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Climate and Attire in the Philippines
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All major shopping malls and theaters, and most good restaurants, are air-conditioned. Hotels over $15 per day are, too. Most Filipinos do not have air-conditioning in their homes, using fans instead. Foreigners tend to have one or more rooms air-conditioned. Electricity is expensive, so central air-conditioning for the home is not practical, instead the split-type units are widely in use in restaurants and upper class homes. Filipinos tolerate the heat better than most foreigners, so for them, lack of air-conditioning is not a problem.
Temperatures in the Philippines are generally tropical, from 70 to 95°F, or 21-35°C, with mid-day summer highs over 100°F and 37ºC. December through February is cool while March through May is hot. The rainy season is from June to November. The northern part of the Philippines is in the "typhoon belt," That is one of the reasons I moved south. Typhoons and storms are not my thing. Often they bring flash floods. The belt includes Manila but not the Visayan islands,(where Cebu is the largest city) or Mindanao (where the largest city is Davao.) The rainy seasons outside of the northern island of Luzon where Manila is located, has mild wet and dry seasons. In the north when it rains it rains almost every day for several hours. And in the dry season there is not a drop. Here and below, it rains two or three days a week and several days a week sometimes. But even in the dry season we some days get welcome rain. This is just one more reason for living south of Luzon.
There are places in the mountainous areas, like the U.S. designed city of Baguio, where it is very cool. And some of the surrounding areas like Sagada and the rice terraces are cool, too. But in the winter it rains a lot and there are mudslides. It is a high price to pay for cool weather. Tagaytay a city south of Manila is also very cool but small. And it is very expensive, but with beautiful houses, golf courses and more. Land and houses are in great demand there. Property values are very inflated there.
It is best to wear light, natural fiber, and loose-fitting garments. Practical clothing such as shorts and a blouse or T-shirt is recommended by many, especially while traveling. Wearing of shorts and jeans by foreigners is not really understood or respected by Filipinos. Many foreigners dress like they are on the beach, even in the shopping malls. Most Filipinos dress conservatively, and hold foreigners to an even higher standard. The basic rule is: dress comfortably but decently. Don't look like you are going to the beach unless you are. Many tourist say "I wear shorts in the States so why not here.” This is not the States. You can get always wearing anything here. But to show respect to your visitors. Sleeveless shirts for men and shorts, expensive or not, are out.
If you are going to the mountain areas, a jacket or sweater will be useful. If you are going on a hike, bring a hat, sunscreen or sun block, and insect repellant.
A HAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. Besides protecting you from the tropical sun, preventing aging skin and maybe even skin cancer if you are 6'2" tall, like me, even if you are five nine, you will find things that you can walk into the strangest things lower than your forehead. Way up at the 6 foot level height, few Filipinos ever see the dangerous things sticking out that can kill you if you hit them with your head, when walking at a swift gait. There are things like iron bars, two by four boards with nails and others that you don't want to hit, especially if you are walking fast. This is a developing country. There is a lot of construction. There is no Occupational Health and Safety Administration here, or safety police watching for hazards on the streets. There is no money for that. You have to watch out for yourself. A hat telegraphs some blockages before your head smacks into them. Do consider a snappy straw hat or at least a cap with a bill.
Dress code for the Philippines, for Men: What is appropriate to wear in the Philippines
Here is the real deal from an educated Filipinas and several others here. The Foreigners that wear very light weight shorts (as Bermuda type) that are above the knee in length - "look funny. "They are compared to inner-wear for lounging around indoors: only. The only Filipinos we have noticed wearing soft short-shorts are the dock laborers that don't care since they are moving fast and work very hard below deck.
If the local people are smiling and or laughing and you are not fluent in the language - it is likely because they think your shorts are inappropriate! Look around! Note that foreigners are the only ones that dress like this - in very short soft/light material - short shorts! Lord- I know it is hot, (If you are not in air-conditioning) but if you want any respect just wear knee length shorts! then if they are smiling in your presence you may assume they are flirting . Listen for the word "Gwapo!"
On the same context - personal hygiene can be a source of disrespect, or 'blow it' with a nice lady. Shower several times a day if necessary. clean nails, and last but not least - never blow your nose publicly/in front of your date, or especially during a meal at the table - that is very distasteful, and may likely turn off any future potential.
Your are absolutely right, from my discussions with Filipinos and Filipinas. Cargo pants, shorts below the knees are well accepted. But not shorts above the knees unless you are at the beach. Now you can wear anything you want. People are very tolerant here. They will not reject you because of what you wear, may even say you look great if you ask them. But they do not respect or maybe do no understand, if a better way to put it, if you if you don't dress nicely, keep clean and neat. They truly don't understand why if you can afford nice clothes and jewelry why you don't wear them.
Dressing down has never been the thing here in a country where many don't have the money for decent clothes and really want them. In some of the cities you will find occasionally the wealthy Filipino in shredded $200 jeans they got from the States, or upscale Philippine store. But it is rare. Girls unless they are children do not wear shorts out of their house, certainly no out of their neighborhood and if worn at a Mall would be considered to be up to no good. To the malls you are expected dress as best you can if you care about being in harmony with the Filipino way. Many do not have that as a goal and it is not necessary to have it as one. These comments are for those who do want to be in harmony with the customs of their hosts. Don