Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Juan Time

The Filipino time, as we all know, is a matter of relativity. Work starts 8-ish and ends at sometimes 5. When we say the forum starts at 10, expect the welcome remarks at around 10:15. Having studied in UP for a long time, it’s very decent to come in at 9:15 for a 9 am class (well, Malcolm is a big exception). And that’s keeping with the tight schedule already, relatively.

The Filipino time is flexible indeed. It has a good grasp of the inner workings of our society. It understands the predicament of a stalled MRT, the fickle weather, EDSA per se, the sluggish ways of the citizens seemingly ingrained in the Filipino consciousness. The Filipino time is so flexible it makes everything else bendy at the cost of efficiency.

Blame it on history. The books tell us our former colonizers are to be blamed for embedding in our consciousness a skewed concept of time. Blame it on the public infrastructures, the generosity (read: laxity) of our people, and the rustic appeal of a slow-paced life. But the core problem was never identified as the unsynchronized clocks in our country. Until recently.

A simple synchronized clock can spell an enormous difference in an archipelagic country. Summing it up, in an ideal setup: no more delayed flights/trains, no extended lunch breaks in government offices (yey!), no late students/professors, overall general efficiency the corollary of which would be a more robust economy and a better country.

What most of us don’t know is that generations of government have been pushing for one Juan time. Since 1949, the weather bureau (as mandated by Batas Pambansa Blg. 8) had set up a Time Service Division (TSD) for this purpose. Its master clock then was a U. Nardin Marine Chronometer, which uses a pendulum regulator. Today, TSD’s successor, the Time Service Unit, uses a Rubidium/Global Positioning System Common View (Rb/GPSCV) Time Transfer System. The system automatically calculates its time difference with every satellite within its antenna’s field of view using a computer of course.

Yes, time can be very technical. This is why the DOST is pairing up with the technical expertise of PAG-ASA to implement the ‘Juan Time’ campaign. Even in this digital age when firms already have their own GPS time system, a Philippine Standard Time (PST) must be set by the Government. The firms turn off their GPS whenever they are not needed. If we rely on private efforts to keep our time for us, then might as well give the funding to them. But since an entire government division is being funded by the taxpayer’s money, the DOST and PAG-ASA is actually making good use of the public money (yey another!).

Simple projects like these are what a good policy makes. It is a good interplay of law and ICT. A synchronized time is more than a mere administrative matter. It is a reflection of professionalism, efficiency and a commendable effort towards better governance.

PS: Technical terms came from here. Also, the launch of the campaign is set on September 30. So come October 1, we finally have something which the other tiger economies and good governments in the pacific region have. Trumpets are in order.

ENTRY # 15. Regine Tenorio

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