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The Warmest January in Lipa in a Lifetime

There you have it. Kuya Kim, in last night’s evening edition of TV Patrol, reported that NASA has declared the previous month as the warmest January ever on record. In doing so, Kuya Kim merely confirmed something that I had suspected since February began.

The reason for my suspicions? Simple. I do not recall that there was ever a year before this when I did not feel the need to put on warm clothes for the entirety of the month of January. The cold northeasterlies began to blow towards the end of last month, granted.

However, all that I needed to put on was a shirt. What I am trying to say is that for most of last month, I did not even need to wear one at home during the day. It was mostly pleasant, sometimes a bit warm early in the afternoon; but definitely not cold.

I have a few jackets and long coats; but since the supposed cold season began when the monsoons turned last November, they have for all intents and purposes stayed inside the cabinet gathering dust.

Back in the day, my parents used to warn relatives and friends who came over during the holiday season and who felt impelled to complain about the cold in December that January and February were actually going to be chillier in Lipa.

This year, the primary culprit for the considerably mild cold season has been, as everyone knows, the El Niño. Kuya Kim reported this year’s occurrence of this climatic phenomenon as the most severe in 20 years.

I have a house thermometer handy and periodically monitor the temperature at various times each day. In January and February of 2015, the evening temperature frequently dropped to as low as 22ºC. That probably meant that the early mornings were as cold as 16º or 17ºC.

This year, the lowest I have seen in the evening was 24ºC; and that was only for one night towards the end of January. By and large since the cold season began, the average temperature during the ‘cold’ evenings has been 25ºC.

This has been so steady that my body has become so used to it and I do not even feel the need to put a shirt on until late at night when I have to go to sleep.

This cold season, too, the real cold has come in spurts rather than in sustained periods. Basically, the northeasterlies would blow for three or four days then subside, to be replaced by easterly winds bringing warm air from the Pacific Ocean.

Something that has been missing this year, too, has been the whistling winds that are characteristic of the northeasterlies really blowing briskly.

When I was a child growing up inside Fernando Air Base back in the sixties, there was a golf course behind our house in what was known as the Dallas district of the base. When the brisk northeasterlies came to frolic in the open spaces of the golf course, they used to creep me out, sounding as they did like a hundred harpies whistling as they flew around in the deep of the night.

Last year, there were nights when I needed to put on cotton jogging pants and a sweat shirt when I went to bed. Not this year. That said, I do not recall that in the last five years, I had had to put on two jogging pants, a pair of socks and wrap myself with two blankets just like I used to back when the cold in Lipa was really cold.

I understand that I have put on weight since and that fats are insulant against the cold. That’s just not it, really. Apart from global warming, the growth of Lipa City since the turn of the millennium has been quite unprecedented. Regrettably, I believe we are all also starting to feel the effects of the urban heat island effect.

The most prolonged cold season that I can recall was the one that started as early as October 1994 and went on practically until April of the next year. I am certain about this because Lipa City hosted the STRAA and visiting delegates particularly from coastal cities and municipalities could not stand the cold.

I loved it! Of course, that prolonged cold season was followed by an El Niño and has not been repeated since. I wonder if it ever will.

One of the reasons why I have preferred to remain in Lipa all my life has been that, apart from the agreeable climate all year round, I once knew it for a certainty that when the monsoons changed, we would be enjoying cold days that those who lived in coastal areas could never count on.

A student in my homeroom got into her bus in front of school shivering and then got off in Calicanto to find people staring at her for wearing a jacket.

A student in my homeroom class back in 1986 could not have described better what we in Lipa used to take so for granted. She was from Batangas City and used to commute to and from school.

During the cold season, she once told me, she would take a bus in front of school clad in her jacket and still shivering from the cold. She would get off the bus half an hour later at Calicanto in Batangas City to find people staring at her because she was wearing a jacket.

When she got home, her folks were curious to know why she would not take her jacket off when it was so warm. She had gotten tired of explaining how cold it had been in Lipa.

We who lived in Lipa, on the other hand, just got used to the cold, loved it and took it so for granted. I, for one, never imagined back then that the day would come when my own jackets would stay inside the cabinet for the duration of the cold season gathering dust.

In the warmest January of my life…

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