A month after typhoon Odette ravaged Siargao and other parts of Visayas and Mindanao, locals are picking up the pieces in rebuilding their beloved island. Amid the generally optimistic spirit among the community, people are looking to one other sign of hope that better days are ahead for Siargao: these photos of a local kite bird, known as “banog,” resting atop a stripped-down coconut tree.
Jicko Andanar, a Siargao resident and a local hobby photographer, took the photos of the brown-and-white Brahminy kite, which made the rounds on social media.
“Due to the damages of Super Typhoon Odette in most of Siargao’s rainforest, a Brahminy Kite or locally known as ‘Banog’ was spotted resting on a stripped coconut tree,” Andanar’s post read.
Andanar told Coconuts that he chanced upon the banog while on the road with his son. “I was riding a motorcycle with my son to look for a Philippine Hornbill on the mountainside of Dapa town. Along the way there were series of stripped coconuts, and one tree caught my attention because of a banog resting on top, which is an uncommon sight to see.”
According to Andanar, the widespread damage drove birds away from the trees and sought refuge deep into the mountains “where there are remaning undisturbed patches of habitat.”
“A few weeks after the typhoon, these birds are slowly going back because trees are already regaining life and sprouting new leaves,” he said.
Andanar was on the island when typhoon Odette hit, an experience he called “the scariest four hours of my life.”
“The experience was traumatic. Until now I can still remember how the wind sounded like a bulldozer and how it managed to remove almost our entire roof,” he narrated.
Andanar, who works at the Department of Health, has been working tirelessly to support the health needs of the Siargao community, many of whom remain isolated from the mainland because of the typhoon’s havoc. He shared that the disconnected electric posts and communication towers have affected the health response coordination to different municipalities, especially in far-flung barangays.
Despite the challenges, Andanar said that the feeling of community and helping one another has enabled Siargao residents to rise again. “Most are able to move on fast after Odette’s havoc because of the support from the Local Government, NGAs, NGOs, and the amazing and tireless support of the private groups and volunteers. Some of these people who tirelessly work for the people on the island are from different places outside the island and the country.”