The glorious sun was out at Puerto Galera all weekend. It was as if the Universe had its loving arms ready and waiting for the massive number of music fans from here and elsewhere on their way to experience the five-day funfest that was the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival.
Here’s our recap of that beautiful weekend.
The event happened in a natural amphitheater situated in Mount Malasimbo, a six-minute jeep ride from the beaches of Puerto Galera. Trippy, flowing lanterns hung from coconut trees, all for the crowd to enjoy. The audience area is carved into stair-like ascensions covered in grass for festival-goers to spread their sarongs and mats on to get comfy under the stars.
This year’s festival has been dubbed as Malasimbo’s best yet, with Grammy-winning producer Robert Glasper playing with his band, Robert Glasper Experiment, the Godfather of Neo-Soul himself, Roy Ayers, and Omar waving the jazz, neo-soul international flags for local and foreign attendees.
Omar sang his hit, “Nothing Like This,” while Ayers, of course, performed “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” Glasper and his band did jazz renditions of modern hits such as Radiohead’s “All I Need,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
All their sets satisfied the attendees, making everyone say “did that just happen?”
The sloping venue was made even more alluring by the art installations outside the amphitheater.
One installation by Agnes Arellano called “Haliya Mantra,” shows a pregnant woman lying on the floor surrounded by fertility eggs that match the musical scale of the fertility chant.
One heartwarming installation was dedicated by Alwin Reamillo to the late Debid Sicam, a victim of the recent Bontoc bus accident.
Iya Regalario did a lit 10-feet 3D face of a man she calls “Pol.”
Performance artists were also active all throughout the festival, making it weirdly amusing for everyone. One was even buried on soil, and another clad in a sheer cocoon-like blanket slowly moving inside a branched edifice.
The audience was treated with a traditional dance from the locals of Baco, a municipality in Oriental Mindoro last Sunday. The dancers were dressed in traditional Filipino costume and they held candles reminiscent of the pandanggo sa ilaw—if that’s not what they did, and if that folk dance involved breathtaking stunts.
It was perhaps that night’s best light show.
Mishka Adams is known for her rich yet romantic songs. When she did her set, it seemed like she held the heart of everyone who was there. Mishka was very gracious and candid to the audience. All the way even after some butt-naked dude started walking towards the stage during her set.
As for the underwear-melting and tear-jerking Swedish singer, Jose Gonzalez, everybody sat and stood in a trance, lulled by how talented and masterful his performance was.
One audience member quipped, “pano niya ginagawa ‘yung beats?” since he was only holding an acoustic guitar the entire time. He sang his delicately stirring hits such as “Crosses,” “Teardrop,” “Down the Line,” “Heartbeats” and even sang John Lennon’s “Imagine” during his encore.
He also surprised the crowd with an unreleased new song, making it even more memorable for everyone.
LA-based DJ Osunlade cast a spell on the audience members situated at the top of the crowd area, where a good 10 to 15 people started dancing the same moves. When they got attention from the crowd, the number multiplied to 30, then 50, then maybe as many as around 200 doing the same moves.
The Aussie band Kooii featured two dancers, Frankie and Zoe, during their set before Osunlade and the audience was just mesmerized by their moves. The best part of the “instant flash mob,” perhaps, was when the two ladies joined in and led the group with classic moves such as that hand gesture from Thriller while Osunlade played the famous song.
It’s safe to say that seeing this kind of energy in a festival was a first for everyone, making this year’s Malasimbo the most memorable.
Aside from all the festivities, those who flocked to see the acts get to bask under the sun, get tans, and swim in the crystal clear waters of the beaches and lakes in Oriental Mindoro before heading to Mt. Malasimbo.
It’s the perfect way to welcome the summer—the mesmerizing beauty of nature with great music and the magic of friendship.