There are only two seasons in the Philippines: dry and wet. While many foreigners love our warm, sunny weather, summers here can get pretty intense. This year alone, the local heat index hit a record 51 degrees Celsius.
Ouch. You can bet that local energy companies make a killing from everyone cranking up their AC’s this time of year.
As the month of May draws to a close, so too does the summer of 2016. This is when the wet season kicks in. For the next two or three months, heavy rains, typhoons, hurricanes, and perhaps even Poseidon himself will drench the country from Aparri to Jolo.
It won’t be as hot (and we can save on electricity bills by opening the windows rather than turning on the air conditioner, yay!), but the rainy season also brings with it a whole new set of daily obstacles and risks. To survive (or if you have relatives back home whom you are worried about), you may want to note the following tips:
1. Never leave the house without a jacket and a raincoat, or at least an umbrella.
The Philippines during the rainy season is like a woman going through PMS: the weather can shift in an instant. Sure, it’s hot now, but the skies can darken and start raining down on you before you can even deploy your trusty umbrella.
Fail to have an umbrella on hand, and at the very least, you risk damaging those new trainers that your aunt sent you from Australia.(Now might not be the best time to wear any new shoes, come to think of it.) At the most, you could get very sick. Getting drenched and being exposed to a cold breeze will bring on a nasty bout of flu in no time. You would not want to miss a crucial day at school or at work, so gear up.
A jacket is great for keeping the cold winds at bay, while a raincoat protects your skin and clothes from the downpour. If these are too bulky for you to carry around, leave them at your office or school locker or invest in a good umbrella. Something compact, foldable, and durable will do. Many of the models being sold now employ UV protection fabric, so you can use them even when it’s bright and sunny.
Pro-tip: If you still get sopping wet despite these precautions, take a shower in lukewarm water once you get home. It may sound counterintuitive, but this will help your body’s temperature shift back to normal in a less drastic way, thus staving off any disease from developing.
2. Keep popping those chewable Vitamin C’s.
They’re not exactly a cure for the common cold, but they do help your body recover from it faster. If you aren’t sick, regular doses of vitamin C can make sure you stay that way.
And if you aren’t keen on those vitamin C capsules or chewables, you can get your nutritional fix the old-fashioned way. Eat an apple or suck on some orange wedges. Calamansi juice works too, and mixed with a bit of honey and ice, it’s a delicious and refreshing means to better health.
3. Drink lots of water.
Chugging down some H2O might be the last thing on your mind when you’re being inundated by truckloads of it, but your immune system needs to stay hydrated if it is to withstand viruses that bring on colds and flu. Water also helps flush out any toxins or germs from your body, so keep sipping.
4. Load up on groceries and basic medical supplies.
You never know when the rains will let up, and if the roads surrounding your house may be flooded. If the latter happens, you could very well be grounded for days, so it’s important to keep your pantry stocked with the basics. Instant noodles and canned goods have a long shelf life and require little effort to prepare. They also won’t go bad even if your refrigerator is on the fritz due to power interruptions.
Don’t forget to replenish your first-aid kit too. It might be difficult to get to a hospital or a clinic during a storm, so make sure you have enough bandages and iodine solution in case someone gets injured. Medicine kit staples like paracetamol or ibuprofen painkillers/fever reducers should also be on hand.
5. Pay close attention to the weather forecasts.
Before you head out to school or work for the day, tune in to a reliable news channel and check the day’s weather forecast. If it’s been raining nonstop the night before, there’s a good chance that the local authorities will suspend classes. If you’re part of the working class (i.e., waterproof immortals), check with your boss if you can stay home when the day’s weather forecast looks especially dire.
6. Take note of emergency hotline numbers.
The local fire department, police station, and emergency room at the nearest hospital should all be on your speed dial. You should also keep a written record of their contact details in case your phone’s battery life expires and you’re unable to charge it because there’s no electricity.
7. Set aside or send money for inevitable repairs.
The rainy season can wreak just as much damage on inanimate objects as on human beings. Torrential rain can leak through roofs and ceilings and in the worst case scenario, floods can enter the house and destroy wooden floorboards. Cars are also in for a world of trouble if they get stranded in waist-deep floods.
In all the aforementioned situations, immediate repairs are a must to ensure the comfort and safety of the family (and to protect a hard-won investment). Rather than waiting until they happen, set aside money for repairs even before the rainy season arrives.
If you work in Australia and are supporting your family back home, you may want to send them the funds once the first rains arrive and not a moment too late. If you wait for a typhoon to arrive before you send the money, the processing time combined with the possibility of the remittance centers or the banks going offline because of the weather would make it difficult for your family to retrieve it.
Another reason why you should send the money before the rainy season is well underway is so that your family can also stock up on the supplies mentioned earlier. Prior to such, you should also discuss the budget required to cover emergency expenses and plan accordingly. Make it clear too, that the money you send should not be touched for any purpose, save for a rainy day.