I am often get asked “What is the weather like in the Philippines?” The answer really depends on where you are at in the Philippines. Most of the time, the answer is 90 90.  The weather is usually ninety percent humidity and ninety degrees. An answer that wouldn’t need to be explained is that weather in the Philippines is  hot and muggy.

There are only two seasons in the Philippines. Those are the wet and dry seasons. People often say the rainy season. Since I’m an accountant, who is basically a lawyer that deals with numbers, it has become my nature to split hairs. The terms used by the Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical Services Administration (PAGASA) are the wet and dry season so I try to use those terms.

Far too often, what happens in Manila and the National Capital Region (NCR) is attributed to the rest of the country.  Just Wet and Yellowto be clear, the NCR is the area around Manila. The reason I mention that is Manila does have a pronounced wet season.  Cebu has much less of one. At least that is the official position taken by PAGASA.  Most years, I see a pretty significant change. One year we had a drought though.

Weather in the Philippines is dominated by the Dry and Wet Seasons

I didn’t notice much of a change at all the first two years.  I think it was the third year there was hardly any rain during the wet season in Cebu. Mindanao really got hit hard by the drought. Last year, the wet season was very wet in Cebu. This year is looking like it will be the same.  That’s one thing that prompted me to write this article now.

It has been raining a lot lately and the wet season has officially started. From what I can tell there is no official date it starts. There are certain months that are more likely for it to occur.

Shifting Winds Affects the Weather in the Philippines

Recently, I have heard PAGASA say that the wet season will start in June this year. They are tracking the convergence of two weather events. They have said the winds have also shifted. I find this wind shift hard to follow. I think it is hard for me because of the word Monsoon which means rain to me. The wind shift though is the trigger for the wet season.

Here is an example from the PAGASA site for what Filipinos call summer:

Termination of Northeast Monsoon (18 March, 2013)
The establishment of the Ridge of North Pacific High Pressure Area that extended over Luzon has shifted the wind direction to easterly and southeasterly and the gradual increase of observed daily temperature recorded in most parts of the country signifies the recession of the Northeast Monsoon.Weather conditions will be mostly sunny associated with warm and humid air in most parts of the country aside from isolated rain showers and thunderstorms particularly over the eastern section of Visayas and Mindanao.


This signifies the start of “summer” in the Philippines. While not an official season, generally it is called that. It is the hottest time of the year and schools let out about this time. In June, the kids return to school. Jessie’s youngest started the first grade this year. Jason, her oldest will start high school later this month.

Weather in the Philippines Outlook for May 2013

This is another announcement from PAGASA that basically discusses the start of the wet season.

Recent observations and climate model forecast
indicate that ENSO – neutral conditions are likely to
continue through May to August 2013.
The weather systems likely to affect the country are the tail
end of the cold front, easterlies,intertrop ical convergence zone (ITCZ), monsoon trough, ridge of HPA and the occurrence of one or two tropical cyclones inside the PAR.The onset of the rainy season is expected on the last week of May to early June.Rainfall distribution for May is expected to be near to above normal in most parts of the country except for La Union, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Romblon, and southern Mindanao which are likely to experience below normal rainfall condition.
Slightly cooler surface air temperatures are expected in many parts of the country. Predicted ranges of temperature for the month will be 22°C to 36°C over the lowlands of Luzon, 16°C to 26°C over the mountainous areas of Luzon, 23°C to 35°C for Visayas, 23°C to 35°C over the lowlands of Mindanao and 19°C to 32°C over the mountainous areas of Mindanao.


As I understand it, all that fancy jargon means the wet season is starting. I’m not sure I would understand it that way if I hadn’t seen the translations in the paper about a week ago. They have hit the nail on the head though; it has been raining a lot more in the last week or so. By the way, PAR means Philippines area of responsibility.

 When I first moved here, I expected there to be periods of heavy rain for days.  Sometimes, in Manila and other parts of the country that does happen. The American embassy has had to close twice due to flooding. Like many, before I knew better, I thought what happened in Manila was what the whole country was like. That is so incorrect.  The weather is just one of many examples.  Take this chart for example (“borrowed from PAGASA):

Weather in the Philippines

 Cebu lies in the type III region where rain is pretty even throughout the year. We have a short dry season. That would explain why I didn’t notice a lot of change. We don’t often get all day rains. It’s more like the Southern USA where we more often get short burst of rain as thunderstorms pass by. Cebu is like that most of the time. If there is a typhoon nearby, we will then get rain all day or for several days. Usually we have clouds for several days and rain during one day for typhoons. Once though, it rained everyday for about two weeks. During that time, the NCR had severe flooding due to a typhoon that turned into a depression and pretty much parked itself over Luzon. It left and then returned.

Dripping Red BudJessie lived in Leyte most of her life. She lived on its southern coast line. Leyte is quite close to Cebu. We can see Leyte from Bogo City.  However, we see the northern coast line. Where Jessie lived, she frequently did see several days of rain at a time. Yet Cebu, its next door neighbor has a very different rain pattern.

Cebu is in yellow on the map while Leyte is in green. I drew a green arrow pointing at Leyte and a yellow one pointing at Cebu.  I also drew a red arrow pointing at Luzon in the general area of Manila.  I also put a blue box around Mindanao.

Jessie tells me there is no winter in the Philippines and I’ve never heard a Filipino use that term.  One frequent visitor to the Philippines told me there is a winter. Probably the people he knows calls December and January that. In Cebu, it is often very windy during December and a bit cool at night. I see Filipinos wearing sweaters at night in December. I get amused because the temperature rarely drops below 25C or 77F!  With those strong wings though, it can even cause me a chill these days. But not for long, I certainly don’t wear a sweater at 77F.

If you find the rainy part of Philippine weather to be confusing, so do I. Really though, it is just like many other things in the Philippines. It is very much location specific. I’ve also tried to give you some insights into Filipino culture as it relates to the weather.

Generally, it’s not that complicated. It’s hot and it’s muggy. I’m from the south so I’m use to hot and muggy. In Memphis Bantayan Island Rainbowand Jackson, Mississippi the humidity burns off during the hot part of the day. Here, it is rarely below 45 percent. It may never be below 45 percent. During the hot part of the day, the humidity is around 50 percent and often around 90 percent for a large portion of the day.

Though the temperatures are about the same or lower than that of the Southern USA, the sun is much more intense. On smaller islands this becomes extreme. Sun stroke is a real threat on Bantayan Island for example. I had a friend develop that while staying on Bantayan, a young man in his early 30’s and quite healthy.  So keep that in mind.

When I’m out and about, I can feel the sun burning on my skin in a much more intense way. Sun screen is hard to find in Cebu, especially out in the province. I recommend you bring some with you. I can’t find anything there that I can actually use because my skin doesn’t like much of anything applied to it.  I still ship sunscreen from Amazon to the Philippines via Johnny Air Cargo.

Typhoons in the Philippines

I should also talk about typhoons in the Philippines. There are certain areas that are prone to typhoons. There are other areas that rarely see them. Rather than make this article extremely long, I’ll post another post about typhoons in the Philippines. I have already written that post so check for it tomorrow.

I hope this article has answered your questions about weather in the Philippines. If you still have questions or if you’d like to discuss anything related to weather in the Philippines please leave a comment. If you found this article helping about weather in the Philippines, please don’t forget to share this article with your friends by using the buttons below.

By Rusty Ferguson

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