The seminar was supposed to start at 830am. I beat the clock and I got in the training room 5 minutes before the appointed time. The time 830 came by and in that room, there were just still 3 of us. I haven’t noticed the trainer also. Around 9:00, there were a few people already including the speaker. It was like a little before 10am when the speaker motioned to start the seminar. Time wasted on those who came early – 1.5 hrs.

This is what you call “Filipino Time”. When you’re in the Philippines and you have an appointment with a few people, expect that the meeting will not start on time. It would be easier to expect the meeting to start promptly if it involves only 2 people “kasi mahihiya ka lang” (you might be ashamed to be come in late), but then again, it would be a miracle if it does start on time.

Is this Filipino Time syndrome a disease? Is this habit exclusive to Filipinos? That Filipinos are always late, is this the norm?

The problem with this practice is that it hasn’t been only abused but it was also encouraged by others. Take for instance the example I cited above. If this will continue to be tolerated, how do you expect positive change to happen?

Good thing, when I attended a seminar by Avida Land, an Ayala Land company, they were kind of enforcing punctuality. During one of their seminars that I attended, we were informed that the seminar will start at 8:00 am. From experience, it really won’t start at 8:00 am but when you get there around the appointed time, there’s a sign at the door that says they are strictly enforcing a closed-door policy by 830am. I think that is already a small improvement to reckon with. True enough, people who arrived a little after 830am were not allowed entry and were politely asked to come back in the next seminar. At least, this company means business.

This is what I meant. Somebody has got to do something.  Either you start imposing time on your own terms or you continue to tolerate it.

But I believe it may go a long way to overcome this culture. No matter how difficult this may be, the good news is that any culture can be overcome with time on its side.

Another way to change the culture is to apply a spiritual approach. Instead of relying on time to overcome, the change can be immediate and has more success in becoming a permanent thing.

To generalize that Filipinos are always late is lame. In my home church, Victory Greenhills in San Juan City, the worship service starts on time regardless of how many churchgoers are there. Sure, you see a few church members arriving as the worship music continues but the point is, the worship service program starts on time whether it’s Sunday worship service, a seminar or a special program. And the people know that they just have to adjust if they want to catch the worship service on time instead of the program adjusting its time on the attendees. But then again, I guess all spiritual place of worship starts on time and they should!

Which brings me to the point that…

It can be done. Filipinos are not lazy. It’s just a stereotype. This label can be changed. A spiritual approach to the problem can address the issue. Because when you become spiritual, you have to do away with your old ways. For how can you call yourself a new creation if you still retain a part of your old self?

Some may say, you don’t have to be spiritual to change. But I think if you are doing it for God rather than to men, you are doing it because of His grace , and not out of your own efforts.  For humans are prone to fail if they will just depend on their own strength. Just my take.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17


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