Beach bums have regarded Sarangani Bay as the Boracay of Mindanao, and for a good reason. Its white sand, crystalline sea, and endless sun were included in Asia’s Top 50 Beaches in 2018 in the prestigious Australia-based Flight Network.
But beyond the enticing beaches, which span across a 230-km coastline, it is among the archipelago’s richest bodies of water, being a hive of watersports, tourism, fishing, aquaculture, shipbuilding, and a host of economic activities.
Because of its remarkable marine biodiversity, the bay was declared a Protected Seascape in 1996 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 756 to protect its aquatic resources.
The lush bay was later listed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as a Key Marine Biodiversity Area. Its 2,293-hectare coral resources, 60 live hard coral genera, 411 reef species, and 11 seagrass species.
Spanning 215,950 hectares in Sarangani province and Gen. Santos City, it is habitat to dolphins, killer whales, dwarf, and pygmy sperm whales, attesting to the bay’s marine health.
To mark the 25th proclamation anniversary of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, over 500 bikers from the Soccksargen Region pedaled from Gen. Santos City. They planted propagules at mangrove forests along Sarangani’s seashore villages.
Spearheaded by the DENR Region 12, through its Protected Area Management Office and Protected Area Management Board, raise public awareness on the protection and conservation of the bay’s ecosystem.
Dubbed Bike and Plant Activity, the 60-km environmental sports event ran through the province’s charming countryside, making pit stops and planted mangroves in the municipalities of Alabel, Malapatan, and Glan.
Situated on Sarangani’s east coast, the road is being primed as a drive tourism destination in southern Mindanao because of its scenic and culturally rich highways. Cyclists, motorcycle riders, and road trippers drive through this touristic highway which loops around the bay and the adjacent Davao Occidental province.
Glan, monikered as Tour Town, is home to scenic coves and white sand shores, notably Gumasa Beach, site of the most-awaited Sarangani Bay (SarBay) Festival of wellness, sports, entertainment, and environmental activities. The sought-after beach party will be put off for the second year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bay’s western portion in Maasim, Kiamba, and Maitum boast of amazing dive spots, which have earned the Department of Tourism’s declaration as the Soccskargen Region’s diving capital.
Sarangani Governor Steve Solon said the biodiversity-rich bay needs to be nurtured in the next 25 years and pledged the provincial government’s support to ensure its sustainability.
Wrapping up the modest celebration was a bay-wide clean-up along the 68 coastal barangays in cooperation with the village councils to rid the shores of solid wastes.
Despite the low-key observance, the nurture of marine resources was never lost among stakeholders who consider the Sarangani Bay their home, marine resource, and proverbial pound-for-pound champ among the country’s bodies of water.
Also read: Sarangani Bay: A Haven Of Marine Mammals.