Respecting Time, Respecting Others

Respecting time is respecting another.

Time is said to be one of the “priceless” commodities in this world, along with freedom, life, love, health, etc. Ironically, it is priceless and yet something we spend freely. In Audrey Niffeneger’s “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” she mentioned that, “Time is priceless, but it’s free. You can’t own it, you can use it. You can spend it. But you can’t keep it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

One of the most undesirable Filipino traits concerns time. In fact, there is a concept widely known as “Filipino time” which involves one or more of the following situations:

  • Setting a meeting at a certain time and arriving an hour later;
  • Saying you are near, when you really mean the opposite
  • Telling people you are “on the way” when you literally just woke up
  • Making excuses on the last minute because you don’t feel like attending an event

This is not exclusive to the Filipinos, ans I found it to exist in a lot of other places as well. When people do this, it is very frustrating especially when you hear countless excuses. Some of them may be valid, but a lot also come from the failure to manage time wisely. As a result of this, others are being severely affected and the trait becomes quite like a social virus with the logic being “why should I value your time if you do not value mine?”

Mahatma Gandhi imparted us an important lesson when he said that “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” When we choose to be late as a way of “getting back” at others, and reason out that “everyone does the same,” then this bad trait becomes a bad habit and we will remain trapped. This could lead to our generation being tagged as “perpetually late” and that isn’t something we can be proud of.

The root cause of this problem has something to do with respect. Sure we all want to be equals, but we should not succumb to the mentality of getting even at others because of their actions. We should instead endeavour to set a good example so that we may influence other people to do the same.

One good concrete example of this would be for us to embody the concept of punctuality. Punctuality is exemplified in countries known for extreme efficiency which include Japan and Germany. People give extreme importance to time – making, planning and creating schedules rule their habit. If we apply that mentality in the Philippines, our way of living would drastically change for the better.

Similarly, Martin Buber in his work “I and Thou” discussed about mutual subjectivity, in that we should be treating each other as equals, instead of seeing one another as objects (not on equal footing with us). After all we are the same humans underneath all our differences. In the Dalai Lama’s words, we are a “global family,” responsible for each other and the betterment of our world.

If we value people’s time, we encourage them to feel their significant roles in society, thus enticing them to maybe give back more than what they have received. Time is probably the greatest gift we can give to others. It starts with the simplest actions like not committing beyond what we can deliver and actually doing what we have promised, or at the very least, having the decency to inform others should there be problems on our end.


We are all subject to the passage of time. We must not waste it, but cherish it, like we do with our very lives.

By Kristin Baltazar, a current intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office. To learn more about our internship program, you may visit this page or get in touch with us as asiapacific@wya.net