Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Beating Filipino Time

Yesterday I learned perhaps one of my life's more important lessons.
I realized the value of being "on time". That is to beat the unsavory characterization of our race, which is also called the "Filipino time".
Yesterday, I was tasked to prepare facilitate the orders for dinner in a restaurant with some acquaintances.
I was told that guests would be arriving in the Makati restaurant at around 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
So, being based in Makati I was the logical person to go to the restaurant early and make reservations and order the food in time for the arrival of the guests.
I went to the restaurant early enough, at 6:30 p.m. I told the restaurant manager that I was reserving a table for 16 persons who were to arrive between 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
The restaurant manager said they normally do not allow reservations because of the fast turnover of their customers. They couldn't afford to have tables idle for a long time.
But since there were quite a number of guests who were expected to arrive, and I ordered a number of food items in their menu, they prepared a long table for 16 persons.
The problem was that the guests did not arrive on time.
For one reason or another (as always, traffic was the common reason) the guests did not arrive at the designated time.
The restaurant kept on coming back to where I was seated and asked when they would prepare the food on the table since the appointed time had come and gone.
I had to send text messages to the guests, asking them where they were and when they could make it.
The guests arrived at 8:00 p.m.
There was one lesson I learned.
I felt the feeling of a person who has to wait for others who are not able to arrive at the appointed time.
It is not about the guests. It was not their fault that they were late. After all they probably tried their best to come on time, but must have been stuck in traffic.
But the situation I was in made me realize the importance of being on time.
I can now emphatize with people who are prompt in arriving at meetings, and who have to wait for the others who come in late.
For many times in my life, I have always been a person who arrived late.
I am not punctual.
I am a far cry from my late grandfather who mastered the art of beating the Filipino time.
My grandfather always had a rule that he must arrive at the designated place ten minutes before the appointment.
It was as if it was his personal crusade to beat the Filipino time.
Once, I drove my grandfather to a meeting and I could very well remember that we arrived at the place of appointment ten minutes before 7 o'clock p.m., the time of the dinner appointment.
My grandfather just told me to park the car and wait a while before disembarking and heading to the place of appointment. What discipline!
I can say that from now on, I will strive to be more mindful and conscious of making it on time during my appointments.
Imagine, I always had this attitude of being late for a few minutes when attending court hearings, thinking that "the judge never starts on time anyway."
There are many changes that I need to make.
I know that it is very hard to teach an old dog new tricks.
But this in one new trick I'd be eager to learn.

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