What should have been a festive occasion the year before, was turned into a time of confusion, disappointment and annoyance at the sense of timing by developing events. In the wake of the hostilities between government forces and ISIS-aligned insurgents in the city of Marawi, Lanao del Sur, mere days prior, organizers of the 2017 Sarbay Fest as well as the Sarangani provincial government decided to put the kibosh on “Mindanao’s Biggest Beach Party” for security reasons. It was an anticlimactic end to a heavily anticipated summer spectacle. But this year Sarbay will not be denied; it would be “united”.
A major press conference by the Sarbay Fest organizing committee and the government of Sarangani Province was held in the afternoon of Monday, April 30, at the Veranza Mall. Meeting with a respectably-sized audience of local and national news media as well as online bloggers, was a panel by the organizers and Sarangani officials led by Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon. It was already made plain on social media that the Sarangani Bay Festival, or Sarbay Fest, will be held on schedule this year. What transpired in the press-con was an introduction to all the happenings in store during the event.
The 2018 super-beach party has been termed Sarbay United, in remembrance of the aborted event last 2017 and as a beacon of hope for today and tomorrow. Sarbay United would be the biggest iteration of its celebration yet, with what is now two years’ preparation and funding going into it, amounting to P7.9 million with sponsorships from major companies like Globe, Smart/TNT and San Miguel Brewery among others. A major coup for Sarbay is the pledged support by the Department of Tourism, which may also be thinking of funneling tourist travellers elsewhere, since Boracay has been closed for environmental rehabilitation.
Courtesy of special arrangements with transport associations, Generals and other visitors can travel to Sarangani or reasonable rates where, for a P30 environmental fee, they can enter the main Sarbay Fest area to see the sights. Multiple sporting events have been scheduled, including debuts of ultra-marathon running and strongman competitions. The sponsors have also arranged for major music acts like Calla Lily to perform at not just one but to musical stages at the area. The organizers also introduced the “Xanadu” premium party zone for premium pass-holders. They also assured the security of Sarbay Fest thanks to cooperation between the PNP, AFP, Coast Guard, PDEA and even the Navy itself.
Following a round of clarifying questions from the press and bloggers to the Governor and his fellow officials as well as the panel of organizers, the press-con concluded with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting of a special Sarbay United booth on the second floor of Veranza Mall, where interested partygoers can inquire about travel and accommodation options for the Sarbay Fest, which will go on from May 24 to 26. They may also arrange booking here for the Sarbay Fest “tent city”, as well as getting premium passes for access to Xanadu.