Sarbay a family affair

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! 


Separation anxiety!

I work for an international telecom company for 12 years already. For the first time in a long time, the company decided to hold a sales kick-off for the entire sales force of the company in Macao. To some its the most exciting experience to look forward to. In all honesty, I felt kindda torn about it because for the first time I will be apart from my little one.

I am an exclusive breastfeeding mom. I plan to be one until my son decides he is ready to wean himself. The dilemma I had was how to be able to prepare to be apart from my son for one week!

Since I knew that my trip was in July, beginning April I started to save about 2-3 oz of breast milk each day. I would store in bpa free plastics and freeze it in the freezer. I would label each plastic the date I expressed it and the volume.

I also began observing my baby’s schedule. His daily waking hour, his daily eating time, his sleeping schedule, his bathing and playing time, and his milk drinking periods. What was difficult to tell was how much milk he was drinking from me at night because it is straight from the breast. So I “guess-timated” because it was pretty hard to measure.

I also began to pray to prepare my baby and myself for that particular week. I prayed that my son would be okay, and he would be able to sustain a week without me, to have enough milk, and to be accident free. Most of all I prayed for me to be okay. Mind you… I have not been away from my baby for more than 6 hours for the entire 6 months of his existence! So this was a huge deal for me.


So before I left, I saved about 90oz of frozen milk packed in containers according to chronological order. I made a schedule for yaya Jovy to follow. I was also super grateful to my sister-in-law, Pria for staying in The province to oversee Joshua for me.

I took the night flight out to so I could stay as long as I could with my baby. I was able to breastfeed him and I left him in a happy playful mood. But that flight gave me butterflies in my tummy from all that anxiety of leaving. That night and every night away from home, I found it difficult to sleep because I was not used to sleeping by myself. Weird as it may sound but I felt something was missing so all my sleep were light and stressful.


The sad part about that week was the fact that I could not store and bring home the milk I would express while in Macao. So it was a “pump and dump” week. I felt so sad when my breast milk was being thrown away. I guess my only consolation was thIs thought “I’ll get to eat and drink all the food and drinks I have refrained from all these months! Hello spicy food, hello coffee and tea, and hello wine!”


I had to trust that while I am away, Joshua was in good hands, had enough milk and food, had a schedule of sleeping, eating, playing and bathing that my helpers were following. Most of all thank you Lord for technology whereby I see photos and communicate with my baby. I had to remind myself God is with us and He is the ultimate protector and provider of Joshua.

It was time to also let my hair down and have fun! It was also good for me to engage in learning and applying concepts at work. It was also an awesome experience to socialize with other team members from all over the globe.


At the end of that long week, all I wanted to do was go home to my family. After all our sessions, I took the next flight out which happens to be at night. When I got to Manila I had a 4 hour layover and took the first flight in the morning to General Santos. It was a tiring trip but was the best decision to travel that way because I could not wait to hug and snuggle my baby and husband. It was perfect timing too because my baby was down to his last milk stash.


I don’t think I can probably go on a trip away from my baby for a while. But it was a good learning experience for me. I learned that Separation Anxiety is not a myth. It is real!