why You Should Not Be Late?

Ever have this horrible experience?


A typical weekday. Knowing Philippine Traffic, you prepare early for your meeting. You brave EDSA with hours of travel-time allowance just to arrive on time.


With literally blood, sweat, and tears, you arrive 15 minutes before the hour. Patiently waiting 15 minutes to time. And waiting some more after. Comes 15 minutes past the hour, a text message arrived: “Sorry, I’m on my way”. Only to arrive 1 hour late!


Filipino Time. Where meetings are most likely plus 30 minutes to 1 hour the agreed time. Meeting at 10 AM? Arrive at 1030 or 11 AM. I even have a friend who notoriously and consistently arrives 2-3 hours late!


With the New Year, New You series, why not resolve to be an early bird for the year? If you decide to do so, we are here to guide you. It’s never too late to start!


And hopefully, after this article, you will never be late. Period.


First: Understanding History and Culture

  First: Understanding History and Culture  

First, let us understand the root cause of this chronic lateness.  Being late is deeply ingrained in our culture.


It all started with Spanish Colonization. The Spanish take time only as a guide and not to an exact specific schedule. 7 PM doesn’t mean 7 PM on the dot. It means “just around that time”.


It influenced Filipinos to see time as flexible. They passed on this relatively laid-back lifestyle (That explains Siesta in the late afternoon).


To add further, the leaders on those days demonstrated their influence by showing up late. It is considered a Status Symbol. It shows that people allow you to disrespect their time because you are “important”.


The later you are, the more you are revered. The latest person win! There were even excerpts from Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo that anecdotes this tendency.


In the American colonial eras, the affluent Filipinos inherited this trait. The annoyed Americans then coined the term “Filipino Time” to further demonize and venerate their conquering efforts.


With every Filipino wanting to be “up there”, there is more reason to be as late as ever. Even President Quirino was 2 hours late for the acceptance of his honorary doctorate degree from Fordham University.


With 333 years of Spanish rule and with our leaders showing such demeanor, how can we blame ourselves, right?


Why Should You Be On Time?

  Why Should You Be On Time?  

Wrong! The times are changing. And if you want to cope up with today’s fast worldwide integration, you should start by being ON TIME. After all, we can all change if we want to.


What does being on time have to do with your professional competence, you ask? Being late doesn’t mean you don’t do your work well.


To some degree, this may be true. But then, there are many benefits of being on time that might IMMENSELY build your career anyway.  So might as well.


It Gives a Good Impression of Dependability

And with today’s working environment, you don’t only mingle with Filipinos but also with foreigners as well. You definitely want to give a Lasting Impression. And being late is not the impression you want to last.


Being on time shows an impression of dependability. Because if you can’t handle a small thing as being time organized, how can you handle bigger projects?


Integrity and Commitment

Integrity and Commitment

Image Credit: The Next Web


Being late not only irritates people, but it also says a lot about your integrity and commitment. Can you keep your word? Clients, Colleagues, and Superiors will doubt you when you can’t even keep up with the time you mutually set.


Being on time is a sign that you are committed (or at the very least, interested) in the endeavor.


Respect and Consideration for Others  


Lastly, being on time demonstrates your respect for other people’s time. We all have problems to bear. We should give regard to each individual by at least being on time. Unlike the Spanish era, you are not regarded as “supreme” if you’re late. You’re just plain rude.


If you want your new friends, customers, and superiors to have a good relationship with you, you can start by being considerate of their time.


How to Be on Time?


Now, that we established the importance of being on time, how do we exactly be on time? There is no perfect solution for your woes. But these tips might help you.


Aim to Arrive Early


This may be common sense, but some people get late because of “unforeseen circumstances”. Whether this might be true or not, it is best to aim to arrive earlier than the agreed upon time.


Try arriving 15 minutes earlier. If the worst case actually happens, you might be able to still arrive on time.

Allot Feasible Travel Time (Include Possible Traffic)

Allot Feasible Travel Time (Include Possible Traffic)

Image Credit: Crossing the Borders


Just because you traveled 10 minutes from Makati to EDSA once 1 AM in the morning doesn’t mean you can travel that fast every time. With the proverbial “traffic” excuse, a simple solution is considering traffic in the equation.


For most countries, an extra 10 to 15 minutes might be enough. But if you’re in the Philippines, commuting time might be way more. The average commute for Filipinos is 45 minutes on a normal day.


It might be much, but try to budget 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes travel time depending on location. You’ll never know when the next “Carmageddon” is.


Use a Planner and Reminding Tool

  Use a Planner and Reminding Tool  

Planners, whether digital or just a manual notebook, can go a long way. Review your appointments before you sleep. As for me, I use the app Wunderlist to make reminders automatic. I have daily, weekly, and even yearly reminders for my to-do’s.


Regardless of what system you choose, just find something that works.


Plan Your Breakfasts


You can take it up a notch by preparing you breakfasts the night before. I don’t mean breakfast (the meal) alone but also what you do during this time.


You can prepare for the things you’ll wear the night before. Prepare the food and put your keys and bags in their proper places before going to bed.


It may sound simple, but this preparation will not only make your mornings organized, it will also make you move faster. And ultimately, avoid being late.


Find your Energy Cycle


Know yourself, as the adage might say. If you have the option to set the meeting, find your most productive hours of the day. This will allow you to move more swiftly and intently.


Fear of Downtime  

Fear of Downtime

Image Credit: thedroidguy


Maybe, it is not your unwillingness to move that is hindering you. Do you feel that you have to be productive every single minute? It might be your willingness to move every time that’s causing you to be late.


This is called “Fear of Down Time”. You want to be productive every single time. How do you fight this urge? Do you not aim to not do anything at all?


The answer may be a partial yes. But if you can’t resist the urge, you can create a list of things you can do while you’re on-the-go.


Remind yourself that you will be productive during your commute. It may be reading a book. Watching a documentary. Anything goes. As long as you convince yourself to leave now.


And if you feel the urge, just take out this list, and fill your commuting time with productivity.




Certainly, Filipino Time is embedded in our culture. But with the help of better understanding, tools, and your mustered willpower, you can be on time!


Now, off you go to your meeting.

Leandro Eclipse

Leandro Eclipse is an entrepreneur who loves to travel. He believes in building multiple Location-Independent Sources of Income. Because if you are going to work anyway, might as well do it while exploring the world. Self-proclaimed foodie and tech geek. Follow him on IG @mikoeclipse.


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