The revelry of New Year’s Eve is over. It seems that just overnight the holiday lights and street decorations have become totally meaningless.
Driving down the hills of Antipolo (at way past my bedtime) on New Year’s Day, my daughter and I felt a letdown we could not explain. Suddenly, under the filthy, acrid haze left behind by firecrackers, the Christmas buntings looked bleak and desolate.
The season is over. The tinsel is gone. Like it or not, it’s back to the everyday grind.
I have been reading commentaries on the ills and woes of 2013—what it was like, what it was not, what it could and should have been. It’s amazing how many of us are suddenly gifted with perfect hindsight, 20/20 vision after the fact.
The social media, on the other hand, posted some very encouraging yearenders, inspiring pieces, words of good cheer, and even sure-fire tips on how to attract good fortune in this year of the Wooden Horse.
But don’t get too attached to that morsel of hope you just found. They’re back! The whiners and blamers have returned. The same old finger pointers have surfaced and their targets have not changed. How I wish they had been hoisted (by their own petards?) on those noisy midnight rockets.
By the way, in the new array of forbidden firecrackers, most in demand was a deadly monster that some dark, warped mind invented and named Yolanda. Sickening. But I was encouraged when I saw the look of disgust on my granddaughter’s face. She may be young, but oh, what a sensitive heart.
It’s Juan time!
Did you know that we are now on Philippine Standard Time? Last week our President signed Republic Act 10535 or the Philippine Standard Time Act of 2013.
The new law requires “all national and local government offices and broadcasting organizations” to display PhST as provided by Pagasa, our national official timekeeper. Telecommunication giants Smart and Globe have synched their network time with PhST.
Complete with its Implementing Rules and Regulations, the law went into effect at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day 2014, also marking the start of National Time Consciousness Week.
Theme of the campaign is “Juan Time: Pinoy Ako, On-Time Ako.” It aims to change the negative image projected by the unfortunately popular expression “Filipino time”— which has forever been used to mean that we are never on time —and to instead portray the Filipino of today as the epitome of punctuality and discipline, showing respect and consideration for other people’s time.
Wow, that was a mouthful. Forgive me, but I have to say: “It’s about time!”
Admit it. Punctuality has never been our strong suit. We even brag about Filipino time, say it with a snicker and a swagger, almost daring anyone to take offense. Our attitude is almost dismissive, as if to say, “You are in the Philippines and it is what it is.” It is a shameful situation.
Will the law change all that any time soon?
I remember in convent school, they required excuse slips for showing up late, or like we called it, “after bell.” Three tardy marks were fatal on a report card.
Will there be penalties for government and broadcast workers who don’t comply? If sanctions are enforced, what happens to the violators? If adopted by big businesses, some would probably have to close shop.
I don’t have a clear picture of how this law will be implemented, or if it will even work. But I like how it sounds. I am hoping it sets some precedent, an example that those of us without a clue about respecting the time of others can follow.
Several big names in entertainment have a reputation for never being on time. I know of one star who plays Internet games for hours, way past call time and into the wee hours, while the crew waits in the wings. Not nice.
My children think that I am too strict about time. But I would rather wait than have people wait for me. I sometimes have the driver go around the block just because I am too early.
I subscribe to what American poet Richard Cecil wrote: “If I have made an appointment with you, I owe you punctuality. I have no right to throw away your time, if I do my own.”
This is what I do. If the invitation is for 8 o’clock, I start getting ready at 5. I allow for traffic, or a bad hair day, even a sudden downpour.
Some people deliberately get to a function late, hoping to make a grand entrance. That used to be the way of royalty. But even King Louis XVIII of France chose to show respect for his people by meeting with them at the appointed time. He believed: “Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”
I hope that the spirit of RA 10535 eventually becomes part of our value system, so that no Pinoy will ever again think it is acceptable or even fashionable to be late.
Is this wishful thinking? Aritotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
Punctuality is, without a doubt, an excellent habit!
It’s a brand new year. Embrace it. Starting today, we have a new mantra. “It is Juan Time: Pinoy ako, on-time ako!”