It’s been two years since I’ve been to my first Malasimbo Festival in the mountains of Puerto Galera, Philippines. Whenever my mind wanders to that time, I can’t help but smile as it was such a good memory to me. The place itself is perfect; it is one of those small islands that you would instantly think of escaping to when the city life becomes a little more exhausting and toxic than the usual. It’s known for the nightlife, the beaches and the plentiful tourists that makes the island a definite worthwhile destination. Not to mention, getting there is pretty easy.
Puerto Galera is also known for another thing: it is the destination for Malasimbo Festival — a festival of art, music, lights and dance. I was always intrigued by the musings of people I knew from college who had been there and saw how magical and refreshing the whole weekend experience was. The idea of getting away from all the noise for the whole weekend and come anew the following Monday sounds promising. Since it’s launch in 2012, it had grew a cult following who always look forward for what February or March would bring. So last March of 2016, I decided to pack my bags and get my burnt-out bum in the mountains.
Here are 5 tips I can share with you from that first experience:
DON’T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS. I’ve been stoked for my first Malasimbo experience even a year prior that I started preparing my wardrobe and other essentials early on. Ironically, I still forgot a couple important things like mats and sunscreen. Puerto Galera is an island and the festival is held on the mountains, in an open ground where there will be no chairs provided than what the nature gives you: the grass on the ground. Make a list of your weather-appropriate, beach-and-mountains-ready, on-the-go essentials early, so you could be prepared for any situation.
TRY OUT THE FOOD. The festival is not only about the music and the arts, but also about sumptuous little bowls of mouthgasm that you SHOULD try. A little bit on the pricey side but it’s a shame if you won’t try it at least once. My personal favorite: Dabo-Dobo (chicken adobo with mushrooms and toasted garlic chips), and Kesong Puti sandwich (a pan de sal with carabao cheese, olive oil and herbs filling). Last time I went, there were also sellers of fresh coconut juice, organic kale chips, bottles and bottles of Japanese sake and other more. Top tip: if you can, bring your own liquids! The ones in the venue can be ridiculously jacked up, so it doesn’t hurt to at least bring something with you to quench the thirst.
DO A LITTLE RESEARCH ABOUT THE LINE-UP. Malasimbo showcases a lot of local and foreign acts that’s not mainstream to the ears nor to the eyes, and watching them perform live is an experience on its own. It’s so refreshing and transcending, I’m not even kidding. So do yourself a favor, and try to listen to a few of their hits before attending so you know who to watch out for.
ARRIVE EARLY AT THE GROUNDS. Malasimbo is also the perfect spot for your artsy-fartsy needs as both local and foreign contemporary artists bless you with their talent all day long but that’s not your only reason to go early. Be able to witness the lives of the tribes and join in on other festivities such as workshops, exhibits and eco-cultural preservation activities. Plus, getting there early guarantees you a really nice spot up close and personal on the performers.SUBSCRIBE TO THE NEWSLETTER. If frequent checking out of their website or Facebook page is not your thing, then maybe subscribing to a newsletter is. Their newsletters not only gets you updated with who, when and what’s going to be on the next festival, but they also give out deals and discounts on affiliated transportations and hotels, camping site and other exciting offers. Interested? Click here.
My takeaway from the whole experience was….it’s worth going to. Even though my college friend and I only went for two nights, it was worth the trip and worth every dime spent. I can definitely say if I have the chance to attend another, I definitely would. Not only did it relax my mind and feed my soul with art and music, but it also reconnected me back with nature and reminded me that we are the ones needing it, and not the other way around so we should be taking care of it.
I promise you — you won’t regret getting there and getting your first dose of Malasimbo.
MALASIMBO MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL 2019
Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro
Festival Date: March 1-2, 2019 (Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival)