It’s time to SarBay!

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It’s
 time to SarBay!

By BEVERLY C. PAOYON

GUMASA, Sarangani (April 26, 2012) – Sarangani Bay Festival is expected to draw at least 40,000 tourists to the white sand beaches of Gumasa on May 18 and 19 prompting festival organizers to prepare a bigger venue for the events, stores, “tent city” and parking space.

SarBay Fest, the biggest beach festival in Mindanao, kicks off with the 15-kilometer Swim-Across-the-Bay on May 18, peaking with its best moments the next day with a massive party at the beach from sunset until sunrise.

SarBay Fest this year is the 7th celebration since 2006. Since then tourists arrivals have reportedly multiplied each year in which SarBayFest earned the prestige as the biggest beach festival in Mindanao today. “The Sarangani Bay Festival started small and has turned outto be the biggest beach festival in the whole country,” said Governor Migs Dominguez.

“We’re preparing a bigger venue. It is a two hectare venue and we are expecting visitors from all over Mindanao and Manila and foreigners to come in,” the governor said. Hobie cats, small sailing catamarans, will be in the area with other water sports activities. “So mark your calendars May 18 and 19. See you in Gumasa, it’s gonna be one big beach party,” the governor said.  

Dominguez pointed out the highlight always is the party in the beach until sunrise. A new SarBay Fest activity is the paragliding in Maasim. Tourists can also dive at Lemlunay Resort and try the zipline and shooting range at IML Ecopark both in Maasim. Other adventure sites are the river tubing in Maitum and the coral garden at Tuka Marine Park in Kiamba which is the newest resort frequented by Rep. Manny Pacquiao. Larry Asparin, acting coordinator of the Sarangani Tourism and Investment Promotion Center, said the tourism sector is “introducing new activities on top of what we are doing before” to ensure the festive mood of SarBay. The usual fire dance demonstration would be upgraded into an open competition this year. 

The Swim-Across-the-Bay, the longest open ocean swimming competition in the Philippines and probably in Asia, would still be one of the highlights of the festival. Ten teams will compete for the 15-kilometer swim race from Tinoto Beach in barangay Kamanga, Maasimto Reycon Beach in barangay Tango, Glan. The race usually takes more than three hours to finish.

Here is the Sarangani Bay Festival schedule of events:

On May 18 (Time – Event – Venue): 5am - Swim Across the Bay - from Tinoto, Maasim to Tango, Glan (contact person Nemrad Butil - 09306534953); 5am - Sarangani Run – Gumasa (Gay Ulanday – 09394469035); 7am – Beach Dance Marathon - Main Venue (between Rosal Beach and White Haven Beach) (contact STIPC 083-5085230 and 083-5085244); 8am - Sarangani Swim Challenge - Main Venue (Ian Rodriguez – 09204394712); 8am - Sand Sculpture - Rosal Beach Resort (Quinn Villaruel – 09209695540); 8am - Coastal Clean up/Scubasurero/ Artificial Reef Deployment; 8am - Bay Fair/Health and Wellness - Main Venue (STIPC/Alfan Fabio – 09182198285);9am - Sayaw Sarangan: Hataw sa Tag-araw - Main Venue (Quinn Villaruel – 09209695540); 8am to 5pm - Beach Volleyball - Rosal Beach Resort (William Rebucan – 09166260979); 8am to 5pm - Beach Football - Coco Beach Resort ((c/o STIPC); 8am to 5pm - Skim Boarding Clinic - White Haven Beach Resort (c/o STIPC); 8am to 5pm - Poi and Zip Clinic - Main Venue (c/o) STIPC); 1pm to 6pm - Pinta sa Baybayon - Main Venue (Jimboy Pestano – 09262663597); 7pm - Fire Dancing Exhibition - Main Venue ((c/o STIPC); 7pm - Bay Bodies - Main Venue (Lorenzo Bayoneto – 09082958752); 9pm - Summer Party at the Bay (with Beat Lab DJ’s) - Main Venue (c/o STIPC).

On May 19, 8am – Beach Dance Marathon - Main Venue (c/o STIPC); 8am – Bancarera - Main Venue (Bombo Radyo/Yvonne Carangue – 09215564854/083-5527080); 8am - Coastal Clean up - Main Venue; 8am - Bay Fair/Health and Wellness - Main Venue; 8am to 5pm - Beach Volleyball – Rosal Beach Resort; 8am to 5pm - Beach Football - Coco Beach Resort; 8am to 5pm - Skim Boarding Clinic – Main Venue; 8am to 5pm - Poi and Zip Clinic - Main Venue; 4pm to 7pm – Zumba Party – Main Venue (c/o STIPC); 7pm – All Night Beach Party – Main Venue (c/o STIPC).

For inquiries, contact: Sarangani Tourism and Investment Promotion Center – (083)5085230/5085244 or email stipc@yahoo.com.ph. For more news and updates, please visit the <a href=http://www.sarangani.gov.ph/ > Province of Sarangani </a>. Come and enjoy Sarangani Bay Festival on May 18-19, 2012. (Beverly C. Paoyon/SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)


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       Time To SarBay 
       by Mharnie LahoyLahoy of Republic Magazine

On a bay along the southwest province of Mindanao is a quiet coastal barangay called Gumasa that transforms into a party venue where tens of thousands of people came over to go beach clubbing.

Boracay or Panglao Bohol comes to mind when we talk of beach fun. But give it more time; Sarangani’s very own Gumasa will join the league of the country’s popular beaches. And we’re not sugarcoating here. Every year, thousands of people from the region over flock to Gumasa to spend two days of summer fun. In fact, they registered 35,000 of people that attended last year’s festival. With its white powdery sand, picturesque views, clear blue waters, it is an ideal place for people looking for a new flavor of summer.

The Sarbay Experience
“We’re making a brand. The difference this year, Sarangani Bay fest is bigger”, Michelle Solon, the Sarangani Provincial Council Chair enthustiastically said.

Sarangani Bay Fest, now popularly known as "SarBay", takes place every May for two days. It is this event’s unique proposition that you can enjoy your last shot for summer as young professionals, teens and young- at-heart who haven’t spent summer try to save their last chance.
It is in this festival that you can experience a piece of paradise as you frolic in the blue waters, watch beach volleyball and soccer, build sand castles, or skimboard. And yes, party with thousands others. Alongisde, there are exciting sport events that excites. Like the "Swim Across the Bay" race where contenders swim a distance of 15 kilometers.

From A Simple Bash
It all started 6 years ago from an idea of Governor Miguel “Migs” Dominguez. The first year humbly reached only 5,000 people. But the festival had a huge vision. There were other competing festivals from other towns that gave their try to set a similar festival experience but Sarbay proved to draw more crowds.
Locals also are used to witness sights of ladies in bikinis and guys in trunks. Like the lifestyle in major beach spots, the Gumasa stretch of resorts has now a haven for people who want to savor the beach. With the festival, it’s now also where they savor the life of a party beach-style.
The passion for the event started as a cause: to preserve Sarangani’s marine ecosystem. “The event’s core is the sustainability of the province’s bay” Michelle Solon added. “It’s more than partying and having fun. Whatever gross the organizers get from SarBay fest, it’ll always go to the bay’s benefits- putting up artificial reefs, clean-ups, and harvesting of crown of thorns are just few. This year’s fun run proceeds will go to the planting of mangroves of Sarangani Bay.


To the Biggest Beach Festival in Mindanao
Through six years, the festival made tremendous progress. Last year, it attracted 35,000 tourists, brought over 40 merchants of food and dry goods. It also gathered 695 athletes from all over the Philippines to complete in different beach sports competitions. “I think we can claim it has become the bigger beach party in the country where people party literally from sundown to sunrise,” the governor said.
It’s not as expensive, too. Half of the amount you’ll spend in Bora will buy you 4 days in Gumasa.

Truly the event is now a new favorite by tourists. Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez was at the bay while jamming to the tune of the Pinoy band Cueshe. Filipino rock icon Karl Roy also joined the crowds and also jammed with the local bands. Even Pinoy Big Brother fourth placer, Paco Evanglista is a regular of the beach. Even government officials are part of the crowd, delighting in the energy of the people.

Party like it’s 2012
This year’s Sarangani Bay Festival will be enjoyed in a two day weekend- from May 18-19. This year’s attendees will see a better festival with a wider bay area to wander. Their finale party entitled Party BeforeThe World Ends is a new breakthrough concept that will give the party people a new reason to celebrate.
More events take place such as Pinta sa Baybayon and the latest dance exercise trend in a Zumba Party. Alfred Lauzon of the Maneouvres will be hyping up the place too with a Beach Dance Marathon. Hundreds of runners will also be joining the Bay Fun Run, which promises a unique experience far from the city marathons.
And in a new tradition, the festival’s 200 meter to 400 meter Swim Challenge that will test the endurance and tenacity of different swim enthusiasts.
For leisure, you can make your own sand castles too and revel with artists who’ll compete their crafts in the Inter Municipal Sand Sculpture Competition. Living up to the festival’s cause, they still hold Coastal Clean Ups, Scubasurero and Artifical Deployment.
 “The white sand quality of the beach is the same as the best beaches in the Philippines. It’s a party beach. People come now and they dress up.  We want people to enjoy the beach in a way that Mindanao does not look like it’s a corny part of the Philippines. We want them to know that we know how to party and we know how to have fun... And that we’re not very far apart from the rest of the world.” Solon further added.

So start scheduing your iterinary. We have to inform you, as of press time, the rooms are almost fully booked but there are more ways to enjoy the Sarbay Fest. For the sake of convenience, you can call Go Sarangani at (083) 552-8015 or email them atgosaranganitravel1@gmail.com.

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Go Gumasa for the biggest beach party this summer

Tired of the maddening crowd of Boracay?  The crash commercialism of Panglao?  Or the prohibitive and princely price tag of El Nido?
Save your bed and dine budget and get more adventurous.
Pack those bags and fly farther south for a summer retreat where one gets the most rural of the setting, yet lusts for one of nature’s few remaining unspoiled beauties.
Welcome to Gumasa in Sarangani, home to Mindanao’s biggest beach party – the Sarangani Bay Festival.
http://asiancorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Swim-across-the-bay-competition-copy-349x232.jpg
Crossing the 15-kilometer Sarangani Bay channel
It is in this part of Mindanao where you can still frolic in the most powdery white sands, watch beach volley and soccer, build sand castles, snorkel and skinny dip in crystal-clear sea waters and party all night long.  On the side, shout your hearts out as you cheer for your favorite 5-man relay team swim and race against many others in the shark-infested Sarangani Bay, a distance of 15 kilometers across the channel.  (Don’t worry.  The sheer number of sea crafts, swimmers and spectators are driving those sharks away.) Oh, lest you forget, watch dolphins playfully swim with the human tankers at a safe distance. When there are no sharks, there are dolphins, period.
Gumasa, they say, is what Boracay was 25 years ago when the world-known tourist destination was not yet, well, as crowded as it is today. When being in with the Boracay beach crowd didn’t mean spending half a year’s salary for a Metro Manila minimum wage earner for a two-night stay.
You can spend half of that and stay in Gumasa for four days.  That’s practically more than half the price tag of Boracay!  But, dig this.  You can happily bring home along with you the bragging rights of telling friends when you grow those grey hairs that you were there in Gumasa when one can practically own the place by his or her lonesome during off seasons.  That is one of life’s priceless moments and memories.
Just ask Supreme Court administrator Midas Marquez who was at the bay festival two years ago and was seen tightly clasping a bottle of ice cold San Mig Light while watching Cueshe live on stage.  Or Tina Muñoz Palma who had her moment with youthful Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez along the beach front one breezy and cloudy afternoon the year before.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3034/2572740376_cbb5a77ffe_m.jpg
Talkback host and Bantay Bata mover Tina Muñoz Palma of ANC and ABS-CBN Foundation with Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez
Dominguez said the late Filipino rock icon Karl Roy once suddenly popped out from the crowd and went upstage to jam with the local band.   Eric Gancio of the lamented and missed Yano band is a regular performer here.  Eric is a friend of the governor.  Recent Pinoy Big Brother fourth placer Paco Evangelista is also a regular at the bay festival.
Sarbay, as organizers have coined it, now proudly owns the tag as Mindanao’s biggest beach party and Gumasa is the resident host of Sarangani Bay Festival.
http://asiancorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/beach-soccer-349x232.jpg
The festival itself has become the province’s great leveler – where a farmhand can rub elbows with celebrities.  Where Sarangani’s officials are part of the crowd – not the crowd.
“I think we can claim it has become the bigger beach party in the country where people party literally from sundown to sunrise,” the governor said.
Dominguez said, last year, the bay festival was able to attract 35,000 local tourists – up from 6,000 in 2006.
Have you seen your vice governor break dance on stage in your place?  Try Gumasa.
The bay festival was one of the first activity concepts pushed by Dominguez immediately after he was elected governor of the province for the first time in 2004.
Sarangani province however shares the bay with nearby General Santos City. (Sarangani six coastal towns are evenly separated by Gensan)  After failed attempts to jointly host Sarbay with General Santos, Dominguez gave his signal to proceed with the concept that has now become a buzzword in Mindanao.
Mindanao today.  The world tomorrow.
This year’s Sarangani Bay Festival has been shortened to two days – May 18-19.  This should give visitors enough time to enjoy the serenity of the place and explore other places before and after Sarbay.

Side tours
The bay fest is adventure enough but if one wants to extend his stay, he or she can para-glide and get an eagle eye’s view of the blue waters of Sarangani Bay.  The Tan brothers of SAFII Group of Companies are offering this latest craze to hit Sarangani.
http://asiancorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Lemlunays-infiniti-pool-349x232.jpg
Lemlunay's infiniti pool
If one is a dive enthusiast and wants to explore the earth’s remaining frontier, there is the Lemlunay Dive Resort operated by the Partridge family in Tinoto Maasim, also in Sarangani.  The Tinoto Wall is dubbed as one of the best dive spots in Mindanao.  The wall drops more than 500 feet you can almost “see” the abyss.  Lemlunay also offers world-class accommodation with an infiniti pool to drool for.
http://asiancorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/whitewater-tubing-349x233.jpg
Rep. Manny Pacquiao shooting the La Union rapids
If security arrangements can be made, a trek into the hidden waterfalls of Kiamba town or a visit to one of the pre-historic burial caves of Maitum will be a big bonus.
http://asiancorrespondent.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/nalus-falls-1-copy-174x262.jpg
Nalus Falls in Kiamba
But you can still wet your butt in white-water rubber-tubing adventure in La Union, Maitum.  Sarangani Rep. Manny once said the 1.5 kilometer stretch of rapids ride was one like he never had before.  Unfortunately, until Manny retires from boxing, you will not get to see him at the festival as he often fights during the month.

How to get there and some tips

Travel light.  You do not have to dress up and bring your costly gears.  After all, Gumasa is a backpacker’s ultimate paradise.  Book a flight from your place of origin to General Santos City.  There are at least four flights daily from Manila and back and two flights from Cebu on some days.
Taxis at the airport are available.  Drivers however are not keen on using the taxi meter.  Haggle with them.  Airport to downtown fare should not be more than P300.
You can ask the driver where to bring you to the hotel or inn that best suits your taste or budget.  Don’t look for 5-star accommodation.  There is none yet in the city.  You can make arrangements with the hotel front desk for transfer accommodation to one of the beach resorts in Gumasa.  If you are to join the bay festival, an outdoor carry-on portable tent is advisable if you cannot have prior bookings.
You may inquire with event organizers at stipc@yahoo.com or call Telefax (083) 508-5230 or 508-5244.





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This is the blog of G.V. Alfasain (or popularly known as Yadu Karu) where he shares his thoughts about current events, sustainable development and pop culture. He also shares success stories of modern day heroes to inspire his readers. The author hopes that this blog may contribute change in the (Philippine) society.
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Yadu Karu's Blog: It’s time to SarBay!
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