On the other hand, the 'ber months also tend to coincide with typhoon season. In 2009, for example, Typhoon Ketsana — also known as "Ondoy" in the Philippines — struck Metro Manila, causing enough destruction to be considered one of the strongest typhoons to hit the area.
Granted, these weather disturbances only hit once every blue moon. Still, in a country that sees approximately 20 typhoons a year, it's always a good thing to be prepared for the worst. If you're staying — or planning to stay — in the country right now, here's what you can do to prepare for the rains when they pour, so to speak:
Tune in to PAG-ASA's Updates
The local weather bureau is known as PAG-ASA, which stands for "Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration." (Incidentally, the acronym also spells out the Filipino word for "hope.") One of their responsibilities is to make public announcements about typhoons that hit, or are about to hit, the country.
Luckily, they have an official Twitter account @dost_pagasa, where you can follow them for regular weather forecasts. You can also tune in to local English language news channels like ANC, or bookmark Google's Public Alerts and Crisis Map pages, which collect information about Philippine typhoons from all over the Web.
Stock Up on Valuable Supplies
Where typhoons hit, floods are sure to follow. The moment you find out that a storm signal will be hoisted up your area, head to the nearest supermarket as soon as you can. Buy non-cook meals, flashlights, first-aid materials and other supplies you'll need in case of a power outage. Otherwise, you'll get caught in traffic with a throng of other people who are also making last-minute panic buys!
Ideally, supplies should last for at least a week, because power outages can last for days. And even if it's only for a day, it helps to have an extra can or two of your favorite meals in the pantry. You never know when the next disaster will strike!
Practice Safe Driving
It's easy to panic when you're on the road, and you can't move because floodwaters surround you. However, your best bet is to stay calm, assess the situation, and decide whether to drive (slowly but surely) from there. For more detailed tips, check out Rappler's article on getting your car through a flood.
When a typhoon wreaks havoc in your area, the last place you want to be is outside. Get back home as soon as you can, and ask your family members to do the same. Put away any valuables lying on your balcony (if you have one), and keep your doors closed. Prepare your flashlights, lamps and/or candles in case of a power outage.
If the power goes out, don't panic. Contact the security personnel near you, or dial the appropriate emergency hotline through your mobile phone. Ask for info like the current storm signal, the estimated time until the power goes back up, etc. This way, you'll stay in the loop, and feel more secure as a result.
This may sound like an odd piece of advice, but it helps to keep your spirits up while waiting for the storm to pass. If the younger members of your family are getting fidgety because of the power outage, have them play one of these fun indoor games. Who knows, you might feel like joining the fun too.
Granted, your family might have to do it under the light of a candle (which should be placed in a safe spot, by the way). But hey, at least you won't have to listen to complaints like "When will the light get back on?" for the next several hours, right?
Check for Damaged Parts in Your Home
Of course, destruction is an inevitable aftermath of a typhoon. As soon as the coast is clear, go outside and check how your home in particular was affected. Steer clear of floodwaters, because they're usually filled with debris, open electrical wires and other objects that can injure you. If your house/building is surrounded by flood, it's best to stay inside and wait for the waters to recede.
A Bonus Tip
Since typhoons happen so often in the Philippines, it's always a good idea to be ready for them. Be alert for PAG-ASA updates, prepare for the worst and stay calm until the storm has passed. In the meantime, enjoy your stay in the Philippines while the good weather lasts, but don't forget to take the necessary precautions — like you would in any unknown, foreign country.