Philippines Expat: what do people mean when they say in a while?

There are many things in the Philippines that can be confusing or frustrating to an expat. In a while is one of those phrases that can often cause a bit of an issue. Although not meaning to cause offense its often caused by people not understanding what people mean when they use this phrase.
Because in the Philippines the period of time for “in a while” can literally be a few minutes to no idea of how long it will take. The key is to give a response that will define a timescale for the person or to at least cause an engagement where a realistic time is given. I have had car parts that would be ready in a while which actually meant they had no idea and literally took two weeks. At the same time getting documents processed in a while meant they were wandering over to the photocopier, copying the documents and coming back. A space of less than five minutes as you can see it’s a very broad term and you need to prise out a realistic timescale from the person involved to avoid disappointment.

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