Malasimbo: A mix of music and arts

Emil Sarmiento
The Philippines' unique Malasimbo music and arts festival kicks off on March 2

MANILA, Philippines – Are you ready to listen to some good music, see inspired art pieces, and mingle with fun individuals, all while surrounded by the beauty of one of the best beaches in the world?

As summer approaches, March kicks off with one of the most unique festivals in the world: the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival, which begins on Friday, March 2.

The stage is set in an amphitheater with plush, green, natural seats, overlooking Puerto Galera Bay. The venue is surrounded by coconut trees, carpeted by lush grass, and ceilinged by stars. It would be hard to find a better setting.

The surroundings are also part of the event, as Mount Malasimbo serves as a distinctive arena for sonic and visual pursuits.

A sculpture garden near the camping grounds has been set up for installations and other works.

But to get to the music, you need to pass through the art.

Diverse fields

Only on its second year, the extravaganza pulled out all the stops, inviting international music artists such as Joe Bataan, DJ Kentaro, and Kyoto Jazz Massive to highlight the event, erstwhile supplying top-tier local talents such as Radioactive Sago Project, Up Dharma Down, Jr Kilat, SinoSikat?, and many more.

Visual artists Gus Albor, Agnes Arellano, Billy Bonnevie, Karla Cachola, and others hawk their wares, displaying eclectic art pieces.

The festival has prided itself with the diversity of their musical performers who come from different backgrounds and genres, with offerings from world, latin, soul, jazz, hiphop, dub, and folk, just to name a few.

Aside from the heavy-hitters, the lineup boasts of musicians that cultivate their respective sub-cultures, who redefine their genres and have garnered loyal followings through their music.

Although varying in tenure in the music industry, these artists have certainly left an impression in their listeners.

Here are a few who are expected to be there:

1) Waway Saway

A teacher of Talaandig School of Living Traditions in Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Waway Saway has carved his name onto the faces of Bukidnon’s mountains, endearing himself to indigenous tribes as he creates Talaandig traditional and contemporary music. His first of 6 albums, Kulahi hu Bugta, was recorded in the heart of Mount Kitanglad, Bukidnon’s highest peak. Waway Saway advocates his tribe’s culture, providing a future for the younger generation through music and art.

2) Radioactive Sago Project

Radioactive Sago Project is a band that has pioneered spoken-word poetry in the country, and has been talking about modern and social issues such as politics, alcoholism, and fashion since 1999. Their erudite frontman, Lourd de Veyra, continues to challenge lyrical boundaries by spouting socially relevant queries in eloquent, sure-footed prose.

3) Aric Yuson

Aric Yuson is also known as Anygma. Anygma is an emcee who, in 2010, decided to create a Rap Battle League here in the country akin to Grind Time, USA’s own federation. Applying the format of Grind Time in Filipino context, FlipTop was launched in February of that year and hasn’t looked back since. From then on, FlipTop battle videos has spawned a massive breakout for the organization, with YouTube hits amassing millions.

Visual Artists

There is a youth movement afoot.

Malasimbo artists this year are getting younger. Their passion for their craft and their prolific work however, will tell you that the art gallery for this year’s festival will not leave you wanting.

Subjectivity has always been a factor in making art, but their credentials speak for themselves.
 Here’s who to expect:

1) Nikki Luna

Social commentary is evident in Nikki Luna’s pieces. She focuses on femininity, and women in the context of the third world. She is also the founder of Start Art project, a non-profit organization aimed at providing art workshops to women and youth victims of armed conflict and human rights violations.

2) Leeroy New

A modern-day renaissance man, Leeroy New doesn’t shy away from different mediums, not just in art, but also in expression. As an artist and a designer, New’s work intersects different outlets, as he has dabbled in film, theater, visual arts and fashion.

3) Mikai Rodrigo

Culinary is an art. That’s why Culinary Arts has become all the rage. Mikai Rodrigo however, focuses on the latter word. Fishing inspiration from pop culture, her work appeals not just through the sense of sight, but also of smell and taste.

Music, art, nature, people. The Malasimbo Music and Art Festival takes place on March 2-4 at the foot of Mount Malasimbo, Puerto Galera, Mindoro.

Click on the links below for more.

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