The Filipino Sense of Time


[Photo source:]

By Edgar Lores

Many have observed that the Filipino has a different sense of time. There is a term for it — Filipino Time.

As far as I can see, there are four main dimensions to this unique sense of time:

  • Alacrity
  • Duration
  • Unpunctuality
  • Short horizon

Alacrity is “cheerful readiness” and everybody knows Filipinos are ever ready and come quickly.

You invite people to a chibugan — a family gathering, a party, or a wedding reception — and they come quickly. And they not only bring themselves but also their kamaganak.

In contrast to alacrity, Filipinos are insensitive to duration. What do I mean? We love to dawdle. It seems to me that we have little sense of the precious passage of time. Unlike Westerners, we do not respect the value of our time as well as that of others. We do not realize that time is money.

Our casual attitude to time can be seen in the office, where we will chatter endlessly, only half paying attention to work. In Congress, we will fritter away time in pointless hearings and pass just two bills in a six-months’ session. After coming quickly to a party, we tend to stay for a long time. A long time, basta happy. Not that we necessarily overstay our welcome.

Convivial gatherings are a hallmark of our society, from the tagay lizards at the carinderia, to the family Noche Buena at Christmas, and to the lengthy food celebrations come fiesta time. And after staying long, guests cannot be sent off empty handed; no, usually there is a pabaon, which in its way is a time-saving tradition. It saves us time cooking when we get back home.

With unpunctuality, we have overextended the art of being fashionably late to a dismal habit. You set a party for 6:00 p.m. and everybody understands you mean 8:00 p.m. You set a date with a girl for 7:00 p.m. and she knows you won’t get mad at her for being 30 minutes late. Usually, the degree of tardiness is in direct proportion to her appeal, her edibility.

However, I have known other girls to be late just to test you. I mean me, to be exact. Of course, the girl was not testing my patience or the accuracy of my faux Swiss watch but the depth of my feelings for her.

Ahaha, the joke’s on her.

Making me wait is not really a good test of my patience or sincerity because I am an introvert (an INTJ). For me waiting is not waiting. I am never bored. I can happily sit still and occupy and entertain myself with a thousand thoughts — or none at all by simply observing the passing life. At any rate, this is how I used to justify my insecurity at some of my dates’ insecurity.

To overcome such tardiness, I remember I used to set the time for dates at non-5-minute intervals. I would tell my date, let’s meet at 4:37 p.m. or 6:12 p.m. This quirkiness indicated to my date that I was cranky about punctuality and would not countenance tardiness. No, no, no. And surprisingly, each date made it and came on time — and even before time — with an amused smile.

(Or was that a smirk? And, yes, I am a Virgo. Why do you ask?)

In my work experience, unpunctuality is connected to other faults such as procrastination, missing time targets, and cost overruns if not outright project failures.

We say, “Eh, bukas na yan.”

And, “Ma-extend naman yung deadline, ‘di ba?

And, “Kahit lampas sa budget, maganda naman ang resulta, ‘di ba?”

And, “Minadali kasi, ‘di ba?

“‘Di ba?” makes all of us divas — self-important people who are here to please themselves.

The last much-observed aspect of our sense of time is our foreshortened time horizon. Our collective temporal orientation is to the present. We do not care for the past and for the future. To paraphrase a recent post here, where the Chinese think in terms of decades and Westerners in years, we Pinoys think in terms of months.

One could say this fourth dimension of a short horizon is the opposite of the third, which is a stretching of the time horizon.

In economic theory, there are two concepts of “intertemporal choices” that, I think, are intertwined with our time orientation as it relates to decision-making.

Temporal discounting (or time preference) refers to “our tendency to want things now rather than later.” We prefer “immediate but modest rewards” instead of “future but sizeable rewards.” Remember the Marshmallow Test? We would be absolute failures. Like we wanted the Change marshmallow — and, boy oh boy, did we get it.

Temporal myopia is “the inability to consider the long-term outcomes of an action when making a choice.” This myopia is most evident in our voting choices at election time. With rare exceptions, the Executive, Cabinet, and Congress would make a complete rogues’ gallery.

In short, a short time horizon influences us to make short-sighted decisions. It is a huge factor in our judgmental disability.

This brings me to a question. In terms of time, what is the common trait among these Filipinos?

  • Traditional voter
  • Traditional politician
  • NPA commander
  • Abu Sayyaf bandit

Please give an answer, before reading further…


Give up? Sirit na?

If your answer was:

  • Stupidity – you get 3 points.
  • Sinfulness – you get 5 points.
  • Lawlessness – you get 7 points.
  • Cupidity – you get 9 points.
  • None of the above – you get the full 10 points.

Mind you, if I had added OFW to the list, the right answer — cupidity (or greed) — might have been apparent immediately.

Yes, we want — no, we demand — to get things quick with the least amount of effort.

We love quickies. We want to get rich quick. Or be successful quick. Or implement changes quick. Or grab an ersatz high quick.

We want everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — now.  And I mean NOW.

This impulsiveness, this lack of emotional control and demand for instant gratification, my friends, explains the Filipino.

It goes a long way to account for why we steal public funds, vote crooked patrons into office, behead foreigners, sell and use drugs, invite authoritarian rule, and kill addicts. And… and breed like rabbits.

Non carpe diem!


90 Responses to “The Filipino Sense of Time”
  1. Ulol! Wala akong panahon sa iyo!

    • Edgar Lores says:

      Bakit ka ganyan, dahling? Noon bago tayo, binubuhos mo lahat ng panahon mo sa akin! Araw at gabi. Lunes hanggang Sabado. But, of course, never on Sunday. Ngayon, wala na. You’ve lost that loving feelin’!

    • NHerrera says:

      Yes indeed. A self-important politician or celebrity seem to be in a relativistic time of Einstein — riding a space-time vehicle near the speed of light — so that although his time is normal, to his adoring provincianos waiting for him to grace an event, their time is lengthened. His adoring provincianos expects him to come late — in fact they will be shocked otherwise.

      And today we have an instance of Senator Legarda in super-relativistic time, riding a space vehicle at (not near) the speed of light — a case of undue haste. Senator Legarda, the Senate main representative in the Commission on Appointment announced the nomination of Wig (er Vit) Aguirre as DOJ Secretary in spite of the reasonable objection of Senator Trillanes.

  2. josephivo says:

    Time is only one dimension, also in the 3 space dimensions Filipinos like small. Santo Nino and not God the Father with a long white beard. A small sachet of shampoo, not a half a gallon bottle. The seats in Jollibee are cozy and half the size of normal ones. Small things have the advantage that when they are stolen or swept away by a typhoon, you only lost a little.

    Wonder how Filipinos look at the other 7 dimensions of the universe(s).

    • chemrock says:

      Are Filipinos punctually challenged? I like to think the jury’s still out, Edgar.

      But what could be the reasons? Why are people always late? I don’t think it’s cultural.

      Situational — traffic jams are just so unpredictable in Metro Manila.
      The procastinators — tend to leave things last minute. Some say these folks get a kick and adrenaline rush for the last minute rushing. Nonsense, say this procastinator. I have no answer why. It’s just something in us. It’s not that we are lazy. We fill time with some other things to do.
      Inculcated habit — parents always taking things easy so the habit is formed since young.
      Impunity — this is perhaps the Filipino explanation? This character trait makes one disrespect other peoples’ time.

      The cure for lateness ? — no EJK please. Just be strict. Companies with no time cards will see stragglers coming in late.

      Be creative — in our majhong sessions, which requires 4 players, we always send out invitation to 5. The last guy to arrive has no chance to play.

    • edgar lores says:

      We have occasionally discussed that “smallness” in Filipino thinking before — although not in the good light that you cast it in, and not much in detail except for tingi.

      There was a comment some time ago that “Small is beautiful” mostly in the economic sense.

      In religion, idols have the advantage of being tangible, handy and portable. This reminds me of that post-apocalyptic award-winning photo of women in a procession holding up a sacred image. This was after TyphoonYolanda.

      In our political visions, do we think small? I think we do. Are there long-term and detailed plans to integrate the islands in terms of infrastructure, transportation, communication, language, sports, and culture? This smallness in our thinking deserves a future blog.

  3. chemrock says:

    Are Filipinos punctually challenged? I like to think the jury’s still out, Edgar.

    But what could be the reasons? Why are people always late? I don’t think it’s cultural.

    Situational? — traffic jams are just so unpredictable in Metro Manila.
    The procastinators — tend to leave things last minute. Some say

    • edgar lores says:

      Chemrock, you have a point there. But speaking as a Virgo, I know that Filipinos are punctually challenged.

      True, unpunctuality could be situational. But not if it occurs often — and with intent.

      This reminds me of a story about Imee (Marcos) holding up a London theater performance for many hours.

      The story is anecdotal… but my thesis is that unpunctuality is a cultural habit.

      As I note, there is a term for it that has been in vogue for a long time.

      The prime reason I would give is that people are easy, which in a strict sense is being disrespectful — although they may not be aware of it.

    • I think a major factor is group dynamics? To use Edgar’s example:

      We say, “Eh, bukas na yan.”
      And, “Ma-extend naman yung deadline, ‘di ba?“
      And, “Kahit lampas sa budget, maganda naman ang resulta, ‘di ba?”
      And, “Minadali kasi, ‘di ba?“

      Translating one those phrases: ” The deadline will be extended, right?

      Note the emphasis on “right?”. Because when it comes to Filipino time and schedules, many will actually ask if they would have to be absolutely, legitimately, indubitably, on time. Because, well, the social norm is supposedly to be late. So one has to ask, right? Other’s here have probably encountered a converstasion like this:

      A: Meeting is set at 7:00AM.
      B: Oh? That’s early. Would anyone actually be there by that time?
      A: … Probably no. haha
      B: haha
      A: …
      B: …
      A: Let’s make the call time 6:00AM so that people will arrive by 7:00AM.

      Hmm… In a way, this is like an iterated prisoner’s dilemma which I had discussed with Edgar before. In the short term, no gains are perceived in doing the right thing as many will NOT do the right thing. Critical mass is probably needed first. And if you’re group does not have a critical mass of early-comers? Well, someone will have to be imposing. And seldom does anyone want to be imposing especially when they are outnumbered. Will be hard to make an impact as it is severely diminished.

      • edgar lores says:


        I agree with the analysis. At the end, you are saying someone has to crack the whip. That encourages the master/slave divide.

        It is far, far better for each of us to crack our own whips. That way, we are neither master nor slave to anyone, except perhaps to ourselves.

    • edgar lores says:

      In a way, true.

      But not when you are making other people wait. Then, it’s a form of disrespect.

      • I’ve never really thought of it as “disrespect” , edgar.

        Though I can see it and maybe have been unwittingly part of this hierarchical game, only since the person I had to wait for was powerful (or high ranking in the military) i had no choice but to wait—– assumption was that they are delayed due to more pressing matters; and my status as the lower ranking’s duty to wait.

        ‘Hurry up and wait’ is a military truism, so ever since i’ve had a book handy.

        But I can see disrespect in the (hierarchical) minds of Filipinos (and I’m sure other 3rd worlders), related to karl’s use of madanglupa’s FYIGM , it is a form of disrespect.

        I experienced this with foreign militaries, but since i’ve already mentally prepared myself , thus already under estimated them, many i came across never owned watches or clocks after all , so i never perceived it as ‘disrespect’, but more like a handicap of sorts —- chronologically challenged? LOL!

        Which brings us back to disrespect, and this quote:

        What to do?

        I still think my first quote above is true, and am envious of those that possess this wealth, I saw this among the Badjaos and in small villages there, but when it comes to “disrespect”,

        there’s only really 2 choices, you have to wait because the person you are waiting for is important to you, either he is truly more powerful than you, hence you need something from him; or that you’ve been relegated to such low status psychologically you think you have no choice, hence waiting is your predisposition.

        OR just leave, once it’s 5 mins over the time agreed, just up and leave, then make a mental note never to arrange a meeting with that person, place that person on your list.

        I always have a book with me, so I NEVER feel like i’m waiting. But from a disciplining perspective, and if you feel slighted by the wait (and justifiably so!), I think those more industrious Filipinos (like you who hail from the West, and learned how time’s perceived so) have to set the tone for the country and just leave—- after all “Time is Money”; and “Money never Sleeps” that’s from both “Wall Street” movies.

        • edgar lores says:

          I always have a book with me too.

          I can understand your sentiments, you coming from the military. But let’s go down to basic principles.

          In the animal kingdom, relationships are hierarchical. This can be seen in the gorilla community, where there is the alpha silverback, as well as in the chicken coop where there is a pecking order.

          This hierarchical organization is also reflected in homo sapiens for much of recorded history. Then, boom, at the end of the 18th century, the Founding Fathers of the US produced the Declaration of Independence, which not only declared independence from Great Britain but introduced the concept of Liberty.

          In the middle of the 19th century, Lincoln eloquently refined the concept in his Gettysburg Address. He said the US was a new nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

          Not “all men are equal” but “created equal.”

          This concept of inherent equality freed men from the fetters of political and social hierarchy. We are free and equal, and no man is inherently superior to another. But, yes, we still need hierarchies to accomplish things.

          It is from this philosophical principle that relationships should be seen. You and I are equals, and if we intersubjectively agree to something, whether to meet or do something, then you better do your part.

          When you come down to it, in terms of ethics, it is the Golden Rule.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Filipino time is pre Edsa traffic, for those living in Metro Manila.

    Also FT is pre cel phone, at least now you can text every five minutes to know where on earth is the other fellow if they are not driving.

    Ack, I remember my cancelled meetup with Sonny a few weeks back, we already set a time and place, but certain circumstances still prevented our face to face meeting.

    • edgar lores says:

      Karl, Then cell phones may be a boon. Although people have been known to say they are on their way when actually they are still dressing. And be mindful it is dangerous to text or hold a phone conversation when driving.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yup, the distracted driving law is now implemented, or is it?
        One more thing , if you keep on texting the late party, the more they will be late trying to answer or avoid your text.

    • sonny says:

      Neph, that date is my big atraso to you. I MUST make up for it. Somehow. Edgar’s description of the Filipino sense of time can fit me on many occasions.

      Legazpi was simply awesome; Mayon is breathtaking!! We went as high as allowed for tourists; We were at the Cagsawa ruins; ate the best halo-halo concoction in the world; to ok in the sights (Mt Isarog et al.) along the scenic route of the Bicol countryside to Naga and the Lady of Penafrancia Shrine. Irineo and Bert are justifiably proud of their region. The Butanding were shy this time around but Tiwi, Daraga and Tabaco provided much Bicol flavor. The highlight was also the visit to the 12,500++ ha. PNOC Bacon-Manito geothermal plant at the Albay-Sorsogon border.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Very nice to know that you enjoyed. It is not an atraso.
        ps if you got in touch with Bert, you could have been given a tour.🙂

        • sonny says:

          Thanks, neph.

          Ideally, trekking and traipsing and speaking Bicolano are the best combination to bring and explore what the region offers by way of nature, leisure, peoples and history. The next best thing will be doing the same with Bert as kindred spirit and guide to the best of the land and people of the region. 🙂 (hint hint, Bert)

  5. Bert says:

    “Alacrity is “cheerful readiness” and everybody knows Filipinos are ever ready and come quickly.”

    “In contrast to alacrity, Filipinos are insensitive to duration.”

    “Usually, the degree of tardiness is in direct proportion to her appeal, her edibility.”

    “However, I have known other girls to be late just to test you.”

    “Yes, we want — no, we demand — to get things quick with the least amount of effort.”

    “We love quickies.” “Or grab an ersatz high quick.”

    “This impulsiveness, this lack of emotional control and demand for instant gratification, my friends, explains the Filipino.”

    Edgar, you enumerated above all the right reasons why one Hollywood actress who visited Manila years ago declared in disgust before leaving that Filipino guys are lousy lovers.


    “And surprisingly, each date made it and came on time — and even before time — with an amused smile.”

    Man, you’re good, Edgar, very good. 🙂

    • edgar lores says:

      Bert, Ahaha! You are sensitive to undertones. And the undertones were not intentional. They just happened to be there. At least I can say there was no subconscious intent at work here. 🙂

      But, seriously, do you agree that our time sense explains much of the Filipino?

      • Bert says:

        Yes, Edgar, that’s most of us are. We don’t hurry to finish the job at hand, and, we are not that meticulous in keeping to our appointment on time. But those are two different things. Me, I hate waiting when the other guy arrived late, or a girlfriend, not so much because of wasted time but it reflects the irresponsible attitude of that person on keeping to his/her words. That eroded my respect for him/her and I don’t like feeling that way. Jobs started must be finished right away, but this western style frenzy of hurrying up time or things is just not my cup of tea. I say life is short, let’s don’t make it shorter, is all.

        • edgar lores says:

          Bert, thanks.

          I am not in favor of hurrying up either. I am in favor of considered and measured steps when it comes to projects. But there should be a time for spontaneity.

          • Bert says:

            Or date. I totally agree with you on both counts, Edgar. The project will be done perfectly according to pre-planned specifications. And the date…with an amused smile. 🙂

        • “Jobs started must be finished right away, but this western style frenzy of hurrying up time or things is just not my cup of tea. I say life is short, let’s don’t make it shorter, is all.”

          From a military sense, I’m a stickler on this;

          but otherwise feel more in tune with,

          And feel that in the bigger scheme of things, this industrious way of perceiving time is probably the wrong path and possibly the source of all things wrong in this world, Bert.

    • NHerrera says:

      Bert, your anecdote about that Hollywood actress may not be statistically validated. I have heard it said otherwise. That Filipino time in matters like that is admirable. Sorry no undertones there, just stating a different opinion — that is, what I believe is the statistics. 🙂

      edgar, no need to validate my statistics — it is just my reliable crystal ball, as reliable as Bert’s crystal ball.

  6. josephivo says:

    What is different in Belgium?

    Short horizon.
    Large wooden ships needed certain strong connection, an oak tree needs a generation to grow in the right shape, I have to plant now for my grandchildren later. In the north there are real winters, not preparing firewood in time means hardship, our horizon is a minimal a year. Organizing is not only thriving, it is surviving too.
    Chinese need successful male offspring to have a comfortable afterlife, a horizon of generations.

    The second Kondratieff-wave started with trains, if a train leaves at 3:12pm, being a minute late means hours waiting for the next. Factories needed synchronization, all at the same rhythm, the clock became very visible for all.
    Coming late is an expression of power, “I had something more important to do than you”. It is more perceived as rude.

    Industrialization brought individualism and split worlds, synchronization between individuals more important. Time can no longer be open ended. Someone in the other world might not be waiting, work, family, shops, friends, church…

    The world is organized around me. Things have to happen according plan, organized. And I work for me, not for us.

    • edgar lores says:

      Short horizon. Multi-generational thinking — that’s a very long view.

      In the Philippines, multi-generational thinking occurs within families, in business (.e.g., the Ayalas) and political dynasties. Does it occur in political planning? What was the time horizon for the MRT/LRT trains? Do they address and meet the projected increase in the population of the riding public?

      Unpunctuality I assume MRT/LRT trains run on a time schedule. The Love buses of Imelda used to run likewise. I do not know about now, whether buses run on a schedule, but with the traffic chaos in Manila, I would say it’s impossible. Certainly, jeepney transportation is ad hoc. In most cities of the world, public transport (buses and trains) run to a schedule.

      What about the time sense of the Executive? Are goals being met?

      What about the time sense of the Legislature, if any? Has their legislative agenda been followed? Has the FOI been passed? The anti-dynasty bill? The turncoatism bill?

      What about the time sense of the Judiciary? I would say this branch of government has the worst sense of time. The Ampatuan case. Torre de Manila. Reproductive health TRO.

      De-synchronization — that is, the staggering of work start times and end times — may be necessary to avoid peak traffic times.

      Agree, that unpunctuality is rude.

      Duration. I think there are many aspects to this that we haven’t touched on. You mention the need for synchronization in a complex world. Recent research has found that Filipinos are number one in spending time on social media, more than 4 hours daily. This may be good in the sense that we connect with distant family and friends. It may be bad in that we do not devote the proper time to close family.

      To what degree our engagement is political is anyone’s guess, and whether this is good or bad is hard to say. Are we keeping rampant governments in check or are we spreading alternative facts?

      Alacrity. We do not spend enough time reflecting? And planning? Ningas cogon?

  7. karlgarcia says:

    Madlanglupa iIntroduced FYIGM or FYou I got mine in the other blog.
    I think it is apropos in this blog topic.

    • edgar lores says:

      I really haven’t thought about FYIGM.

      Madlanglupa’s definition of the term makes it sound like a horrendous attitude. She says it means “… in a race, whoever gets to be first across the bridge, destroys the bridge before the competitors can cross it.”

      The Urban Dictionary offers other less horrendous definitions and examples, but essentially it’s not caring about the need of others when your need has been satisfied.

      In these examples, the action to actively eliminate the possibility of the need of others being met is not included.

      In any case, the I-don’t-care attitude is horrendous.

      The relation to time would consist in the fact that the attitude arises AFTER a person has got “his”… whatever that “his” is.

      Many Filipinos who have risen to power exhibit this attitude. Indeed the F, I and M could very well stand for Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

      In the current administration, the attitude is exhibited by those supporting Duterte:

      o Presidential aides — in particular Andanar, Panelo, Abella and Aguirre
      o Representatives — in particular Alvarez, Umali, et al
      o Senators — in particular Cayetano and Gordon
      o Bloggers — Badoy, Uson, Sassot, et al

      All of these people have gotten position, or prestige, or proximity to power if not power itself, or recognition. And they look down on others, care not a whit about them, and would do anything to stay where they are.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Caring for other’s time is what is disregarded or overlooked in Filipino time. At least that is why I think FYIM would be applicable.Thanks.

      • madlanglupa says:

        I was trying to describe it, but I was told it was different from crab mentality where a successful person would attempted to be dragged down by hateful people who are also envious.

        • edgar lores says:

          Madlanglupa, thanks for the clarification. I think your definition stands as a variant.

          Here’s an example from the Urban Dictionary:

          “People who rally against something that would help someone else because they wouldn’t benefit from it.

  8. Bill In Oz says:

    Edgar I am sure I have something to say, but I mislaid it while watching TV with my lady. Or maybe I just felt a little lazy. Or decided that by tomorrow it would be better thought out in my head …..Orrrrrrrrr ?

    Hope you can be patient….

    : – )

  9. Die Uhren gehen dort anders – the clocks go differently over there – is an old German saying.

    It hails from the time when every city, every village had its own time, usually from the churchtower – no need and no way of syncing with other places in horse and carriage days.

    The building of railways started in 1825 in England, and of course all places that got connected to railway lines in Germany had to adapt to a certain standard for the schedule to work properly.

    Today all railway clocks (and quite a number of alarm clocks and factory clocks) go by a radio signal from a central atomic clock in Brunswick at the

    I guess nobody needed clocks in the old Philippines. The day is nearly uniformly long, 12 hours with hardly any deviation. Noontime is when the sun is high up. 6 a.m. is sunrise, 6 p.m. sunset. For breakfast you have fried rise, and for dinner you have panset, siopao and pinakbet.

    You had to know the seasons, know when winds like the habagat warn of storms and the amihan brings it freshness. Bert’s sense of urgency by tasks is similar to the sense of time in more rural parts of Europe, even Germany. The more and longer industrial and area, the more “rushed”… while in the rural areas things go by the rythm of the seasons. Swiss rituals would be the cows be taken up the mountains in spring, and down in autumn. Or the cycles of planting and harvest.

    The instant gratification thing with Filipinos – one also finds it among people in poorer areas of industrialized countries, there is a vicious cycle that is proven by researchers like Dr. Zimbardo.

    Can one genuinely expect to keep something one has gained in many Filipino settings? Slum areas you may have someone steal it from you, police extort it from you. So better get it quick and spend it quick. Or better be an extortionist. Settings perpetuate themselves. Attitudes also.

    • recommended reading.. Dr. Zimbardo is a New Yorker of Sicilian origin.. in the book one passage is about the time attitudes of his own community vs. those of his Anglo teachers..

      • edgar lores says:

        Thanks for the book recommendation.

        From the book blog:

        “Paradox 3
        Individual attitudes toward time are learned through personal experience, yet collectively attitudes toward time influence national destinies.”


    • edgar lores says:

      1. Agree. Industrialization brought about time synchronization. Everybody had to start work and end work at the same time.

      2. In the Philippines, weren’t church bells used to ring out the time? At noon? Then at 4:00 or 5:00 pm?

      3. Agree, farmers and fishermen have their own sense of time and weather.

      4. Instant gratification is temporal discounting. The view of getting something by stealing or dint of hard work and then spending it immediately may not differ much between the victim side or the perpetrator side.

      My impression though is that poor victims would naturally spend on something to satisfy their subsistence needs. Rich perpetrators tend to spend on “trophies” that they can proudly display — like SUVs and Imelda’s paintings and jewels — to satisfy their psychological needs.

      • “farmers and fishermen have their own sense of time and weather.”

        I’ve always felt that their sense of time, time perceived thru intuition rather than gears, is superior to ours (or this Western notion of time, divvied up and commodified).

        And “Filipino time” to me then, seems a hinge connecting both the old ways we viewed time, before we came up with “Time is Money”; AND this synchronization of time, we tend to view as progress.

        The hinge is coming apart in favor of “Time is Money”, with more malls and BPO centers sprouting in the Philippines, does the hinge fall down along with the door or stay as part of the wall (the wall representing thousands of years man has perceived time without the clock).

        But let’s assume for now, that the farmers and fishermen’s sense of time is the way we’re supposed to live time, sure documenting patterns , much like the Polynesians “felt” their way thru the whole of the South Pacific by making stick charts or the way the Anasazis of the Southwest USA tracked hours and seasons by drawing spirals,

        not as something separate from them, but time/space they knowingly placed themselves as part of.

        IF we all agree that humans were meant to live as part of time, not apart, then without watches or clocks or bells or atomic Brunswick time , we meet each other and take part of one another’s lives via affinity (or close proximity) and serendipity (we bump into each other’s lives, by design or by accident),

        SO the notions of wasting another’s time, is one that’s manufactured via our first mistake of parcelling and commodifying time.

        I understand “disrespect”, but i’m still thinking that this “Unhurried” notion of time should trump this sense of slight , hence maybe the person who feels “disrespected” is in the wrong and should attempt to cultivate this “Unhurried” sense for himself, instead of imposing this “Hurried” sense on others.

        Bert IMHO is spot on here, there should be push-back over this notion of synchronization. And more value placed in the way farmers, fishermen, artists, even scientists, view time. Don’t buy into the Wall Street or corporate rendering of time—– there’s something wholly wrong with it.

        • edgar lores says:

          I agree with the notion of unhurried time in relation to one’s self. We should spend time to reflect or watch the moon.

          In relation to others, our activities in time — whether at work or at play — must be synchronized.

          There is a division between personal and interpersonal time. In personal time, we can do what we like “whenever.” In interpersonal time, there is a constraint that what we do affects others. (Note: In interpersonal time, we can still agree to do something “whenever.”)

          In both personal and interpersonal relations, time is of the essence. We can choose to “waste” the essence, which is our lives, or not.

          You can choose to waste your time and life but not on my time and my life.

          This is the end of discussion of this particular aspect of time for me.

          • Imagine then, this interpersonal relations without the means to tell time exactly, edgar.

            You’d be setting up meetings via the moon’s phases or the sun’s position in the sky, or where shadows fall. I totally agree, with cha‘s point below, basically it’s my “affinity”, but

            imagine interpersonal relations without watches, you’d fall back on serendipity, no?

            Which begs the question, was there even, truly, a feeling of slight or disrespect way back then (when the whole notion of “late” couldn’t be measured)? If there wasn’t, then shouldn’t we explore this new “slight” further, is it real or manufactured?

   , because time, the way the West now comes to understand it, “Time is Money”… is false (IMHO 😉 ) , thus the slight or disrespect would be too, no?

            I don’t want to waste your time 😉 , but just from a logical perspective, doesn’t that follow, edgar?

        • …”the farmers and fishermen’s sense of time is the way we’re supposed to live time, sure documenting patterns , much like the Polynesians “felt” their way thru the whole of the South Pacific by making stick charts or the way the Anasazis of the Southwest USA tracked hours and seasons by drawing spirals…”

          I often operate “in the zone” when I am at work whether it is at the farm or on a work project. I do not feel like I am feeling my way through it at all. To the contrary, I feel like I know what I am doing and I am confident in what the result will be so I lose my sense of time till it is done or till my body tells me that I have some biological need(s) to satisfy (hunger, thirst, voiding, etc.).

          In the zone is “a mental state of focused concentration on the performance of an activity, in which one dissociates oneself from distracting or irrelevant aspects of one’s environment ( ).”

  10. cha says:

    Maybe because in our Filipino culture, boundaries in terms of space, time and relationships are often blurred if not entirely non-existent. There’s the extended family all living in one roof, with two or more siblings often sharing the one bedroom. There’s the intrusive personal greeting – saan ka galing? sino kasama mo? – that usually also ends with the equally nosey goodbye – saan punta mo? There’s the neighbour’s karaoke parties that extend well into the night, keeping a whole barangay awake because where is your pakikisama if you complain?

    To most Filipinos it seems, there is no beginning and no end when it comes to what you can impose on or feel yourself entitled to from family, friends and community. It’s one for all and all for one. Space and time only ever equate to here and now.

    All of life happens in the middle of here and now.

    • edgar lores says:

      Cha, ahaha!

      “Anong ulam ninyo?”

      The notion of “no boundaries” makes sense. Great insight.

      “Magkano ang suweldo mo?”

      We encroach on the space — physical (or personal) space, temporal space, and psychological space — of others.

      “Magkano ang binayad mo diyan?”

      And the sense of no boundaries is increasing. In the political arena, it seems the new rule of power is “we can do whatever we like, whenever we like.” From the malevolent treatment of Senator De Lima to the news bills on the Death Penalty and lowering of the age of responsibility.

      “Puwede ba umutang? Ang yaman ninyo!”

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        Need we even wonder why people have submitted with little resistance to Tokhang? The police knock and feign the plead to enter your own private property, take your loved ones away, or if you happen to be among the unfortunate one, take their precious life right there – where they, you would have expected to be safe of all places. Sigh.

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Cha, my thought of yesterday is lost..maybe it will come back; maybe not ! But my memory has been stirred this morning : my lady working as a nurse supposedly worked an 8 hour day. But my plans were always thrown into disorder by her arriving back late from work. Occasionally this was just an hour ‘late’. More often it was 2-3 hours late…

      Apparently this was the norm for all her mates at work. These extra 2-3 hours were never paid by management. From an occupational health & safety perspective this is not also good. How can staff provide good nursing care when they are tired after working extra hours every day ?
      A final note : I just asked did the doctors also work these extra hours every day ? The answer from my lady is ” No.” Presumably they are bosses and so this obligation does not apply to them.

      • Cha Coronel Datu says:

        Oh, sorry to hear that mate.

        Unfortunately for most Filipinos also, limits and boundaries are proportional to one’s position in the pecking order. There isn’t much you can do when you are at the lower rungs to stop people from encroaching on your personal space and time. The higher you go, the more boundaries you are allowed to break and crash.

        One cannot waste the time of one’s boss but the boss can make you wait, run a meeting till the wee hours of morning because he sleeps in during the day when the rest of you are already up and about. Subordinates address the superiors with sir, ma’am and generally keep a respectful tone when speaking to the boss. But El Presidente can curse, use the most vile and offensive language any time of day. And night. To the delight of his enamoured audiences.

        Because in the Philippines, NO means you are the boss.

      • chemrock says:

        This thing about working extra unpaid hours is touchy.
        I believe all dedicated and committed employees must be prepared to put in the little extra for the employer. However, at the same time I strongly believe that employers must be fair to employees and recognise that their subordinates have lives of their own. So to find an equitable balance the extra work must be compensated, it must not be a daily routine (if so then obviously it’s a matter of increasing the manpower) whilst employees must appreciate sacrifice is required of them ocassionally. For me, when it comes to promotion and salary adjustments, this commitment of the employee is one of the factors I weigh in.

        I once worked in a bank where I leave office practically every nigh about 9 to 10pm. I never see the sun set until one evening when I had to leave early and I realised something odd that day. It was the weak sun low in the sky. My settlements dept people leave late every day, that’s the nature of their jobs. There are 2 other employees who leave office later than me, my secretary and the supervisor who had to check the pay wires had been transmitted correctly. However, they were well compensated. Overtime was very high, they had meal allowance (restaurant rate) and taxi fares. Foregoing the restaurant and going for hawker fare, and taking the bus instead of taxi, they get to pocket significant additional $. As management staff, I don’t get such perks, but I could always have a meal in a nice restaurant and claim with the receipts.

        • Bill In Oz says:

          Chempo, one of the pleasures of being in Australia now is that all the extra unpaid hours no longer happen for my lady… I was referring to what happened to her until she finished there in June last year. It may have changed but I doubt it. In fact I think it is wide spread in the hospitals as a way of reducing costs.

          I agree with all your comments about the need for commitment by employees. I also agree about employers compensating employees when extra time & effort are needed on occasions. This is a natural part of the give & take process between employee & employer.

          By the way an off topic : What are your thought Chempo as a Singaporean about the 75 anniversary of the fall of Singapore yesterday. In past years this went unheralded here.But now the soldiers who surrendered to the Japanese in February 1942 and became POW’s, are almost all gone, it is being remembered officially. Does Singapore have an official remembrance of this time ?

          • chemrock says:

            Yes Bill.We commenmorate each year with a ceremony at the Kranji War Memorial to honour the 20,000+ allied servicemen who perished either in Singapore, or were marched off to build the Burmese rail lines and died there. The Kranji War Memorial has a civilian part and servicemen part. The names of all those allied servicemen are recorded there. They were British, Aussies, Gurkhas, & Indians (Sikhs).

            Queen Elizabeth visited and laid wreaths some years back.

          • chemrock says:

            I should add, each year British and Aussie relatives of the departed fly in to participate in the ceremony.

  11. Robert Gutierrez says:

    The Spanish influence on both Mexico and the Philippines is the same.It is the land of Manana(later,tomorrow,) much has to do with attitude,procrastination, and laziness. It is a Land where Excellence is not rewarded. In summary, Filipinos are happy go lucky and only care about today

    • edgar lores says:

      Robert, thanks for bringing up the Mañana Habit. The term was popular many years ago but has, in my impression, fallen out of vogue. I haven’t heard it in a long time. The habit though is still with us.

      And the adjective happy-go-lucky to describe the tagay lizards also resonates.

  12. chemrock says:

    Bottom line is everybody has a different perspective of time. Lance does’nt like ‘time is money’, but most think it’s important that ‘time is respect’ for others.

    Time is frozen on watches at shop windows at 10.10 which is a matter of aesthetics. It’s also a more cheerful ‘V’ look than the 8.20 frown.

    But look, time is also different for even the watch manufacturers. Rolex loves 10:10:31, TAG Heuer prefers 10:10:37, and Bell & Ross with 10:10:10. Timex is the exceptional, their time is.10:09:36.

    Now comes Applephone at 10.09.30. They want to show they are ahead of the times.

    For time laggards like me, I always set my watch 10 minutes ahead. It helps.

    • edgar lores says:

      I remember I used to set my watch in advance too.

    • edgar lores says:

      Bottomline is we have individual perspectives of time, but there is also a collective sense of time.

    • edgar lores says:

      Chemrock, the penny just dropped.

      You will note no Filipino questioned whether we have a unique collective sense of time. It’s because we know.

      (In truth, neither did LCpl_X. He was just for an unhurried sense of time.)

      You, my friend, are a naturalized Pinoy and, if I may say so, not natural-born.

      And I thank you for daring to join us. I am glad that you have.

      • “(In truth, neither did LCpl_X. He was just for an unhurried sense of time.)”

        I agree, chemp’s onto something re collective sense. My point is more related to “Salvation by Austerity”, ie. the wisdom of not having a watch.

    • “I always set my watch 10 minutes ahead. It helps.”

      I know Marines who do this, chemp—- I always ask them, how exactly does it help if you yourself know it’s ahead? I never got a straight answer.

      Then there were a few Marines, we called clocks, because they always seemed to wake up or be on time, without the aid of watches. Now those guys were interesting. You have them close their eyes and estimate time (ie. 5 to 10 mins.), and they’d be like a few seconds off consistently. Weird. Even weirder was their ability to wake up without aid of alarm exactly when they needed to.

      So I totally agree that time is individual, chemp; just like sight is and i’m sure smell, etc. So maybe Einstein’s time/space is our 6th sense after all. Time we can measure (ie. when we had these guys close their eyes), but all the rest of it may be inter-dimensional—- where’s i7 when we need him. 😉

      If we all sense all this separately, smell, see, taste, feel, hear individually , and maybe sense time/space 😉 , where is this collective? Is collective time then just an illusion? Coke has different recipes for their soda around the world to cater to each culture’s taste preference; maybe this time preference is best left alone—– though I know since everyone own’s a smart phone, everybody’s on the “correct” , “collective” time, but

      this is a foreign concept, it’s already being imposed on to others, but maybe we can dig further? Kinda like the American indians here were introduced to the notion of land titles, of “owning” land and having a paper that “proves” ownership.

      We did that here, but “civilized” Christian Filipinos also did the same to their Muslim and northern “natives”…. maybe dig deeper and examine this Western concept of time as a process of control, designed to subjugate? There’s a lot more here than just “respect” or “sense of boundaries”, that’s just the first layer, scratch the surface but dig deeper, is my point here.

      Question the metrics and its purpose.

      • edgar lores says:

        I am a clock. Not as good as Jack Reacher, but able to command myself to wake up at a certain hour.

        • How do you do it? What’s the process? Those i’ve talked to explain it as hyper concentration. Interestingly, all cannot understand why other cannot do this. This is all very interesting to me, the “disrespect” not so. But individual perceptions of time very.

          • edgar lores says:

            I tell myself forcefully, “Wake up at 4:00” or whatever time I have to just before I go to sleep.

            • BUT how does your mind or body, or both, know it’s 4:00? A clock has gears, and the atomic clock works w/out friction hence more accurate, but how does your body/brain/or both , measure time, edgar?

              I don’t have this ability, which probably allows me to be more lackadaisical in my views of time, ie. unhurried, i don’t take it too personally … BUT i’ve only come across a handful of these “clocks” (present company now included 😉 you! ) ,

              but i noticed those i met who possessed this power to internally “tell” time , are as lackadaisical when it comes to time (which I think you’ve alluded re personal time), can you connect this ability to your article, edgar?

              How many others have you met that were “clocks”?

              • edgar lores says:

                I haven’t met anyone with the ability.

                We have an internal clock, the beating of the heart, the pulse beat at our wrist, and our bodies are attuned to sunrise and sunset.

                But the biological explanation is something called the “circadian rhythm clock.”

                From Wikipedia: “A circadian rhythm is any biological process that displays an endogenous, entrainable oscillation of about 24 hours. These 24-hour rhythms are driven by a circadian clock, and they have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi, and cyanobacteria.”

                I do not have the ability to call the time during the day, although I supposed I could have “trained” myself. But I know I have glanced at my watch/mobile phone many times to confirm what I guessed was the time, and my guess was accurate to the exact minute.

                My attitude of unhurried time I would attribute to my Buddhist leanings rather than to my being a clock.

                I do not know the inner workings of the circadian clock. I have just used it on the occasions that I had to, specifically as an “alarm clock.”

                As to connecting it to Filipino time, I do not know that there is a connection. Circadian time is biological. Filipino time is a cultural meme.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Jet lags,shiftingwork schedules, disturb our circadian clcck.
                Some meds like antidepressants trigger insomnia.

                But sometimes when I set the alarm, I wake up ahead of the alarm clock.
                How do the farmets and fisherman do it, is it because of the rooster’s cock a doodle doo?

                Bill mentioned extended hours in work places with 24 by seven operations, if one staff can’t make it, sometimes people do double shifts.
                Some practice tri shifting.

                Call centers do multiple shifting.

              • karl,

                I ‘ve always equated Circadian with moon phases, sun, day and night, etc. The BPO industry, screwing up a whole generation of young Filipinos’ Circadian cycle, is another serious talk, hopefully when BPO comes up again,

                but for now, time and what edgar is describing (which I ‘ve met only a handful of) IMHO is something different, he (and the one’s i’ve talked to) can “estimate” to the minute and maybe even seconds, that’s not Circadian… that’s way too exact, karl.

                I’ve always thought it was connected to inter-dimensional stuff, time/space.

                As for waking up before the alarm clock, i’ve gotten good with specific amounts of water drank before sleep to ensure I feel like having to pee at a specific time… but even that is still within 30mins to an 1 hour.

                (thanks, edgar, all very interesting if you have more info of note re your internal clock do share, I’ve scoured sleep studies, but exact telling of time without a watch seems nil, i’ve only met folks in the military, hence my interest… )

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes lighting sometimes has to do with the circadian clock.
                A glass of water before sleeping can also help. Let us not discuss prostate this time Lance.😉

        • chemrock says:

          I used to be a clock when younger, maybe up to my 40th year. I wake up daily at routine hour, but if there was a reason for me to be up be some other crazy hours, i’ll wake up on the dot exactly. I just dont understand why. But later years I lost the instinct. I put that down to stress in personal relationships, was going through a very bad spell in my life.

  13. madlanglupa says:

    I remembered reading the difference between “on time” and “in time”; “on time” as in exactly on schedule, like, say, the precise arrival of a Zurich tram at a particular spot in the city, so precise, they say, that you can set your watch to it. On the other hand, “in time” means to me arriving at a rather fortuitous event, where you may have arrived slightly late at a soiree, but just in time for the hosts to bring out the champagne and hors d’ouvres for the guests to get down for some real talking.

  14. says:

    Brilliant summary and extrapolation… I do declare 6:12 p.m. sounds like a perfect time for dinner! don’t be late na! Temporal myopia indeed… Time is money, and time is a gift. I appreciate the gift of someones time regardless of what they make an hour… Time spent is a choice, freely given. And it can never be regained, in that sense it is invaluable. Siguro makulit ako lang, pero respect my time, i will always respect yours. Granted… Ang trapik and ‘edibility’…. Sometimes you just have to suck up half an hour or so.

  15. “We want everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — now. And I mean NOW.

    This impulsiveness, this lack of emotional control and demand for instant gratification, my friends, explains the Filipino.

    It goes a long way to account for why we steal public funds, vote crooked patrons into office, behead foreigners, sell and use drugs, invite authoritarian rule, and kill addicts. And… and breed like rabbits.”

    Instant gratification… author Ninotchka Rosca mentioned this as a Filipino weakness… the land of constant beginnings is what she calls the Philippines in her novel “State of War”… those who go the path of least resistance rarely finish what they start… or maintain what they finished…

    news shows the Olympic facilities in Brazil breaking down just months after… signs of a similar mentality built on the sand, but in their case the sands of the Copacabana. But it is the same in the Philippines – UP Faculty Center, built with Ford Foundation money in the 1960s, rotted quickly. “Luma na iyan” is the usual Filipino excuse, so don’t maintain, just tear down and build a shiny new mall where people can spend their OFW and migrant relatives money. There is barely any sign of the city Manila once was 70 years ago. Unthinkable for the typical European mind.

    Aguinaldo hoping for American patronage… and getting screwed…. Duterte hoping for Chinese patronage… also a sign of the same syndrome. Being truly self-reliant as a nation is much harder. Sell sugar, tobacco, abaca, gold, nickel etc. but don’t make products out of them – same syndrome..

    • Now is it in any way surprising that the Philippines is among the five countries that contribute the most to plastic waste worldwide?

      Around 1986, a German magazine wrote about Filipino consumerism this way: “overweight rich children being driven around in shopping carts eat food that isn’t even paid yet and drop the wrappers to the floor”. Pretty mean, it could have been the tabloid Stern.

      • NHerrera says:

        Although the NOW or instant gratification trait of the Filipino is a recurring item in TSH, I find that this Blog on Filipino’s sense of time and your posts above brings home this characterization very clearly to me.

        The corollary question is if this has always been so. If not, what and when was the turning point to this general characteristic of the Filipino from your historical perspective.

        • I really wonder… I think things were self-regulating in the “barangay era” (pre-colonial), limiting in the Spanish era and the American era and afterwards brought possibilities people had difficulty dealing with in terms of self-control. Somewhat like suddenly giving a person who has had scarcity of food all his life access to a buffet all the time. Not really the fault of anybody, more of the combination of circumstances at a given time… it is notable that before Marcos’ time, the economy boomed, the country was richer than South Korea.. but it seems people thought it was self-sustaining or wanted all at once… I wonder more…

          • Waray-Waray says:

            Could be more of complacency, our ningas cugon trait and our shortsightedness that what works for now would still work for the next 10 years.

      • karlgarcia says:

        That is shop lifting with paper or plastic trail.

        the banning of plastic bags and replacing them with paper bags, does not help the forests and the watersheds( very controversial nowadays due to the closure of mining firms).

        And just a drop of sweat and all the contents of the paper bag will drop to the floor.

    • edgar lores says:

      I can’t find it but I read Ninotchka wanted to buy the now rotting tapestries from the swimming pool Olympic building in Rio.

      I like her “land of constant beginnings.”

      Your insights are on the spot.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I thought Barry Manilow said Copacabana is in Havana(Cuba), was it just to make it rhyme?

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] this way, Filipinos don’t care much about the past or the future. Our decision-making process is influenced by two concepts in economic […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: