A typhoon, somewhere else in the world, is also called a storm, cyclone or hurricane. No matter how it is called or how it is characterized, I’m confident that you don’t want a typhoon if you’re planning to go on a vacation to the Philippines. You don’t want canceled flights and delayed travel schedules because of the weather. However, regardless of your preference and as sure as the sun rises, typhoons pass through the Philippines. It’s just a matter of how many typhoons pass in a year and how strong each typhoon is. Yesterday, typhoon “Frank” (international code name, “Fengshen“) was in town (read more about it here or here; also Typhoon Watch 2009, 2010 and 2011).
There are some things to remember about typhoons, first of which is this — not all typhoons are created equal. There used to be only 3 storm signals when I was still a boy. Today, there are four: Storm Signal No. 1 (winds of 30-60 kph may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours), Storm Signal No. 2 (winds of greater than 60 kph and up to 100 kph may be expected in at least 24 hours), Storm Signal No. 3 (winds of greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours) and Storm Signal No. 4 (very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours). In the Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore noted that hurricanes and other natural disasters are getting worse.
Not all places are created equal. If you’re traveling to the southern part of the Philippines — like Davao City, General Santos City, Butuan City or Zamboanga City — you don’t have to worry about typhoons because these places are generally typhoon-free. People from Bicol, Samar and Leyte are almost “immune” from typhoons, are these places are the usual entry points of typhoons that are generally born in the Pacific Ocean. You may get used to the fury of a typhoon, but if electricity and water are affected, then it won’t be fun. This is one of the reasons why hotels and other vacation spots have generators.
Not all months are created equal. An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year, based on official statistics (official graph of frequency of typhoons courtesy of PAG-ASA, DOST.) There are two major seasons in the Philippines: (1) the rainy season, from June to November; and (2) the dry season, from December to May. According to PAG-ASA, the dry season may be subdivided further into (a) the cool dry season, from December to February; and (b) the hot dry season, from March to May. Typhoons usually happen during the rainy season. In 2007, for instance, almost all of the typhoons (except 1) happened between July and November.
We can’t hide from the fact that typhoons are natural occurrences in the Philippines. The important thing is to be prepared. And to schedule your trip or vacation to the Philippines accordingly.