Reyes Beach, Glan, Sarangani Province – The Sarangani Bay Festival 2024, held from May 24-26 at Reyes Beach, concluded with resounding success, cementing its reputation as the ultimate beach party in the Philippines. This year, for the first time ever, the event site was transferred to Reyes Beach Resort, offering panoramic views of Gumasa’s beaches, which added to the festival’s appeal and charm.

Sarangani Governor Ruel Pacquiao welcoming SarBay SEAtizens at the opening. He is shown here with his wife, Sarangani Tourism Council Chair Jobelle Pacquiao and their kids. Together with them are Sarangani Congressman Steve Chiongbian-Solon, Vice Governor Elmer De Peralta, Board Members Dr. Tranquilino Ruiz, among others and Sarangani Mayors Vic Paul Salarda & Salway Sumbo

Thousands of visitors flocked to the event, which showcased a blend of culture, environmental advocacy, and community spirit, making a significant impact on both local tourism and the economy. According to the PNP headcount, tourist arrivals, and resort accommodations, the 3-day revelry gathered an astonishing 400,000 people, making it one of the most attended SarBay Festivals since its inception 18 years ago when it only drew 3,000 attendees.

“This year’s SarBay Fest has truly set a new benchmark. The overwhelming turnout is a testament to the growing popularity and success of the festival and signifies a strong tourism rebound after the pandemic,” said Provincial PIO OIC Joana Lapore.

Sarangani Vice Governor Elmer De Peralta and Governor Ruel Pacquiao at the Sarangani Bay Festival Opening on May 24, 2024

Governor Roel Pacquiao highlighted the festival’s importance, stating, “SarBay Fest is not just a celebration of our rich cultural heritage and natural beauty; it is also a testament to our community’s commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism. This year’s event has truly exceeded our expectations in every way.”

The festival’s diverse activities ensured that there was something for everyone. Attendees enjoyed exhilarating water sports competitions, including the Coastal Run, a scenic race along the beach that tested endurance and stamina. The Bancarera boat race competition showcased the skills and speed of local fishermen navigating traditional bancas. Beach Volleyball games were a crowd favorite, with intense matches played on the sun-kissed sands of Reyes Beach.

Fitness enthusiasts were not left out, with Zumba By the Beach sessions that had participants dancing to energetic rhythms in a picturesque setting. The Strongman competition drew strong contenders who displayed incredible feats of strength and agility.

The Bay Bodies Competition, a successful bikini-open event, celebrated the human form while promoting health and wellness. Sarangani Board Member Tranquilino Ruiz, Chairman of the Tourism Committee, remarked, “The Bay Bodies Competition highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle and self-confidence. It’s inspiring to see participants showcase their dedication to fitness and well-being.”

A major highlight of SarBay Fest 2024 was the SarBay 500 AdvenTourism Ride. Bikers rode the entire stretch of Sarangani Province from Glan to Alabel to Malungon, up to Maitum, and back to the SarBay site. Among the prominent participants were former Senator Manny Pacquiao and his brother, now Gensan City Councilor, Bobby Pacquiao. “Participating in the SarBay 500 AdvenTourism Ride was an incredible experience. It’s a fantastic way to see the beauty of Sarangani Province and promote cycling as a healthy and eco-friendly activity,” said Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Former Senator Manny Pacquiao

Vice Governor Elmer De Peralta commended the seamless organization and robust security measures implemented by the local police. “The security provided was exemplary, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. The cooperation between our local authorities and the community has been outstanding,” he remarked.

Sarangani Vice Governor Elmer De Peralta, MD

The economic impact of the festival was evident, with resorts and inns fully occupied, extending as far as Glan poblacion. Congressman Steve Chiongbian-Solon emphasized the festival’s contribution to local businesses. “SarBay Fest has significantly boosted our local economy. The influx of tourists has provided a substantial increase in revenue for our local businesses, from accommodations to food vendors and souvenir shops,” he said.

Sarangani Representative Steve Chiongbian-Solon

Evenings at SarBay Fest 2024 were particularly enchanting, featuring performances from local and national artists that had the crowd dancing under the stars. The festival atmosphere was electric, with friends and families gathering to enjoy the music, food, and stunning sunset views over Sarangani Bay.

A key highlight of the festival was the Scubasurero coastal clean-up, right after the revelry, which saw volunteers cleaning up Reyes Beach, emphasizing the community’s dedication to preserving the pristine beauty of Sarangani Bay. “Our efforts to protect the environment are integral to the festival. The success of the Scubasurero clean-up this year shows our collective commitment to safeguarding our marine resources,” said Sarangani Tourism Council Chairwoman Jobelle Pacquiao.

Overall, the Sarangani Bay Festival 2024 was a testament to the region’s ability to host a world-class event that blends entertainment, culture, and environmental advocacy. As the ultimate beach party in the Philippines, it left a lasting impression on all who attended and reinforced Sarangani Bay’s reputation as a premier destination for recreation and environmental stewardship.

Photos courtesy of the Sarangani Provincial Information Office