The SARBAY FEST Hangover?! (A Photo Essay of the Biggest Beach Party in Mindanao @SarbayFest)

SARBAY FEST is the biggest beach party in Mindanao. Since 2006, it has been held around the third weekend of May in Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani to celebrate the area’s beauty and to conserve Sarangani Bay. It is one of the best beach parties to culminate the summer season in the Philippines.

Here’s a photo essay of my SarBay Fest 2013 experience:

En route to Sarbay

You get to Sarangani via General Santos City Airport, which is an almost 2-hour plane ride from Manila.

Sarangani is located in the southernmost tip of Mindanao. It is composed of 3 municipalities in the east (Maasim, Kiamba, and Maitum), and 4 municipalities in the west (Alabel, Malapatan, Glan and Malungon). General Santos City is located in the center. Six of the municipalities are located along the Bay (Maasim, Kiamba, Maitum, Alabel, Malapatan,and  Glan), while Malungon is the only land-locked municipality.

SarBay Fest is held at Gumasa Beach, Glan (south most tip), Sarangani.

(Trivia: Manny Pacquiao is originally from Glan, while Jinkee Pacquio is from Kiamba in Sarangani.)

From the airport, it takes 30 minutes by van to get to General Santos City and another hour to reach Gumasa Beach. The roads are very nice all throughout the trip.


Gumasa Beach, Glan, Sarangani

SarBay Fest is a 2-day beach festival celebrated on the 3rd Friday and 3rd Saturday of May.

This is the 8th SarBay Fest, with 70,000 guests and growing.

Gumasa Beach has the longest white sand cove in Sarangani Bay.

Usually, people from Davao, General Santos and Cebu go to SarBay Fest to cap off their summer.

It’s starting to be heavily supported by sponsors, so you see a lot of merchandising materials from various companies.

This year, they introduced the official SarBay Fest Dance. 🙂

Here’s the showdown video of the best SarBay Fest Dance performance.

Many food vendors from General Santos City set up stalls over the SarBay Fest weekend.

Here are the masseuses from Verdana Spa, who are always happy to give you a good foot and body massage.

Met Lang Lang – the Festival Organizer and one of the key people behind the success of SarBay Fest ever since it started in 2006.

Sarangani is crazy about Zumba, so every afternoon there’s a Zumba Beach Party.

You can’t help but join the Zumba Craze in SarBay Fest. 🙂


Where to Stay at SarBay

Relatively, the most well-kept, secure and strict resort is Rosal Resort.

The other resorts along Gumasa Beach are: Brod Louie, Davak Beach Resort, Yushikawa, White Haven and Coco Beach. All the resorts belong to the Adarna Family.

The hotels are booked 6 months ahead of time, so some people go backpacking and camp on the beach in tent cities set up by each resort.

If you prefer a quiet and peaceful existence away from the party, you can book at Isla Jardin del Mar.

It has a nice and not-too-crowded beach area.

At night, many people pitch additional tents along the beach and create pop-up tent cities just to accommodate the more than 70,000 people attending the event.


The SarBay Party

There is a drinking area surrounded by stalls.

Barkadas often set up their own beach picnic near their tents.

Tanduay was the official sponsor for this year, and it provided the Tanduay Zombie and Tanduay Boracay drinks. (In Photo: Mara my helpful tour guide around Sarbay Fest)

The food is usually grilled — I just love the Chicken Inasal.

Ranchero’s Baby Back Ribs is a hit in SarBay Fest!

You can also have home-cooked Pad Thai, and…

…Chicken Satay from Little Bangkok.

IMG_5193.jpg IMG_5187.jpg
Here’s the typical price range of the food at SarBay Fest (c/o Little Bangkok).

The Prime Area is where the cool party people of GenSan hang out.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the vibrant and fun people of GenSan composed of cool, young entrepreneurs.

I had an interesting conversation with Edz (on the right), a Manilena who’s been going to SarBay Fest for 4 straight years! She likes SarBay because of the down-to-earth people in Sarangani. She describes the Sarangani vibe as akin to what it was like in Cebu 10 years ago.

Here are the movers of SarBay Fest: Michelle Lopez Solon, the tourism advocate of Sarangani and wife of incoming Governor Steve Solon, and Board Member Rommel Falgui, the person behind the ordinance that created the SarBay Fest in 2006.


The SarBay Fireworks

On Saturday, the SarBay Fest culminates with a grand firework display before the main band plays.

Here’s an illuminated view of the SarBay Fest 2013 crowd!


General Luna @ SarBay Fest!

General Luna, the all-female rock band led by Nicole Asensio, prepares to wow the people at SarBay Fest 2013.

Kuerdas, Sarangani’s Reggae Band, was the last front act before General Luna.

I personally enjoyed the reggae music of Kuerdas. 🙂

The crowd went wild as Nicole went onstage to start the General Luna set.

The General Luna band members: Caren Mangaran on lead guitar, Audry Dionisio on rhythm guitar, Alex Montemayor on bass guitar, and Bea Lao on drums.

Here’s an up close and personal photo of Nicole. I love her performance as Mimi Márquez in RENT.

I became a fan of General Luna with this song because of Nicole’s angelic voice mixed in with the rock music.

The crowd was smitten by the beauty and musical talent of the girls.

It was fun watching them rock SarBay Fest!

The band members gamely interacted with the group on the side.

General Luna’s version of  Alanis Morissette’s You Oughta Know.


General Luna Interview Photo with the SarBay crowd in the background.

After General Luna’s performance, the party continued.

It was fun to see the fun-loving people of SarBay continue to party until 5 am!

SarBay Fest was a great learning experience for me, especially in being able to interact with the cool crowd of Mindanao.

I had to go back to General Santos City, 1 hour away, because I was staying in Sun City Hotel.

Honestly, I didn’t expect SarBay Fest to be that fun! I love the vibe of festivals, especially when they are just starting and growing, so I think this is the best time to experience SarBay Fest. 

It’s worth noting that there was zero untoward incidents throughout the festival despite the booze throughout the 2-day event. Galing!

Just some notes: Sarangani needs to invest on more accommodations along Gumasa Beach and fix the transportation to/from GenSan for those people who will stay in the city instead. The Tent Cities need to be regulated and pushed back away from the shores to improve the experience. Lastly, they should put more emphasis on the Sarangani Bay preservation than putting emphasis on being the biggest party.

Great job, SarBay Fest 2013! I’m hoping to be back next year with the family. 🙂

(I would guess that Sarbay Fest 2014 would be on May 23-24, 2014. Book your hotels now!)


The Biggest Beach Festival in Mindanao to preserve Sarangani Bay!
2 / F, NGA Building, Capitol Complex, Alabel, Sarangani Province
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Full Disclosure: My Sarbay Fest Trip was courtesy of Sarangani Tourism to experience the biggest beach party in Mindanao. I wrote this blog post myself, and it expresses my own opinions.

I have no business relationship with any company mentioned in this post or any organization promoting it. As a policy, I do not accept advertising from food and travel places we feature in the blog.

P.S. Special thanks to Michelle for hosting me in SarBay Fest and around Sarangani!


P.P.S. Manny and Jinkee Pacquiao were no-shows during the SarBay Fest. I don’t know why. Would anyone know and care to share?

3 thoughts on “The SARBAY FEST Hangover?! (A Photo Essay of the Biggest Beach Party in Mindanao @SarbayFest)

  1. My roots are in this part of the Philippines and the last thing I would want to happen for this place is to become another mess similar to Boracay – a dreadful thought that gives the shivers. Stay away!!!

  2. Manny and Jinkee have no shows on SarBay, Perhaps,because they are Christians. What’s going on SarBay like night parties which involves drinking, skinship on foam parties… more of the call o flesh is morally against on what they believed.They stand somehow in their faith 😀

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