Friday, February 23, 2007

Things to be Grateful about in a Tropical Climate

I used to bitch about how hot and humid the climate in the Philippines is. Being a woman who sweats like a man (Good grief!), I couldn't help but curse the 32-36 degrees Celsius the country puts up with 365 days a year. I have never been enamored with snow, though and have never romanticized winter for I know what a freezer feels like. However, I would prefer having an autumn-like weather in the Philippines, not that I have actually experienced autumn per se, but after experiencing both winter and spring abroad and summer in the Philippines, I just surmised that autumn must be the most pleasant time of the year.
Did I mention experiencing both winter and spring abroad? Oh yes, I did. I've weathered two springs--one in Sweden and one in the US--and one mild winter in Switzerland. This mild winter was actually more spring-like. Well, after finally exposing my body to temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius, I realized how fortunate I am indeed to live in a tropical country and have stopped bitching too much about the Philippine weather. I still dread sweating like a man, but I have a less negative attitude towards this smelly and uncomfortable phenomenon.
In the Philippines, I really don't use lotion that much because I don't see a need for it. My skin is oily and sweaty enough to keep itself well-lubricated and almost wrinkle-free. But lo and behold! My stay in Sweden showed me how a cold and dry climate ages a person about 10 years. Without my lotion, I would have looked like I was in my early forties at the time. Back in the Philippines, I tend to look 5 years younger than my actual age. Imagine the money I save every year by not buying lotion in my homeland because it is not needed on a daily basis.
Most women in the Philippines can rush out of their homes with wet hair and let the hot air blow-dry their damp locks inside a passenger vehicle. Try that during winter, autumn or spring, and I assure you that you will get a headache and some icicles in your hair if it is zero degrees Celsius and below. I know this from experience since I was forced to use a hair dryer abroad to avoid a repeat of lightheadedness. In the Philippines, you won't see me touching a hair dryer because I am too lazy to use one and because the heat gives me a headache. I use the electric fan instead.
The intensity of the sun in the Philippines used to drive me mad literally. I still prefer the cold light of the moon, but after shrinking my cotton clothes in a dryer abroad despite setting it to cold spin, I am more open to the sun's heat which allows me to dry my clothes without shrinking them. Living abroad can be quite expensive since you cannot use the natural heat of the sun to dry your clothes all the time. In the Philippines, we can do without dryers. Isn't it great to do away with some machines?
Do you know how heavy wearing an overcoat, a scarf, gloves, thick woolen sweaters, a vest and thermal underwear all put together feels like? It is like having a kilo of rice spread all around your body. It was so hard for me to move whenever I had to go out during spring and winter abroad. Then, putting on and taking off a bonnet messed up my hair all the time. I also found it extremely tedious putting on layers of clothing before I left the house and taking them off again once I was inside a building. Put on, take off, put on, take off.....that was the drill! Plus, I had to wear socks inside the house all the time to avoid getting chilled. In the Philippines, I don't have to deal with heavy clothing material and layers of clothes. What I wear inside the house can be worn outside the house, even a nightie although that will probably be immodest.
Despite the presence of hot water abroad, I didn't find it enjoyable to take a shower. The reason might be that after a warm bath, I felt cold again. In the Philippines, showers are so pleasurable not only because it cleanses me but also because it is so refreshing and I can take as many showers as I want in a day without drying my skin.
As a matter of fact, winter and spring were a bit depressing to me when I finally got to experience them. No wonder studies show that many commit suicide during winter. Both winter and early spring are devoid of colors. The predominant colors are usually gray and white during winter and more of the gray in early spring. How cold and dreary! Being a Filipino, I have taken for granted the presence of flowers and green leaves all year round. I am indeed grateful now that in the Philippines, I am surrounded by colors almost everywhere and I am exposed to such a variety of colors every day. Gray is practically non-existent except during rainy days.
Of course, some Pinoys might prefer the four seasons of temperate countries, maybe because they find it more exciting to experience four different seasons in a year. That may be so but I prefer to lower my cost of living by having just wet and dry seasons. You know why? Each season requires a different set of clothes. This means, If I choose to live in a temperate country, I need to spend on clothes suitable for each season and have them dry cleaned....and that is quite expensive. We, Pinoys, don't know how lucky we are for not spending too much on dry cleaning and for not buying expensive overcoats, sweaters and thermals every other year.
After several stints abroad, I've finally come to terms with the tremendous heat in the Philippines. I now consider myself very fortunate for being born in a tropical country. Nowadays, I am armed with a big bag filled with alcohol, water, cologne, a towellete, and sometimes powder to address my concern regarding profuse perspiration. Isn't carrying a big bag better than wearing layers of heavy clothes that need dry cleaning? I think so too.

5 comments:

Pam said...

Oh, how I loved reading your post about the weather! It made me smile over here in Manitoba (Canada). lol

I think all of the lotion manufacturers make millions each year on selling their lotions. Before, I used to be able to get by w/o buying lotion, but now, especially working in a place that requires you to wash your hands (what seems like) a million times a day, plus dishsoap (which, I swear, was invented by the devil), and sanitizer, my hands are red, raw, dry & look worse than any 80 year old lady's I know. The only thing that works is Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and mini-gloves (at night time, of course).

Oh! Cotton clothing & a dryer is not a good thing! Even a cotton blend can sometimes shrink! You eventually learn what can be dried in the dryer and what can't be. A lot of winter clothing can be washed & dried normally, if it's not down or feather filled.

And I have to laugh at how you describe the weight of winter clothing! You forgot ski pants & winter boots though :DD. Although, maybe where you were abroad, you didn't need those items....

Ahhhhh.....spring. Spring is my favorite time of year, along with fall/autumn, but it has to be mid-late spring in order to witness all of the colors. Brown is also a dominant color in early spring....

I loved reading this post! I have often thought what it would be like to live in a tropical climate, and I have come to the conclusion that I would hate it lol. I hate too much heat, humidity, bugs, and the sun! (I'm the only person I know of that gets excited about #70 sunscreen - yes, that's #70!) I prefer the colder weather, although I'm never too pleased with the -40 C and the windchills to make it -50C plus. But that's what makes staying inside, curled up under a blanket, watching movies (or even just tv), or reading that much nicer! lol

I'm not sure if I even made sense in this comment....but I really enjoyed reading your post :).

chips said...

it was a very informative post. i am going to australia this july, and i've learn that it is winter at this time of the year. i'll be there for just a couple of weeks, but now, i am too busy preparing for my 'winter outfit' which is expensive by the way. i'm thinking of buying boots, winter jacket, thermal clothing, but the thought of 'i won't be able to use it when i'm back in the philippines,' kept bugging me and telling me it'll be a waste of money. but somehow, i must.

it's so nice living in a tropical country, just like ours!

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Daniel Eng said...

Thanks for your post! I think the tropics is a beautiful place but for me I simply cannot stand the heat and humidity. Sweating every second.. Yuck! It makes me feel so uncomfortable all year round. Hard to concentrate on things when I study. And I always need to spend money on electricity bills from needing the air conditioning on all day and night.
In temperate climates winter can be depressing for some, but I love the feeling of being cozy by the fireplace with my hot cup of coffee. I love how everything suddenly blooms and greens come spring, and fall colors are too stunning and signify a time of change.
The tropics have some of the best fruits though in my opinion, and don't get me started with the paradise like beaches that only the tropics can support. But all in all, I see the tropics only as a place for vacationing as it it just too uncomfortable for everyday life for me.

Daniel Eng said...

About the winter clothes, all you need Is a few jackets really.. For California
In the tropics I also found myself having to wash and clean everything including my body and my clothes so often because it kept getting dirty from humidity and dust much faster. And right after i showered, I wanted to go right back in because I get all sweaty and smelly again!