Find Bayanihan Beauty in Siargao's Shores during COVID-19
Kenneth Mheil Mangaya- Ay | May 04, 2020
Siargao is a haven to nature lovers as it showcases the best of what nature can offer. Known to the world, it is the Philippines’ “Surfing Capital” famous not just to Filipinos but to a big number of foreign travelers. It is the home of the world’s best surfers and a place where we always want to be.
[related: The 10 Wonders of Siargao Island]
For Award-winning surfer, Ikit Agudo, the place she calls home, Siargao, is taking a much-needed break during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine, “Napakalaking tulong nito sa kalikasan ng isla kasi wala na masyadong mga basura dahil di crowded at dahil rin pansamantalang nagsarado ang mga establisyimento dito. Nabawasan din ang mga sasakyan so wala na din masyadong road accidents. (The island is benefiting because there is less garbage now with no crowds and closed establishments. Also, there are fewer motor vehicles plying the roads, resulting in fewer road accidents.).” She happily shared that there are no confirmed or suspected cases on the island. Residents follow all the rules and guidelines for safety.
But, the waves of fate suddenly changed when the Enhance Community Quarantine was implemented, as locals rely mostly on tourism for living. “Marami po sa kanila ang talagang apektado pero kabisado naman nila yung buhay isla so medyo madali lang naka-adjust. (Many are greatly affected but locals already know the 'island life' so they easily adjusted.),” said Ikit, “Marami din naming tumutulong sa aming community through donations, distribution of relief goods and feeding programs. (There also many people who extended help to the community through donations, distribution of relief goods, and feeding programs.).”
Life is now back to basics on the island, with many going back to fishing and farming. The Municipal Police Station in General Luna also shed some rays of hope to residents through Hardin ng Pagbabago, a community-based project that aims to develop peaceful and sustainable communities through the practice of Bayanihan in barangays in order to establish, maintain, and sustain community farms that will be a source of food, funds and pride. “Yung mga tao din halos lahat sa isla they’re helping each other kahit affected, di masyado nahihirapan kase ramdam na ramdam yung suporta sa isa’t-isa. Binalik na rin yung barter system dito so maraming paraan to survive. (Residents on the island help each other that’s why no one suffers because we are here to support each other. The barter system was also revived so there are many ways to survive.),” shared Ikit.
Meanwhile, business establishments are taking a proactive approach, as local and foreign tourists are temporarily prohibited to enter the island. “Nagdi-discount kadalasan mga establishments halos 50% lalo na sa mga taong nagdesisyon na manatili rito, long term rentals. May mga kainan rin dito na nagde-deliver ng walang extra fees (Most establishments offer 50% discount to tourists who chose to stay on the island, long term rentals. Restaurants deliver foods without extra fees.),” said Ikit.
Ikit is hopeful that locals will never forget the lesson brought by the pandemic, “For the island community, mas malawak na ang pagkakaintindi ng mga tao na importante yung magtanim at alagaan yung reefs namin kasi ito rin yung magsu-sustain sa mga tao (For the island community, they have a better understanding about the importance of farming and taking good care of our reefs because these will help sustain the community in the long run.).” Meanwhile, Ikit's beloved island sits in isolation, slowly rehabilitating and readying itself to welcome visitors to a fresher, cleaner, quieter, and more beautiful Siargao!