US has Coachella, UK has Glastonbury, and the Philippines has the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival! Three days of frivolous fun with friends on a mountain by the beach? Pretty much my perfect island party. Highly recommended! Read on to see my film photos from the fest.
My saxophonist cousin Roxy played at Malasimbo last year—the festival’s first—and told me it was so out-of-this-world that she wishes she remembered it more! That was all the convincing I needed to go this year.
As a lover of art, music, the beach, and new experiences, I made sure I didn’t miss the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival 2012, which took place last month at Puerto Galera on the island of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines.
I’d never been to Puerto Galera before but heard that the beaches there were beautiful so I made sure to bring lots of film and cameras for documentation! I primarily used a discontinued Polaroid 210FF for these photos and also brought the old school LomoKino! (Will upload the video later.)
After a two-hour bus ride and one-hour ferry ride, we finally got there!
The beaches were gorgeous and we’d only seen the ones by our hotel. My Malasimbuddy for the trip was my filmmaker friend Sam who instantly wriggled out of her clothes to get a tan.
After a quick Mexican lunch with Malasimbrownies that I baked special for dessert, we decided to check out the Malasimboat Party! We took a water taxi to get to the Liki Tiki Floating Bar where DJs from Europe were spinning and drinks were free flowing!
Didn’t expect the photos to turn out this nice since I used expired film but I guess the sun was on my side that afternoon :-)
Met up with friends from Manila like An of analogue photography duo, Your Evil Twin, Philippine Star’s Karen, and more. It was a pretty chill party although we really felt like going Jersey Shore up in there haha!
After getting intoxicated way too early for our own good, we left the boat and finally headed to the festival! From Muelle Pier, there were jeeps that took us up to Mount Malasimbo. We met all sorts of people on those shuttle rides, from unpretentious performers, to teenagers who couldn’t stop tweeting that they were in “Malasimboooooww,” to foreigners passing around tequila shots in transit!
I was in awe of the set-up. We walked downhill a bit and saw the sprawling property filled with art installations. I felt like a kid in a candy shop going “Oooh look there! OMG what’s that!” at each piece I saw.
The stage for musical acts was in the middle of a bowl in the mountain, surrounded by a grassy ampitheatre, which I guess was good for the acoustics since it sounded pretty ace for an open-air venue. We arrived for Sinosikat’s set which was perfect since they’re one of the homegrown bands I like, plus my cousin was playing with them.
The vibe was really great. People were just lying in the grass with some drinks and food, bobbing their heads to the music, and enjoying the night. Until Brigada, the samba bateria/percussion ensemble, tore the place down. Everyone was dancing—correction, gyrating—the entire set which must have been an hour long. There were also poi and hoop dancers all around tripping out on their props.
SO MUCH FUN. Except, I was so exhausted from traveling and was way too inebriated—along with many others—and felt like passing out hahaha! Sam & I found this bonfire where we sat around for a while as the festival went on. That bonfire was the last thing I remember seeing when I woke up the next day so now I know what Roxy was saying about not remembering things haha!
Note to self: be more present (aka sober) for the last night of Malasimbo!
Had lunch at this Italian place at the far end of White Beach with Sam, Karen, An, and Rogue editors, Raymond and Miguel. Not recommended though as the pizza took nearly two hours to get to us and the food was generally not so groundbreaking. But the restaurant did have a nice view of the shoreline so here’s a token touristy photo!
We headed to An & Karen’s hotel on a whim and boy am I glad we did. Their resort was in the quieter, covey area of Puerto Galera and they had a rowboat at their disposal. We just spent the entire afternoon at the dock—very Dawson’s Creek—which was a nice break from the loud and wild events of the night before.
Sam & I decided to join them on the little white thing and headed to a square “island” where we were even more disconnected from the rest of the world. We were literally marooned on this mini dock big enough for just four people so we made sure the boat didn’t float away or we’d be swimming for our lives! We just lay there, tanning, watching fish, sleeping…
Jumping, shooting, swimming… Of course, I forgot that I had just colored my hair red so I had a total Carrie moment where I was “bleeding” and dye was running down my head! Haha it was an opportunity to take some artsy-fartsy photos though. Then we tanned and slept and rowed some more. By sunset, we decided to head back to the festivities.
True to my word, I was a little more clear in the head when I went to the last night of the festival. And I had to be since it was raining and logistics were a little harder. Malasimbo is a rain-or-shine event so you might have to adjust from sunny Coachella weather to muddy Glastonbury vibes if it rains!
Luckily, we had some friends working for the Malasimbo documentation team so we got to stay right by the stage this time! I bumped into my cousin who was held hostage by her Hungarian boyfriend at the camping grounds til showtime haha!
The music on the last night had a more laid-back feel so we were able to go around more since we weren’t too preoccupied getting our jiggy on! Sam & I also met this girl (sorry I forget her name) because Sam wanted her Beatles sweater. She somehow agreed to give it after washing it haha! Strangers can be so nice.
Back to the music, DJ Kentaro from Japan killed it with his insane turntable skills (and he still uses vinyl, btw), Up Dharma Down was good as usual with their crowd-pleasing hits, and Pasta Groove—which Roxy played the sax for—ended the fete nicely. We left the island early the next day with aching bodies but with great memories of the festival.
I highly recommend Malasimbo to all fun-loving free spirits. If you love meeting people/going to exotic locations/music that’s balm to your ears/outdoor art/doing nothing by the sea, etc., this is a trip you shouldn’t hesitate to take.
If you’re planning to visit the Philippines, try to go around this time as it will surely be a trip for the books! If the festival doesn’t do it for you, the incredible island experiences will. :-)
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