It has been two years now since my last Sarangani Bay Fest experience. It was incredibly cool and remarkably fun I promised to go there again for another year. Thankfully, I had a great chance to make it for this year and just like the old SarBay Fest experiences I had, it never failed to amuse me.
Tagged as the “biggest beach party festival in the Philippines”, Sarangani Bay Festival has become the most attended beach event in the South drawing hundreds of thousands of beach fanatics, partyphiles and beach sports enthusiasts to come to the coastal town of Glan for this annual event. The crescent-shape white sand coastline of Gumasa is home to this bay fest.
For the past years, Sarbay Fest was held annually in May. For some reason, the bay festival was moved on the first week of June this year, thus, making it the perfect summer ender especially for those who come here every year.
When it started ten years back, there were just about hundreds of people who came. But year after year, the festival grows bigger and has since attracted more and more visitors to come and join the celebration. The biggest recorded number of guests who flocked Gumasa during the festival is said to have reached more than 200,000 from different corners of the country. Such overwhelming attendance for one event garnered SarBay Fest as the biggest beach festival in the country.
The annual celebration of SarBay Fest has also boosted influx of tourist in the host town of Glan. In fact, Glan today is considered as one of the most important tourist destinations in the SoCCSKSarGen Region with Gumasa Beach as the prime tourist spot. Even on regular seasons, a number of tourists visit Glan. More than its beaches, Glan also takes pride being the tourtown of the Province as it hosts heritage landmarks dating American regime in the country.
Because of the annual celebration of SarBay Fest, the road to Gumasa which used to be rough and dusty is now concrete and well maintained. Beach resorts are also sprouting along the white coastline. Every year, these resorts along with the few Lodging Houses in the town center are already booked even months before the celebration.
Like the previous celebration, this year’s staging of SarBay Fest are lined up with various events participated by different groups and individuals coming from different parts of region and neighboring provinces. Two of the highly anticipated bay events were still among the favorites – the Swim Across the Bay that starts from the coast of Maasim to the coast of Glan and the annual SarBay Bancarera participated by different individuals from the neighboring coastal towns of Glan.
For beach sports, beach volleyball, beach football and Frisbee competition were among the highlights. I learned that some of the competing groups came outside of Mindanao. Body painting was still one of the featured events and dubbed as Pinta Sa Baybayon. My personal favorite is the Sand Sculpture. I have to give credit to these artists who can create mind-blowing sculptures out of nothing – just the sands, their creative minds and their beautiful hands.
At night, the party got started as SarBay citizens, as they call it, cheered for their bet in the annual search for Bay Bodies Ultimate Hunk and Babe. The candidates put the crowd on fire as they flaunt their muscled, toned and lean bodies apt to be called ultimate SarBay Bodies.
SarBay Fest is also best known for its wild rave parties with local and international guest DJs. SarBay citizens are likewise known to have partied harder till dawn. Year after year, it grows bigger and bigger. This year, sponsor Talk N Text brought the DJ Lunatics for the foam party. It was one crazy night filled with great EDM, some booze, great company of crazy friends and of course the wild wild SarBay citizens. Although, the crowd went wild and high but it was natural high. You can read it everywhere, the use of illegal drugs and party drugs is strictly prohibited.
But more than the party, good times and amazing experiences, Sarangani Bay Festival stays firm and strong in its advocacy to protect Sarangani Bay which is a 215,950 hectares protected seascape. Organizing committee encourages all the SarBay citizens to party responsibly and take part of some environment-related events.
Partnering with Smart Communications, there were daily activities and featured events that aimed to educate and raise awareness for the protection and preservation of the marine life of Sarangani Bay. People were encouraged to collect garbage. For every 10 kilos of trash collected and handed over to the Organizer’s Stations, one gets a shirt or a prepaid load cards from Smart. Another campaign was the pledge to preserve the marine life of SarBay by buying a propagule for only Php 35.00. These mangrove seedlings will be planted by the organizers to identified the coasts of SarBay as part of its conservation advocacy. All these are part of the #ILoveCleanSarBay campaign which many party goers took part including myself.
Likewise, a triathlon event called Sarbay Swim-Bike-Run for the Environment also spearheaded by the Province of Sarangani and Smart was organized to help raise public awareness on the preservation of the rich marine life of Sarangani Bay. The clean-up drive on the very morning after the two-day festival was also very successful. It was followed by the releasing of baby pawikans back to the waters of Sarangani. It was heartwarming to see that many took part of the call for the #ILoveCleanSarBay.
I’m so glad I was at SarBay Fest this year. I partied harder like a real partyphile with the company of my old and new friends. Plus of course I got to take part of the #ILoveCleanSarBat campaign. Indeed, it was a summer ender to remember.