BAGUIO CITY - For a city that always looks forward to cooler nights, Tuesday's 12 degrees Celsius-the lowest temperature recorded in December-may be a harbinger of colder days in early 2014.
Rolando Bagorio, the Baguio weather forecaster, said the coldest day in 2013 was Jan. 17 when temperatures dropped to 9.5 degrees Celsius.
The cold and the unbearable traffic jams have prompted the city's tourists to leave their vehicles at their hotels and inns and walk downtown.
A jeepney driver plying Dominican Hill advised his passengers to take a stroll instead when a traffic jam slowed the usual 15-minute jeepney ride to downtown Baguio.
"It is cold, but this is normal for us. It gets colder in January and February and we have learned to walk it off. You should try it," the driver told a group of young women who were visiting from Marikina City.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan also suggested a brisk walk to avoid the heavy traffic leading to the downtown area and the city's popular visitor haunts, when he addressed tourist complaints about traffic jams on Monday.
He said the traffic problem proves that it is the weather that continues to draw people to the mountain city.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Baguio temperatures have been falling steadily through the holiday period.
Bagorio said the mercury fell to 15.4 degrees Celsius on Dec. 24. It rose to 16.2 degrees Celsius on Christmas Day, only to drop slightly to 16 degrees Celsius on Dec. 26, and 14.5 degrees on Dec. 27, when President Aquino arrived for a three-day vacation. The temperature dropped to 12.5 degrees on Dec. 28, 12.6 degrees on Dec. 29 and 12.2 degrees on Dec. 30.
Bagorio said the city could still experience a temperature drop of 10 and 9 degrees at the start of 2014, based on the city's weather patterns the past 10 years.
The cold means there is no better time to use that familiar knitted Baguio bonnet, one of the summer capital's cheapest and most popular souvenir items. The demand for these knitted hats increases during the cold months, making home-based knitters doubly busy.
Rose Fausto, 41, who has been knitting bonnets for the past five years, said she earns double when the cold weather starts.