You can never keep something good down, be it man or a festive event. The tragedy of the Marawi siege last year may have regretfully cut down the 2017 iteration of the biggest beach party in southern Philippines, but the Sarbay Festival has been going on long enough – since 2006 as a matter of fact – that one annual hiccup would stop it for good. The event organizers and the provincial government of Sarangani themselves have assured it to GenSan and the rest of the country: Sarbay Fest 2018 is on this May, and this year, everybody will be “United”.
That is the operative word. The 2018 Sarbay Fest is “Sarbay United”, a moment for everybody in the Philippines to come together and celebrate everything that is good in life down at Sarangani, especially the white-sand beaches of Gumasa in Glan Municipality on the eastern side of the Sarangani Bay. With the 2017 fest cancelled, Sarbay United is coming with arguably twice the funding and preparation, the better to make up for those who might have been disappointed with last year.
Sarangani Governor Steve Chiongbian Solon stated in the Sarbay United official press conference this week that the event will be built up from five concepts: God-centeredness, the environment, the family, social responsibility and national unity. With an unprecedented budget of P7.9 million, there is enough funding to realize a great many attractions and spectacles for the Sarbay Fest, especially in conjunction with the partnership with the Department of Tourism with their “Go South of the Philippines” campaign for local and international tourists. Corporate sponsors such as Globe and Smart/Talk n Text are set to provide Wi-Fi internet for the festival venue, while San Miguel Brewery will also have their music party zones as part of the many events and attractions.
The main Sarbay United celebration covers three days, from the 24th to 26th of May, but the fun actually starts long before that. The festivities include quite the list of sporting competitions and this year is no different. The annual Sarbay Triathlon starts off in the preceding weekend, May 19-20, with the venue being the Isla Jardin del Mar beach resort. On the 23rd, one new first for the Sarbay Fest is a day of spiritual celebration with a Truelife Worship Concert on the 23rd.
Once Sarbay United proper starts May 24, the real meat of events and spectacles will happen at the special festival area at Gumasa, made accessible from GenSan and Alabel by means of a special agreement with public transport groups offering shuttle service to Glan. Access to the Sarbay area is worth an environmental fee of P30 to get inside the market fair and the beachside events: racing competitions like the “Swim Across the Bay” or the “I Run Coz I Care”; other contests include the first Sarbay Strongman challenge, tournaments for beach volleyball and beach football, skim-boarding, family-level sand sculpture contests and even Ultimate Frisbee. May 24 is capped off with an SMB Night party.
Come Friday, May 25, more contests and promotional events are in store. New competitions opening that day include the Bancarera boat race, municipal-level sand sculpture contest, the Sarbay National Jet Ski Invitational Challenge, and the musical DJ Battle. Smart/Talk n Text will play host to Sarbay revelers twice, with pocket promo events in the morning and a foam party at night. Guests are also invited to move their bodies to a Sarbay mass Zumba session and a fire-dancing exhibition. Finally, artistry and beauty are celebrated on Friday with the Pinta sa Baybayon display and the Bay Bodies 2018 summer pageant. This also marks the opening of the premium-pass evening party venue, Xanadu: The Hidden Paradise.
As Sarbay United comes concludes on Saturday, it closes with a big bang with an early-morning 50-kilometer Ultra-marathon and Mountain Bike Challenge, which will see participants ranging from serious racers to fun recreationists either running or biking along the scenic coastal roads or inland trails of Sarangani. Today also marks the final matches for beach volleyball and football, and Ultimate Frisbee. Saturday will also be Globe Telecom’s turn to show Sarbay festival-goers a great time, in both morning and evening events. Last but not least is one last musical showdown, the Sarbay Drum Beating Contest.
When guests at the Sarbay United would like a break from the contests and concerts going on, they could browse and shop to their hearts’ content at the festival fair area, boasting no less than 200 concessionaires offering a wide variety of food, products, wares and souvenirs. As with the transportation arrangements, the concessionaires have made agreements with each other and the joint Sarbay organizing committee-Sarangani provincial government to keep prices reasonable. Security for the event complex is also handled by a task force of PNP-AFP, Coast Guard and Nay.
Everything is shaping up to be exciting and extravagant for Sarbay United, but the organizers and the Sarangani officials are also enjoining the arriving guests to be mindful about keeping their party grounds clean, to spare Sarangani Bay from being subjected to drastic measures like Boracay island. They have also made cleanliness a beneficial trait for Sarbay celebrants through the “I Love Clean Sarbay” initiative, which will reward beachgoers with prizes for every full bag of trash and garbage they turn in for proper disposal. That should ensure that Sarbay United 2018 with be as neat as it is sweet.
With only about three weeks left before Sarbay United hits, the organizers would like all interested parties who wish to be a part of this Epic Beach Party, to download the special Sarbay United mobile app (available for iOS and Android), which contains more information, maps of the festival area in Gumasa, and schedules for all contests and events happening on all three days. Once you’ve given everything a look-see, would you need any other reason to head down to Sarangani for Sarbay United? Probably not; so we will end this with an open invitation: join us for Sarbay United!
Photo courtesy of Sarangani Bay Festival FB Page