Juan's Upon a Time

It’s currently 10:19pm in South Australia... Within an hour, the chicken catchers will come and get 24,000 birds out of the sheds. I have started preparing the sheds five hours earlier, and 15 minutes before the catching starts, I will perform my final ritual inside the sheds.

Harvest time in a broiler farm isn’t really fun. Since birds are naturally sedated by darkness, catching is done at night until dawn. It’s the first catch for this batch... which means after 33 days of vacation (chicken’s growing stage), the challenges of our one month-long night shift begins!

...but before I’ll start my final ritual in preparation for the scheduled chicken harvest tonight, I still have to write something for The Pacific Breeze. Here it is:

The observance of the 2010 Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the Australian states of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as in New Zealand will begin on the third day of October. On that day, at exactly 2:00am, all the clocks in these areas will be adjusted one hour forward... so for a Filipino expatriate who lives in Adelaide and in the nearby towns, like me, by then our time will be two and a half hours ahead of the time in the Manila.

Unlike the computers and mobile phones that automatically adjust to the DST, adapting to this kind of practice is not easy for me (and I believe for other people, as well) especially during the first few days. I am very much concern of my eating and sleeping patterns that, surely, will again be disturbed. And as the Filipino farmers Down Under adjust their working hours in accordance with the seasonal time change, the productivity of their dairy and beef cattle, meat- and egg-type chickens, hogs and other animals are also directly affected. Understandably, meat, milk and egg production will be disrupted.

Daylight Saving Time has been proven to reduce the use of incandescent lighting in the afternoon or early evening, therefore reducing carbon emission... but to Juan—my Filipino friend here in South Australia, DST means lesser time for internet chatting to his wife and kids in the Philippines.

Juan finishes his repair and maintenance work in a hay-baling company at around 5pm here in Australia. By this time however, it’s still 2:30pm in Pampanga so his wife is still at work, and the kids are still in school. Juan would usually finish his evening tea at around seven-thirty in the evening—it’s the best time for him to go and chat online but it’s still 5pm back home, wifey is busy doing marketing or preparing for supper while the kids are so tired from school or still having their refreshments. At around eight-thirty in the Philippines, after dinner, the kids would want their Nanay and Tatay Juan (online, in Australia) to help them with their school assignments. Unfortunately, it’s already eleven in South Australia—it’s bedtime for the exhausted Tatay Juan.

Lucky are the OFW’s whose current location has the same time zone with the Philippines! Here in South Australia, it is difficult for us to programme and harmonize our phone calls, text messages and online chats with our loved ones back home, but how much more to our Kababayans in the Middle East, America, Europe and the United Kingdom?

► Read RJ's previous articles here.

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