Sunday, January 16, 2011


When I hear about the snow and cold weather in the U.S.and Europe that is typical for this time of the year, I'm especially glad to be living in the Philippines with its mostly tropical climate. I was raised in Indiana and well recall those frigid Midwestern winters where in my area, the central part of the state, temperatures would drop as low as to -10°F  (-23°C).

I spent most of my adult life in Southern California, and for those who have never been there, despite the hype about the "balmy" year-round weather, winters can be very chilly there too.  Night time temperatures in Los Angeles sometimes dip in to the 30°'sF (about 2° to 4°C) and colder further inland. Some days the temperature doesn't climb out of the low 50°'sF (10° to 12°C), Add to that a raw wind plus a cold rain and you might as well be back in the Midwest.

Yet here in Metro-Manila, when the early morning winter temperature drops into the mid-60°'sF (18°C), the media often plays up how "cold" this feels. Yet that's not totally exaggerated. What makes it feel that way is the amihan, the Siberian wind that blows from in Northeast Asia and which does have an edge to it.

Some parts of the Philippines really do get chilly in the winter. Temperatures in the mountain  resort city of Baguio go as low as the upper 40°'s (around 9.6°).  Other areas  in higher elevated regions such as the province of Benguet  get colder and even experience frost on occasion.  (Imagine using the term "frost" and Philippines in the same sentence!).  In fact, a few days ago, according to a news report in the "Philippine Star", the temperature at Mt. Pulag in that province dropped to the 2°—3°C range!  This is a popular peak with mountain climbers,  but authorities warned trekkers away due to the risk of hypothermia (another unusual word to use in connection with the Philippines) due to these extreme conditions.

Over the past several months The country has had fewer typhoons than usual for this storm season. There has also been less rain in Metro-Manila during the past couple weeks as well compared to previous years at this time.  Such is not the case in other regions of the country where heavy rains, flooding, and landslides have prevailed. According to the "Star" this has resulted in many casualties and heavy crop damage.

Alas,the current comparatively cool days and nights that we're now experiencing in this part of Luzon will soon be just a memory. In a few months "summer" will arrive.  In the Philippines, the period of March through May is the hottest time of the year.  Temperatures in Metro-Manila during those months occasionally reach  100°F (38°C) accompanied by high relative humidity but very little rain.  Last year that season was particularly intense, so naturally consumers cranked up the usage of their fans and air conditioners.  As a result Meralco, the local power company, was not able to keep up with the high electricity demand, so there were numerous and lengthy brownouts. Meralco warns that there may be more of the same this year if there is a repeat performance of 2010's sizzling summer.  On the other hand, this summer strangely enough may be a wet one due to La NiƱa.

So for now, let's enjoy this mild phase that we're experiencing and pity those in the northern climes of the world who are undergoing the impact of winter in the true sense of the word and in a way that  those in the Philippines who have never "been there and done that" can hardly begin to imagine.