‘Ok lang kami’: Odette-hit Dinagat Islands residents pen letters of assurance to loved ones

December 21, 2021 - 12:08 PM
Art by Rhovin Luke Maglaqui | Photos from Dinagat Islands Gov. Kaka Bag-ao

“Ok lang kami.”

This message was among the letters from residents of Dinagat Islands for their loved ones outside the province.

The small province was among the most devastated areas in Visayas and Mindanao in the wake of Typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai).

Gov. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao of the province released photos of some of these letters on her personal Facebook account on Monday, December 20 titled “Letters from Dinagat Islands.”

In the post she titled “Kwentong Bagyo,” Bag-ao said that she asked the residents to write them after receiving requests from their families about updates on their situation.

She told them that she will be the one to share them online and let them know that they are safe.

“Wala pa ding kuryente at signal sa Dinagat Islands. Bukod dito, marami ang humihingi ng update at maya-maya lang opisyal din akong maghahatid ng balita sa mga naabot na at inaabot pang mga lugar,” the governor said.

“Naisip ko din bukod sa pormal na balita mula sa isla at para marinig ninyo mismo ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay, pinagawa ko sila lahat ng sulat para sa inyo,” she added.

In one of the notes the provincial governor posted, the sender under the name Team Dinagat Islands wrote: “Ok lang kami.”

They also sent Christmas greetings to them.

“Merry Christmas and hope to see you all soon! We love you!” their note read.

Another resident named Aimee Antonio-Jimeno, on the other hand, sent a hopeful message to her sister.

“We are happy to be alive after Odette! Our houses are roofless but we are not hopeless! Please let all our families know. Lots of love from Dinagat!” Antonio-Jimeno said.

Bag-ao said that she will try to post more of these handwritten messages when she gets the chance to go online during her next trips to the command center.

She also expressed hope that their situation will get better soon.

“Pipilitin kong mai-post lahat ng matatanggap ko sa kada pagkakataong makalabas ako para sa mga patawag na mga meetings. Eto ang ilang sulat pagkatapos mag briefing ang command center sa Dinagat…Ingat mga mahal kong Dinagatnon,” the provincial governor said.

Bag-ao previously appealed for financial aid through Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw, Inc. (BALAOD Mindanaw), a non-governmental organization in Cagayan de Oro and the province’s partner in disaster response.

She also called donations of the following relief items:

  • food
  • potable water
  • temporary shelters
  • fuel
  • hygiene kits
  • medical supplies

RELATED: Rundown: Where you can send help for typhoon Odette victims

Akbayan Partylist later launched its own donation drive on December 19 for the affected residents of Dinagat Islands.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development reported that affected individuals due to Odette is now over 1.8 million.

The report noted that typhoon victims came from the 3,286 barangays of Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao, Mimaropa and Caraga regions.

President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredoalso a presidential aspirant, have conducted separate trips and meetings to some of these areas to assess recovery needs and provide help.