REBUILDING. Rehabilitation works continue on the boardwalk and the view deck at the Cloud 9 Surfing Site in General Luna, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte despite the deferment of this year’s international surfing competition. The facilities were completely destroyed when Typhoon Odette hit the island in December last year. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island – With recovery efforts still ongoing six months after the Typhoon Odette devastation, the local government of General Luna in Siargao Island, has decided to defer the staging of its international surfing competition.

General Luna, particularly the Cloud 9 surfing area, has been the venue of annual international surfing competitions in the past years, the last one being the 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup held in October 2019.

The yearly international water sports competition was interrupted in 2020 and 2021 following the coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic.

“There will be no international surfing competition this year,” General Luna Mayor Sol Matugas said in an interview Sunday (July 10), adding only local competitions will push through this year.

Matugas said the decision is based on the prevailing conditions in the municipality after the onslaught of “Odette” in December last year.

The typhoon completely destroyed the town's famous boardwalk, the view deck, and the other facilities at the Cloud 9 surfing area.

Matugas said the local government is expediting the repair of essential facilities in preparation for the planned localized surfing cup later this year.

She said the local government has already granted tax holidays to local businesses up to December this year to help them recover from the typhoon onslaught.
“The tax holiday will run until December this year,” the mayor added.

Based on the February 8, 2022 data from the Post Disaster Needs Assessment provided by the Department of Tourism in the Caraga Region (DOT-13), Typhoon Odette caused a total of over PHP1.6 billion in damages on the entire island.

General Luna incurred the biggest damage, placed at over PHP1.2 billion.

A total of 5,494 tourism workers were also affected by the typhoon on the whole island, 2,741 of whom are from General Luna.

The international surfing competition, held every October, is considered a sought-after event as it regularly draws large numbers of domestic and foreign arrivals to the island.

Data from the DOT-13 indicated that in October 2017, a total of 11,802 arrivals were recorded in Siargao consisting of 8,737 domestic and 3,065 foreign visitors.

The number increased to 16,914 in October 2018 with 11,203 domestic and 5,684 foreign arrivals.

During the staging of the 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup held in October 2019, the number of arrivals swelled to 34,770 with 25,079 domestic and 9,691 foreign visits.

Domestic and foreign arrivals completely stopped in the first two years of the pandemic, although the numbers are on the rise since late last year.

Surigao del Norte First District Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II remains optimistic about the return of the international surfing event on the island. (PNA)