The History of Malasimbo Festival, Puerto Galera

For music lovers in the Philippines, there’s no event that stokes more anticipation than the yearly Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. Named for the Malasimbo Ampitheater, where the festival has been held for the past eight years since its inception, there are tons of new plans for 2019 that will make this year’s festival bigger and better. If you’re new to the Malasimbo scene, take a look at this primer and quickly brush up on its history, as well as get a peek at what might be in store for you when the festival runs from March 1-2, 2019.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Malasimbo is one of the most hotly-anticipated musical events in the Philippines. An impressive line-up of international and local musical performers, installations and performances from talented visual artists, and a stunning view of Puerto Galera Bay all combine to make for an incredible experience.

While the past eight years of the festival have all been held in the Malasimbo Ampitheater, Rappler reports that Malasimbo’s ninth year will now be held in the private nature park of White Beach, Puerto Galera. The larger venue will hold more facilities for performers and campgoers, and includes a jungle and virgin beach. This means more space for attendees to roam around and enjoy the music of acts like local indie funk band IV of Spades, blues musician Ian Lofamia, Ruby Ibarra, and other sensational artists.

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Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival was the brainchild of Frenchman Hubert d’Aboville, a former backpacker now turned businessman, and the co-founder and president of the annual event. In a feature by the Manila Times, d’Aboville narrates a brief life history, explaining that he first arrived in Manila in 1977 and fell in love with the beautiful waters and landscape of Puerto Galera in 1982. He soon built a business and a family with his wife Araceli Valenzuela, and they made their home in Puerto Galera.

D’Aboville tried his hand at several businesses, which were all solid successes, but it wasn’t until 2010 that the idea of hosting a huge event like Malasimbo occurred to him. The seed of the idea was planted by Miro Grgic, president of Volume Unit Entertainment, Inc., and the pair soon tried to coordinate with the local government on making a music festival for 1000 to 2000 guests possible. While there was initially some trouble finding a venue that could fit that amount of people, d’Aboville soon realized that the best place to hold Malasimbo was much closer to home— his own property. And thus, Malasimbo was born.

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D’Aboville and his team soon got to work making the road to the venue travel-worthy and constructing the now-famous Malasimbo Ampitheater by terracing the slopes on his property. Despite the short notice and amount of work, the preparations were miraculously finished on time, and the annual Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival made its grand debut from February 18 to 19, with a whopping 1,500 attendees.

Malasimbo’s first run was a huge success, and year after year the clamor and support for the event grew, with the crowd in 2012 doubling to 3000, and doubling again to 6000 in 2013. But Malasimbo stands out from other music festivals in the Philippines in large part due to the philosophy of the organizing team. D’Aboville attributes the uniqueness of Malasimbo Festival to the interaction of what he calls the “four pillars”: the music, the arts, the indigenous Mangyan people of Oriental Mindoro, and the environment.

The organizers make sure to invite visionary musical artists, and have even set up a label called Malasimbo Recording, and a band called the Malasimbo Orchestra. They’ve also opened opportunities for more and more local artists to showcase their work, with some installations created with the purpose of “vanishing’ into the environment through time, and some lasting for a bit longer.

Their work also includes showcasing the indigenous culture of the Iraya Mangyan and Hanunuo Mangyan, as well as the T’boli of South Cotabato, through local dances, handicrafts, and weaving workshops. Finally, d’Aboville has made it clear that the festival will strive to keep its carbon footprint low, eschewing the traditional promotional materials of tarpaulins and using the proceeds of the festival to support the local government in conservation efforts.

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For those who want to maximize their time in the beautiful landscape, the festival’s previous years have also included the Malasimboat Party, a floating raft in the idyllic waters of Puerto Galera. The Malasimboat includes two levels of dance floors and refreshments, and water slides that will take you straight into the perfect blue seawater below.

As Rappler states in their feature on 8 things to know about Malasimbo, the festival has no shortage of qualities that make it stand out from the rest. With a truly visionary concept, and consistently quality execution, it’s clear that Malasimbo has led the way in creating a unique, impactful, and once-in-a-lifetime experience for any music and arts lover in the country.

Previous lineups over the years have included international acts like DJ KRUSH, Gongmyoung, Joe Bataan, Jose Gonzalez, Joss Stone, Big Mountain, June Marieezy, Jacob Collier, and local acts like Cynthia Alexander, Up Dharma Down, Joey Ayala, Radioactive Sago Project, the Manila Symphony Orchestra, Reese Lansangan, Bullet Dumas, Tropical Depression, and countless others. Visual artists such as Jigs Tenorio, Agus Kama Loedin, Dondi Katigbak, A.C.M.E., Leeroy New, and many more have also lent their talents and skills to make the landscape of Malasimbo truly unforgettable.

According to the official website, the lineup of performers and artists for 2019 includes a mix of local and international acts, with names such as Robert Glasper (ft. Derrick Hodge and Justin Tyson), Anomalie, Laneous, IV of Spades, I Belong to the Zoo, Munimuni, and DJs Danny Krivit and Kristian Hernandez, among others. The Malasimbo Festival site also offers single-day and two-day passes for the event, with group passes available at a discount.

With Malasimbo being held on the island of Puerto Galera, getting there might not be as easy as hopping into a car, but it’s certainly no trial. The official Puerto Galera site lists several options for transport, but public transport simply includes a short ferry ride from Batangas to Puerto Galera, and then a tricycle or jeep ride to your chosen resort. Puerto Galera Online Services also lists several accommodation options, or you can contact the concert organizers and ask if setting up a tent on the grounds is all right.

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If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, then put Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival on your list this year. Great music, incredible art, and a venue in tropical paradise— this is one music festival that you’ll be thinking about for a long, long time afterwards. See the Malasimbo official website for more details, and join in the fun!

For more upcoming events and tips, check out our other articles on Daydreaming in Paradise!

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