tropical cyclones in PH

IN PHOTOS: Olango Island after Odette

John Sitchon
IN PHOTOS: Olango Island after Odette

REBUILDING. The people of Olango Island use scraps from their destroyed homes to build anew, on December 31, 2021. John SitchonRappler

John Sitchon/Rappler

What was once a tourist destination known for its bird and marine sanctuary is now a husk of its former self

CEBU, Philippines – The days are cold and nights are long on Olango Island. 

What was once a tourist-destination known for its bird and marine sanctuary is now a husk of its former self after Typhoon Odette smashed the small island off of Mactan last December 16.

Dark clouds have been hovering over the villages on the island for several days now.

Almost all of the residents earn a living from fishing or tourism, mostly from foreigners who would come to visit. 

But they stopped coming here after COVID-19 shut down tourism in the Philippines in 2020.

Odette turned the villages on the island upside down, destroying the roofs and walls of almost all the huts and houses here.

Solar-powered street lamps and electrical posts are rendered useless after the powerful storm ripped them off the ground and smashed most of them into the concrete. 

Trees were plucked from the soil and corrugated sheets dangle from branches and hanging wires.

Despite the cold, the townsfolk are still warm. Their spirits and smiles light their dark shelters – or lack thereof. It is all they can do as they wait for more aid to reach the island. 

Many lack access to potable water, most homes still do not have electricity, while others cannot obtain – or afford to buy – materials to replace the roofs of their homes. 

These days, the villagers sleep on damp bed sheets and shiver as storms continue to pass over the island. 

For the New Year, if they cannot get electricity back on, many villagers wish for food, water, solar-powered lamps, flashlights, and cellular signal. 

Others just wish for this nightmare to be over.

DEVASTATED. Many homes in the island can be found in this state—destroyed completely. Picture taken on New Year’s eve, December 31, 2021. John Sitchon/Rappler
FALLEN. Due to the difficulty in traveling from the mainland to the island, it may take months before the fallen electrical posts are recovered. John Sitchon/Rappler
‘AYUDA’. After enduring weeks without aid, the townsfolk of Barangay Sabang wait for their names to be called to receive relief packages from the government on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2022. John Sitchon/Rappler
REBUILDING. The people of Olango Island use scraps from their destroyed homes to build anew, on December 31, 2021. John SitchonRappler
‘SURVIVOR’. A small statue of the holy child is the sole survivor of a dilapidated church, on December 31, 2021. John Sitchon/Rappler
DAMAGED. The vibrant and famous tourist attraction, known as the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, is now inaccessible to the public due to the damage it sustained. John Sitchon/Rappler

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