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