Tuesday, 22 December 2009

In defense of Filipino time

John Mangun
Outside the Box

Perhaps as its last official act for 2009, the House of Representatives has passed a bill “synchronizing the standard time nationwide.” House Bill 6905 or the Philippine Standard Time law creates a single time zone for the entire country.

I am not happy about this.

Until this new law, when you set your time zone on your computer for example, you had a wide variety of choices. Try it for yourself. Windows give us the option of being in the same time zone as Beijing or Hong Kong or Taipei. However, if you wanted your computer to seem a little more exotic, you could also choose to be part of the Urumqi Ulaanbaatar or Irkutsk zone. For those wanting to be slightly to the sophisticated side, set your clock to Singapore. And if longing to be abroad is where your heart is, you can pretend to be in Perth, Australia.

Check out other sources on the Internet and you might find a notation that Manila and the rest of the Philippines is part of the “PHT” time zone. Well, actually there isn’t any PHT time zone in the same way as your brother in New York operates on EST or Eastern Standard Time or your cousin in Germany sets his clock by European Central Time.

Yet PHT does mean something: Philippine Time. Now, that is not to be confused with “Filipino time” which might be an entirely different matter. But then again, maybe not. You see, when you look up what the letters PHT could mean, one of the definitions for PHT is Peace, Harmony and Tranquility.

Think about that. We live in, or at least, used to before HB 6905, a time zone know as Peace, Harmony and Tranquility. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? Now, that is not to say that the nation is always peaceful, harmonious, or tranquil but maybe the name of your time zone does cast some influence on the lives of the people who live in it.
If you live in the state of New Mexico in the US, your time zone is Mountain Time. Actually, there aren’t any mountains in New Mexico; just high hills. When you are surrounded by nothing but hot, empty desert, the time zone might make things a bit easier by moving thoughts to cool pine trees and running streams.

Of course, other places want their time zone to be totally unique. New Mexico’s neighbor, Arizona, does not want to be part of the West Coast’s Pacific Time or Mountain Time. So they have an official “Arizona Time Zone.”

This brings us back to our former time zone, PHT. Filipino time is known worldwide for meaning being somewhat late. Filipino time is always criticized, even made a villain in the fact that we are not rich and First World. Overseas Filipinos always mention how they have lost their Filipino- time culture and have adapted to the punctuality of the West in particular. In fact, sometime these balikbayan are real pains in the backside as they take an air of superiority because they are not only on time but early!

As I mentioned, I am not really happy with the change from “PHT” to “PST”. Now I can understand why it might be important for the entire nation to be using the same clock. But honestly, I do not want to lose PHT as it relates to “Filipino time.” In the South Pacific French resort islands, they operate on “Tahiti time.” Just the name evokes images of long beaches, waving palm trees, and sarong-clad maidens serving rum drinks in coconut shells. Right?

Well, for some of us, PHT does mean Peace, Harmony and Tranquility. Filipino time is a part of this culture and I do not think it is necessarily a negative at all.

Filipino functions are always an ongoing event. You know that guests are going to be arriving throughout the night. Are you bored talking to the current attendees? Not to worry. There will always be new faces arriving soon. Western events are like going to a movie. There is a definite start and stopping time. Now that is not relaxing at all. I like being late because I just had to watch the end of my favorite TV show and knowing that the host is not going to feel neglected or insulted.

Now you are going to say that maybe PHT is all right for social gatherings, but what about business? Sorry, I do not have any problems with business operating on Filipino time also.

Imagine you are going to wrap up a big deal and have an appointment with a prospective investor. Now which would you prefer? Do you want your appointment to have to fight traffic, get all frustrated and “high-blood,” and arrive on time? Or would it be better that the person arrived 30 minutes late having taken a long short-cut that avoided all the traffic hassle?

Filipino time is just like being a husband. Instead of watching the clock, nagging your wife that you’re going to be late, and starting the evening on a sour note, there is a better alternative: “Married Man Time.” Get a drink, watch TV, and wait for the wife to say, “I’m ready, let’s go.” Then you know you still have plenty of time to shower and dress, and meet your better half at exactly the right time to walk out the door together. Long live Peace, Harmony and Tranquility.

PSE stock-market information and technical-analysis tools were provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc. E-mail comments to mangun@email.com.

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