Europe-PH News

Mountain Music

February 29, 2012

European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

Europe-PH News

South by Southwest, Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot -- a music fan, with his tent and glow sticks in tow, could tour the United States according to a year-long calendar of festivals. The same goes for Europe or Australia, where Miro Grgic has had extensive experience mounting concerts.

The Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival, now on its second year, aims to place Oriental Mindoro on the international map. When Mr. Grgic, the Croatian president of Volume Unit Entertainment (VUE), saw the natural amphitheater overlooking the bay of Puerto Galera, he knew he had a winner.
“It’s 250 meters above sea level, at the foot of a mountain,” said Mr. Grgic. “Location is one of the Philippines’ best resources. All I’m doing is promoting it through music, the language of all people -- a language that Filipinos know more than anyone else.”

Four of the greatest DJs, he continued, have Filipino blood: Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys, DJ Qbert, DJ Apollo and DJ Shortkut of the Beat Junkies. “I grew up with music all of my life,” he said, admitting that he’s “a bit compulsive” when it comes to collecting records.

Mr. Grgic was giddy at the fact that Joe Bataan, another of his personal favorites, is performing at Malasimbo. The 69-year-old “king of Latin soul” founded Salsoul Records, a label known for the salsa-and-soul fusion he advanced. Although one of his best-selling albums under Salsoul was titled Afrofilipino, the New York-based Mr. Bataan has never been to the Philippines prior to the Puerto Galera festival. “He speaks to me,” said Mr. Grgic, who includes Mr. Bataan in his list of top three artists. “When he tells his stories through song, I feel like they’re my stories.”

This year’s lineup also includes Cynthia Alexander, Aquarela, Caliph8, Kadangyan, Kristian Hernandez, Nyko Maca presents Gafieira (NMPG) and Christina “Badkiss” Bartges. International acts, meanwhile, include Japan’s DJ Krush and South Korea’s Gong Myoung.

Olivia d’Aboville, daughter of Hubert d’Aboville (festival co-organizer, adopted son of Puerto Galera, and president of European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines), has also invited a roster of artists to create site-specific art, among them Risa Recio, Agnes Arellano, Billy Bonnevie, Niccolo Jose and Nikki Luna.

Last year, the three-day festival held under a full moon attracted an estimated 1,500 tourists. Organizers aim to double that number this year and to generate at least P20 million. Since establishments are booked solid, Mr. Grgic encourages festival-goers to pitch tents on camping grounds equipped with facilities. “Part of the appeal is leaving Manila and going to a place where you don’t know what to expect,” he said. “It’s intimate, secluded, and remote. It may be hard to get to but that adds to the sense of adventure.”

Mr. Grgic is based in the Philippines and he believes that there is no reason that Malasimbo, given enough resources, can’t be a mini-Coachella, an event in California that can pull in 200,000-plus attendees over three days. According to the Croatian, Malasimbo could see as many as 10,000 visitors in the future and be just one of the stops in festival circuit that includes, say, Boracay.

“People know me as the crazy guy who always wants to build the best shows,” said the VUE President, who is prone to superlatives. “I won’t stop until we make the Philippines one of the biggest music venues in the world.” -- SLM
The Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival 2012 will be held from March 2-4.

For more information, go to or e-mail


Source: Business World; Arts and Leisure; 29 February 2012

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