Winter is just around the corner so Filipinos in Neepawa are preparing themselves and their homes for the inevitable. It’s time to put our summer clothes into storage and take out our parkas, scarves, toques and boots. The flurries last Oct. 9 were a pleasant surprise for our newcomers. The Filipino children and adults alike were delighted at the sight of their very first snow experience. Although the snow only lasted for a day, the cold temperature we have had for the past few weeks is a sure sign of what is in store for us. Seeing and feeling the snow for the first time is truly an unforgettable event in a Filipino’s life. We grew up in a country with only two seasons, dry and wet. The Philippines has tropical weather all year round. We only get to see snow by watching Christmas specials on television or in the movies. The weather in the Philippines is dictated by the prevailing winds or what we call the “habagat” or southwest monsoon. This occurs during the months of May through October, which also refers to the dry season. Then from November to early May, the “amihan” or northeast monsoon sets in. This is the wet season. May is the hottest month in lowland regions when temperatures can be as high as 38 to 40 degrees Celsius with incredible humidity. The coolest months are January and February when Filipinos can enjoy temperature of about 29 to 24 degrees Celsius. Typhoons or what we call “bagyo” are common from June to November. These strong storms strike mainly in Luzon and Visayas which are at the northern part of the country. The typhoons have the tendency to enhance the “habagat” that result to several days of non-stop rain. We have what we like to call “siyam-siyam” which refers to nine days of continuous rain that subsequently causes floods in low-lying areas and landslides on the mountainous parts of the Philippines. So we Filipinos definitely welcome this tremendous change in climate; the beauty of snow is not only exciting but also very challenging as we have had to make a lot of adjustments in our daily lives. We had to get used to checking the weather or temperature for the next day, at all times, to know if we should “bundle up”. Back in the Philippines, we just had to make sure to bring an umbrella every day to protect us from the blinding and hot sun or to keep us from getting wet when it rains. Thanks to our Canadian friends’ advice, we learned how to handle the constant nose bleeds and cold sores, making sure to wear “long johns” and the proper “layering” of clothes. Besides getting acclimatized, we learned how to shovel snow on our driveways before leaving for work, scrape our windshields, keep a survival kit in the trunk and most importantly, how to drive on snow. In the Philippines, Christmas season starts when the “ber” months come. So by September, holiday decorations and gifts are sold in every mall and market all over the archipelago. Christmas songs are being played on the radio. Many Filipinos start putting up Christmas trees and lanterns after the celebration of “All Souls Day” on Nov. 1. Once upon a time, we Filipinos only dreamed of having a white Christmas (as in the song), but now it is a reality for us. To this day, I am still amazed at how the seasons change in Canada. As I watch the trees and grass constantly change from green to orange to brown then everything turns into this massive blanket of crystal-like splendour, I am at awe and thoroughly grateful to God for giving me a chance to witness such beauty. And so, yet again, I am looking forward to “walking in this winter wonderland” called Neepawa.