‘We need free air con’: Philippines suspends in-person classes due to heatwave, jeepney strike

“In view of the latest heat index forecast … and the announcement of a nationwide transport strike, all public schools nationwide shall implement asynchronous classes/distance learning on April 29 and 30, 2024,” the department said on Facebook.

The education department oversees more than 47,000 schools across the archipelago nation.

Some jeepney drivers also plan to hold a three-day nationwide strike starting on Monday to protest the government’s plan to phase out the smoke-belching vehicles used by many Filipinos to commute to work and school.

A woman cools off with a hand fan inside a jeepney in Manila. The government wants to phase out the smoke-belching vehicles. Photo: AFP

The suspension of in-person classes comes after Manila recorded its highest ever temperature.

The temperature in the city hit a record high of 38.8 degrees Celsius (101.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday with the heat index reaching 45 degrees, data from the state weather forecaster showed.

The heat index measures what a temperature feels like, taking into account humidity.

The hot weather persisted on Sunday with many people flocking to air-conditioned shopping malls and swimming pools for relief.

“This is the hottest I’ve ever experienced here,” said Nancy Bautista, 65, whose resort in Cavite province near Manila was fully booked due to the hot weather.

Final destination: Philippines’ Jeepney drivers protest against phase-out plan

“Many of our guests are friends and families. They swim in the pool to fight the heat.”

The months of March, April and May are typically the hottest and driest of the year, but this year’s conditions have been exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon.

“All places in the country, not necessarily just Metro Manila, are expected to have hotter temperatures until the second week of May,” said Glaiza Escullar from the state weather forecaster.

“There is a possibility that the areas will exceed those temperatures being measured today until the second week of May.”

Camiling municipality in Tarlac province, north of Manila, recorded a temperature of 40.3C on Saturday, the country’s highest this year.

02:04

Relative humidity hits 100% in southern China

Relative humidity hits 100% in southern China

As the mercury rose, Gerise Reyes, 31, planned to take her two-year-old daughter to a shopping centre near Manila.

“It’s hot here at home. This is the hottest I’ve ever experienced especially between 10am and 4pm,” she said.

“We need a free air con to cut our electricity bill.”

Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the United Nations’ weather and climate agency said Tuesday that Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.

The Philippines ranks among the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

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