Culture & Heritage

Filipino Time

Written by Patrick

Aside from stunning beaches, scenic views, and the warm hospitality of Filipinos, the Philippines is also known for other things – tardiness is one of them.  Be it at work, school, or just meeting with family and friends for fun, the habit of tardiness has become prevalent that it has been given a term for it, Filipino Time.

While it’s unacceptable in most scenarios, many Filipinos still practice or accept the habit since it is ingrained in the culture.

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Understanding Filipino Time

There’s no better way to understand the habit than to find out the source of it.  Would you believe that it has ties from hundreds of years ago?  One legitimate reason for the habit is the Spanish influence to Philippine culture. Back during the Spanish colonial period, being late was considered a status symbol and the last one to arrive was considered important.  The belief has been carried through generations until it has become a habit.

Another reason for tardiness that is applicable to modern society is the bad traffic, particularly in urban areas like Metro Manila.  Traffic can be unpredictable most of the time that one may arrive either too late or too early for the appointment.

What are the effects

We all know that nothing can come out of tardiness but negativism including…

Loss of opportunities.

Cliche as it seems, the quote “the early bird catches the worm” best describes this scenario.  What is there to catch if others beat you to it?  For example, you missed the job interview because you arrived late.  It definitely is a loss of opportunity when the company has already decided to hire someone else without you giving your best shot. 

Spreading the habit.

The habit is like a disease.  It is contagious and can spread to other people in your network.  If you are known to always arrive late, those you will be meeting with sees no reason to arrive on time either.  It will then give them the perception that everyone will be late too so might as well show up late.  It can mess up everyone’s schedule and potentially affect professional relationships.

Creating a stereotype of Filipinos.

Calling this deep-rooted habit as Filipino time creates a standard not just to someone who practices the habit but to all Filipinos and the Philippines in general.  It points out the Filipinos’ lack of respect for other people’s time.  It gives foreigners the belief that Filipinos are unreliable and not fit or qualified to have business with since they are not determined enough to do actions as simple as arriving on time.

While tardiness has been associated with Filipinos, not everyone practices the habit.  Calling it Filipino Time is simply not fair for Filipinos who respect other people’s time and are punctual and determined to make a change.

Hopefully, others realize the negative impact of tardiness and start to become responsible and disciplined in order to change the notion into “Filipino time is always on time“.

READ MORE:  Filipino Culture

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About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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