MANILA -- While communities are asleep, the fishing industry is in full swing.
In the shores of Noveleta in Cavite, 47-year-old Emboy Samartino leads a group of fishermen who continue to practice beach seining or 'pagpupukot,' a fishing method performed in large groups to yield basins of anchovies and sardines.
"Ang tatay ko ay siya talaga namumukot pero kadalasan kami'y sumasama malimit," Samartino said.
The practice is usually done at night since the dark gives fishermen the right condition to check the abundance of fish below the water.
Their fresh catch, in turn, is sent to the nearby Rosario Fish Port where port workers like Joseph Estrada, 38, are steadfast in bridging the fish goods to awaiting buyers.
As Samartino ends his work, Estrada's job is only about to begin.
"Pag oras na ho ng bentahan dire-diretso na ho ‘yun eh hanggang umaga... Mga 12 a.m. ‘yan, umpisa na ho ‘yan ng bilihan hanggang 6 a.m. na ‘yun dire-diretso na yun hanggang sa maubos na ‘yung mga binebentang isda," Estrada said.
He has spent the last 11 years receiving deliveries and overseeing sales. His income is also dependent on the fishermen's catch.
When customers start to flood the market, workers move swiftly to avoid delays but one cannot afford to be reckless, a lesson that Estrada has learned this the hard way.
"Nabagsakan po kamay ko, ‘yung nguso ng tanigue. Di ko napansin na ‘yung nguso pala niya nakatapat sa kamay ko. Pagbaba kong ganun, malakas ang pagkakababa, tumama sa kamay ko, ano eh, biyak to eh. Biyak na biyak," he said.
As basins of fish start to empty out one by one before sunrise, Caviteños in their homes are only just starting their day with a fresh abundance of seafood awaiting to nourish them for the day.