Today is winter solstice. That means here in the northern hemisphere, this day has the shortest daylight hours, and tonight will be the longest night. Where I live right now here in Iowa, it will be almost 15 hours of darkness tonight. Though in Barrow, the northernmost town in Alaska, they don’t see the sun for 67 days in the winter. I’m sure the next sunrise will be much-anticipated after such a very long night.
I like to see the sunrise. Many people do. Somehow for me, there’s something magical to this daily event. There’s something more than just a spectacle.
Few summers ago when we went to Grand Canyon in Arizona, we were told not to miss the chance to see the sunrise there, as it has a peculiar appeal. That entails we have to wake up before four in the morning (sunrise during summer time is just a little past 5), drive to the advised “best” viewing area, which was almost an hour away from where we were staying, just to capture the grandeur of the sunrise.
Was it worth it? Definitely!
When I was young, my father encouraged me to take running for my exercise and as a form of sports. If you know Manila, with its heat and smog, the only tolerable time to run is early in the morning. That is just before the sunrise.
So my dad and I would weave our way in the dark streets of Sampaloc, running in the morning, while the rest of the neighborhood were still snoring. It was not a long run, perhaps 2 kilometers or so. Though the roosters were already crowing, and some dogs may already be up and would bark as we pass through.
My father told me that during this time of the day, the only people we would encounter in the streets were good and hard-working people, who were trying to get a head start of the day. Sure enough, we would see newspaper boys delivering their stocks, vendors preparing their goods, and other folks scuttling their way to work even before the sun rises.
Back when I was in highschool, my family ventured into the business of bangus (milkfish) farming. We leased a small area in Laguna de Bay, where we have erected a fish pen to raise the bangus. Though that business of ours only lasted less than 2 years as we barely broke even, just enough to pay what we borrowed.
During one occasion, I accompanied my father to buy the bangus fingerlings from a fish nursery somewhere in Pasig or Pateros, I don’t really remember. I was 13 or 14 years old at that time. These fingerlings were what we would place and grow in our fish pen.
We left our home in Sampaloc, Manila around 3 o’clock in the morning to commute, so we could be at the fish nursery way before the sunrise. After purchasing the bangus fingerlings, which were smaller than my pinkie, we then travelled with our hundreds of fingerlings aboard a large banca (pump boat), via the Pasig River into Laguna de Bay.
As we approached to enter Laguna de Bay in our rented banca, the sun was just peeping in the horizon. It was one of the most glorious sunrises I could remember. And it’s not that we were even vacationing or sitting idly on the beach. In fact, my father and I were working.
I know there are more hard-working people, like the taho vendor who have to get his supply around 4 or 5 in the morning so he could sell them that day. Or the baker who needs to get up in the wee hours of the morning to prepare and bake the bread, including our favorite pan de sal. Or the flower vendors of Quiapo who have to get their merchandise from Dangwa, way before the crack of dawn. Or the palengke vendors of Divisoria and Baclaran, and other markets for that matter, having to haul their merchandise very early in the morning. Or the jeepney drivers already plying the streets of Metro Manila before daylight. These people are continually chasing sunrise.
And it’s not just in the Philippines, but all over the world, there are men, women, and even young kids, who are already up and working before the first ray of sunlight appears in the sky. To them greeting the sunrise is more than just a spectacle. It is their means to survive.
To all sunrise chasers out there, I salute you. May all your labors bring you what you’re pursuing in this life. And may you all have a very good day!
(*written after reading an entry of a fellow Filipino blogger)