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Balikbayan Life in the Philippines - Battling the Heat and Mosquitoes

Our stay this past 40 days in the Philippines is not the same as the previous 12 years. Now, we're not having just a short vacation as OFWs and balikbayans, but we're staying here for good. As I've mentioned in my post Paghahanda sa Pag-uwi, it will be a great adjustment for us as a family. So, how are we doing? Our initial battles are the heat and mosquitoes.

The Heat is On - Where's the Aircon?
Heat Wave
Aircon. Image by MSVG, Flickr Creative Commons

Because we have been used to having aircon all day (in the Middle East that's a daily necessity without having to pay much for electricity), the heat and humidity here simply seemed impossible for us. When we arrived, we tried not to use any aircon (the unit we bought before was due for repair).

During the day when the children are playing with their cousins, they didn't complain much about the heat. But during the night, that's when the battle is ... it's difficult for all of us to go to sleep even with 2 electric fans running and taking a shower before going to sleep. What's really pitiful are the 2 little girls, Janel and Angel. In the middle of the night, they would cry out "Aircon, aircon" or "Ang init, ang init (It's hot, it's hot)."

It was only in the 3rd week that we had the aircon repaired. Thank God we stayed in my parent's house for a few days the 2nd week, so the children had some good sleep there (they have aircon turned on for a few hours during the night). Though our airconditioning unit became functional, we did not indulge ourselves too much in using it. We're afraid of what that would do to our electric bill. We set the aircon to automatically shut off after 3-4 hours during the night. And since, it had started raining, we now turn it on for 1-2 hours only.

Lord, Protect My Children from Dengue

I'm a huge fan of these since #dengue #mosquito
Katol. Image by jasongraham99, Flickr Creative Commons
Behind our house is a stream (sapa) with plenty of waterlilies. When we arrived, our relatives told us that the stream was just cleaned of the waterlilies. Because of that, there are a lot of mosquitoes around. I mean really a lot. During the day, you can't see a lot flying around but when the clock strikes 6 o'clock, they start to proliferate.

Closing the windows was no use. Almost all the window screens had holes. We used katol (like incense for killing the mosquitoes) but not all of them die. We try to make sure that our bedroom won't have any mosquitoes but 1 or 2 still manage to escape. My husband put up a mosquito net (kulambo) and had 2 or 3 children sleep with him. They're safe from the mosquitoes but have to bear the heat because it's hot using kulambo. For those of us who sleep outside the kulambo, we're lucky if we don't get any mosquito bites in the morning. For sure, one of us will be scratching here and there. Our poor children ... if you can just see their legs with all the mosquito bites and scars.

My children also included in their prayers to keep the mosquitoes away. The rain became part of the answer. Since it rained, the mosquiotes seemed to have dwindled in number. Also, we had our window screens fixed though it took us a while (more or less 2 weeks) to have them fixed. There are still a few mosquitoes that manage to enter the house but the katol can take care of that. Now, we can sleep during the night and remain biteless in the morning.

I think my family is adjusting to Philippine life all right. Thank God, we can sleep well and, yes, no dengue. I continue to hope and pray for my children's safety from dengue.


glad to hear from you again chin! although the transition didn't seem as smooth as possible coz of the heat and mosquitoes, for sure your children love having the chance to play with their cousins again. don't share about the filipino foods you already had ha! missed them. :-)

Chin chin said…
Hi, Sheryl. I'm glad to be back blogging again. There are actually more stories to share which I would do when we have our DSL installed. Thanks for continuing to visit my blog. How's your pregnancy? God bless.
Unknown said…
welcome home chin!
kailan kayo dumating? hahaha...napalaban kaagad kayo sa init at lamok dito sa 'pinas
katol is bad to our health, kawawa naman mga bata
why don't you try these alternatives, kung type mo:
1. my mom planted tanglad plant around the house, this is a mosquito repellent
2. at kaysa bumili ng sprays we uses a home made mosquito repellent:
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup cossack vodka (cheap lang ito)
5 drops of citronella or eucalyptus essential oil
anne lei said…
we have the same problem. whenever i stayed at our house in bulacan, i used to have mosquito bites. So afraid of dengue. by the way, we are using an incense coil in the office and it is so effective for the insects.
avagabondmom said…
one of the things i don't like is the skyrocketing electric bills during summer! if only our country has winter! :D i hope your kids will enjoy their time with cousins and neighbors now that you're "home" :)
Mae Codizal said…
Being someone who grew up in the middle east as well (Jeddah), my brother and I would normally experience the same problems during vacation! But despite all that, family gatherings and outing were something we all looked forward to.
Mommy Kharen said…
Welcome Back to the Phil Mommy as per posted for good :). though the transition wasn't that smooth Hope no more major problem will arise.
Postcard Trail said…
adjustment form one country to our home land is quite challenging. It is true that here in the Middle East AC is part of the daily life. no worries about electric bill. We jsut came back from vacation and believe me, the time we had no AC on sleep is also impossible.
Chin chin said…
reese, like your suggestion very much. Just hope I can learn to plant tanglad. Will certainly try your homemade environment-friendly mosquito spray.

thanks everyone for the comments. I'm happy to say that we're coping with the adjustment but still have a lot of things to learn and do (again).
Bee said…
Sis, you can use citronella bug sprays (organic) and instead of katol, use baygon mats. :)
krizza said… really sounds like a battle Chin especially for your little girls. Mahirap talaga lumayo sa nakasanayan na. This is also my fear if sometimes, I'm thinking to stop working and just stay at home. We have to get away with the "luho" that children had been accustomed to. But I think everything can be done gradually, though. Good Luck Chin.. Didn't know that you're finally back in the Phil. It's been a long time. Glad to here you're all coping up. God Bless!
Mariz said…
i use kulambo to avoid mosquitos, they are quite effective if you don't really like the katol, but at some days i use both :)
Paula said…
Last summer was one of the hottest in the Philippines. Hopefully next summer would be more bearable. WElcome home to you and your family. I hope you adjust to Philippine life soon.
Chin chin said…
Thank you, Paula, for the welcome wishes.

Thank you, Bee and Mariz, for the tips.

Krizza, kawawa nga mga girls, lalo na legs nila. Dami na nilang peklat dahil sa kagat ng lamok. Thanks for the visit.
Cintamuni said…
True that prevalent na naman ang dengue ngayong rainy season.

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