It was a few minutes after 5pm at Batangas Port when we had our first taste of adventure that is the fun-filled Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival. We were in line next to a foreign guy who just had the last ticket for the boat bound to White Beach, Puerto Galera. We were informed that it was the last trip going to our destination. Hence, we were left with no option but to go on a different area and ride a special trip along with a bunch of people who were also not able to make it. We paid 800 pesos for the one-way boat ride, instead of the 300 pesos normal price.
When we arrived at Puerto Galera, it was already around 9pm. We were greeted by the sight of fire dancers and people enjoying the beach party. We immediately headed to the White Beach Resort and Restaurant to check-in. Once settled, we immediately look for the shuttle station going to Mt. Malasimbo, the venue for the 3-day festival. To get to the natural amphitheater that served as the venue of the acts, you need to pay 200 pesos for a two-way, 15-minute jeepney ride. If you plan to return after 2am, you need to pay additional 50 pesos.
The venue is a sight to behold. The hodge-podge of lights, sounds, art installations, amazing crowd, and cool night breeze gave us a magical feeling that enhanced our Malasimbo experience. For the first night, the venue has a laid-back feel, not filled with so much people. The performers for the night include Mark Zero, Ivan Theory, Jazlagiba, Mar Dizon Quartet, Freddie Joachim, and Bad Kiss. The main act is the Grace Nono – Bob Aves Group. The latter delivered an enchanting performance through songs that conveyed messages about culture and the environment.
At the festival grounds, there are numerous art installations that are scattered, which add up to the vibrant ambiance of the venue. There are three bars built all over the area – Pomelo Bar, Mango Bar, and Coconut Bar. There is a food station and a couple of tables at the back of the main stage. To buy food and drinks, you need to first purchase coupons from one of the counters at 50 pesos each, which means that such is also the cheapest price for the items that can be purchased at the festival. A can of beer costs 100 pesos, as well as a bottle of water. The best find would most probably be the Pan De Sal with Malasimbo Kesong Puti, sold at 50 pesos each.
If there is one thing that I was so excited about Malasimbo, it would be the Malasimboat DJ Party. The ticket for the party costs 500 pesos. We went to Muelle Port past 3pm, as it was set to start at 4pm. Sadly, the boat party did not push thru because of some issues with the Coast Guard. Turned out that they were not given the permit to leave the port because of the assumed over-capacity.
The second night of the festival was a lot better, which, for me, is the best among the three nights at Malasimbo. Aside from the performances of Mark Zero and Miro, Babmu Spliff, Flippin’ Soul Stompers, Jeck Pilpil & Peacepipe, Kristian Hernandez, and Gavin Boyd, Jimmy Cliff set the stage on fire. Cliff, being a reggae legend, drew a lot of people to the festival. The venue was full. The crowd was high and ecstatic, enjoying the reggae music that was perfect for Puerto Galera.
On the last night, the main performer was Joss Stone, who was the main reason why we went to Malasimbo. The place was full as well, although not as filled as the previous night. It took at least two hours of sound check before Stone went out of the stage to begin her set. Singing barefoot and in her free-flowing dress, she has captivated the crowd with her angelic charm and voice. Other performers on the last night include Miro, Yolanda Moon, Similar Objects, Quest, DJ To-Ru, and Erwin Edralin.
Aside from the musical performances and art installations, there were also day activities and workshops as a part of the commitment of the organizers in the promotion of the eco-cultural heritage of the country. The day program include Chants and Musical Instruments Orientation, Dreamweaving by T’boli Tribe, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Haliya Mantra, Ambahan Recital, Bamboo Flute Making, and Music and Dances of T’boli Tribe. Unfortunately, we were not able to attend any of these programs since our day time was spent mostly at the beach.
The entire Malasimbo experience was a blast. We went there as a couple, but we ended up making a lot of friends. While on the jeepney, people will start making petty talks, some offering you free drinks to warm up for what the night is about to promise Even at the festival, which was mainly consist of a foreign audience, the people were the friendliest. Being offered a free drink is not uncommon, and being engaged in new friendships is one thing that has been experienced by many.
We were captivated by the Malasimbo magic, making us wait for another year to experience the hype all over again.