For most of my life, I didn’t consider myself one of those people who chose where to live primarily based on the weather. I grew up in New Jersey, where we had 4 seasons, hot summers, and snow in the winter. After college I moved to San Francisco, but not because of the weather. I was volunteering for a cause I was (and still am) passionate about, The Hunger Project (http://www.thp.org), and I couldn’t have cared less about the weather.
But then I discovered weather extremes. I remember a trip to New Orleans maybe 14 years ago, the last weekend in August. Wrong time to go there. It was unbearably hot and muggy. I remember I’d walk maybe 5 meters and then look for an indoor, hopefully air conditioned environment to take shelter in before trying to walk further. Of course, 4 hours east in Destin, FL, it was quite comfortably hot.
Well, here in the Philippines the weather is often extreme, as in extremely hot. There are really only 3 seasons in most parts of the Philippines. November through February is the “dry, cool” season. It’s not cool in most places, but it’s not unbearably hot too many days. December and January are marvelous, very comfortable even in Manila and Batangas (however, airfares to and from the Philippines are 150-300% higher in the last 3 weeks of December). June through October is the rainy season, when it is either hot or unbearably hot, and it sometimes rains, sometimes storms. March through May is summer. It is unbearably hot. But it’s usually not exactly March 1 through May 31. This year summer came late – starting in very late March.
Of course, the weather is radically different in my home city, Tagaytay, which is over 600 meters above sea level. The weather here is much closer to San Francisco than Manila. For example, today, in the middle of summer, it’s quite hot here in Tagaytay. According to AccuWeatherGlobal (http://www.accuweather.com), the high temperature today is 27 degrees celsius (80.2 F), while in Manila it’s 34 C (93.2). However, the “real feel” is 39C (102.2F) in Tagaytay, and 43C (109.4) in Manila.
It’s been difficult to find weather data on Tagaytay. Many sites do not include the city (for example, the Philippine government weather agency, PAGASA). Other sites give temperature readings for Tagaytay, but the readings were taken at the Manila airport! Yes it’s only 55 km away, but the weather is not even close. It is hot here today. I was out at the hottest part of the day walking, I was going to walk to the downtown area (Olivarez Plaza), about a 25 minute walk each way. I turned around and gave up after 5 minutes, it was just too hot. So maybe it does feel like 102F.
I was afraid of being here during the summer. Twice before I was visiting Tagaytay in late May and it was quite hot. But so far the summer has been quite mild. I’d say in April and May so far there have been maybe 10 days when it was at times uncomfortably hot. Usually fans are enough to make it bearable indoors, and there is usually a breeze outdoors, even on the hottest days here. Manila or Batangas is another story. I’m very glad I’m living here and not elsewhere in the Philippines. There is one other city that I’ve heard is even colder, Baguio. However, Baguio is a 5 hour drive north from Manila, and the airport in Baguio is now closed.
Of course this is all very subjective, your mileage may vary. But if you are comfortable most of the year in San Francisco, you’ll be fine in Tagaytay. If you like it slightly hotter than San Francisco, then this is the perfect place for you. It rarely gets down to 50F here. A few months ago the headline in the newspaper was that Baguio had record low temperatures, a record low for the entire country. What was the temperature in Baguio? 9C (48.2F). Here in Tagaytay there are storms, with high winds and hard rain at times, as well as fog. But we have quite a few partly cloudy or sunny days with a cool breeze that are perfect for a jump in the pool.
Speaking of the pool, I can hear the sounds of childrens’ laughter from there right now. Dindin’s family is here enjoying the pool and the house. My broken rib is healing but the doctor told me not to go in the pool – cold water seems to make the pain much worse. I’m sitting upstairs with my shirt off and a fan on, and it’s quite comfortable, on one of our hotter days here.
So if you are thinking of visiting Tagaytay, any time of year is fine. Airfares are higher in most of December because so many Filipinos come home for Christmas, which is a great time of year, weather-wise. If you come in April or May, and perhaps in March, the weather elsewhere in the Philippines may be unbearably hot for you, but in Tagaytay you should be OK. If you are visiting Manila you’ll probably be staying in an air-conditioned hotel and travelling in air-conditioned taxis, so the heat may not be such a problem. Elsewhere the availability of air conditioning, and taxis, may be spotty or non-existent. I’ll cover transportation in another post.