Restaurateur JB Daval saw how his business thrived in the middle of the pandemic, attracting a loyal following of digital nomads who made Siargao their home, until Typhoon Odette (Rai) laid waste to the island over the weekend, sending many of them home to figure out how to rebuild their lives.
Daval's baby, Balai Uno, was reduced to a pile of scrap by Odette, which left at least 375 people killed and flattened many communities in the Visayas, a destruction not seen since Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.
Images from survivors in Siargao, one of several hard-hit provinces, showed the extent of the damage that will leave thousands without homes or livelihood just days before Christmas.
“I just started it last year, in the middle of a pandemic, and now this...," Daval told reportr.
What was once a strip of restaurants with party-goers soaking the island life, General Luna in Siargao is now littered with felled coconut trees and debris.
Together with his family who was vacationing there when the Typhoon Struck Thursday, Daval left Siargao three days later after getting the chance to rent a boat that ferried them to Hayanggabon, Surigao del Norte.
From there, they headed to Barangay Bad-as in Placer town to ride a van to Butuan City, and then hailed a bus going to their hometown in Tagum, which took them eight hours.
For a time, this was the easiest way to leave the island, after the typhoon caused the closure of the nearest seaport in Dapa, and totally damaged the airport, shutting down commercial flights.
Daval said he was planning to rebuild the restaurant that was his only source of living "probably after six months".
"There's always time to rebuild... I know Siargaonons will keep the faith strong. Babangyon 'yan," he said.
Here are more photos of General Luna that Daval sent reportr: