Pinoy time may be acceptable to some but not at Manila City Hall tower

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By Aie Balagtas See/ – The Manila mayors that clock setter Noli Sotelo had served may have regarded punctuality as an optional virtue, but all of them were obsessive in making sure that the four clocks on the City Hall tower told the same correct time, all the time.

Sotelo, 56, has been one of the steady hands behind the city’s tower clocks for the past 20 years.

Although “Filipino time” (or being fashionably late) is acceptable to most Filipinos, Sotelo recalled that all the mayors who occupied Manila City Hall since he started working for the city — from Mayor Mel Lopez to Mayor Joseph Estrada — were ticked off if any of the four clocks were less than accurate.

“No matter what happens, they told me, the clocks need to be on time,” Sotelo said.
The strictest mayors, he said, were Lito Atienza and, surprisingly, Estrada, who has become notorious for tardiness.

“My bosses said the mayors told them that we owe it to the people to ensure that the clocks are accurate and functioning properly. It mirrors how the City Hall works,” Sotelo said, recalling how his boss was reprimanded by Atienza when a major broadsheet published photographs of two of the clocks telling different times.

“The paper captioned it ‘Two Timer’ and the mayor didn’t like it,” Sotelo said, adding that it was the most embarrassing job-related instance he could recall.


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