My very first Sarangani Bay fest was in 2007. It was a small beach event that happened after elections. It was held sometime in June instead of May. My husband at that time was elected as Vice Governor of Sarangani. The Swim Across the Bay and Bay Bodies were the main highlight. Also a small concert happened at night.
My first engagement as the co-chairperson of the Festival was in 2009. Former Governor Migs Dominguez prodded me to “go at it”. I got involved in the marketing and really moving the sponsorships– also repackaging the Sarangani Bay festival’s image. You can’t sell it unless it is packaged well. At that time, I had no children yet.
But in 2011, after that Sarangani Bay Festival, I discovered that I was pregnant for the very first time. Unfortunately, that was an ectopic pregnancy. In 2012, it was the first year we engaged into social media and rebranded Sarangani Bay Festival to “Sarbay”. At that time I was 3 months pregnant with Joshua. We also won first runner up in the Pearl Awards for Best Tourism Event in Sports, Adventure and Wellness.
In 2013, Joshua was with me as a 5 month old baby allowing me to work. It was one of the most successful Sarbay fest. It was the biggest Beach Festival in Mindanao and we won the Pearl Awards championship for Best Tourism Event.
In 2014, Our Sarbay Fest was a huge success with over 100,000 tourists! That year we had over 1000 tents pitched in tent cities, 80 concessionaires, our social media had about 11,000 organic likes on Facebook, and our stage and shows leveled up. It was a tandem thing for my husband, Gov Steve Solon and I! Plus, I’m so blessed because despite breastfeeding my son, he made it easy for Mommy to work on this festival.
Again, after Sarbay 2014, I was overwhelmed with the photos posted about the festival’s garbage. It made me angry! I was upset because we really did have a beach and coastal clean up and Gumasa was back to its normal state in 2 days after the festival. The people who took the photo just bitterly kept spreading the news of how ruined Gumasa was, when it was absolutely untrue! I was enraged because at that time, little did I know that a little bun was in my oven! This time I found out I was pregnant with Anna.
My son, Joshua has embraced Sarbay too. He would sit in our meetings and knows the video ads we put out on Facebook. He even eagerly tried making his own dubsmash of “Sarbay Forever” whisper and requested that he gets his own Sarbay Forever shirt! He is part of my inner team that inspires me to do my best for the festival. He understands that this event is important to mom, so he took interest in it too. Even my little girl, Anna, was pretty patient to let mommy do her festival duties!
This Sarbay fest 2015 was an absolute success. We were able to get the tourists to be more responsible about their garbage and an ordinance was enforced for the environmental fee. We also had a Sarbay App made to help tourists get familiar with the festival. We had good support from Sponsors, from the Government, from organizers, concessionaires and beach goers. But personally for me, I thank God for my husband’s trust to be part of the team and to freely work on the vision of Sarbay. Most of all, I thank my two munchkins — Joshua and Anna for letting me do my best in this festival. They were easy on mommy as long as meetings were held in the house… And they participated in some meetings too! Ohhh… How this festival has become a family affair for us! God is soooo good! We are a Sarbay family — and proud Sarbay citizens!