As the hands of the clock turn to a new day in the new year, Filipinos are reminded of how important it is to keep track of time and be on time.
Filipinos have been known for the cliché “Filipino time,” which meant being late. But as the world moves to better and improved timekeeping, people have to catch up with being on time.
The need for Filipinos to be mindful of time through the National Time Consciousness Week was emphasized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Through Republic Act (RA) 10535, the National Time Consciousness Week is celebrated every first week of the new year, and it reminds each and every Juan of the value of accurate time in sync with global time.
“Discipline on time is valuing on time,” said Lita Suerte-Felipe, chief of the DOST Department Legislative Liaison Office. “We can now sync the Philippine Standard Time [PhST] with American time because we, together with our fellow Filipinos, are now time conscious.”
Implementation of RA 10535
The PhST Act aimed to set the standard time all over the country. It provided funds to install, operate and maintain synchronized time devices to be displayed in offices down to the local level using the network of time protocol.
In 2017 P8 million was included in the budget of The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s Regional Services Division for supplies, delivery services, integrations, testings, trainings and commissioning of four rubidium oscillator and masterclock network time displays.
At least once a month, the offices should coordinate with Pagasa to synchronize their timepieces and devices to keep the time accurate and precise.According to Division Chief Aristotle Carandang of DOST Science and Technology Information Institute (STII), the office, through the leadership of STII Director Richard Burgos, has been constantly doing steps in making Filipinos aware of the synchronized time.
“We want to let everyone know that, since 2014, after the implementation of the law, the first government office that adopted this [PhST Act] is DOST Region 11, which is Davao region,” Carandang said in Filipino. “Also in 2014, the first local government unit [LGU] that adopted this and displayed timepieces in the public plaza and capitol building was San Pablo City in Laguna.”
Carandang added that in 2016, the first LGU to implement PhST in all of its barangays is Kawayan City in Isabela.
“We’ve been monitoring this and we’ve been doing some advocacy work,” Carandang said. “But, of course, our office can only do so much, so we really need your [news media] support.”
Carandang noted that, if support continues, “slowly but surely, we will reach down to the grassroots [level] until the time when each Filipino will value time.”
He said the LGUs have a big role in making their constituents follow accurate time.
Even in the industry, certifications for clock manufacturers are now being monitored before companies could distribute clocks. Certifications are also required before they could join biddings.
History of the PhST system
The Philippine standard-time system started in 1949 when time service was established by the then-Weather Bureau.
A U. Nardin Marine Chronometer with pendulum regulators as dispatch clocks was used as the master clock. Chronometers were designed to address the need to measure time on board a ship and determine the location.
Shortly after, a short synchrome ensemble replaced the marine chronometer in 1951. The ensemble was not used for long. In 1965 it was again replaced with a crystal oscillator interfaced with a digital clock.
In a series of replacements, the government issued a law in 1977 declaring the newly established Pagasa as the office responsible for the establishment, maintenance and operation of the national standard for time.
This was followed with the issuance of Presidential Decree 1149 in 1978, which assigned Pagasa as the official time-service agency in the country.
Throughout the years, Pagasa, under the DOST, has made efforts in putting time as a priority for the country.
Later in 2013, after “Filipino time” has put the country and each Filipino in many regrettable situations, the government finally established and implemented RA 10535, or the PhST Act.
Where do we base accuracy of time?
In the early civilization, humans determined time by observing the sun and the movement of stars.
The earliest known in civilization who used a timepiece according to historians were the Egyptians in 1500 BC, said John Stevenson, City University of London’s Communication officer, in his article, “A Brief History of Telling Time.”
The Egyptians used a sundial and have equally divided sunrise and sunset in 12 parts. The sundial was improved centuries later by the Greeks and then the Romans.
The Romans have used water clocks called clepsydra, where containers filled with water were slowly drained evenly with markings used to show the passage of time.
Centuries later, humans developed time measurement. In the 18th century, the clock was already being considered as a scientific instrument, and a lot have been invented—the pendulum and the marine chronometers, to mention a few.
In the 20th century, time definitely changed since the invention of the atomic clock in the 1950s and lasers in the 1960s.
“Lasers can produce pulses of a duration of a few attoseconds—10¹⁸ seconds—and the accuracy of international time measurement must reflect this,” Stevenson said.
Atomic clocks are the most accurate today, with the level of accuracy measured in seconds for many millions of years.
Stevenson explained that based on the atomic clock, the time today is measured by atomic frequency of electronic transitions or spin energy of atoms to measure a second. Atomic clocks mostly use caesium atoms.
In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Pagasa’s Space Sciences and Astronomy Section Chief Engr. Dario de la Cruz said, “Atomic clocks are accurate that it would take a million years before it can create an error of 1 second.”
With the help of technology, most of these atomic clocks, according to de la Cruz, “are synchronized through the Global Navigation Satellite System.” This is in coordination with the Network Time Protocol.
In the Philippine setting, “The heart of the timing system in the country is here in the Pagasa central office,” de la Cruz said. “This is where our servers are connected.”