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June 26, 2016 marked the first day of Shark Week, an annual event that aims to raise awareness and disseminate information about various shark species across the globe. Sharks are considered the top predator among marine animals, playing an important role in maintaining the balance of the ocean’s ecosystem by regulating the population of other marine species. They have been in the oceans for around 400 million years, surviving the different extinction events of the planet, clearly making them one of the toughest animals on Earth.

Image Source: http://www.sharkguardian.org/shark-facts-top-100-shark-guardian/
Image Source: http://www.sharkguardian.org/shark-facts-top-100-shark-guardian/

With the duration sharks have stayed on Earth, there are already around 500 shark species classified and discovered around the globe. According to the endangered shark database of the International Action Plan for Sharks, 100 out of 400 species of sharks are commercially exploited, and need serious monitoring and control in the international shark trade. Here are some of the endangered shark species mentioned in The World Conservation Union:

Baskin Sharks (Cetorhinus maximus)
These sharks are considered the second largest fish in the ocean, and are relatively big with long, cylindrical shapes. This species was declared endangered by the International Union for Conversation of Nature. Currently, only 300 to 500 of them remain in the Eastern North Pacific.

Image Source: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/worlds-weirdest/videos/breeching-basking-sharks/
Image Source: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/worlds-weirdest/videos/breeching-basking-sharks/

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
The whale shark is the largest fish in the world and feeds on one of the smallest ocean creatures – the plankton. This shark species is considered vulnerable, endangered and decreasing in population size. Whale sharks can be found in the Philippines, Thailand, Australia and other tropical seas.

Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark

Sharks and their “fishy” public image
With their grayish color and sharp teeth, sharks have been assigned villainous roles in movies, news, and media in general. Their image as killing machines and aggressive attackers is reinforced by popular flicks, such as Jaws, Shark Night and Shark Attack. Even the online community has fueled the fear factor with photo-shopped images of sharks attacking fishermen and surfers.

Jaws: http://jaws.wikia.com/wiki/Jaws Shark Night: https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Shark_Night?id=NvH9FyaGruY Shark Attack: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Attack_(film)
Jaws: http://jaws.wikia.com/wiki/Jaws
Shark Night: https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/Shark_Night?id=NvH9FyaGruY
Shark Attack: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Attack_(film)

 

Image Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/21249777
Image Source: http://weheartit.com/entry/group/21249777

According to the website, Endangered Sharks, dedicated to raise awareness on endangered shark species, people are less likely to help in the protection of endangered shark species when they perceive such creatures as scary. This view is supported by a research entitled Australia and U.S. News Media Portrayal of Sharks and Their Conservation. Findings proved that the negative portrayal of sharks is hindering the efforts of advocates towards the sharks’ protection. The research also mentioned that the media continues to focus on the risks that sharks pose, more than the dangers humans create for sharks.


People: the sharks’ main predators

Contrary to what popular media proliferates, humans are not a regular part of a shark’s menu. An average of only 30 to 50 shark attacks happen every year with 5 to 10 of these fatal. In the website, Shark Guardian Top 100 Shark Facts, falling coconuts are 20 times more dangerous than sharks in terms of death cause and mortality rate.

In a video of Please Save Our Sharks, one of the many campaigns that advocate the protection of sharks, the average number of sharks killed each year reaches up to 100 million. This is caused, not only by climate change, but also human activities such as finning, fishing, habit degradation, and shark mutilation. Finning is a method of separating the sharks’ fins, popularly used in recipes such as shark fin soups. In Asia, shark fins are sold around 100 USD per kilogram. Habit degradation, on the other hand, is caused mainly by pollutants and chemical wastes from infrastructures near bodies of water. Sharks are also killed for mutilation, as their body parts are used to manufacture food supplements, beach souvenirs, and leather. These practices have greatly affected shark population since these species mature slowly, at around the age of 12 to 15 years, and reproduce only a few shark pups at a time. Through overfishing, immature sharks are caught, depriving them of the opportunity to reproduce.


Awareness and protection of sharks

With the continuous decrease of shark population worldwide, both private companies and the government are taking action towards protecting the sharks. An international airline company in Hong Kong has taken action to stop and ban the carriage of any shark-related products. Recently, the U.S. congress introduced a legislation banning the trade of shark fins in its country. According to Lora Snyder, Campaign Director of Oceana, an international campaign dedicated to protect and restore the world’s oceans on a global scale, “To protect sharks, we need to end the demand for shark fins. Today, the United States took an important step towards achieving this.”

The Philippine government has a few pending house bills, which aim to protect the sharks we have in our country. These are HB 5412 (Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2011), HB 300 (Shark Finning Prohibition Act), Senate Bill 2616 (Banning the Catching, Sale, Purchase, Importation and Exportation of All Sharks and Rays), and HB 174 (Sharks and Rays Conservation Act of 2010).

Despite the pending status of these house bills since 2010 and 2011, several organizations have been actively advocating the protection of shark species in the Philippines. Rightfully so as Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines mentioned during Shark Week last 2014, “Currently, bills on shark and ray conservation filed in Congress have not moved beyond the first reading. Law makers need to be enlightened on the need to protect sharks and declare them a wildlife priority. We should even consider making the Philippines the world’s largest shark sanctuary.”

Throughout centuries, sharks may have suffered from bad press, but this time around, they are the ones who need our protection. In little ways, we can do our share—by not throwing trash in the seas, by joining pro-environment organizations, and by boycotting establishments and products manufactured from endangered animals. This Shark Week, let us deepen our knowledge of sharks and the realities they face.


Sources:
Please Save Our Sharks (https://youtu.be/lr5xfAvAeY8)
Sharks Suffer from Bad Public Image (http://marinesciencetoday.com/2012/11/04/sharks-suffer-from-bad-public-image/) Australian and US News Media Portrayal of Sharks and Their Conservation (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/)
Shark Guardian Top 100 Shark Facts (http://www.sharkguardian.org/shark-facts-top-100-shark-guardian/)
Basic Facts About Shark (http://www.defenders.org/sharks/basic-facts)
Conservation of Shark Species (http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/National-protection-strongly-urged-for-the-conservation-of-local-sharks-and-rays-species/)
Shark Database (http://www.shark.ch/Database/EndangeredSharks/index.html)
Megalodon Facts (http://www.sharksinfo.com/extinct-sharks.html) (http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/otherprehistoriclife/ss/10-Facts-About-Megalodon.htm#showall)
Whale Sharks in Asia (http://goodvis.com/7-whale-shark-facts-and-where-to-swim-with-them-in-asia-pacific/)
Airline Comapany Bans Shark Fins (http://oceana.org/press-center/press-releases/congress-introduces-legislation-ban-trade-shark-fins-us)

Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Photo credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

What is the origin of the universe? This was the question that piqued my curiosity and inspired me to study the immensity of space and time. This inquisitiveness fueled my passion for the universe and the unlimited dimensions it held. Everything about it fascinated me: how it worked, how it grew, and many more. I fell in love with the idea of endless discovery.


When I was in grade school, I attended an event entitled “Astro Camp”, where I was given a chance to peek into a telescope for the first time. This was how my love for astronomy began.

When I was in my last year in high school, when my batchmates were critically eyeing the courses they wanted to pursue, I was already certain that I should follow my second love, education. Because of monetary problems, I was willing to relegate my love for astronomy to the backseat. Since it’s not a typical field of study here in the Philippines, limited jobs are offered after graduation.

I tried to submit an application for my college admission at the Philippine Normal University to study education. Unfortunately, when I arrived there, I found out they no longer accept applicants. Then I went to the Rizal Technological University (RTU) – the only institute that offered BS Astronomy at that time – to pursue what I really wanted. Despite having limited cash for my daily trips, I strived to reach my goal. After a month of battling with life’s uncertainties, I finally got in.

I believed that the risk I took was a blessing in disguise. In my early college years, I joined different events which allowed me to expose my talents and abilities. I grew as a person and developed my innate proficiencies such as leadership and confidence. Learning astronomy is not easy unless you have the desire to study it. I firmly believe that whatever course you choose, as long as you really love what you are doing, everything else will fall into place.


BS Astronomy is not just about fascination with the cosmos, it also has its practical use. In our earlier years in this program, we studied the subject, “Solar System,” where comparative planetology was discussed. We analyzed the weather systems in different planets and their capabilities to host life. Detections of exoplanets – planets outside the solar system – was also discussed. Scientists nowadays are keen to find out other places in the universe where life can possibly thrive. Astronomers are also finding ways to prolong the existence of life on Earth. Hence, we have a meteorology subject that deals with the study of the planet’s weather systems, including climate change and disaster awareness.

Jero1
Sample Images I took as I study astronomy in RTU
Sample Images I took as I study astronomy in RTU

As the country’s pioneering institute that offered a degree in Astronomy, RTU had only three graduates in its first batch. The University’s department of Earth and Space Sciences (DESS) was established by Dr. Jesus Rodrigo F. Torres, the Vice President for Academic Affairs at that time. Together with recognized physicists, chemists and other scientists passionate about astronomy, they formally introduced the BS Astronomy Technology to the RTU community in 2007. Two years later the RTU-DESS has its very own student organization, the RTU-Astronomy Society, dedicated to spread the idea and exquisiteness of space. The RTU-DESS used to send students to different international activities and seminars annually. Its members also organized outreach programs that aim to disseminate facts and information about astronomy to the public.

Jero3
Jero4
Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences
Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences

Astronomical Equipment used for observations and researches
Astronomical Equipment used for observations and researches

Jerooo

Last school year, in 2015, the New Era University (NEU), located in Quezon City, also introduced astronomy to their academe. NEU experienced the same struggle RTU encountered: due to the small amount of people who knew about astronomy, there were only few students who enrolled in their program. In spite of this, I remain hopeful that in the near future, astronomy will be a well-known course in the Philippines, and that more young people will be captivated by the mysteries it offers.

When I graduate next year, in 2017, I want to pursue my studies in astronomy by obtaining a scholarship in a master’s degree program. I would like to see myself in my late 20’s as a doctor of philosophy in the field of astronomy, and to be an educator in the different universities here in the Philippines. This way I will finally able to meld my two loves: astronomy and education.

It is true what they say about learning, that it never ends. I still may not know how the universe began, but the process of exploring the answers is one that I will never tire of.

Jeroh P. Hiyastro
5th year student, BS Astronomy Technology, RTU


“I really love the mysteries that the universe holds and I also enjoy sharing them to other people.”

13508863_1128404920536678_5397590117700625767_n
Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or not, today’s rare events are sure to tickle your fancy!

Summer Solstice
Summer solstice, also known as June solstice, happens when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most inclined towards the sun. This astronomical event marks the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, indicating the longest daytime due to a lengthened exposure to direct sunlight. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong , those in the Northern Hemisphere may experience “almost 17 hours of daytime.”

Quitlong explained that solstices happen twice a year – the summer solstice in June and the winter solstice every December. The word solstice is derived from the Latin word “solstitium” meaning “sun standing still.”

Photo courtesy: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/
Photo courtesy: http://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/

Strawberry Moon
Don’t miss the full moon tonight! Since 1967, this is the first time that the fully illuminated moon coincided with the summer solstice.

Despite its name, the moon will not turn pink tonight. The strawberry moon was named such by North America’s Algoquin Tribe because for them, June’s full moon signaled the start of strawberry-picking season. A strawberry moon glows a strange amber color. In some places like Europe, it is referred to as the rose moon or honey moon.

One would not want to miss this rare event as this will not happen again until 2062. Take this opportunity to gaze at the sky tonight and enjoy the view of this uncommon lunar sighting!
Source: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Photo courtesy: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/


Solstice and the Stonehenge
A popular place during the summer solstice is the Stonehenge where Pagans celebrate the longest day of the year. The view is especially spectacular as the sun reaches the middle of the stones.

Built between 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge is a big stone monument located in a plain of Salisbury, England. It is believed that the Stonehenge was aligned carefully for a person to have a clear view of the summer solstice rising in the horizon.

The real reason behind the creation of this landscape remains a mystery, but what is certain is that over the year, it has been part of celebrations during the summer solstice. In 2014, almost 40,000 participated and visited the Stonehenge during the said occasion.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
www.stonehenge.co.uk
http://www.papermag.com/
http://www.independent.co.uk/
http://earthsky.org/

image
In line with Tropical Cyclone Week, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) conducted a La Niña Forum last June 15, 2016. This year’s theme, Tag- baha at Tag-bagyo, Handa na Tayo!, aims to prepare the public for the impacts of the increasing probability of La Niña.

La Niña is defined by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a phenomenon characterized by the unusually low sea surface temperatures or cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. As the opposite of El Niño, La Niña will bring more rains, and moderate to strong tropical cyclone activities.

According to the Chief of PAGASA’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section (CLIMPS), Mr. Anthony Lucero, El Niño is still in its decaying stage. It continues to weaken and is more likely to return to neutral condition by the end of June or July.

Though El Niño is currently weakening, Lucero explained that most parts of the country may still feel its impact. Many provinces may still experience below-normal rainfall until next month.

Majority of climate models show a possible development of La Niña during the second half of 2016. Despite this forecast, Lucero said there will be less tropical cyclones this year. “Talagang magkukulang tayo ng bagyo ngayon… pero nangyari na ito noon, walang unusual o abnormal dito.” (We will experience less tropical cyclones, but this has already happened before. Nothing unusual or abnormal about it.)

Annually, the average number of tropical cyclones that enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) is 19 to 21. We’ve already covered half of 2016, yet there is still no sign of a tropical cyclone. According to PAGASA, 8 to 14 tropical cyclones are expected to enter or develop within the boundary from June to November, and possibly a maximum of 16 until December.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, he explained that after a strong El Niño episode, our country is likely to experience less number of tropical cyclones. This happened in 1972-1973, wherein we had only 12 tropical cyclones, and 11 tropical cyclones in 1997-1998.

New PAGASA Services

In preparation for the flood and cyclone season, PAGASA continues to upgrade their services. A book entitled, “Patnubay sa Weder Forkasting” was launched this week. This aims not only to simplify technical terms, but also to familiarize everyone with weather terms in other local languages, such as Ilokano and Bikolano.

The creation of the book was headed by the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, in close coordination with the weather bureau. Being the first-ever Filipino weather dictionary, it serves as a response to President Noynoy Aquino’s appeal for a more understandable and simplified way of crafting weather forecasts.

Here are some of the commonly used words included in the dictionary:

imageimage
PAGASA also introduced an updated version of their mobile application, which includes weather information and flood alerts.

This app is a product of the collaboration between PAGASA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Now available for android phones, it can be downloaded through Google Play.

Meanwhile, reading materials, which include information about La Niña, Rainfall Warning System and the Tropical Cyclone Warning System (formerly known as Public Storm Warning Signal), were also launched at the forum. This is part of the Be Sure Project which was successfully made through the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

13444514_1235025873175222_1478991959_n
 
The online community is abuzz after a Miss Earth Philippines contestant shared her insights in the Q & A portion of the beauty pageant.
 
During the coronation night last June 11, candidates were each given 30 seconds to elaborate on trending topics they had picked from a basket.
 
Miss Zamboanga, Bellatrix Tran, drew #ElNiñoLaNiña, two weather-related events that are serious global threats.
 
This was Tan’s answer: “El Niño is what we are facing right now. If we do simple things like planting trees, then we will not experience drought. So if we start now, we will achieve La Niña.” Unfortunately, her last line elicited laughter from the audience and judges.
 
https://twitter.com/krizzy_kalerqui/status/741797696269225985?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
 
What should have been her answer:
 Everyone should read up on El Niño, a climatic condition wherein an unusual increase in sea surface temperature or warming of the ocean is observed. It mostly affects the agricultural sector due to its effects of reduced rainfall and warmer weather.
 
In the Philippines, PAGASA confirmed the start of the El Niño phenomenon last May 2015. To date, El Niño is at its decaying stage but has left damages worth P7 billion based on the records of the Department of Agriculture from January to May 2016.
 
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) defines La Niña as a phenomenon characterized by unusually low sea surface temperatures or the cooling of the ocean in the Equatorial Pacific. Its effects may include moderate to strong monsoon activity, moderate to strong tropical cyclones, above-normal rains or above -normal temperatures. A La Niña episode does not always follow an El Niño, but it may happen especially if the latter is a strong one.
 
As of posting, there is no confirmed occurrence of La Niña, but there is a 50% chance that it will develop in the coming months, according to PAGASA.
  
 
Miss Philippines Earth aims to showcase not just nature’s beauty, but to also raise awareness on social concerns and environmental issues, including weather phenomena.
 
So remember that whether you’re planning to join a beauty contest or not, remember that it pays to be equipped with knowledge on social issues, especially those that are directly affecting our country.

Satellite images, instruments, applications, and forecasters – these are our modern sources of weather and climate information. But did you know that animals are also capable of telling us what kind of weather is coming our way?

Compared to humans, some animals have special capabilities and more developed senses of smell and hearing. Recently, a study called Biophony has been examining sounds in a habitat at a certain time to analyze animal behavior before storms.

According to Dr. Simon Robson from the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at the James Cook University-Australia, some animals have the ability to forecast the weather through their behavior. Get to know some of weather’s wonder animals!

Cows
According to farmers, cows have the ability to forecast the weather. When cows become restless and lie down in the field to claim dry spots, it means they sense bad weather.

Scientists at the Universities of Arizona and Northern Missouri conducted a study about the behavior of cows in connection to the weather. It showed that cows lie down when it is about to get cold, and stand for long hours when it is about to get hot.

cow_tito eric

Ants
When bad weather enters, ants, particularly the red and black, build up their mounds as extra protection for their holes. A higher mound may be a sign of incoming rains or thunderstorms.

Ants tend to scatter during good weather and travel in straight lines when rain is brewing. They close their holes before the rain, and open them in in fair or dry weather. Ants may even become more aggressive and destructive in a drought condition.

Mound Building Ant 4

Bees and butterflies
When bees and butterflies disappear from the flowerbeds, heavy rains are expected in the next hours. Butterflies and bees are referred to as indicator species.
Their short lifespans are also observed to study the effects of climate change.

Honey bee hovering near blue-eyed grass flower

Birds
A lot of legends have come out about the ability of birds to predict storms or other natural disasters. Scientists believe birds can hear infrasound, a type of low frequency noise produced by storms, which humans are not capable of hearing.

Most birds also have special middle-ear receptors called the Vitali organ that can sense small changes in air pressure. Birds that fly high in the sky signify good weather, but if they fly low, a thunderstorm or bad weather is approaching.

Some believe that birds fly lower before the rain because they try to get closer to the insects, which also fly lower to the ground before the showers. But others say that flying closer to the ground protects birds from the air pressure of a storm at higher altitudes.

V-formation-660x348
Other beliefs: if a rooster crows before sleeping, there is a chance of rain. Chickens that group together while scratching for food also indicate bad weather. When owls cry strangely in the night, good weather will probably be experienced the following day. Meanwhile, ducks behaving unusually could mean bad weather is approaching.

Frog
The frogs are believed to croak or sing longer and louder than the usual when bad weather is on the way. If the volume increases, rains or gusty winds may affect the area.

05-ingerophrynus-philippinicus-phil-toad

Spiders
Spiders building their webs are believed to signify good weather conditions. If you see their webs scattered in the air, it could mean a dry spell. Spiders tend to be active and leave their webs before the rain pours. If there’s an incoming storm, spiders strengthen their webs.

JAN_3138-XL

Though there is no enough scientific proof, some of these animals may have helped in weather forecasting during the ancient times.

But in this day and age, it is always best to monitor the weather, not necessarily through animal behavior, but through meteorological agencies for more accurate and reliable information.

Sources:
http://www.nc-mag.com/
http://www.skymetweather.com/
www.weather.com
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/can-animals-sense-storms-weather/28009496
http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2011/02/22/furry-forecasters-7-amazing-weather-predicting-animals/
Images:
https://photos.smugmug.com
https://elnidoenvironment.files.wordpress.com
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/
http://www.uh.edu/
http://www.hivesforlives.com/
https://scjdmcdn.azureedge.net
http://turningboholano.blogspot.com/

 
Rain gear such as boots, coats and umbrellas are meant to protect your kids during the rainy days, but did you know that some of these items may harm your children’s health?
 
In a 2013 study conducted by the environmental watchdog, EcoWaste Coalition, 23 out of 33 rainwear products from Divisoria tested positive from the toxic chemicals, lead and cadmium.
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead is a heavy metal with a low melting point, and is easily molded and shaped. It is usually used as an element in pipes, storage batteries, pigments, paints
and vinyl products. However, it causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of
behavior, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immune-toxicity and
toxicity to the reproductive organs. Oftentimes, these effects are permanent.
 
Meanwhile, cadmium is a human carcinogen and has toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems.
 
lead raingear
 
Among the items analyzed by Ecowaste were 25 raincoats, five (5) umbrellas and three (3) pairs of rainboots that the group bought for P50 – P250 each from 10 discount shops situated at the following:
11/88 Shopping Mall, 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall and the Tutuban Prime Block Mall.
 
The group detected excessive levels of lead: up to 15,500 parts per million (ppm) of lead and up to 717 ppm of cadmium in 70% of the samples.
 
According to Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, these chemicals are
released into the environment and could affect kids through ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.
 
“Their hand-to- mouth behavior and their habit of sitting on the ground or the floor can result to greater childhood exposure to various toxins.” 
 
To prevent toxic exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to read product labels carefully
and avoid PVC materials. These materials are known for having strong chemical odors as they contain numerous toxic additives like cadmium and lead used as pigments or stabilizers.  
 
The group also advised parents to regularly check the condition of the products used by their kids for
any signs of wear and tear, and to frequently remind kids to wash their hands thoroughly, especially
before snacks or meals.
 
 
REFERENCES:

http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/2013/06/ecowaste-coalition- rain-gear- for-kids.html

http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/cadmium/en/

http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/leadguidance.pdf

 
For most schools in the Philippines, June still marks the beginning of another school year. Ironically, this month usually coincides with the rainy season wherein heavy downpour, floods and class suspensions are
common occurrences.
 
Will June’s weather make it hard for students to go to school? Let’s find out what PAGASA has to say.
 
WEATHER SYSTEMS
In an interview with PanahonTV, Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong said that seven different weather systems are likely to prevail at this time of the year:
 
Ridge of High Pressure Area – an extended part of an anti-cyclone that suppresses cloud formation, causing lesser chance of rains or fair weather condition.
 
Southwest Monsoon ¬- characterized by warm and moist air, the southwest monsoon or habagat usually speeds up cloud formation. Once enhanced by a tropical cyclone, the habagat can bring heavy downpour, which may cause floods in the western section of the country.
 
Intertropical Convergence Zone – refers to an area in the atmosphere where clouds are formed from the convergence of winds coming the northern and southern hemispheres. It can be a breeding ground of weather disturbances.
 

Easterlies – With warm and humid characteristics, these winds usually affect the eastern section of the county, bringing chances of thunderstorms.
 

Localized Thunderstorms – During warm days, heat speeds up evaporation and creates more clouds, which may dump moderate to heavy rains. Thunderstorms usually occur in the afternoon or evening, and last for one to two hours.
 

Low Pressure Area – an area in the atmosphere with a lower atmospheric pressure than its surroundings. Low pressure areas could usually develop into a tropical cyclone.
 

Tropical Cyclone
– The general term for a cyclone or bagyo, this weather disturbance is classified into four depending on its maximum sustained winds: tropical depression, tropical storm, typhoon and super typhoon.
 
2016’S FIRST BAGYO?
We’re almost halfway through the year but due to the El Niño-induced climatological drought, the Philippines is yet to have its first tropical cyclone.
 
According to Quitlong, an average of zero or one tropical cyclone enters the country’s boundary every June.
 
LIST OF TROPICAL CYCLONES 2016
 
Should we have a tropical cyclone this month, it will be named Ambo. One of these scenarios is likely to happen:
 
trak
 
EL NIÑO AND LA NIÑA
El Niño phenomenon, the unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean, continues to weaken and may return to neutral condition in July.
However, PAGASA remains to be on a La Niña Watch, as there is a 50% chance of a La Niña development in the latter part of 2016.
 
For now, most parts of the country will continue to experience below-normal rainfall conditions except in Northern Luzon and parts of Zamboanga Peninsula, where above-normal rainfall conditions will be experienced this month.
 
rainfall
 
HABAGAT IS BACK

According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Chris Perez, the habagat will strengthen in the coming week and may extend over Central and Southern Luzon.
 
“Hindi lamang dito sa ating bansa kundi maging dito sa West Philippine Sea, inaasahan natin, sa mga darating na araw simula ng Wednesday hanggang Biyernes ay posibleng mas maraming pag-ulan na dulot ng habagat at mas magiging maulan ang nakararaming bahagi ng ating bansa hindi lamang dito sa kanlurang bahagi, posibleng umabot na rin dito sa silangang bahagi dito sa may Palawan area, hanggang sa Kanlurang Kabisayaan,” stated Perez in an interview last Sunday, June 4, 2016.
 
“In the coming days, specifically from Wednesday to Friday, the habagat will start to pour more rains in the country. Rainy days are expected in the eastern and western sections of the Philippines, and could extend over Palawan and the Western Visayas.”

 
Now that the rainy season has arrived, expect that #NoLigo, will start to flood the social media as well—whether in jest or in all seriousness.
 
rain
 
#NoLigo:
When the rains come bringing with it the cold weather, one is tempted to just burrow into the bed covers, forgetting all responsibilities, even the ones involving personal hygiene.
 
But is it really okay to skip showers during this season, since we don’t perspire and it’s extremely cold?
 
According to Dr. Karen Elysse J. Beltran of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, even if we don’t perspire, bacteria thrive on our skin. If that isn’t enough reason to still take showers on rainy days, Beltran also reminds us that during the rainy season, we are prone to respiratory diseases such as cough and colds, as well as diarrhea. Mosquitoes are also rampant during this season, possibly carrying diseases. That’s why poor personal hygiene may cost you your health.
 
Aside from taking a bath everyday, here are more tips to help you stay healthy this rainy season:
 
Eat healthy.
It is not advisable to eat street foods. Water and air-borne diseases are usually caused by food prepared in open-air food carts. It’s better if you cook food, especially fruits and vegetables, at home with the right preparation.
 
Wash your hands.
Your hands are a hotspot for germs and bacteria. Washing your hands properly before handling food—whether cooking or eating—ensures that you don’t ingest the nasty stuff that can cause diseases.
 
Always have a handkerchief with you.
Cover your mouth and nose with a clean hanky to protect you from catching or spreading diseases in crowded places.
 
Avoid sharing personal things.
Sharing your personal things like towels, soap, hairbrushes and clothes with other people also means sharing bacteria and germs.
 
No matter the season, we should remain vigilant about personal hygiene. Health threats come indiscriminately, and it is our responsibility to make sure that we’re always equipped to fight them.

– By Camille O. Javines, PanahonTV intern