With art installations that embrace the natural beauty of the mountain’s majestic terraces and a diverse roster of international and local performers, Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival has placed Puerto Galera on the map as a budding destination for world-class music and art.
High up in the foothills of Mount Malasimbo in Puerto Galera, on a private property dotted with coconut trees and lush landscapes overlooking Puerto Galera Bay, light fills the terraced amphitheater and its surroundings under the bright full moon. Hypnotic beats and sounds reverberate and echo in the terraces, where blankets have been laid out on the grass so that people can comfortably listen to and feel the music. A canopy of trees bathed in rainbow lights hugs the terraces’ edges, alongside numerous art installations in the sculpture garden. For the past five years, the much-anticipated Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival has attracted thousands of attendees from over 30 countries to this intimate and magical setting in the mountain, on the land owned by the French-Filipino d’Aboville family.
As the crowd begins to swell over the festival’s first weekend – in 2015, it has expanded to two weekends (March 6-8 and 13-15) – it’s hard to imagine the work involved in staging the nightly performances and the dazzling display of lights on an island that has no electricity. “The entire festival is powered by generators,” says Olivia d’Aboville, the festival’s art curator.
When Olivia and her boyfriend Miro Grgic – a musician, sound engineer, and production manager – relocated to the Philippines in 2010, in time for her successful first solo exhibition, Chasm of Fantasies, at the Ayala Museum, it was Miro who initially pitched the idea of an international music festival to Olivia’s father, Hubert d’Aboville, whose Puerto Galera property seemed like the perfect venue.
“Miro was involved in music festival production in Australia for a decade before moving to the Philippines, and my dad has been doing a lot to position Puerto Galera as an international destination (the bay was accredited as a member of ‘The Most Beautiful Bays in the World’ 10 years ago thanks to him),” says Olivia.
The Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival was born in 2011 out of a vision Miro shared with Hubert and the d’Aboville family to combine a music festival with promoting eco-tourism on the island. Hubert, an eco-conscious French businessman who works in the energy sector, felt strongly about addressing environmental concerns—a trait that the entire family shares, especially Olivia, whose sculptures are made from recycled materials like coffee stirrers and plastic spoons. Her work, “Giant Dandelion” (2014), constructed from plastic water bottles and 80 color changing LED lights, is one of the first installations to greet festival goers as they descend to the amphitheater.
Read the feature article inside Art+ issue 38