Siargao Island reopens to tourists after 'Odette' devastation, says mayor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2022 03:10 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2022 12:08 AM

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MANILA — Siargao Island, the Philippines' known world-class surfing destination, is reopening to tourists, a local official said Monday, around two months since it was devastated by Typhoon Odette.

In an interview with ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Mayor Prosferina Coro of Del Carmen town, Surigao del Norte said the airport in Siargao already reopened after months of closure due to damage incurred from the typhoon.

"Bukas na po ang tourism natin," she said, noting that some resorts have resumed their operations already.

(Our tourism has reopened.)

"Maayos-ayos na po kami ngayon," she added, even as she admitted that recovery efforts continue, including for some resorts and on the livelihood of the people.

(We're quite better now.)

Cielo Villaluna, spokesperson of Philippine Airlines, told ABS-CBN News their flights to Siargao will resume on Feb. 22, using its 86-seater De Havilland Dash 8-400 NG aircraft.

"We look forward to resuming flights to Siargao. PR2971/2972 Manila-Siargao-Manila will operate every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday," she said.

The Philippines Airlines' 86-seater De Havilland Dash 8-400 NG aircraft will be utilized in its Manila-Siargao-Manila flights that will resume on Feb. 22, 2022 following disruptions caused by typhoon Odette last December. Photo courtesy of Cielo Villaluna, PAL spokesperson.
The Philippines Airlines' 86-seater De Havilland Dash 8-400 NG aircraft will be utilized in its Manila-Siargao-Manila flights that will resume on Feb. 22, 2022 following disruptions caused by typhoon Odette last December. Photo courtesy of Cielo Villaluna, PAL spokesperson.

Since the start of the year, small businesses in Siargao have gradually reopened. Residents also continue to rebuild their homes.

Aside from the livelihood of residents and the need to relocate some of them away from "no-build zones", particularly in coastal areas, Coro said the challenges currently on the island include stable telecommunications signal.

"Sa airport lang maganda ang signal," she said. The airport in Siargao is located in Del Carmen.

(It's only at the airport here where you can find a stable signal).

Local governments, said Coro, are relying on the national government on the relocation site for residents in coastal areas.

She is also appealing for help for their fisherfolk whose boats were damaged by the typhoon.

"We have to look into the livelihood ng mga kababayan natin, kasi sirang-sira ang Siargao. 90 percent po down ang Siargao. 80 percent ng coconut trees namin, uprooted… It will take 5 years to recover siguro. Yung farming namin, walang wala talaga, kasi natumba nga yung (niyog)," the official shared.

(We have to look into the livelihood of our people here because Siargao was really devastated. Siargao was 90 percent destroyed... Our farming is back to zero because many coconut trees fell.)

"Yung fishing natin, wala rin. So practically, we are looking into kung sino makatulong sa fisherfolks. Yung mga banca nila, dapat ayusin. Yung iba, nawala ang banca," she added.

(Our fishing is also down. So, practically, we are looking to find help for our fisherfolk. Their boats need to be repaired. Others lost their boats.)

Del Carmen is among 9 municipalities of Surigao del Norte province located on Siargao Island.

The strongest storm to enter the Philippines in 2021, Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) packed winds of 195 kilometers per hour before it made its first landfall over Siargao in Dec. 16.

More than 400 were reported dead in the aftermath of the storm, which destroyed houses, and disrupted communication and power in parts of Visayas and Mindanao.