CULTURE

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As in most Southeast Asian cultures, Filipinos tell time based on the sun's position in the sky. The word araw refers to the sun, and gabi refers to night time.

Madaling araw literally means "the sun hurrying to show up (in the sky)". Hence, the time between 1:00 and 5:00 o' clock in the morning is
madaling araw or dawn.

Umaga is the period between 6:00 in the morning and just before 12:00 noon when the sun is already up in the sky.

Tanghali is 12:00 noon or midday. Hapon is from 1:00 to 5:00 o' clock in the afternoon, and past 6:00 o' clock is gabi or evening.

It used to be that Filipinos observe the orasyon when church bells ring at exactly 6:00 in the evening to mark the end of the daytime with prayers and meditation. In the rural areas, farmers end their day's work in the field as soon as the sun sets, and they return home for dinner.

Clock Time

Tagalog
(Spanish root)
English
1:00-5:00 AM

ala 1:00-5:00 ng
madaling araw


1:00-5:00
early morning
6:00-11:00 AM

ala 6:00-11:00
ng umaga

6:00-11:00
morning
12:00   Noon

alas 12:00
ng tanghali

12:00
noon
1:00-5:00 PM

ala 1:00-5:00
ng hapon

1:00-5:00
afternoon
6:00-11:00 PM

ala 6:00-11:00
gabi

6:00-11:00
evening
12:00 Midnight

alas 12:00
hating gabi
12:00
midnight

It is interesting to note that Tagalog-speaking Filipinos are fond of using vague words and phrases with reference to time. For example, mamaya na means "later" and bukas na means " tomorrow" (both of which connote procrastination). It is quite common to hear responses from Tagalog-speakers
in the Philippines such as mamayang hapon, mamayang gabi, bukas ng umaga, bukas ng hapon, bukas ng gabi, or simply mamaya to time questions without really knowing the exact time.

Filipinos in the Philippines are generally laid-back when it comes to keeping time.  Expect Filipinos to be late by at least an hour when it comes to appointments, parties, and even weddings.  The usual excuse are: "na-traffic ako eh", "na-late ako magising", "hindi umandar ang alarm clock ko eh", and similar alibis.  Even the Philippine flag carrier's acronym PAL (for Philippine airlines) has become a butt of jokes to mean Palaging Late!  

Some Tagalog words and expressions that relate to time:

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