It’s so hot in the colonies!

manila_heatHot weather. It’s the scourge of the Manila lifestyle. It’s hard to lead a cosmopolitan lifestyle in a city like Manila where a noxious corrosive mixture of soot and moisture hangs heavy in the air day and night. Spending just ten minutes outdoors makes you feel like you’ve already had a full-day’s work. And that bagong ligo feeling you get after a good shower has a half-life measured in the milliseconds.

The effect of the oppressive heat of the Philippines on Filipinos is really an issue of mismanaged expectations. On high-end magazines we see photos of fair skinned folk dressed in sleek black suits or sporting trendy jackets (often leather ones!) while posing in the great Manila outdoors. Do such people and the situations they model really exist? Perhaps they do, in the imaginations of the average humidity-beaten Manileño much the same way round-eyed waif-like anime characters embody the archetypical aspirational frustrations of the average Japanese person.


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Native Filipinos didn’t wear their skimpy native attires for nothin’. They had the right idea from the very start. Less clothes mean less trapped sticky heat and more efficient evaporation of the layer of sweat on our skin that forms within minutes after sunrise. Yet here we are everyday marching in our Makati Girl costumes to the office where we spend the day praying our 24-hour industrial-strength deodorants hold out underneath our blouses and black blazers over the eight-hour work day.

Something is definitely wrong with our world view.

flip_flop_modelIn the last several years, I’ve notice a trend that provides me a glimmer of hope that the legacies of colonial rule that doom us to such outdated dress codes are progressively being dismantled. Wearing tsinelas has now become acceptable — even trendy. And, excuse me, they are now known as “flip-flops” and “sandals”. Perhaps it all began when the late former President Ramon Magsaysay broke the stigma of wearing the barong Tagalog in formal occasions freeing entire generations of Filipino men from the stifling Americana that used to be required isputing attire.

Maybe the day when we can all wear sando, shorts, and flip-flops to work instead of the ridiculous climate-inappropriate costumes we currently wear is just around the corner.

8 Replies to “It’s so hot in the colonies!”

  1. It was also hard to believe why most Filipinos deeply madly addicted on whithening products despite of our climate. Such a weird colony.

  2. One big reason is hot in Manila is the “dikit-dikit” mentality of Filipino buildings. There’s hardly any space between them, whether they be houses or big buildings. They block out the wind and decrease circulation. When I went to Singapore for a holiday, I noticed the difference at once – there’s always space between the buildings and houses. Filipinos are doing dikit-dikit simply because they didn’t plan the fitting of people in the city at all.

  3. “In the last several years, I’ve notice a trend that provides me a glimmer of hope that the legacies of colonial rule that doom us to such outdated dress codes are progressively being dismantled. Wearing tsinelas has now become acceptable — even trendy.”

    And I may add these:

    > You don’t even know if what they’re wearing is pants that’s cut too short or a walking shorts that’s cut too long or they just picked the wrong bottom apparel because the waist line is too loose.

    > Eating/chewing/swallowing loudly while the mouth is in open and close motion when finishing a bite over a dining table.

    They’re comfortable instead of those “ridiculous climate-inappropriate costumes” and “inconvenient table manners.”


    I’m doomed.

    I’m still a conservative who will wear a pair of shoes, pants, and shirts with sleeves in the office. I still chew my food quietly with my closed mouth.

    But maybe not.

    I sometimes don my Barong Tagalog with my faded worn-out denims and Italian leather shoes in a semi-formal occasions. I slurp noisily soups from the bowl rim inside a Japanese eating place.

    It’s just me.

  4. You know the counterpoint to this? One time I visited Manila and it was a bit cold and rainy, I hung out at a mall that is considered upscale and could not believe my eyes. There were females that had friggin SCARVES and GLOVES, and LEATHER JACKETS walking around. i could noooot believe my eyes.

    1. You go here in the province. It’s such a weird spectacle to watch. It’s 12PM, the temperature is skyrocketing and some teenagers with those “basag” hiphop songs wearing their own colors of VARSITY JACKETS rant about the summer heat?

      More fun in the Philippines. Lol

  5. I’m sorry, but summer weather attire just does not appeal to me. For all that loose and minimal clothing, I see it as rather lewd and crass. I also feel like there’s more potential to dress with class with winter wear. Like, I find a girl wearing a nice coat and leggings cuter than just a tank top and short shorts. Glad I don’t live in the Philippines anymore where I can’t wear my snazzy peacoat unless I want to bake myself.

    And for the record, the barong tagalog isn’t as comfortable as you make it out to be. The material irritates the skin and I’m not exactly a fan of seeing through other dudes’ undershirts.

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