MANILA -- Tani Omar, a 42-year-old widow, ate rice and fish before dawn on Monday, her only meal for the day, as she hoped for donations from her fellow Muslims, who marked the start of Ramadan, Islam's holy month of fasting and sharing of blessings.
Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn to dusk during Ramadan. They only break the fast with an early meal known as suhur and an evening meal called iftar.
They also engage in reflection, prayers, and improving their relationships with others.
Omar, an unemployed mother of 5, said her neighbors received several kilos of rice from a wealthier Muslim on the eve of Ramadan. Around 5 a.m., she and other widows prayed for forgiveness and a better life at the Blue Mosque in Taguig.
"Kung may kasalanan kami, [pinagdadasal namin] na mapatawad Niya kami saka kahirapan namin, makawala kami sa hirap," she told ABS-CBN News.
(If we have sins, we pray that He may forgive us and let us escape from poverty.)
"Itong Ramadan, may ibinibigay na grasya. Wala kaming masandalan, karamihan sa amin mga walang asawa, walang trabaho," she said.
(This Ramadan, blessings are given. We have no one to lean on, most of us have no husbands, no jobs.)
Dismalah Dumalondong, a 72-year-old widow, added "Kahit na wala kaming makain, minsan walang-wala... nagdadasal kami kay Allah."
"Kahit anong mangyari dumadaan kay Allah," she said.
(Even when we have nothing to eat, sometimes we really have nothing, we pray to Allah. Whatever happens goes through Allah.)
Muslims make up around 6 percent of the Philippines 100 million people, where 8 in 10 are Catholic, according to official data.
Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed at around the time of Ramadan. It ends with the Eid al-Fitr festival.
After the last of 5 prayers this evening, Muslims will feast on Iftar or an evening meal that ends the daily fast.
The Koran exempts the ill, elderly and others who cannot give up food and water.
With reports from Anjo Bagaoisan and Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News