A few days after the 3-day event, my friends are still talking about the recently-ended Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival. Their reactions were very understandable.
The place is perfect; set high up in the mountains, the music of Grace Nono, reggae master Jimmy Cliff, and Grammy Award-winner Joss Stone and other musicians blended seamlessly into the uniquely hypnotic vibe that a music festival provides.
With a beer in hand and a friend to share the experience, Malasimbo made for a weekend to be remembered.
Aside from the music, however, I also enjoyed all the art installations in the area. I liked one in particular: it was of a naked, pregnant woman giving birth, surrounded by white stones on which musical notes were embedded. Called “Haliya Mantra,” it told the story of a moon goddess in the Bicol Region.
According to artist Agnes Arellano, the moon goddess was entrapped by a human while she was bathing by stealing the clothes which gave her the power to fly stolen. Unable to go back to the sky, she remained on earth as his wife. When she was due to give birth, she went to the river, and music accompanied her labors.
Arellano said that the art installation will remain on Malasimbo. It’s the second of its kind; the first one she did is in the Singapore Art Museum, with ripples around the goddess instead of music. The third one, she said, is yet to be made.
Aside from Arellano’s work, there were quite a few others as well scattered all around the estate. Looking for them was like a treasure hunt; you walk around not expecting anything, and then bam! there it would be.
The first day I was there, I saw this charming little guy in one of the slopes. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to go back and find out his name and who the artist was. If you do know whose it is, let me know in the comments!
I found Pugad ng Buhay (Nest of Life) very interesting, too. The whole thing resembles a nest with a figure in the middle covered with some sort of cloth or fiber. When you take a look inside the middle figure, you will see a hen nesting on a baby. Listen to the wind when you’re there; the artists have put up wind chimes on the branches near the nest.
I found this artwork by Mikai Rodrigo really weird and disturbing though, with parts of a baby strewn all over the ground, and colored guns and other items growing out of the baby’s head. It is obviously the artist’s interpretation of a “baby boom.” What do you think of it?
All these artwork (over 20 artists have brought or created their pieces here) will remain in the area for as long as they can; I think people can still request to see them while they last.
I had no plans of attending Malasimbo; I found the price of the tickets prohibitive. I’m glad I did, though (I went as a volunteer, helping man the coupon booths). Set against the backdrop of the mountains, Malasimbo has lived up to its promise of marrying arts, music, and culture amidst the natural beauty of Puerto Galera.
Indeed, as the band Quest had said, “Malasimbo is not just a weekend show, Malasimbo is a lifestyle.”