Sarangani Bay Festival wins Best National Tourism Event

SARBAY ATOP

The biggest beach festival in Mindanao is now recognized as the Best National Tourism Event in Sports, Adventure, and Wellness by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) and Department of Tourism (DOT). This event has grown exponentially through the years and gathers athletes, sports enthusiasts, beach lovers, and their families and friends for a weekend in May. What makes this weekend extra special are the jam-packed activities, the long stretch of white sand beach, and the happy vibe of Sarangani!

This beach festival began in 2006 was done manly to promote the white sand beach of Gumasa Beach, Glan.  This provincial run event started with 3,000 tourists, to now a leap of 74,000++ tourists in 2013.

This beach festival has gathered over 650 athletes nationwide to participate a range of 8 Sports events.  Non-atheletes were also entertained by Zumba by the Bay, Bay Bodies Competition, Nightly concerts, Poi and Zip Clinic, Skim Boarding Clinics and many other activities. Cash Prizes worth P500,000.00 were awarded to winners of these competitions.

In 2013, the tourist spending for the 2-day Festival reached  more than P11 Million. This includes the revenues of resorts from bookings and including the sales from the 80 traders that served food, beverages, selling of dry goods and souvenirs, and including services such as henna tattoos and massage.

Funds were also raised to continue with the Sarbay advocacy of preserving the Sarangani Bay.  Mangrove planting, Coastal Clean Up and Scubasurero were among the activities that were participated by the Local Governments and the public.

Sarbay Festival 2013 thanks all its partners, organizers, participants, the media, and all those who came and make this event a huge success.

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The Mabal Tabih

It’s the month of October and we are celebrating the Indigenous People’s month. For this year’s celebration, the Mabal Tabih of the Blaans will be taking the center stage. Among the distinct weaves of the different tribes in Mindanao, the Tabih is becoming a very rare indigenous fabric. It is almost very difficult to find and only a few masters still know how to design this abaca fabric.

Many Blaans today, do not own thier own “Tabih”. The Tabih fabric is used as a tubular skirt for Blaan women or used as formal pants among the Blaan men. It is the frustration of cultural development workers to see Blaans use the T’nalak (which is the weaved fabric of Tbolis) instead of their Tabih. The Tbolis have done a great job in preserving their weaving tradition and have transferred the skills to the younger generation. T’nalak is the most popular abaca weaved and indigenous designed fabric in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the identity of the Blaan Mabal Tabih weaves are slowly disappearing, if this generation is not cautious.

However, in the town of Malungon, Sarangani, there exists a Blaan Village that continues to pass on the weaving knowledge to the next generation. In Sitio Lamlifew, you will find an organized group of women who are empowered in keeping their Blaan tradition. The Lamlifew Tribal Womens Association headed by Helen Lumbos has been awarded as one of the best SLTs (school of Living Tradition) in the country. One must take a visit to fully grasp the extent of their iniatitives.

Helen and the women of Lamlifew took the opportunity to partner with the government and NGOs to continue in their dream of preserving the Blaan identity and culture. When you take a visit today to Lamlifew, you will be guided by DOT trained Blaan tour guides and walk through their village. This immersion will make you understand their values toward their environment, traditions, and family. The tour will show you several of their century-old heirlooms placed in a traditional Blaan house that serves as their museum. Then, you will see their weaving house where the Tabih is carefully designed and woven. Again, this fabric is very precious because it is woven prudently by one woman who will complete the entire fabric in 3 to 4 months.

Blaan Tabih Weaving
Blaan Tabih Weaving

Several cultural workers such as Arjho Turner, Leonardo Carino, Emi Englis, and Toto Tirando (who works in the Sulong Katutubo program of Provincial Government of Sarangani) are working together to bring an awareness to the Mabal Tabih. With the support of Governor Steve Solon of Sarangani and Department of Tourism 12, an exhibit will be take place this October 13-16 in SM Mall Gensan. This is your chance to see the Tabih up close and personal and meet their Master Weavers, Fu Yabing of Polomolok and Fu Gusiye of Sarangani.

Mabal Tabih

Go Sarangani also organizes tours to visit Lamlifew Tribal Village Museum for immersion with the Blaan tribe. Please contact us at gosaranganitravel@gmail.com for more information.