Is there such thing as “summer” in the Philippines?

Oookay. So here we are again this time of the year when Pinoys dripping in sweat are eager to know one thing: “‘Di pa ba summer? Ang init na kaya!” And honestly, if I were to answer that question, I would simply say no. Never.

As a tropical country, the Philippines has only two seasons: the wet and the dry season. Wet season usually occurs from June to October whereas dry season happens from November till May. These seasons are defined based on the direction of the winds that prevail over the country, which means winds during wet season generally come from the west or southwest while winds during dry season come from the east or northeast. On the other hand, countries in higher latitudes such as Japan or Korea do have four seasons including summer, which does not begin until June.

So now, if we attempt to answer the question if it’s “summer” yet, we might just end up asking ourselves if the question makes sense in the first place.

If you are reading this in March or April, it’s safe to say we are currently in the middle of a dry season, but then we end up with another smarty-pants question: “‘Di ba dry season na? E bakit umuulan?”

Typically, from November to May, our country receives rains from tropical cyclones, low pressure areas or LPAs, ITCZ, and localized thunderstorms. This means the dry season is not as dry as you think. In fact, the Philippines has all the reasons to receive rain any day because one, we are near the equator, and two, we are surrounded by warm waters. Dry season in the country only means we receive less rainfall relative to wet season.

So why do Filipinos believe there is “summer” in the first place? If we look back at the definition of dry season, it is the time of the year when winds either come from the east or the northeast. The winds coming from northeast are actually associated with the northeast monsoon or “amihan” from mainland China, whereas winds coming from east are associated with easterlies from the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, in a dry season, there are two more distinctive sub-seasons: the period of cold surges commonly known as “amihan“, and the period of summer-like hot and humid easterlies we call summer. In the Philippines, the latter is declared as early as March and usually ends by late May or early June.

Thus, there is such a thing as “summer” in the Philippines; only one that is different from the summer season in the middle latitudes. As much as we can stop Filipinos from using the term “summer” instead of dry season, we cannot prevent them from speaking of summer classes, summer vacations, and #summerfeels either. The summer that we have is more a cultural term than a scientific one.


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