Covering a 5-day culture fest
And it was awesome.
I had to suspend all expectations to appreciate the Malasimbo Arts and Music Festival for what it is. People going around, bobbing their heads as if gestured by the golden cat perched on cabs' dashboards. Pomelo scent filled the air, blown from the fog machine from the stage. I only spotted one girl wearing jeans and t-shirt: Me.
And now to share my discoveries:
1. The art and talent of Mishka Adams (thank God she's back!)
It was a bit awkward to be standing in front of the stage and waiting so eagerly for half an hour while she and sound engineers try so hard to perfect the volume of the microphones assigned to her instrument. But I had been waiting for that moment since college.
Alas I did not have a courage to head backstage to meet her for an interview. I was so satisfied fangirling from the mosh pit.
2. Eping, a Hanunuo Mangyan woman who so openly spoke with us about the plight and joys of her tribe.
Yes, they are less fortunate than most of us economically speaking. But there are more of us, too, who perhaps love culture way less than they do.
3. Outdoor installation art by the bulk.
At Malasimbo, there is an abundance of contemporary works. You name them: d'Aboville, Katigbak, New, De Guia, Arellano, etc. It's one glorious, grassy gallery!
4. This Mangyan guy:
Who practices everyday to create music from guava leaves.
It's not a sport, not a talent, not even a body building practice. It's a dance, but still not exactly.
"It's a kind of flow," my bugang instructor Hans (in yellow shirt) said. Oh-kay.
6. Picture-perfect Puerto Galera and its sand and its shore and its long, winding roads without light at night. (Electricity is expensive, the mayor told me.)
It's unfortunate that the once favorite tourist destination is now tainted by the rep of its red district, bawdy night life and availability of marijuana and illegal drugs.
Local government should consider battling these forces decisively if they want to make serious money for the people from a renewed boom in tourist numbers coming in for cheap, family-friendly getaways.