One of the most difficult things, as an American expat from the Midwest and now living in the Philippines, I had to adjust to, was the weather. The heat and humidity can wear you down and make you feel worse than getting bitch slapped by your asawa. I was absolutely miserable the first ten months we moved to the Philippines until we purchased an air con. At least then I was able to sleep comfortably at night. That mosquito net we slept underneath (see following photo) while living in Guimaras, didn't help.
I hated the heat and humidity of summers back in Illinois. Fall, with it's crisp cool air and vibrant colors, was my favorite season and then winter. I dreaded spring, knowing that I would soon be perspiring worse than Richard Simmons "Sweatin' to the Oldies."
So I had no illusions that facing the challenging climate of the Philippines would be easy. After more than three years in living in these tropical conditions, I have acclimatized to a degree, but still dread the extremely hot and dry months of April and May. I welcome the rainy season, which starts around June and lasts until October.
With an annual humidity averaging around 85% and high temperatures for September and October averaging 28°C, 82° F, and lows of 24-25°C, 75-77° F, I still find it necessary to run a fan during the day and the air con, six to seven hours, during the evening.
Here's ten tips for expats that should help keep you cool in the Philippines:
- Drink LOTS of fluids. Not Red Horse, Not San Miguel Pale Pilsen. Water (tubig.) Alcohol dehydrates the body. Also, avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee and colas which increase the metabolic heat in your body.
- Buy an air con (air conditioning unit.) We've had good luck with a Carrier unit that we purchased over two years ago. Runs great and comfortably cools our room. I have the temperature set at 24 °C. Not every expat needs air con, but I personally find it a necessity.
- Buy fans, along with a rechargeable one to use during brown outs, power outages. I never have the air con on during he day. I have a desk fan in the "headquarters" of PhilippinesPlus and we also have a standing fan in our sala (living room) that our nieces and nephew use in their bedroom in the evening.
- Bring a sweat towel along. This is a must when I ride the local jeepneys.
- Use an umbrella to protect yourself from the heat.
- If you exercise or have a garden, do it early in the morning. I walk for an hour every morning in our subdivision outside of Iloilo City. Anywhere from a start time of 4:00 am to 5:00 am.
- Lose some weight. Being overweight can contribute to feeing uncomfortable in this tropical climate.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes. Synthetic fibers trap your body heat. Cotton absorbs perspiration and its evaporation causes you to feel cooler.
- Hang out at a local mall which has good air con. Our SM City Mall in Iloilo is the best air-conditioned shopping center in our area.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down. We don't have a water heater. There's a reason for that. A cool refreshing shower is more welcome than any hot water shower. Plus, I'm too cheap to buy a water heat now anyway.
What tips do you have for keeping cool in the Philippines? I'd like to hear your suggestions.