March was not able to hand over his column this week because of the death of his beloved mother, Prospera Lamsis Fianza, last May 13 at the age of 89. We recycled his column four years ago as he reflected on the hot summer nights of that year.
Summer, according to government weathermen, is officially here as they recently declared the end of Northeast monsoons, although we will still experience isolated rain showers and thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings when warm air rises and forms rain clouds.
PAGASA experts said we will expect hotter days but with occasional rains, summer this year will not be as hot as the summers of 2015 and 2016. By the way, the hottest summer ever recorded in the Philippines was 42.2°C in Tuguegarao on May 11, 1969.
Baguio folks could not have felt the heat they had in Tuguegarao in 1969 as we were then enjoying the coolness of a city among the Pines.
By the way, “Summertime” as the title of this piece, is the Negro-spiritual composed and written by George Gershwin. The song attempts to depict through lyrics and a freestyle melody of minor chords the life of a child raised in the cotton fields. With a rich white dad who falls in love with his good-looking mama, the boy expects freedom soon from a hot summer and a hard farm life.
We do not have the winter, spring, summer or fall that James Taylor talks about in his “You’ve got a friend” smash hit but we have in the Philippines the dry season and the wet season. Our seasons depend on the amount of rainfall and location in the country as some areas experience rain all throughout the year.
Weather temperatures are high during March and April, so it is better to follow the vacation schedule of 14th cousin Conrad Marzan who comes home during the cooler months of December to February. Wet season comes in May to October and sometimes up to November.
But we still experience sunny days in between the rains. Soon, the mountain scenery becomes green as we find fewer tourists who prefer to travel to the dryer provinces of Bohol, Cebu and the Abu Sayyaf-infested provinces of Mindanao. Although, weather in the county can be unpredictable as a typhoon may form even in Mindanao.
Based on PAGSASA reports, the warm months of the year are March through October, then winter monsoon brings cooler air from November to February. May is the warmest month while January and the first half of February are cool months. However, PAGASA reports were countered by Baguio folks who experienced chilly evenings and cold early mornings last March.
The Philippines is one most popular country and very accessible during the dry season, especially between November – when the bamboo grass on Mount Pulag is green, and April – when the original Asin Hot Springs managed by Indigenous People Mandatory Representative (IPMR) Roger Sinot becomes the “summer capital” of the Summer Capital.
Concerts, gay beauty contests, religious parades and even street protests occur in the months of January and February. This is followed by the Baguio Flower festival, the city’s biggest annual event that features street foods, unsold souvenir items of long ago and Marikina-made tsinelas.
“Arya! Abra” takes place in the first or second week of March, also the Fire-prevention month. The event in Bangued, Abra features the once-in-a-blue moon participation of the province’s mountain tribes, and bamboo-raft races along the chemically-infested Abra River. The river connects with a tributary that comes from Lepanto, a mining company in Mankayan.
The lowlands are extremely hot in April through July but these months open the opportunity for travel to the beaches and coastal areas. The rains come to the mountain provinces in these months, entering from the south so that tourists prefer to stay in drier provinces.
But please do not forget to drop by the Lang-ay festival for Mountain Province’s foundation anniversary every first week of April, before you travel to Banawe through the scenic Mt.Polis highway.
Tourists avoid the typhoon months of August to October, until November when the official dry season opens, even when there are still typhoons. By this time, the grasses on Mount Pulag, Mount Yangbo in La Trinidad, Mount Sto. Tomas in Tuba are green and ready to be trampled on again.
Then the cooler month of December enters to mark the start of the hiking season, mountain climbing, white water rafting along the Chico River in Kalinga, camping, and surfing in San Juan, La Union, until summer.
But technically speaking, we do not have a “summer” in the Philippines. Summer is one of four seasons experienced by James Taylor and the temperate regions of Europe, United States of America, Canada, Northern Asia and Australia.
What we have are the wet and dry seasons, the latter of which starts when the Northeast monsoon winds or “hanging amihan” are replaced by the warmer Easterly winds sometime in the middle of March. Whatever, we have been used to knowing the dry season as “summer” which is here to stay.