Filipino time in the popular usage is
synonymous with unpunctuality. But
being unpunctual or being too early
in some instances shows that Filipino
has a different time orientation
The Filipino wants to be in harmony
with nature through equilibrium-
maintenance (pagkakapantay, di
pagkakatao). If this balance is upset,
the Filipino expects suffering and
other forms of misfortune
The insistence on equilibrium (or balance) in
human activities is derived from the concept that
nature is essentially based on a binary system of
relationships: health and illness, hot and cold,
male and female, fertile and infertile, and so on.
All of these points of reference require a balance
of functions or nature falls apart. Harmony is the
theme of the universe. Even contradictions—as
long as they remain within the pull of their
influence—help nature achieve harmony.
An example of this harmony with nature
from the viewpoint of health has been the
hot and cold syndromes. For the Filipino
peasant "health is perceived as a good
relationship between man and the
surrounding world—in other words,
between himself, the people around him,
and the natural and supernatural
Westerner has a mastery-over-nature
orientation. Nature-for him is a tool which is
to be exploited. He therefore tries to make
nature serve him by altering the flow of a
river, by changing the weather and his
genes. He tampers with the balance of
nature to the extent that nature rebels in the
form of ecological revenge such as polluted
rivers, smog, extinction of certain biological
In the practical sense, the
Westerner—with his mastery-over-
nature orientation also wants to be
master of time. He can make the night
his day. He makes time and not time
makes him. But the Filipino
instinctively knows that Nature is wiser
so that he does not tamper with the
ways of nature.
Time may be
Western time in relation to the cosmos is
different for the Filipino. For the
Westerner cosmic time is linear as
revealed in language. The Indo-European
languages are characterized by the stress
they put on the past, present, and future
Cosmic time is linear because of the
Western preoccupation with tense.
Time is compared to a river which
flows to the sea of eternity. The
philosophy of Aristotle on time
reflects the linear orientation
Time is defined as the "number of
movement in respect of 'before' and `after.'
" Motion is an attribute of motion. Time is
not motion, but the number or measure of
motion. Motion is potentially time and
becomes such in actuality only when its
temporal succession is noted and measured
by some sentient creature.
Thus time is not a substantial entity which
is capable of existing separately from
other things: it has no reality
independently of the changes that
substances undergo. It has being only as
an attribute of an attribute of substance.
The Western concept of linear time
is necessarily associated with space.
In other words, time is conditioned
by the spaced linearity of past,
present, and future.
Cosmic time for the Filipino is cyclic, or rather,
spiral and dynamic. While the Westerner
lobks on time in its lineal progress, the
Filipino looks at it in its spiral movement. A
coil never returns to the same point. There is
progress in spiral motion for the new cycle is
not the old cycle.
For the Westerner time wasted is gone
forever. But for the Filipino there is always
tomorrow, a philosophy which is reflected in
his maxims. For instance, "Paglipas ng dilim
may araw pang darating" (When darkness
passes there is still another day) or "May
araw pa bukas" (There is still tomorrow).
Although time is cyclic for the average
Filipino, he also knows its value. Thus
the farmer knows that if he does not
plant or harvest at a specific time, he
will lose his chance for a living.
Fishermen know the chances of night
While cosmic time can mathematically
be calculated by the earth's movement
around the sun, human time is not
subject to mathematical calculations.
Human time is not oriented to space
but to man's consciousness.
While the Westerner marks time with a
calendar or a watch, the orient marks time
in his consciousness. Filipino concept of
human time can also be seen as maturation
or evolutionary. Thus time is compared to
the ripening of a fruit in the expressions,
"the fullness of time," "the time is ripe," and
The Filipino remembers the past in
terms of consciousness and not in
terms of linear time. One understands
why Western-oriented field researchers
are puzzled by the answers they get
from rural Filipinos about time.
What time do you turn on your radio in the morning?
When the cocks crow for the second time at dawn.
How far is the Center from your house?
One cigarette. (Meaning one can reach the Center after he has smoked
When did you last see a movie in town?
That time when the eldest daughter of the barrio captain got married.
Can you recall when this barrio was split into two barrios?
That was the time when the price of rice went down to 75 centavos a
If the Western concept of time is linear, then
history will also be linear. If time and reality for the
Filipino are non-linear or spiral, then history will
also be non-linear. Now the non-linear philosophy
of history has three explanations or categories:
(1)recurrent cosmic cycles,
(2)one-grand-cycle patterns of cosmic and human
(3)culture cycles as found in twentieth century
Human person is a “cross-
point”; a point of interaction
of various certain lines of
events of various levels:
physical, interpersonal, social
and historical lines of events.
Human person is a point of intersection of natural
Principle of conservation of mass and energy - the totality of
energy in the world is constant, energy goes from one form
to another. The atoms in our body right now date back to
the very first origin of our universe.
Earth = 50 billion years old
Life = 2.5 billion
Chordates = 700 million
Vertebrates = 500 million
Human Being = 250,000 years
This cross-point is of certain quality. Each of
us finds himself or herself as a certain gift of
nature. You did not design yourself. At certain
point of our lives we discover ourselves as of
a certain quality, a certain type of cross-point.
Your body is a product of nature and it is a
particular product of nature.
This cross-point is a conscious cross-point.
Man is a cross-point of physical events, and
he is conscious of himself as a cross-point.
He is conscious of the natural environment
that brought him about as a point of
intersection of these thread-lines of the world.
Since he is conscious, he is also conscious of
his limitations and the possibilities that is
open for him.
This cross-point is capable of activity. Insofar
as you are cross-point of physical events
with a certain consciousness of your
limitations and possibilities, you are a source
of creativity. You are a source whereby from
now on future physical lines of events can
come together or separate because of you.
Human person is a cross-point of interpersonal events.
You and I emerged one day as the fruit of intersection of
your father’s and mother’s personal lines of events. Our
personalities are shaped to a great extent by the
interpersonal lines of events we have before us until now.
Again, we are not simply a product of interpersonal lines of
event but we are also conscious of it. We are conscious of
ourselves as an interpersonal cross-point with certain
limitations and possibilities. And since we are conscious, we
are therefore a source of activity. We can cause the
interaction or separation of future personal lines of events.
Human person is a cross-point of social events. We
find ourselves as a social product, a product of many
social events in the past that are beyond our control.
Whether we like it or not, we can do nothing of what
our past has made us. We are already here (French
= deje la). And as conscious of our being a social-
cross point, we are also conscious of the limitations
and possibilities. And hence, we are a source of
activities, we have the power to create or break the
future social lines of events.
Human person is a point of intersection of historical
events. We are a historical product, whether we like it or
not; we are born or a certain age, of a certain period of
history, not earlier not later. We find ourselves as a fruit of
historical lines of events. Because of history, we emerge at a
certain period, a certain point and it is not within our
control. We realize that as cross-points, we would be other
than what we are if history had been different. As we
become conscious of ourselves as historical products, we
also become aware of the historical possibilities of history
that are in us. We become a source of historical creativity.
Human person as a cross-point of himself and his
ultimate goal. There is an ultimate element which
constitute the human personality, and that the human
person’s relation to a certain existential framework
whereby he is able to see himself included in some
kind of permanent whole, of permanent totality. It can
be a form of religion or a cause greater than himself.
Human person is a point of intersection between
himself and an ultimate framework of meaning. This
point of intersection determines the final meaning of
human person’s life.
Insofar as we are a point of intersection of all these
various kinds of events in all these various levels, you
and I can be characterized in one sense in what we might
call destiny or fate; on the other hand you and I are also
characterized by a certain creativity and, therefore, a
certain task or responsibility. Seen as destiny, I am a set
of limitations. Seen as a task, I am a set of possibilities.
We are products of the past, creators of the future, and
the ones who live in the present.