It was my first time to attend the Sarangani Bay Festival and I must say that it has indeed come a long way since it started. Considering the venue of its main events (distance from the main city), droves upon droves of promenaders – locals and tourists alike, filled the shores of Sarangani Bay for three straight nights. And that for me sounds like the cash register ringing non-stop. This article is unsolicited and may ruffle some feathers. But I will just go right to it and share what I think can make the BIGGEST BEACH PARTY in Mindanao even bigger and better.
- Expand participation of the Coastal Towns. Go back to basics. What was the intention for this fiesta? It’s a push for tourism for Sarangani with Sarangani Bay as the core of the festival. Let’s make sure then that all the municipalities along the Sarangani Bay coastline should participate. There should be events not only in Glan — Malapatan, Alabel, Maasim, Kiamba and Maitum should be in the loop as well. If we have to push for Sarangani Tourism (vis-a-vis the Bay) then let’s not forget the other towns.
- Make it longer. I know, I know — budget constraints is limiting all these. Methinks, if you market it to sponsors properly, then you wouldn’t need to use government funds to make this a go. Three days is just too restricting for a festival that has grown huge in popularity and name-recall. Make it a week-long celebration. Distribute the events along the shorelines of the six towns. And rotate the venue of the CULMINATING event among these towns each year.
- Manage events that are duplications. Case in point: Bikini Open competition. The six towns can run their own competition but this should be under the auspices of the uber-popular BAY BODIES Competition. The town versions can be elimination rounds whereby they chose two pairs as official candidates to the main pageant. And this can run during the week-long celebration and eventually finishing off at the MAIN PAGEANT night.
- Choose the right venues. I’m referring to the venues of the main events. Coco Beach has been hosting SarBayFest and they deserve our appreciation. However, the fiesta has grown so popular that they have to consider transferring to a wider space — the beach front perhaps? The usual reaction is that there are morning events — then by all means, transfer the morning activities to another town or another venue. Let’s also think about the convenience of our visitors and guests.
- Establish a SarBayFest image. Avoid comparison to Boracay — calling the festival as the Boracay of Mindanao. SarBarFest is good enough a product. Package it well. Sell it differently. Push its uniqueness as a festival. Make it worthy to be called as the BIGGEST AND GRANDEST BEACH PARTY IN MINDANAO — this time to include the coastal towns of Sarangani.
- Use the Pacman to the hilt. Like it or not — anything related to Congressman Pacquiao becomes an instant hit. Use it wisely. To the hilt doesn’t mean overdoing it. Take a shot of the Pacman (and perhaps the Governor) in scuba gear or skim-boarding or just walking along the bay. Now that’s every Marketing person’s dream come true if that should happen. Seek the Pacman’s blessing when courting sponsors’ support. That will be a big push to your marketing efforts.
This is a work-in-progress and I may add a few other pointers from time to time. In the meantime, take a bow, Sarangans! You’ve done well!
First things first, kudos to Michelle Solon, whose vision for Sarangani’s Tourism Sector is so focused it would seem that there’s nothing this petite lady cannot do. Michelle pushed for the SarBayFest a few years back while a majority poo-pooed the idea. And with Governor Migs Dominguez’ backing, everything just fell in their right place.