Here in the Philippines, the climate is tropical. What does that mean?
Well, a few of things. First, the tropics is the area located between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer… Everything in the middle. Because of the location of the Philippines (Between 4° 40′ N and 21° 10′ N), the country is wholly, 100% tropical.
Next, the location means that the length of your day is relatively consistent throughout the year: Roughly 12 hours in most of the country. Therefore, there is no “daylight savings” or “summer” time here… There is no point to adjusting the clock. It gets dark at about the same time in December (In the far North, a little earlier) as it does in July.
Finally, there are generally no seasons as they are known in the States or Europe. Seasons in the Philippines are better characterized as either Wet or Dry. Though the entire country has a wet season and a dry season, the meaning varies greatly from North to South. The weather is not uniform throughout the country, though temperatures are normally close at any given time. Draw an imaginary line from Bataan stretching down Leyte (or, look at the map). South of the line, rainfall is generally consistent throughout the year. North of the line is dictated by the East Asian Monsoon.
Monsoon means a reversal of the prevailing winds, and generally a reversal of the weather. The North / South line on the map is the rough boundary of the monsoon. The East Asian Monsoon stretches from the Philippines North through Taiwan, South China (including Hong Kong), and eventually Southern Japan and Korea. The weather “shifts” during the summer months in the North. A look at the boundary of the monsoon also roughly shows the track of most of the typhoons that strike the Philippines, and typhoon season coincides with monsoon season.
So, what is monsoon season like? Well, starting in May, it starts to rain every day. Monsoon rains are heavy, often with significant lightning and thunder. 10 cm (about 4″) of rainfall in an hour is by no means unusual. The rains are generally strong, very brief (normally no more than an hour or two), and look menacing. For example, as I’m typing this, about 15 minutes ago, I had to put on the lights in my office at 16:00… it was nearly as dark out as at 21:00. This is also the season of frequent brownouts due to the heavy storms. In Manila, the brownouts are short in duration: an hour or two at most. In Abulug, brownouts can last for weeks. The rains normally start in the late afternoon, and often can cause flooding due to the heavy amounts of rainfall. This occurrence is each and every day from May through the beginning of September, with the rains decreasing in frequency gradually until the dry season starts in November.
In the far North, just about every typhoon in the region hits landfall. On average, 13 per year. A typhoon is exactly like a hurricane (Just a digfferent name): High winds, storm surge, the whole deal. If you intend to live in Manila, you always need to keep fresh batteries, drinking water, first aid kit, and flashlights on hand. No excuses, because there isd at least one typhoon per year that impacts Manila. Tyuphoons normally track along the monsoonal boundaries, hitting the Philippines first before continuing North into Taiwan and China.
Dry season in the North is exactly opposite, as you might expect: Little to no rain from the end of November through the beginning of May. We also learned the hard way about getting work done on the house during the dry season: You may find an unpleasant surprise once the serious rains come. Think about how houses are built here and the reason why becomes clear: Metal roofs, plywood base, not much sealant. Unfortunately, monsoon rains tend to blow, sometimes horizontally, so finding leaks can be a real challenge, especially if work was done months earlier!