Architect launches donation drive to rebuild devastated Siargao Island


After seeing the aftermath of Typhoon Odette on Siargao Island, architect Tamara Juco immediately decided to start a fund drive in a bid to help her friends and employees who are reeling from the effects of the typhoon.

In less than a month, Juco managed to collect more than P100,000 cash donations from Good Samaritans, while others pledged to donate construction materials in order to help those who were left homeless by the typhoon.

“’Yung mga friends ko parang nagcha-chat na sa’kin kung nasa’n sila and ‘yung mga nangyayari. Then na-cut off ‘yung signal, so mga five days, four days, wala akong connection sa lahat-sa mga workers ko. Then no’ng nagka-signal na, do’n nakaalis ‘yung iba from Siargao,” she recalled in an interview with The Philippine STAR.

Apart from starting a fund drive for those affected by the typhoon, Juco also decided to offer free consultations to locals to help them rebuild their houses.

“Nakita ko lahat ng photos na sobrang sira ‘yung place. Walang bubong lahat. So parang nagpa-ano agad ako ng donation drive for my workers, local friends, and ‘yung mga surfer do’n sa Siargao,” she added.

Juco, who decided to stay and start her own business after finishing a project on the island in 2020, said she was surprised with the overwhelming support of individuals who wanted to extend assistance to residents affected by the typhoon.

“Basically ‘yung sa’kin, parang, magbibigay lang talaga ako ng cash sa mga friends ko do’n na local surfer and sa mga worker ko,” she noted.

“Super dami ng nag-donate. Wala na akong mapaglagyan ng iba so cinonvert ko na lang siya for Rebuild Siargao since ang dami talagang natanggal at nasira lalo na mga local homes, wala na sila mga bahay…So nag-decide na kami na i-convert siya sa mas typhoon-proof na mga bahay,” Juco said.

Juco also included in her project a call for donors of solar lights to help locals continue their daily lives since restoration of electricity in the area may take a while.

“So nag-propose kasi ako ng super low cost but easy to build na start up for locals. So basically ano lang siya, concrete structure with flat roof na [inaudible]. Kasi base sa observations ko after no’ng typhoon, nag-survive ‘yung mga GI roof compared sa mga nipa lang and lightweight. And ‘yung mga flat roof na conrete, sila ‘yung mga nag-survive so basically ‘yun ‘yung prinopose ko na start-up for locals,” she explained.

Meanwhile, netizens applauded Juco’s initiative to help locals rise from the devastating typhoon.

As of this writing, Juco’s Facebook post has already garnered 11,000 reactions and 10,000 shares.

Her viral post reached other architects, engineers, contractors, and business owners who then pledged to offer services and donate materials.

“No’ng nag-post na ako ng about sa rebuild program, may mga lumapit na na co-architechs from Davao, Quezon City, and ‘yung mga previous colleagues ko and schoolmates. Nag-initiate na sila mag-donation drive for Siargao,” she said.

Juco, who left Siargao Island last month to spend the holiday season with her family in Manila, plans to return to the island this January to start the project.

Since the island became her new home, Tamara hopes that the project will help locals recover from the disaster brought by the typhoon. Currently, they are now beginning to assess the area and look for the project’s beneficiaries.

“[‘Yung] Siargao kasi parang cinonsider ko na siya as my home, family. So parang medyo do’n ako nag-focus since madami rin namang tao na nag-focus sa ibang provinces. Ako parang do’n talaga mag-focus sa Siargao kasi ilan lang kami do’n [na] architects and contractor do’n sa Siargao so parang nag-initiate ako na tumulong for them,” she shared.

Tamara also expressed gratitude to all the individuals who helped her make the project possible.

“Thankful din ako sa mga random people na nagbigay ng big amount for the locals. Usually sila ‘yung mga nami-meet kong tourist sa Siargao then nakakasama namin for a week. So ‘yung heart nila nasa mga locals na din na friends ko, pina-meet sa kanila. Different stories of locals,” she said.

Meanwhile, Juco also appealed to fellow architects, engineers, contractors, and business owners to join her project in helping locals build their new homes.

“Siguro big help ‘yung profession namin na i-spread ‘yung connections from different suppliers like roofing suppliers, may mga nag-connect na sa’kin na willing mag-donate,” she said.

She also encouraged tourists to visit the island as soon as the government permits it in order to provide income to locals, as they depend on the tourism of the island for their monthly income.

“For the future tourists, visit Siargao kahit sobrang sira na ng mga trees do’n para makatulong kayo sa locals and other businesses. Kasi kakasimula lang din ng Siargao since pandemic. Then for others na magdo-donate pa, thank you for supporting Siargao,” she said.

Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano
Janelle Lorzano likes long walks on the seaside and listening to people about their lives. When she isn't writing, she travels and discover new places.