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Understanding Filipino time

DOST is launching Philippine Standard Time as a way to change Filipino time from being known as always late to being on time.

Filipino time is actually what Philip Zimbardo calls event time. According to him (he of the famous Stanford prison experiment), historically, there are two types of reckoning time practiced by people in the world: clock time and event time.

Clock time, which is to follow the clock on the dot, is followed by people in temperate countries, in which the seasons are clearly marked. Time is followed as something external to them.

On the other hand, event time is followed by people in countries near the equator, in which there are no seasons, and everyday throughout the year seems the same. In this case, events are started when people “feel” like it, not so much the external indication of a clock. That’s why the additional function of a host is to determine when to start, say 15 minutes after, or when there are enough people.

Filipino time is kind of tricky because we are in a kind of dichotomy where we live in a environment of both clock time and event time. Clock time for business meetings, and event time for social gatherings. In between, we have to get clues as to the actual start, watching out for messages such as “We will start on time”, or “Please come 5 minutes before the time”.

Why don’t we just say what clock to follow: event time or clock time. Clock time means we will start on time. Event time means come when you please!

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