Juan Time: Filipino time redefined

By Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Sep 26 2011 06:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 27 2011 08:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - In this dog-eat-dog world, it pays to be on time.

But what time is it really? The television station is 5 minutes ahead of the AM station, which is ahead by 5 minutes of the FM station, which is delayed by 10 minutes of one’s wristwatch.

This more than 10-minute gap provides a lot of reasons to be late, depending on the Filipino's concept of justification: traffic, car broke down, MRT stalled anew, etcetera.

The “Juan Time” of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) aims to change this “Filipino time” mindset by promoting a nationwide use of only “one time.”

DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said this will promote the use of the Philippine Standard Time (PST) in order to set one common time among Filipinos across the archipelago’s more than 7,100 islands.

“With Juan Time, Filipino time will come to mean ‘on time’ and no longer late,” Montejo added.

In a separate interview, DOST Astronomical Observation and Time Service chief Mario Raymundo told abs-cbnNEWS.com a precise time will make or break a deal.

Brokers at the Philippine Stock Exchange, for example, need the most precise time, probably right down to the last millisecond, in order to place a deal with another partner abroad.

“It’s a very simple concept. As [Isaac Pitman said], ‘a well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.’ Bakit ko ipagkakatiwala sa iyo ang milyones ko kung magulo utak mo,” he said.

One clock

He said the correct time is located deep in the recesses of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in Quezon City.

Batas Pambansa Blg. 8 mandates that PAGASA “shall be responsible in the establishment, maintenance and operation of the National Standard for the second of time.”

It was in 1949 that the weather bureau 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 consists of a rubidium atomic clock, Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, time interval counter, distribution amplifier, and a computer. The system automatically calculates its time difference with every satellite within its antenna’s field of view.

Based on its website, TSD said a computer operates a GPS receiver and a software designed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

This will then calculate the time difference between a rubidium clock or an atomic clock and a GPS satellite within view of an antenna. Atomic clocks, to date, are the most accurate time and frequency standards.

Real time

Raymundo compared the system to an expensive watch that just keeps on counting the seconds, minutes and hours.

“Kapag bibili ka sa bangketa ng wristwatch, mabilis sa umpisa kapag bago ang baterya. Habang tumatagal, bumabagal dahil mahina ang baterya,” he said.

Asked how the real and precise time could be disseminated to the public, he said the only mode for now is synchronization with the media.

At present, the AM radio stations are the “most precise” and in coordination with the PST. Television stations come in at second.

FM stations are another matter, he said. They are “the most problematic,” he said.

Nowadays, firms make do with their own GPS systems. These systems are shut off everyday, however, depending on the need of the firm.

Raymundo boasted the PST is awake 24 hours a day.

The official launch of “Juan Time” will be on September 30 at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia. Partnering with DOST in this nationwide campaign are the Metro Manila Development Authority, SM Supermalls, Nido Fortified Science Discovery Center, Team Manila, Lamoiyan Corporation, and Discovery Channel.