Siargao needs P2.5B to recover from typhoon attack, says Surigao Norte legislator

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SIARGAO – The tourist paradise of Siargao Island still needs at least 2.5 billion pesos to fully recover from the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) in December 2021.

This amount would be needed to rebuild destroyed classrooms, roads, multipurpose buildings and the seawall, which protects the island from strong waves and surges whenever a typhoon strikes, the Surigao Del Norte representative said, Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas II.

“We don’t know when the typhoon will arrive. If we can’t restore it, we don’t have a first line of defense,” Matugas said in an interview on Monday, October 17.

Matugas said the seawall saved people living near the beach during Typhoon Odette.

Matugas said they also needed to rebuild roads, several schools and houses. They were also to create several multi-purpose buildings in many barangays that would serve as evacuation centers during calamities.

The town of General Luna must also rebuild the iconic observation tower for surfing activities at Cloud 9.

Matugas said that the national government, through the Speaker of the Chamber, Martin Romualdez, had facilitated the release of 200 million pesos from the Rapid Response Fund of the Ministry of Public Works and Highways.

A separate amount of 45 million pesos has also been released for General Luna’s housing program for the 100 families hardest hit by Odette.

Tourism in Siargao has started to rebound, especially with the recent holding of the International Surfing Cup. Even without the events, foreign and domestic tourists started visiting the island to learn how to surf and experience the waves in Siargao.

Flights are summed by Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. A third carrier, Sunlight Air, will also add more flights to Siargao.

Most foreign visitors to Siargao are European and some come from Australia, Israel, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.

Nightlife in Siargao has also returned, with several restaurants and bars packed for the holidays, especially now that COVID-19 restrictions have been eased.

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