Mindanao’s biggest three-day beach party kicks off in Sarangani

Rommel Rebollido

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Mindanao’s biggest three-day beach party kicks off in Sarangani

SHORE SECURITY. Patrol boats are deployed along the coast of Sarangani Bay to provide security during Sarbay Fest.

Sarangani PIO

The Sarbay Fest, which aims to promote Sarangani Bay as a protected seascape, has been drawing tourists yearly except during the COVID-19 pandemic period

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – At least 800 security personnel and paramedics have been deployed to ensure the safety of thousands of foreign and local visitors who have started crowding the long stretch of powdery white sand beach in Gumasa, Glan town in Sarangani.

Revelry formally started on Friday, May 24, for the three-day Sarbay Fest (Sarangani Bay Festival), touted as Mindanao’s biggest beach party. The festivities will run until Sunday evening, May 26.

Sarbay Fest aims to promote Sarangani Bay as a protected seascape. It began drawing tourists and becoming an annual eco-tourism event when Provincial Ordinance No. 2006-5-030 declared every third week of May as Sarangani Bay Festival Week.

People, Person, Army
ALERT. Policemen and soldiers are line up as they receive instructions before they are deployed to help secure Mindanao’s biggest beach party in Sarangani. -courtesy of Sarangani PIO

As it falls during the Month of the Ocean celebrations, Sarbay Fest organizers have lined up advocacy events for the conservation of Sarangani Bay as a protected seascape, such as the gathering of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), Scubasurero (collecting underwater trash), and Sarbay Heroes Camp.

The weekend celebration will also be filled with “exciting water sports events and adventures, and all-night concerts and parties,” said Sarangani provincial administrator Ryan Jay Ramos.

The three-day fest will include Inksplash Tattoo Competition 2.0, Adventourism Ride, Skim Jam, SarBay Drum Beating Competition, Swim Across the Bay Relay, SarBay Strongman, Yoga by the Beach, Sand Sculpture, and Bay Bodies.

There will also be sports events like beach volleyball, frisbee, jet ski racing, and a fishing tournament where anglers from nearby regions will compete.

Ramos said nightly concerts will feature local and national bands and celebrities, such as Mayonnaise, Kean Cipriano, Enchi, Hashtags, The Secret, Kuerdas, and other guest DJs.

This year’s Sarbay Fest is the second since it resumed in 2023 after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Sarangani Provincial Information Office (PIO), from around 3,000 tourist arrivals in 2006 when Sarbay Fest first started, the figure increased to more than 150,000 in 2019, the last Sarbay Fest held before it was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The three-day yearly event is held along a six-hectare shoreline in Gumasa, a coastal village known for its long stretch of white sand beach, crystal clear water, and spectacular sunsets.

The festival’s main venue this year is Reyes Beach Resort, located along the shores in Gumasa, said Ramos.

Sarangani Governor Rogelio Pacquiao said, “Sarbay Fest demonstrates our dedication to caring for our environment for the present and future generations.”

Pacquiao urged tourists to experience Sarangani Bay, which is considered by many as a hidden paradise.

Colonel Deanry Francisco, Sarangani police director, said on Thursday, May 23, that maritime and on-ground security measures have been put in place, with personnel deployed from the police, military, coast guard, and paramedics.

Security plays a crucial role in such a huge event, and “we have to make sure all plans are in working order” and properly coordinated with other agencies and units, Francisco said. –

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