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Wake up

I won’t be late,” a friend would say. Thirty minutes after the call time, that friend would still be on his way—or worse—barely out of bed. We’re all familiar with this kind of scenario as it reminds us of a usual mindset when it comes to time, especially for the everyday Filipino.

Filipinos are known for the stereotype of “Filipino time” that brands us of usually arriving an hour or more late than the call time—yet still the first one to make it. It’s awful how our time culture has established a negative identity and as time goes by, it disappoints me that we’ve gradually embraced this Filipino attitude.

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As my school life progresses, I can barely survive 7 AM classes or beat frustrating deadlines because of sleep deprivation, thanks to nonstop academic requirements and projects. Honestly, pressing the snooze button has become an addiction for me. But as the nth snooze wakes me up, the morning nightmare officially starts. Getting out of bed, rushing to the bathroom, skipping breakfast, chasing the Ikot La Salle jeepney, and sneaking into the classroom with all eyes on me should be the wakeup call to learn from my constant tardiness—yet I never learn.

But looking at the bigger picture, being late doesn’t just ruin your schedule, but also your reputation. For instance, we’ve all encountered that free loader who never meets the deadline in group projects. Knowing that free loaders are a burden, no one will initiate to recruit them into the group; so, unfortunately, they end up in the lazy squad, or luckily, in the hard-working group that has no choice but to accept them. In the end, no one will ever trust you and your skills again—not unless they see improvements in your effort to be on time .

“There’s still time to fix your clock”

In fact, punctuality shows how you value a person’s time as much as how much you respect them as a person, according to American writer and educator Dustin Wax. It’s better to be ahead minutes before the scheduled time instead of arriving exactly on time, because in the end, it’s not about being on time but about showing respect. After all, being “busy” is no excuse because no one is ever too busy to respect others.

However, the real consequence here is that if you can’t respect others, then you can’t even respect yourself. Yes, the fact that you can’t even adjust to your own shit makes the situation complicated. Yet you still make it worse and set a trap at your own risk if you don’t take time to think of who the real enemy is—yourself.  Like a lazy students’ usual complaint in their classes, we tend to protest that professors didn’t even discuss the topics in your exam—knowing full well that they did discuss the topics, only we were too late to catch the lecture.

I know that it’s hard to leave your bed early and prepare for your 7 AM class, but being early influences others to be early as well—and the same thing goes with being late. According to writer Bill Reynolds of The Advantages of Being on Time vs. Being Late to School, if being late for classes or meetings becomes a habit, the notion that tardiness becomes tolerable in the minds of others. This is because we build the idea “Basta may karamay,” which somehow remedies your anxiety as you know that you’ll not suffer alone but together with your squad.

Honestly, I’ve grown blind and deaf to the lame excuses I make every time tardiness hits me. “Guess what? I’m stuck in traffic—again!”  This just shows the unwillingness of a person to set priorities as they become unstoppable when it comes to being late. If your tardiness continues, no one else will value the importance of time as tardiness taints the Filipino identity.

Even if it took me a while to realize how I’m ruining my own value every time I arrive late, at least I’ve finally managed to make an effort to be punctual. Knowing the consequences of tardiness, everyone has a chance to wake up to face the reality while putting in effort to manage the same mistakes from the past for a progressive future.

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Sorry, I’m late,” he said with an irritating smile. Good grief! It’s alarming how punctuality loses its value nowadays as we unfortunately welcome it as a part of the Filipino culture. Being tardy just once isn’t a big deal, but if it happens again and again? Then that’s a serious problem. Time is running out and yet several let that pass—wasting the opportunity to be one step ahead.  There’s still time to fix your clock but maximize every second—because it’s not better to be late than never.