By Maya M. Padillo, Correspondent

GLAN, SARANGANI — The annual Sarangani Bay Fest (SarBay Fest) at the Gumasa Beach in Glan, which started in 2006, has in recent years been trumpeting the idea of environment-friendly and sustainable tourism.

This year, the provincial government amplified this message by, among other things, partnering with corporate giants Smart Telecommunications, Inc. and San Miguel Brewery Inc. (SMB) to set up innovative bins for recyclable trash.

SMB set up a towering bottle-shaped bin made of steel wire where people can chuck in their recyclable wastes.

Smart, the wireless unit of PLDT, Inc., made a turtle-shaped bin with a machine and sensor attached for counting the number of plastic bottles thrown in.

The machine also had an application wherein people who dropped their plastic can register their names and mobile numbers to get free load credits — P5 for every two cans or plastic bottles, and P25 for 10 recyclable items.

“On the shoreline we have huge installations where visitors took a selfie and instagrammed (their photos) and also placed their trash. This was another creative way of our Sarbay citizens to keep it clean and keep the environment and the beach at its best,” Michelle L. Solon, regional tourism council chair, said in an interview.

Other waste segregation areas were also set up while locals were again hired to serve as cleaners, with a pool of 150 that worked in groups of 50, each on an eight-hour shift to make sure that the beach stayed waste-free.

There were also interactive games and “planet camp” to drive the message of environmental protection, urban gardening demonstrations, coastal clean-up, and the scubasurero (scuba divers cleaning up underwater trash).

Various sporting events were also held, such as the 15-kilometer (km) swim from Maasim to Glan, which has become an iconic Sarbay activity. There was also a 50-km run from the province’s capitol all the way to Gumasa.

The evening shows featured a percussion competition, international DJs, popular bands, and fireworks.

“We have really made our bay closer to what we really want it to be, where we all partied and enjoyed but kept clean,” Ms. Solon said.

The Glan Municipal Environment Resources Office reported that garbage collected during Sarbay 2019 from May 31 to June 4 was 48 cubic meters, consisting of 30% biodegradable, 30% residuals, and 40% recyclable.

Ms. Solon said the Sarbay Fest is also an important income earner for the tourism sector, citing P65 million generated in 2018 from accommodations, food, environmental fees, and transportation, among others.

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