In every commitment, there lies a promise and with every promise there is a hope that the commitment will be honoured. Commitments, when fulfilled allow us to gain trust and respect—these two things are rare but valuable gems. Commitments that are not kept create false hopes. False hopes create disappointments and disappointments corrupt trust and respect.
Difficult as it is to honor a commitment, it is more difficult to commit when you see others not doing it. It is a two-fold difficulty. You see others not fulfilling their promises and you start to doubt yourself. “If they are not doing it, why should I?” The youth are especially guilty of this. Not having established a strong principle on honouring a commitment, they are easily dissuaded by the influence of their environment. Seeing that their peers are not fulfilling their respective commitments, they find it difficult to see the importance of a commitment. Gradually, the value of commitment erodes and horrifyingly, the disregard for it becomes widespread. The vicious cycle goes on and on.
I was a scholar of the Young Minds Academy, a youth program of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. The program has a very high regard of commitment. Since RAFI invests so much in its scholars, they ask of their scholars’ commitment to finish the whole duration of the program. At the beginning, we are asked to sign a covenant expressing our commitment for the program. We must uphold these commitments, because not upholding is very expensive. (If we discontinue YMA, we pay 30php, the amount RAFI invests in each scholar). The program taught me that commitments should not be taken for granted but it had also taught the magnitude of punctuality. In our minds, it is instilled that Filipino time is on time, in contrast to the other’s notion of Filipino Time. The result of my learnings from YMA was my involvement and commitment to the Aboitiz Leaders of Excelllence (ALEx), a fresh and recently re-established organization. The reason ALEx has gotten on its feet is because of the members who have put their time and commitment into making it move forward. As you can see, commitments inspire action and direction.
Sad but true, the neglect of commitment is already mainstreamed in the Filipinos’ culture. Being habitually late for about an hour or so has been branded ‘the Filipino Time.’ While it is a popular trademark among Filipinos, it is nothing to be proud of. It is not even a laughing matter or something that can just be tolerated. Sadly, what’s happening now is a pervasive leniency of Filipino Time. It is so widespread that even people from other nation and every Filipino themselves believe that being late is a distinct and inherent Filipino characteristic, that it’s natural for a Filipino. This way of thinking trivializes the gravity of this impropriety.
I have high regard of commitments and punctuality, but at times, I am discouraged. There are times when I set up a date with my friends and I tell them what time we should assemble. My pals would always beg me to set the time an hour earlier, knowing that without doubt, people would start arriving an hour later. There is also this time I was attending a debut that was set to start at 6pm according to the invitation; however the program was started at 7pm. There was this incident also when I thought I was going to be late for a meeting. I arrived five minutes before the time, only to find out that I was the still the only attendee. Countless of times, I have been a victim of the Filipino time. That is why it’s frustrating and disheartening. Frankly, there are times when my high regard for this deteriorates and that is because of me developing a frame of mind that ‘since people arrive late, I might as well not come on time so I do not have to wait and waste my time hanging around’. This kind of mindset is general and true to most people. That is why the seemingly irrevocable rampancy of the Filipino time goes on and on.
What we Filipinos lack is a capability to exercise honouring our commitment and making it part of our system. It is difficult to honor punctuality with our lack of role models in society, with everyone else tolerating tardiness and with everyone thinking being tardy is an innate Filipino trait.. There is no question that society plays a very vital role in the prevalence of the Filipino time. School facilities and public events that are held by the government do not even honor time. It’s practically very difficult to eradicate it when punctuality is not epitomized and when the leaders we look up to like the school and the government exhibits a lackadaisical disregard for commitment.
Jose Rizal had said that the youth is the future of our nation. I firmly believe that we, the youth have the ability to change the face of our society. But first and for most, we have to begin with ourselves. It would not matter that our elders are being apathetic about it. As the youth, what we should do to combat this misdemeanour is to instil in ourselves that for everything we do, we have a responsibility and that it’s not all the time somebody else’s fault. We should not make excuses anymore and blame the traffic, the alarm clock, the car, our parents, our siblings, etc. We should erase the common notion that programs and events don’t start on time. We should set good examples, even if our elders are not doing great themselves. We must instil in our minds, as it was instilled in mine when I was a scholar of YMA: Filipino time is on time and not late. It is a way of showing our respect for other’s time and schedule and a way for us to be reciprocated.
Honoring commitment and being on time conceives us the gems of trust and respect. If we cultivate this, we’d enhance mankind and turn our country into a better nation, where everyone thrives in respect and trust.