Is it supposed to be surprising that apart from a few reports on both GMA, ABS-CBN, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, there isn’t much discussion going around about the newly signed Republic Act (RA) 10535?
RA 10535 is described as, “an act to set the Philippine Standard Time (PST) in all official sources throughout the country, to provide funds for the installation, operation and maintenance of synchronized time devices to be displayed in key public places and to declare the first week of every year as national time consciousness week.”
Basically, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is the designated timekeeper for PST, and all national and local government offices are now required to display the PST, and to synchronize to it.
What has been explicitly mentioned by at least two of the reports on the signing of RA 10535, is that that piece of legislation is being geared as a solution towards that most infamous local idiosyncrasy: Filipino Time.
Filipino Time can be described simply with four words: no concept of time. Despite Filipinos generally knowing how to agree on appointments and commitments at specific times, many of them have a habit of being tardy more than what is socially deemed acceptable.
The whole thinking behind RA 10535, it seems, is that timepieces that aren’t synchronized with an official time is a major reason why Filipinos are habitually late. Well, let’s mention the obvious from the get-go: the clocks are not the real problem.
The ingrained Filipino attitude towards time is.
As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, there are two ways one can look at time: either as a precious resource or as a general guideline. So which way does the Filipino look? Maybe the following guide questions can help:
Have Filipinos been good at taking care of resources?
Are Filipinos fond of following simple guidelines?
Are Filipinos known for being considerate of others?
Are Filipinos strict when it comes to schedules or deadlines?
Are Filipinos naturally wasteful?
Time is a precious resource; once it is gone you can’t bring it back. In modern societies, time literally is money, so if you’re wasting time, you’re wasting money. Why can’t Filipinos grasp the idea of respecting what is precious to others?
Filipinos are not known to follow simple guidelines. Fellow GRP writer Ilda had made this point very well in one of her old articles:
There is very little evidence that Filipinos are capable of living by the “rule of law”. The society is quite extraordinary in the sense that simple rules and regulations whether on the road or in the work place are for the most part ignored. This is because each individual has this baseless sense of being more important than everybody else. It is why you see people cutting you off on highway lanes on the road or pushing their way in lines ahead of the rest in a queue. In other words, Filipinos in general tend to put their own interest first before other people.
Let them wait. It’s good for the soul, so goes a line I used to hear when I was younger.
A society where each individual thinks he/she is more important than everybody else is not one where its constituents will learn to respect the time of others. Certainly, a society with inhabitants that put their own interest before others’ will find it hard to grasp the idea of sticking to schedules. When Filipinos know that they can get away with not being considerate of others’ time what reason do they have to change their ways? When Filipinos are lenient and nahihiya in stressing just how important time is (if it even is to them), then will there be any reason for others to follow suit?
Let’s face it. Filipinos have no native concept of efficiency. The idea of getting as much work as possible done in the least amount of time is an alien concept to the Filipino mind. The idea of learning how to do a task in less time is just as alien. Perhaps the natives in old times didn’t need to worry about time, but obviously things have changed. We aspire to be a modern society, so we have to start acting like one, and modern societies take efficiency very seriously.
The lack of efficiency here in the Philippines reflects itself best in the sorry state of our physical infrastructure, especially public transportation. In fact, a stunted ethic of working to schedules is one of the three fundamental roadblocks to improving public transport.
The causal link between time synchronization and the improvement of the Filipino attitude towards time is a long, long way from being established. As long as Filipinos do not see the value of a collective capability of better time management, they will continue to rely on pointless and needlessly labor-intensive solutions in managing their society.
Time is running out for the Filipinos, so to speak.
[Photo courtesy TrekLens]
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