A psy­che­delic clinic made of co­conut trees, live mu­sic and white cow’s cheese


Drop ev­ery­thing and dance! Malasimbo is back for its fifth year and Scout sets the lowdown on why you should go

Ifirst chanced upon the term “group ther­apy” in a book by Irvin D. Yalom, whose fifth edi­tion cover is dec­o­rated with trippy, multi-colored en­ergy balls—sim­i­lar to the ones your di­lated pupils would en­joy in a rave. Group ther­apy is a kind of com­pre­hen­sive psy­chother­apy that in­cludes one or more ther­a­pists work­ing at the same time, with oc­ca­sions of in­di­vid­ual ther­apy and med­i­ca­tion. Its key prin­ci­ples in­clude uni­ver­sal­ity, that is, what you are go­ing through is uni­ver­sal and you are not alone; im­i­ta­tive be­hav­ior, where in­di­vid­u­als can model them­selves af­ter their ther­a­pists; and the in­stil­la­tion of hope, as pa­tients who see peo­ple cop­ing and re­cov­er­ing gives hope to those just be­gin­ning the process.

I would com­pare Malasimbo to ex­actly that, but do re­place the ster­ile white uni­forms with tra­di­tional Mangyan-wo­ven pon­chos worn by tribes­men pas­sion­ately strik­ing their tra­di­tional in­stru­ments, the cold metal seats with a man­made am­phithe­ater carved from the heart of a moun­tain, and bland clinic food with creamy kesong puti melt­ing in warm pan­desal. Your ther­a­pists are pain­ters, sculp­tors, singers, dancers, en­thu­si­as­tic back­pack­ers, and, if you’re lucky, maybe a ran­dom old wise man high on LSD. It’s pretty awe­some, and to date, over 5,000 peo­ple from more than 30 coun­tries have sought out the ex­pe­ri­ence. If you have ex­pe­ri­enced Malasimbo Magic, I say jah to you my friend, for we are all one. If you haven’t, no rush, the or­ga­niz­ers plan to keep this go­ing for a while.

“I got the dates pro­grammed un­til 2025,” says Miro Gr­gic, who or­ga­nizes the event along with artist cum fash­ion designer Olivia d’Aboville. “So if you think we were only gonna be around for a few years, you’re mis­taken.” A pride of Malasimbo is that they are a sus­tain­able ven­ture. With The d’Aboville Foun­da­tion, the fes­ti­val pro­motes man­grove tree plant­ing, the use of so­lar power, the pro­tec­tion of the en­dan­gered Tama­raw and coastal clean-ups.

“We are much more than just a mu­sic fes­ti­val,” says Hu­bert d’Aboville, Olivia’s fa­ther, and the pri­mary owner of the mag­i­cal moun­tain where the event is an­nu­ally held. “We sin­cerely care for this place. This is some­thing we love. We would like to share this with ev­ery­one and hope they love it too.” This year, for its fifth an­niver­sary, the or­ga­niz­ers de­cided to ex­tend the event to two week­ends in­stead of the usual one. “This will not only make it safer for the fes­ti­val go­ers, but it will also help the lo­cal in­dus­try and com­mu­nity.” The or­ga­niz­ers also openly ex­pressed con­cern re­gard­ing se­cu­rity, es­pe­cially af­ter the tragedy of Malaysia’s Fu­ture Mu­sic fes­ti­val last year where six rev­el­ers died from sus­pected drug over­doses. Gr­gic says, “All fes­ti­vals have a ten­dency to at­tract that kind of thing, but you know what, we’ll make sure there’s plenty of co­conut wa­ter.”

Although Malasimbo’s brand of artis­tic open­ness and to­geth­er­ness is of­ten mis­con­strued by the unini­ti­ated as drug-tol­er­ant, the event, d’Aboville ar­gues, fo­cuses more on na­ture, the en­vi­ron­ment, art in all its forms, and most im­por­tantly, the soul of the Philip­pine cul­ture—which is, right from the be­gin­ning, was what at­tracted thou­sands of tourists. Pow­ered by the warmth of the Filipino peo­ple, the Malasimbo Mu­sic & Arts Fes­ti­val is a ther­a­peu­tic ex­pe­ri­ence one can en­joy with friends, both old and new.

“We are much more than just a mu­sic fes­ti­val."

Per­for­mance artist Russ Lig­tas buried him­self the ground so he can “ab­sorb all the en­er­gies of The Malasim­boat raises the notch of beach par­ty­ing to a whole

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