Philippines Weather

It’s the Sunshine, Stupid

When you first think of coming to this country, it is natural to take a little interest in the Philippines weather you are likely to encounter. Frequent and highly alarming news reports of monsoons, typhoons, rainy seasons, floods, storms, tropical depressions and sodden landslides are bound to make anyone wonder if this country is really the Paradise you are looking for.
So you diligently get out a map or two and consult a few websites trying to find out when and where exactly the rain falls and the wind blows and, guess what? You learn nothing.
If you consult some of the detailed maps that boldly use primary colours – brilliant blues and reds and yellows – to highlight regions of rainfall, storm, sunshine etc at various times of the year, they generally look like colourings done by blind children, utterly incomprehensible to all but, perhaps, an experienced meteorologist. Surely it would be easier to portray the for formula for sending a shuttle to Mars.
Even if you do grasp the essentials, you have to ask: Are they reliable? Perhaps they were valid yesterday but what about tomorrow. Climates are changing so quickly.
So after a few hours, you are likely to have a massive headache and be none the wiser.
Don’t blame yourself. Even old hands find it nigh on impossible to chart the country’s weather in any viable detail. The reality is that the Philippines weather is a myriad of micro climates, each of them with many nuances, making it impossible to fit them all into a neat box or chart.
But all this matters nought. There is only one thing you actually need to know about the Philippines climate: the sun shines a lot. That is: it shines most of the time, brilliantly, intoxicatingly, inspiringly.
Given its equatorial position, the Philippines gets a comfortable average of 12 hours of daylight year round. There are slight variations: in the summer (February March April May) the sun is up at 5.30 and hangs around until gone 6.30. In the winter (September October November December), those figures reverse: the sun might not come up until near 6.30 and is gone not long after 5.30.
Better still, the sun is shining full strength for more than half of these daylight hours, over 2100 hours per year) compared with, for instance, only a third of the time in London, England (less than 1500 hours).
Whereas even 1500 hours of sunshine annually flatters England unfairly, cropping up because the country manages to scramble a massive 6 hours of sunshine a day during the 3 peak summer months – versus as little as 1 hour during the winter!!!! – but that 6 hours is virtually the average in the Philippines, only brought down by less sun, a mere 4 hours a day, in “winter”.
Yes, it is pleasant to get 16 hours of daylight in England at the peak of the summer but you pay for it with a measly 8 hours in December and January.
Worse still, the other 2500 hours of “daylight” in England are likely to be downright grim, giving you mind to crouch by the fireplace, whereas even when the Philippines is not totally cloudless, it is likely to feel like a sunny day, ideal for a day by the seaside.
But juggling so many numbers brings to mind a famous quote: “Lies, damned lies, and statistics” . Who needs recourse to such figures when the evidence is right before your eyes – and suggests that these glorified statistics hugely underestimate the reality. That is: the sun shines a lot. Seemingly far closer to 12 hours a day than 6 as the scientists would have us believe.

But what about all the big storms in the Philippines? you ask.

Well, it is a fact that the country gets some 24 typhoons a year, fully 18 of them during the second half, from June to December, but most of them focus on areas far removed from the average expat’s map. Indeed, many of the most popular parts of the Philippines – such as Dumaguete – are virtually typhoon free – much like California and Florida rarely see snow.
 At most you might find yourself worrying about 2 typhoons a year and even so, unless you are very unlucky and take a direct hit, you are unlikely to be aware of them as much more than a few days of passing rain.
Ah, yes, the rain!
This is definitely more of an issue than typhoons but even so it usually far less of a concern than any first timer might imagine. Yes, the rains can be impressively heavy, even entertainingly so, but such downpours are unlikely to last more than a few hours and even the few that go on for days are intermittent and characterised by long spells of sunshine.
There is that wonderful word again – sunshine! Contrary to worries about storms and rain, this is the veritable constant in Filipino life, an experience of rising early every day to find that great golden orb knocking on your door so you are plying your trade throughout the day under a brilliant light, usually with barely a cloud in view, let alone any rain.
Can imagine how much that forges the smile on your face compared to most expat;s countries where you are lucky to get less than a handful of perfect days each year, and often go months without even a passable few.
Indeed, the danger here is not the storms but boredom with the invariable soothing climate. Hardly any expat can stay very long without lamenting how he misses the seasons back home, the rapid changes from long days to short days, from hot summers to depressing winters. That is understandable. There is a great deal to be said in favour of change in life but too often this lament is spurious, a leftover from childhood conditioning, a dream of a time when changing seasons seemed magical rather than simply one of life’s challenges.
Still, nothing wrong with indulging such silly fantasies as you bask in the sun by the beach enjoying the wonderful Philippines weather.

Philippines Weather, the best times to travel-