How This Siargao Resort Rebounded After Typhoon Odette

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Travel

Owner Chunchi Soler recalls that for 5 hours that day they were stuck in a bathroom, protected only by cement walls and a closed window.

RHIA GRANA | August 09, 2022

It should be painful and shocking to watch a serene tropical paradise turn into a disaster area in a matter of hours. But that’s what happened to Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte when it was ravaged by super typhoon Odette (international name Rai) last December, one of the strongest storms recorded in 2021.

Resort owner Chunchi Soler recalls that for more than five hours he and his business partner Carlo Tanseco, along with two friends and one of their sons, took refuge in a single bathroom. Its cement walls and a boarded-up window protected them. Soler is aware that they are luckier than most. Probably luckier than those whose roofs, walls and windows were washed away and shattered by the super typhoon.

Guests have the option of taking a dip in the pool or hitting the beach, which is just a short walk from the villa.

“Like everything on the island, Munimuni was badly hit, but it withstood the strong wind and rain,” he told ANCX.

Munimuni is the seaside resort of Soler which is not even a year old in Siargao. They started building in June 2021 and opened to vacationers in November. The structure and the roof survived the typhoon, having been built with stronger materials. “But as our roof was natural anahaw– in keeping with the island vibe – water penetrated the ceilings. The high winds also damaged glass, doors and windows.

Munimuni Siargao
Munimuni is designed to be a home away from home.

The morning after Odette was like a scene from a horror movie. “It felt like a zombie apocalypse,” Soler recalls. “The once green environment has turned brown and gray. And there were fallen trees, utility poles and debris everywhere.

Fortunately, at the time of the storm, Munimuni was undergoing the second phase of its construction. The contractor always had his team with him and they were able to start repairs and restoration immediately. “We are now back to 100% operation and are in the process of completing two additional units that will add four bedrooms to Munimuni,” Soler offers. “We plan to open these two-bedroom units by September.”

Munimuni Siargao
Munimuni first opened its doors to customers in November 2021, before Typhoon Odette hit Siargao.

With Odette’s lessons in mind, Soler says he and his team were able to build a stronger base for the station. To prepare for any similar storms in the future, his contractor secured the roofs with more metal support and added long span sheets before laying down the layer of anahaw roof.

But aside from the Munimuni structure now having a stronger base, Soler says it’s their team that has become stronger than ever. “Our team has become stronger and more united after surviving Odette together.”

Munimuni Siargao
Most of the accents found at Munimuni were collected by Soler and Tanseco over time.

There’s something about Siargao that makes you ruminate over life’s big and small events. This is why Soler and Tanseco decided to name their company here Munimuni in the first place. “We have observed that everyone who visits the island reflects on where they are in their lives. They question the decisions they have made and, in fact, many have made life-changing decisions on the island. ‘island.

Villa Munimuni was designed to be a home away from home, decorated with bright colors, handpicked furnishings and artwork. It reflects the tastes and lifestyles of its owners. In fact, most of the accents found at Munimuni were collected by Soler and artist Tanseco over time. “[Carlo and I] I really enjoy enhancing spaces, telling stories and bringing life and character to areas,” Soler offers. “So that nothing is boring or empty without being overly decorated.”

Munimuni Siargao
This bright space welcomes customers to the lobby of the Munimuni.

Before Odette, business was already booming despite the pandemic. Tourists have started to return to the island. “We were doing pretty well and Munimuni was well received,” says Soler. “We had great reviews even though we were the newcomer to the island.” Besides its charming facade and interiors, Munimuni’s Salosalo Café has also become a favorite among locals, says the owner; their beef tapa and longganisa are crowd pleasers. In the afternoon, they serve simple snacks like skinny fries, cheese sticks and eggplant fritters, to go with the drinks on the menu.

Munimuni Siargao
Munimuni’s Salosalo coffee has become a favorite among locals, says the owner; their beef tapa and longganisa are crowd pleasers.

The rest of Siargao is on the way to recovery, Soler observes. Others say rehabilitation is taking a while while some predict the island will be back on its feet by the end of the year. There are still establishments that have not resumed their activities but those that have seem to be doing well. A friend says there is a rotation of star bars every night so everyone has a chance to win enough.

Munimuni Siargao
The structure and the roof of the villas survived the typhoon, having been built with stronger materials.

Soler shares the excitement of seeing many establishments reopen and how everyone is rebuilding structurally and aesthetically sound homes for their businesses. “Like Munimuni, many raised funds from friends and generous donors, to help with relief and support those in need,” he says. “And now businesses have focused on helping each other and helping each other to continue to provide jobs and livelihoods.”

Life in the paradise island could indeed slowly return to what it was. The previous months could only have given the champions and people of Siargao the time and space to gather their strength and make their own muni-muni, ruminating on the lessons of the past to guide the community towards a safer future. .

Photos from Munimuni Siargao’s Instagram page



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