Down south, one festival has slowly gained a reputation of being the most awaited annual festival of its kind in the whole southern most part of Mindanao. This vibrant event is called the Sarangani Bay Fest in the coastal Province of Sarangani.I was privileged to be invited by the Mr. Jon Perez of Mindanao Tourism Council as their group joined this year’s Sarangani Bay Fest 2011 which took place last May 19 to 21, 2011. I have been to Sarangani Province for sometime but witnessing the Bay Fest was my first. A self-confessed son of a beach, reading our itinerary containing all the festive details of the trip really thrilled me.Our main destination on the first day was the Municipality of Glan, one of the seven municipalities of Sarangani Province. The whole celebration of Sarangani Bay Fest was held there. On our way to Glan, I learned that the Province of Sarangani is composed of seven municipalities. Six of these municipalities are along the 230-kilometer coastline of Sarangani Bay. Thus, I realized that this annual celebration of Sarangani Bay Fest is the people’s way of celebrating of the exquisite beauty and the abundant bounty of the Sarangani Bay.Entering the coastal town of Glan, my excitement to be at the beach instantly consumed me. We stopped at view deck overlooking the tranquil bay of Sarangani. From there, the magnificent view of the clear blue waters, the azure sky, and the forested mountain ranges directly got into my senses. A perfect welcome treat to my drowsy eyes.At Glan, our van took us right away to Gumasa Beach, the main venue of Sarangani Bay Fest. This wasn’t my first time to Gumasa but still it thrilled me. Gumasa Beach offers a six kilometer-long crescent shoreline. It is a white sand beach harmonizing the crystal clear turquoise waters so perfect to laze around. It was jam-packed with beach enthusiasts when we got there. A festive summer spirit covered the place. Water sports enthusiasts were everywhere. Beach bums crowded the shores showing their toned physique. Skimboarders enjoyed the thrill of the waves. Food stalls, souvenir shops, tattoo booth and related exhibitors lined up at one side of the beach walkway. Indeed, a manifestation of a jubilant festivity.
This year’s Sarangani Bay Fest featured various outdoor beach sports participated by different groups in and outside of the province. Beach football, beach volleyball and beach Frisbee were the ones being played when we get there. Another featured event that wowed me was the sand sculpture competition taken part by various artists coming from different places. Skimboarding exhibition also highlighted the occasion. The four main beach resorts —White Haven Beach, Rosal Beach, Coco Beach and Isla Jardin del Mar, all in Barangay Gumasa— hosted these featured events. Exploring the other side of Gumasa Beach, we headed to Isla Jardin Del Mar, a secluded cove along the shorelines of Gumasa. Like all the beaches in Gumasa, Isla Jardin Del Mar offers a stretch of white sand beach along with the deep blue waters of Sarangani Bay. Here, we spent couple of hours just relaxing and enjoying the cool sea breeze.It was almost sunset when we went back to the main beach. Gumasa Beach is famous for its gleaming golden sunset. When dusk came, we rushed to the shore to catch golden ray of the sun setting in the waters of Celebes Sea. Like us, a great number of people were lazing around the shores worshipping the Sunset beauty of Sarangani Bay amidst the cool sea breeze and gentle waves. It was really a spectacular scene.Came evening, the most awaited Bay Bodies Bikini Open made the venue even more crowded. 15 pairs of hunky men and sexy babes heated up the cold evening. They crowd went crazy when candidates came out wearing their sexy bikinis. At the end, two winners bagged the most coveted title. The fun didn’t end there. A summer night beach party followed immediately that made the evening more amusing. True to its words, it was a summer beach festival that promised total fun and leisure from sunup till sundown.Sarangani Bay Festival is indeed the most festive summer beach event in the southern Mindanao! With approximately 20,000 people in attendance, it is in fact a summer beach adventure to look forward in the years to come. It was an impressive event that I can truly say worth to witness again. And I say now, I shall come again.My first Sarangani Bay Fest experience was also an opportunity to meet some key people in Mindanao Tourism industry, friends in the print media and some government officials of Sarangani Province and its municipalities. Special thanks to Sarangani Board Member Eleanor Constantino-Saguiguit who accompanied us during the whole trip. Truly, Sarangani Bay is worth a visit!HOW TO GET THERE:
General Santos City is the gateway to the Province of Sarangani. It is reachable both by plane and boat. Public utility vehicles like buses, jeepneys and air-conditioned vans travel regularly to the different towns of Sarangani. Gumasa Beach in Glan, the venue of Sarangani Bay Fest, is reachable in one hour from General Santos City.