Young Star

Good vibrations

SENSES WORKING OVERTIME - Luis Katigbak - The Philippine Star

On its fourth year, the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival wants to get you on a cultural high.

I’ve never experienced anything like Malasimbo. It is truly unique, it’s an adventure.” Those words might come as no surprise, given that they were spoken by Olivia d’Aboville, who is one of the Malasimbo Festival’s co-founders. Aside from being a rising artist and designer on the local and international scene, however, it seems that Olivia is utterly sincere — and her enthusiasm is catching.

“The festival blends traditional and contemporary arts and culture together with music performances, while working towards the protection and sustainability of the environment,” the official description reads. “The festival is held outdoors in a grass terraced amphitheater at the foot of Mount Malasimbo overlooking Puerto Galera Bay, a member of ‘The Most Beautiful Bays in the World’ club.”

The annual Malasimbo event started in 2011. “My boyfriend Miro (Grgic) had been wanting to do festivals in the Philippines for quite some time,” Olivia tells us. “He pitched the idea to my dad, who was looking for ways to uplift the local tourism in Puerto Galera. The location inspired us to create what the festival is all about: music, arts, environment and the indigenous people.”

“All four pillars compose the essence of Malasimbo and contribute to its uniqueness. We are in a completely different league when it comes to international music festivals because of our holistic integrity. The Arts at Malasimbo enhance the magical experience of the venue. The festival is a celebration of all art forms.” (Indeed, seeing Facebook updates and on-site images from participating artists like Wawi Navarroza stokes the sense of anticipation.)

Soul, funk, jazz, reggae, roots: the lineup of musicians for this year’s Malasimbo is something to behold. You’ve got renowned, award-winning international acts like Jose Gonzalez (“A lot of people are excited to see him perform. He’s a perfect fit for our Sunday vibe”), Roy Ayers (“Roy is the neo-soul pioneer, having influenced so many great artists, like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo”), Mad Professor, and the Robert Glasper Experiment, alongside homegrown talents like Good Leaf and Similar Objects, not to mention other highly-anticipated acts like June Marieezy and Mishka Adams.

“Sometimes I wish I was not part of the organizing team so I could enjoy the festival as a fan and party all night!” says Olivia. “Our perspective as the organizers is so different, but when we talk to our friends or people we meet, we feel so happy that we were able to give them such an experience.”

There’s a lot to take in, in Malasimbo. “This year, I will make it my goal to attend one of the MalasimBoat parties! I cannot miss this again! This time it will be a three-hour party with two DJs sharing the stage.”

“Malasimbo Festival is often referred to as ‘life-changing,’ we’ve heard so many stories about couples meeting and falling in love at Malasimbo. There is something in the air, definitely good vibes, positive energy, love and unity.”

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The Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival is happening now, in Puerto Galera, until March 3. See malasimbofestival.com for a lineup and schedule of events.

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