Why Filipinos Are Always Late

Ron and I will have some great cross-cultural discussions at times. One was around punctuality (I feel like I’ve blogged this already – that or I’ve told it to so many people that I’ve composed it in my head already).

I hate lateness. My whole family hates lateness. We consider it a disrespect of someone’s time. I never understood the whole fashionably late thing. I thought it was rude. Who are we all kidding? If you really don’t want folks at your house until 10 then for God’s sake say show up at 10 – don’t do this oh party is at 8 but no one will show up until 10. Don’t play these passive-aggressive guessing games. At my house you show up on time or you don’t get to eat.

Ron’s theory – and he says this is cultural – is that the reason Filipinos (and again, this is from his experience as an immigrant – not first-generation, American-born) are always late to parties is that to show up on time is to appear greedy – that you want to get all the food for yourself. I picture cars parked outside my house with everyone staring at the front door wondering who will go in first.

In my family, you don’t show up late – to show up late is to slander our hard work in meal prep (especially mom and you don’t want to slander ma mere). A lot of times, folks come early and actually help us cook (Ron said that ‘that’s what you have maids for…’ – his grandmother had an entire staff when he was growing up).

This also extends into never taking the last bit of a meal or appetizer – it appears gluttonous. I notice that Ron and Gilbert always let me eat the last gyoza at Ecce. Nevermind that these are the same fatties that down 2 bowls of rice each. The staff at Ecce doesn’t even ask anymore – they bring them each two bowls of rice whenever we go there. I have to roll them home.






16 responses to “Why Filipinos Are Always Late”

  1. Terrance Heath Avatar

    Ha! You and I would make an awful couple then, because I never quite manage to be punctual. 😉 In my case, I just get too distracted to notice the time. So I’m often late starting out.

    But then again, you sound a lot like my husband. He’s’ on time for everything. Actually, if we’re going somewhere as a family, we get there 15 minutes early if he has anything to do with it. I can’t count the number of times we’ve had to drive around the block or kill time for fine minutes because we were early.

  2. Angelo Avatar

    Apparently, in France it’s rude to show up within the first 15 minutes after a fête’s start time.

    Speaking as an Americanized Filipino, I’m not sure I can quite articulate our people’s tardiness as etiquette-driven. I think the group is just not conscious of the time. I remember my Dad saying something about “American time”, Americans stereotypically being more prompt.

    As for that last piece of something, which the Japanese call something like ‘ball of shame’, it would more likely be at my family’s table that the youngest gets first dibs. After we go a few rounds of “no, you have it”, then it’s whoever can get to it first.

    As for the two-servings-of-rice thing, I’m the same. Pad the meal with kanin so there’s enough of the ulam to go around. Rudest of all is to eat something without rice (papak).

  3. Jake Avatar

    Filipinos and punctuality can not be equated to each other. I guess we’re a more “happy-go-lucky” bunch. Not lazy, not uncaring either. Being there counts the most than not being there at all. Although being extremely late is definitely a no-no. And let me tell you, Filipinos aren’t the only ones that tend to be late.

    As for us ‘fatties’ eating our more than fair share of 2 bowls of rice per sitting, we don’t make fun of y’all when you eat hella potatoes (ie mashed, fried, chips, et al). Good lord, but rice is damn fattening though. Since giving up rice for lent (yeah, unbelievable), I lost 15 POUNDS! Needless to say, since Easter, I’ve only eaten 1/8 portion of rice I would normally eat before lent and have lost the craving to have rice with each meal. Filipinos around the world have fainted, I’m sure.

    Question: Has he asked you into eating dinuguan?

  4. Father Time Avatar
    Father Time

    Many people feel that I can have control of the situation if I am Late.I will show them who is in control.Tme is life.Spend a day a month with no time.Unplug turn the clocks around feel the time move you through the day..Time Daylight Saving Time….. Why The government wants to control you time.Indiana has a problem with time….we have seval time zones in that small state……I would like to see how people would precive time outside the USA…………..Set your clock up…..”WHAT TIME IS IT*?*********LATE AGAIN WHITE RABBIT~~~~~~~

  5. Andy Avatar

    Boy, what kinda of rice are you eating? 15 pounds? Jesus!

    Yep – I tried dinuguan but I can’t eat my own portion of it. It just grosses me out. Gravy from pig’s blood just seems so sacrificial.

    Potatoes? Are you working some sort of Irish stereotype? 😛 I think the worst think to happen to American dietary guidelines is for people to classify potatoes as a vegetable – which they are in terms of taxonomy – but they are a starch/carb in terms of dietary. Too many parents think that their kids eating french fries consistutes their vegetable for the day.

  6. mark Avatar

    It drives me absolutely crazy when people are late. When my other half makes me late to somthing, I’m usually so pissed off by the time we show up (half an hour late) it ruins the first hour that I’m there. Growing up, we were NEVER ever late to anything. Ever.

    Brian likes to call it being “fasionably late”. I call it rude.

    When I throw a party or something, I always tell people it’s 7pm, when actually the party or dinner won’t start until 8pm. Just makes things easier.

    They always show up around 8pm.

  7. Joe.My.God. Avatar

    Oh, this is just great.

    Here I spent the better part of six years in SF ripping my friends new assholes because they couldn’t get their gay Filipino asses ANYWHERE on time, and NOW i find out that it’s “cultural”?

    They COULD have told me.

    crap. now i want lumpia.


  8. Jake Avatar

    Yeah, 15 lbs. Apparently, I ate a lot of it along with plenty of viand (the main entrees). Hence, when I gave up rice, I lost most of my appetite. Here I am 15 lbs lighter. And counting.

    As for the potatoes comment, I should have mentioned something Italian-like from the looks of you. And Ron is lucky.

  9. adela Avatar

    Obviously, some filipinos are ‘always’ late because their fore-bears learned to be late from the spanish occupiers.
    Like mexicans and puerto ricans and all of central – south america menos brazil.
    Thus, if you want to get going tell your friends that being late is counter-revolutionary, and to shuck the inherited signifiers of colonization it’s time to SHOW UP ON TIME.
    Of course, SHOWING UP ON TIME is what the current colonizers prefer, so maybe late is more revolutionary?

  10. V Avatar

    OK. I am an immigrant Filipino; moved here at the age of six. My entire family immigrated, but only half of 2/5 of us are always late–my mom and my sister and it drives the remaining three of us up the fucking wall. My other sister, my dad, and I are punctual to the point of obsessive compulsive. But I’ve always heard the phrase Filipino time bandied about.
    On a cross cultural sidenote on Filipino politesse, there have been some distinct differences that my sisters, Filipino friends and I have noticed when it comes to social interaction. I remember feeling a little embarrassed when my ex, Cracker-Ass-Cracker, was invited to dinner and wouldn’t even try Filipino food and asked for something else. Filipinos pride themselves on the food they put out for their guests, to not even try it is considered a slap in the face (although admittedly I’ve never had a drop of dinuguan….eeeew; I’ll just put some on my plate and find some way to throw it out without anyone noticing.) And my younger sister who has married a blue-eyed blond refuses now to go to his friends’ parties because she (and admittedly I) find it a little rude to invite people over to your home for a party and be asked to bring your own food and alcohol. When people come over to our homes, they can bring food and drink but there will definitely be more than enough food without. It’s all about host/guest courtesy. Watch Joy Luck Club sometime; it’s a great Miss Manners for the Asian set.

  11. Andy Avatar

    Joy Luck Club is the number two cry-fest movie for me. That and The Color Purple can lead me into dehydration.

    find it a little rude to invite people over to your home for a party and be asked to bring your own food and alcohol

    I think also this happens in college when everybody is broke so they don’t have enough money to furnish a full-bar. Then once you’re adults, the sentiment remains.

  12. Lucy Avatar

    I think it is very rude of filipinos to be late constanty. It shows disrespect for the American culture that they chose to live in. Especially when they come to late to work daily. They should be fired.

  13. maya Avatar

    The best trick if your the host and inviting a bunch of Filipinos… if your party starts at 7PM, tell them it starts at 6PM. It works wonders. It can be a bit of a culture shock.

  14. Stephanie Avatar

    being half-filipina myself (and with a haitian dad) i know the pains of being late to practically EVERYTHING… so if i wanna get anywhere on time, i tell my parents that it begins a good half hr to an hr earlier than it really is.

    but as for firing late filipinos… not all of them are late. its just a generalization that for the most part is true. tis a sad but funny truth.

    and idk about you, but nearly every white person i’ve come in contact with loves my filipino food (especially lumpiaaaa :D)… because we all know its hella good. just dont touch the dinaguan or the crispy pata if you know what it really is….

  15. Julius Avatar

    As a Filipino living in Manila, I have to agree with most of the comments here. Although Filipinos (and other hispanized cultures) are fond of being fashionably late, they only limit this to parties with friends, family affairs and informal meetings with close colleagues. But when it comes to work (especially in efficiency-demanding jobs like the health sector), Filipinos do come on time.

    It’s just that when we are in the US that the trait becomes acutely myopic- here in Manila, it’s a dead given. That’s why when we have meetings or parties, we usually have an “assembly time” of one hour just to wait for everyone to arrive. Being late can mean from 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on the occassion- and fortunately, most Filipinos are always forgiving about latecomers.

    Btw, I’m glad you took the time to write this. Not everyone is as observant as you. Cheers!

  16. BMWGirl Avatar

    Filipinos and Thai people are rude and classless people and have very little pride in what they do

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