It’s too early to tell just how high the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival can take its grassroots, hippie-revivalist act. All we know is, in an era where a festival is pretty much a bunch of bands and some beer, celebrating practically anything including the kitchen sink, Malasimbo’s thrills are exotic enough to make it worthy of the annual three-day pilgrimage.
Malasimbo is a reason to make a return to Puerto Galera’s beaches, which over the years have earned the reputation of being unseemly and grimy, if unwarrantedly so. At the very least, Galera has been an overlooked spot. To our delight, we arrived at a Galera that has literally cleaned up its act. You will still see the odd bunch of performers at night, but for the most part, the waters are a sparkly blue, and the sand, blinding.
For the most part too, that is the least we could ask of a beach. Imagine having downed too many beers and energy drinks at your typical Malasimbo night, and having the beach right by as your hangover tonic the next day. Surely, there are worse ways to be whole-day-woozy than to be looking at cute festival chicks now in their bikinis while lying on the sand.
As night falls, the beach bums scurry back to their hotels to prepare for that evening’s party up the hills. The smart ones go for warmer clothing, while the bravest of hipsters attempt to conquer the mountain’s gusty climes in their sando and little else. (For the record, we tried that on the first night, and acquired pneumonia. Well, almost.) Westerners, who made up a significant portion of the Malasimbo crowd, didn’t seem to mind the chilly air though.
Look at me I've got a fire sword to keep me warm. Cheeky bastard
The trip to Mt. Malasimbo from White Beach takes 10 to 15 minutes by jeep. Transportation is costly. For a round trip ticket, it’s P200 per person. The trip back, if you return past 2 a.m., will cost you another P50. For the entire three days, it will cost you P750 at the most, which reveals that we know math, and that—on top of the actual concert ticket—you have to be ready to spend when in Malasimbo.
So, is it worth it?
Well, if you’re looking for an escape, Malasimbo delivers.
On your first day at least, walking to the actual concert grounds will make you feel like a kid on the way to a carnival. From the distance, unusual shapes and bright colors can trigger hyperactivity and have your mind going “Is that a horse?! Yes it’s a wooden horse! Is that a jellyfish?! Yes, it’s a space jellyfish!” And as you draw closer, the number of things your eyes can latch on to only multiplies, cute Red Bull girls included.
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Spoilers ahead—read at your own risk