Dinagat 30 Days after Odette

Text and Photos by Leonard G. Reyes 

SAN JOSE, Dinagat Islands (MindaNews/ 16 January) – Thirty days after Typhoon Odette made landfall in the Caraga region, the island province of Dinagat appears to still be in a state of emergency as many remote barangays have yet to receive adequate relief action from concerned agencies as well as relief organizations. 

Odette made its second of nine landfalls in the Philippines in Cagdianao town in the province of Dinagat Islands at 3:10 p.m. on December 16, 2021. 

Almost 30,000 houses were leveled to the ground or extensively damaged in the aftermath of the typhoon. The homeless are now staying in makeshift shelters with tarpaulin from donations serving as their roof. Dinagatnons, who rely mostly on fishing and farming for their livelihood are reliant on donations of rice and canned goods as fishing boats and crops have been totally wiped out. 

As a local observer puts it, Dinagat appears to be still in a state of emergency 30 days after Odette (international name: Rai) made landfall on the island. It’s as if Odette struck only a few days ago. 

Observers also note the limited attention of local and international relief organizations who appear to have been focusing their resources more on neighboring Siargao Island, the world-famous tourist destination.

Left to fend mostly for themselves, Dinagatnons muster the spirit of pahina (bayanihan)  to help themselves as they have no one else to rely on.       

(Leonard G Reyes is an independent film producer and photographer. He is a trained social worker and an experienced development communication officer for various NGOs)

The extent of damage to these houses near the port of San Jose in the province of Dinagat Islands attests to the ferocity of winds brought by typhoon Odette which suddenly intensified as it neared the Caraga region on December 16, 2021. Photo taken 14 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
An elderly resident of Barangay Boa in Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands, is framed by the skeletons of trees on a hill overlooking their former village, almost completely leveled to the ground by the ferocity of the winds and storm surges brought by typhoon Odette.  Five fatalities were reported in the aftermath. Photo taken 11 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
A man tears down what remains of his home, rendered beyond repair by typhoon Odette which struck Brgy. R. Ecleo in the municipality of Cagdianao in the Dinagat Islands in Caraga region on Dec. sixteen at around noon.  Photo taken 7 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
Resident attempts to clear some of the debris around her grandson’s home as her hut is being demolished to make way for the construction of a makeshift shelter. Many senior citizens in the Dinagat Islands live alone as their children have already migrated elsewhere.   Photo taken 7 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
Visitacion Montecalvo was in Surigao city when typhoon Odette suddenly intensified and struck the Dinagat Islands as a super typhoon at noon on December 16, 2021. Upon returning on December 22, she found her home roofless and all her belongings waterlogged.   Photo taken 11 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
A month after Typhoon Odette struck the Dinagat Islands, people in remote coastal villages continue to live in temporary shelters awaiting relief and construction materials to rebuild their homes. Photo taken 11 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
A mother and child in the island Barangay of Mabini, in Cagdianao town in the province of Dinagat Islands, bring home rice and other relief goods from a mission sponsored by a local politician. Many villages, some accessible only by boat plying the treacherous waters of Dinagat, are solely reliant on relief goods at present, as typhoon Odette destroyed fishing boats and fish cages which are their main sources of livelihood. Leonard G. Reyes 
The public school of Basilisa, in the Dinagat Islands, which sits on a small hill overlooking the town, bore the brunt of typhoon Odette’s wrath. The school was preparing for limited  face to face classes in January after more than two years of module-based learning when typhoon Odette tore off the school’s roof and damaged learning materials and classrooms, most beyond salvaging.  Photo taken 14 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
A schoolteacher in her house in the island Barangay of Mabini in Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands, which remains roofless 30 days after Typhoon Odette struck the Caraga region. Leonard G. Reyes 
A resident of the island-barangay of Mabini in Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands, poses inside her roofless house. At least 100 houses in the village have been completely destroyed with the rest heavily damaged. Leonard G. Reyes 
Roofless houses in the fishing community of Barangay Mabini,  Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands.  Residents are already financially challenged because of the amihan (Northeast Monsoon) which limits their fishing activities to a minimum. With no income, they are unable to buy roofing materials and do other repairs. Leonard G. Reyes 
Workers clear debris in Barangay Boa, in Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands. Barangay Boa is among the worst hit by Typhoon Odette in the Dinagat Islands. Photo taken 12 January 2022, Leonard G. Reyes
A resident of Barangay Boa cooks his supper outside a makeshift shelter he has constructed where his former house once stood. Photo taken 11 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
Visitacion Montecalvo of San Jose, Dinagat Islands proudly shows a picture of “Divine Master” Ruben Ecleo Sr., founder of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association of which she is a member. The photo is among the few cherished possessions she was able to salvage from the wreckage of her home which was heavily damaged by Typhoon Odette. Photo taken 11 January 2022. Leonard G. Reyes 
The remains of a chapel in the island Barangay of Mabini in Cagdianao, in the Dinagat Islands, in the aftermath of typhoon Odette. The residents of Mabini have put up the chapel’s cross even as they are yet unable to have it repaired. Leonard G. Reyes