Being absent from the Philippines these last few years, I had forgotten how early Filipinos start their day. It was not until I heard the thunderous roar of a jeepney’s engine at five in the morning that I realized it. While I lay in bed, struggling to overcome my jetlag, it seemed that everyone else was either preparing for work or already on their way.
Particularly in Manila where the traffic slows to a grinding halt by 06:30, being early to rise is not only common practice, it is a non-negotiable necessity if you want to get anywhere, anytime soon. No one is spared, not even the children who are out of the house by 06:00 and singing our National Anthem in the classrooms by 07:00. Still, among the country folk living in the provinces across the archipelago, the day begins even earlier.
Geographic location has much to do with this peculiar way of life. As a tropical nation, the Philippines enjoys a healthy amount of sunlight all year round. Like much of the Southeast Asian region, it’s climate is ideal for the planting of rice- a staple of the Filipino diet. As a laborous endeavor, rice cultivation requires long hours in the paddies and constant exposure to the torturous sun. Farmers must therefore rise before dawn in order to work more efficiently in the fields. Since the time of sunrise never varries in this part of the world, it is indeed this agricultural tradition that made way for an early start to the day.
Be that as it may and let this serve as a warning, it must be said that despite an early bird mentality, Filipinos are still never on time. However, do not make the mistake to think that they are the least bit lazy. ✌
Tagaytay Batangas, The Philippines