Jillian Is Your Friend

{ramblings & chronicles on food x music}

The Magic of Malasimbo: Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival 2014

A music festival with the beach, mountains, music & culture all in one.

There has been no trip in my life (so far) that could be deemed as worth every single centavo I spent on. The Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival was a little piece of heaven on earth! Now on its fourth run, MMAF is clearly something I want to do every year.

I finally went to this festival along with a couple of favourite people in tow. This year’s festivities ran from February 28-March 3, but being the busy bees & budget-constrained people we were, we decided to come by only during the weekend to catch our favourites from this year’s artists as well as make the most out of our Saturday & Sunday.


Day 1 – Saturday

Prior to our trip, we spent the night at Patty & Chino’s in Makati so we get to Buendia bus station together early the next day. Too bad some girls couldn’t come along with us! 😦


After an early morning two-hour bus ride & an hour’s boat ride from Batangas pier, we were greeted by our shuttle at Puerto Galera & were happy to see that our place to stay was clean & right in front of the beach! Big ups to Sea Jewel Beach Resort for the lovely accommodations. Booking & all else was a breeze.

We spent the remainder of our day pre-gaming (choz) on White Beach drinking shots of Mindoro Sling or cups of fresh mango shake.

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When late afternoon rolled in, we walked over to the highway where jeepneys take you up to Mount Malasimbo where the real festival happens. Upon getting to the top, a sharp, cool breeze hit us & views of cool installation art pieces were scattered all over the place. Upon descending to the main stage, I took a deep breath & was taken aback by the view.

A happy crowd, carved terraces to serve as elevated “seats”, lighted coconut trees & chill-out music inside a little crater in the mountain. We lay on the grass under the stars & I could not help but say, “This is surreal.” All of us could not agree more.


Each of us was given a wristband, which can be converted into a loadable e-wallet. Very convenient. We used this on the food & drink stalls, which served grub, made with locally produced ingredients. The winner was the grilled kesong puti sandwich (P70). Products made by the Mangyan tribes in Mindoro were also available for purchase.

By the time we were settled, we were sucked in by the ambient-like vocals & sounds of June Marieezy. Kind of bummed I didn’t hear Summertime & Fly. By the time her set was done, a DJ came in to spin reggae beats while the next act set up. Our highlight (and what we highly anticipated) was Jordan Rakei’s neo-soul/ska music – we could not stop swaying our bodies to the beat & swooning over his smooth vocals. Selfish was, of course, the easy favourite along with Hope. Believe me when I say a lot of dancing & screaming ensued.


What came next was soul & jazz music from Omar Lye, which also didn’t give us the chance to sit down, but instead, dance some more. Sets from the legendary Roy Ayers, Greg Wilson & Robert Glasper Experiment followed.  What I genuinely liked was the discovery of new genres & encouraging the listener to hear with an open mind. Definitely not your mainstream, urban music festival artists! Our 3 AM wake up call & long travel took its toll, so we took the mountain shuttle, got down the wrong stop & made our way back to our home on the beach while passing by hilarious, sketchy bars.

Day 2 – Sunday

We woke up late for brunch along the beach, more drinking & swimming along the beach’s pristine waters. Spell perfect.

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Making our way up about the same time as yesterday, we were pleased to know we had enough time to, yet again, have the sandwich — grilled kesong puti with herbs & olive oil then pressed into a pandesal. We got a paper bag’s worth because it was THAT good. By the end of the night, the stall ran out amidst drunken foreigners shouting “What do you mean it ran out?! It’s the best f*cking grilled cheese sandwich in the universe!!!” Even the goddamn cheese here is magical.


The crowd was treated to a surprise folkdance number from the kids of a nearby town. The number was well-received especially by foreign guests.

After the cultural treat, we enjoyed a set by Mishka Adams (who reminded me of a folksy version of my girl, Astrud Gilberto) on the grass with gulps of tequila & rum. Before I could drift off into musical bliss, the set was slightly interrupted by some random naked dude walking around the audience. Everyone cheered him on & albeit being a little rude, it was pretty funny & I like how security & management gently handled him.


This year’s headliner was indie-folk supahstah José Gonzales. I was so mesmerized at how one person could capture an entire crowd & sound so…buo! Spellbinding. He played well-loved songs such as Teardrop, Crosses, Lovestain & of course, Heartbeats. His version of Imagine gave me goosebumps & made me tear up. Picture out an entire crowd atop a mountain singing & swaying along to this stripped down, soulful version. I felt very, very lucky to be a part of that moment.


We shake off the tears (Homa cried buckets because we had so much #feelz) by enjoying what was my absolute favourite set from Afro-reggae band, Kooii. We moved in front of the stage & danced NON-STOP along with their energetic back-up dancers. Blasting trumpets, sexy bass, banging drums & raw vocals made me dub their genre as Island Funk. Dancing along with my best friends & being twirled around by the LOML definitely made my night!

The fun didn’t stop there. Osunlade & DJ BadKiss were so good with their respective sets that the entire crowd/mountain did line dancing! There are a few moments that made me sincerely fall in love with life & this experience was it.

We take our last swim the next day & leave Puerto Galera with heavy hearts. We all agree, however, that this is one trip we need to do annually.


MMAF is my type of getaway & music festival. The vibes are good & chill, it has the least pretentious but the most engaged crowd, people are extra friendly & the acts themselves are a great learning experience apart from being highly entertaining.

The beach & drinks by day; the mountains with more drinks, music & art by night. What is not to love about Malasimbo?


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This entry was posted on March 11, 2014 by in Music.
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