disaster relief

Surfer Ikit Agudo rebuilds over 100 houses in post-Odette Siargao

Alren Beronio

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Surfer Ikit Agudo rebuilds over 100 houses in post-Odette Siargao

REBUILDING LIVES. Lola Estrera and Ikit Agudo reunite ten months after the pro surfer and friends rebuilt her destroyed house less than a month after Typhoon Odette struck Siargao island on December 16, 2021.

Alren Beronio

The surfer and her friends also raise funds to help repair 1,000 partially damaged homes

SIARGAO, Philippines – Pro surfer Ikit Agudo gained viral fame on June 12, 2021, Independence Day as she rode the waves in a baro’t saya for ‘Pearls,’ an art project by Archie Geotina. 

Geotina conceptualized the project in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic after Ikit and her sister, Aping, asked what surfers could do with their Siargo surf playgrounds off-bounds during lockdown.

But the surfer also threw herself into other projects, raising funds to rebuild more than a hundred houses in her Surigao del Norte hometown Siargao, following the devastation wrought by Typhoon Odette (Rai) in December 2021. 

Odette destroyed around 80% of the structures on the island.

Together with volunteer surfers Gigi Forcadilla, Roldan Pacanor,  Cheska Yopangko, and the Agudo brothers, she immediately started raising funds through social media for relief aid and to rebuild the shelters of poor families.

Ikit was not around when the typhoon struck. Speaking in an Asian Development Bank (ADB) video, Ikit expressed her despair on arrival, three days after Odette’s rampage.

“What used to be a beautiful, green, coconut tree-filled island was brown and broken,” she recalled.

GONE. Lola Estrera stares at what remains of the family house days after Typhoon Odette destroyed 80% of Siargao structures in December 16, 2021. (Ikit Agudo)

By December 26, their group had distributed roofing materials and nails to 66 families.

They eventually managed to send materials to more than a thousand families with damaged houses and rebuild more than 100 destroyed homes.

The first house they rebuilt on January 6, 2022 belonged to Lola Estrera.

Her family, including four grandchildren, spent the first couple of weeks post-Odette sleeping under a makeshift roof that leaked every time it rained. 

“Many people expressed their intention to help after I posted on Instagram my fund campaign for housing projects. People would message me about what they can help with, especially regarding finances and other building materials,” Agudo said.

A few days after completing Lola Estrera’s house, the group also gave boatman Allan Bual’s family a new home.

Each house project, which used high-quality lumber, corrugated roofing, and other materials, cost between P25,000 to P30,000.

The city government of Borongan and the province of Eastern Samar, which also hosts surfing destinations, were among the first to send aid, providing housing materials, tarps, food and water, and other relief aid.

Ten months after starting the project, Ikit and her  associates visited Lola Estrera, whose  rehabilitated house is in Barangay Poblacion 1, General Luna.

NEW HOME. Lola Estrera smiles from the comfort of her recliner ten months after surfer Ikit Agudo and friends rebuilt the family house destroyed in December 2021. (Alren Beronio)

“It took a day and three carpenters to build this home and because of your donations, Lola Estrera and her family were finally able to sleep comfortably every night,” Agudo told her friends during their visit on Saturday, October 22.

At present, Agudo is focusing on her business in the said island and in providing surfing lessons to tourists. She will be competing in the Philippine Surfing Legs in other parts of the Philippines.

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