Filipino time – argh!

The peculiar ways of ‘Filipino time’ mean that I unexpectedly have a few minutes for a quick blog post.

Last night we received an invitation to attend a Christmas party for local children (and, of course, an invitation to make a financial contribution). The time on the invitation was 9am, at which time Mary Ann’s cousin, who is on the organising committee, would come round to collect us. 10am and still we hadn’t heard anything; by 10.20am we decided we would find out for ourselves what was going on.

The answer was: not much. It looks like things might get started by midday. So now we’re back in the home of Sito and Arlyn, our generous hosts, and waiting for the minibus to collect us for the next appointment of the day. Perhaps we’ll drop by the party later.

I wouldn’t mind so much, except I was told that I would be opening the event with a prayer. I must admit I always groan inwardly when I hear this because it means that I have to be there on time, whenever ‘on time’ happens to be. Everybody else can be late, but not the pastor saying grace!

I should be used to this by now, because in my churches in London we often run on Filipino time, except there we call it ‘African time’ or ‘Caribbean time’. The most annoying thing is the custom of saying that an event will start at, say 11am, when there is every intention that it will start at 11.30am, on the basis that ‘people are always late’. Of course they’re always late – when they read ’11am’, they think ‘11.30am’ – and actually turn up at 12. And it’s even more annoying when it’s a wedding or a funeral because I like to be there first and there will always be some people who don’t know that ’11am’ is code for ‘11.30am’ and actually turn up for 11am. Then they ask me where everyone else is and I am the one who has to explain that although it says 11am on the invitation, the event is not actually scheduled to begin until 11.30am but that in any case that would probably be optimistic because I’ve just received a message that the bride/service programmes/hearse is stuck in traffic on the other side of London.

Of course, Filipino time works perfectly well if everybody is working to the same rules. But if you have a fixed appointment, or you are trying to catch a flight, it results in a lot of sitting around doing nothing. Or idle activities, such as updating blogs.



About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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