Hmm, don’t you have that headline wrong, Dave? I’ve seen that saying a dozen times or more in motivational literate and it always seemed to read, “Your attitude determines your altitude”.
Well, yes, that is likely the most usual way it is used, but here in the Philippines a lot of things we ‘know’ from the Western world don’t always seem exactly the same as they were before.
One “minus” about living in the Philippines that can’t be ignored is … it is hot here. When I watch the news about blizzards in Colorado and ice storms in New England I enjoy the warmth, but here in our little low-lying town it’s hot as far as most Americans are concerned, year ‘round. So if you can’t stand the heat, it’s likely your altitude here is going to have a lot to do with your attitude.
(the map you should see here is “live”, you can use the plus and minus icons to zoom in and out, use the “Map”, “Sat” and “Ter” buttons to change format and click on any of the “mao pins” to get more information. Let me know if it works or doesn’t work for you)
There is a winter and summer in the Philippines but in general the temperature change is very small. An old friend of mine who lives nearby once told me, “Night is the Philippine winter”, and he wasn’t far from the truth. Our average temperatures vary only about 6 degrees C from May or June (high summer) to November or December (what we call the “ber” months. Daily temps between daytime highs and nighttime lows often vary 6 or more degrees as well … so you might say winter comes every night … but you won’t need an electric blanket, for sure.
Some foreigners seek relief from the heat by taking advantage of a little fact of nature … the environmental lapse rate … average temperature anywhere drops as you move higher. A typical rate (in American Fahrenheit degrees) is about 3 degrees per thousand feet of altitude.
Almost all the heavily populated places in the Philippines are very close to sea level. A few that are higher, where some folks have made their homes are worthy of note.
Baguio is the best known example of moving up to cool down. Baguio was established as a ‘summer retreat’ for the rich and famous many years ago. It’s in the mountains in north-central Luzon, about a 30 minute plane ride or a 4 or 5 hour drive from Manila. Baguio is by far the highest elevation city, averaging 5,000 feet above sea level, and thus normally 15 degrees or so cooler than Manila. Baguio has a lot of housing, shopping, schools and other amenities and is well-regarded as a great place to live … so it certainly can go on most people’s short list. Something to consider, as with any high altitude location … when wet air cools, clouds and fogs form. It’s common for Baguio to be ‘fogged in’ for long periods of time and the airport can’t be used in “instrument weather” so you can’t depend on coming and going at will. Personally I love the cool but hate clammy, foggy weather.
Tagaytay (ta “guy” “tie”) is a small city on the border between Cavite and Batangas provinces just south of Manila. It’s less than half the elevation of Baguio but also less than two hour drive from Manila. It’s growing rapidly and is also a very popular vacation destination location … well worth considering for a living location. The roads to Tagaytay are no where near as scary as the mountain roads heading to Baguio and it is much closer to the main center of population.
Cebu island in the Visayas has the second highest population in the Philippines and very popular with foreigners. However, like the other larger cities, Cebu is essentially “at” sea level and stays pretty hot. There are no other cities or larger towns on Cebu of significant elevation except for one small village, Mantalongon, Dalaguete, Cebu, (a town that is around 700 to 800 (~2100 – 2500 feet) meters and the highest town in Cebu. I want to visit Mantalongon, but it doesn’t seem suitable for a living location for many. There is little infrastructure and the only way to get there is via a several hour trip on a pretty scary dirt round (you can forget about it if it rains).
Last but not least on my list is the Kibawe area, a rich land at the center of Mindanao, located in southern Bukidnon. Atan approximate land elevation of 1100+ feet (340 m), at a little more than one fifth the elevation of Baguio the temperature effects are only going to be about one fifth as well, but this area of Mindanao is a few hours drive from large cities (Cagayan de Oro in the north and Davao to the south), both with all modern infrastructure and international airports. Highways are good, land is fertile and unlike most popular areas on Luzon or Cebu, overcrowding and traffic are not an issue.
So, there you have some ideas on altitude versus attitude … or perhaps comfort. You can come to the Philippines and control your own climate to some degree. A great many people I’ve been friends with or offered help to seem to be obsessed with the idea of going only where other foreigners have gone before … but I say, if you’re going to move halfway around the world, don’t be afraid to choose your environment to suit yourself, not others … you can live virtually anywhere in the Philippines and be happy … take your time in deciding and choose what suits you bets.
What’s your favorite place, and do you want to get high?
Older (born 1945) American living with his Filipina wife and extended family in Marilao, Bulacan, Philippines. Dave is an American expat, having lived in Marilao, Bulacan since 2006. Dave hails from Colorado, but enjoys living in the Philippines. www.philfaqs.com www.retiredpay.com