Hied off to Puerto Galera over the weekend to go to the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival.
The festival was organized by long-time Galera resident, Frenchman Hubert D’Aboville, to celebrate arts, music and culture and mainly to promote Puerto Galera as a must-visit destination in the Philippines.
He is in love with the island, and it shows.
The festival was held in a natural ampitheater at the foot of Mount Malasimbo. Organizing the two-day event was a family affair, with Hubert’s relatives flying in to help out. An eclectic mix of musicians were invited to perform, many of whom were club deejays spinning tunes ranging from electronica, funk, dance and hip-hop.
While they were all interesting to listen to, what made the ticket worth it for me was listening to Kadangyan and Gong Myoung on Saturday night.
Kadangyan (which means “rich in culture” in Ifugao) is a five-man group specializing in tribal rock, mixing together traditional instruments like the mityapi (lute), kulaleng (bamboo flute) and gangsa (gong) with band staples such a bass guitar and a drum set, creating a distinct sound that’s hypnotic, modern and yet very Filipino. Kadangyan also invites other performers to jam with them, as what happened during the festival.
I’ve read somewhere that music is what emotions sound like. One hears power, pride and courage in every performance.
On lead vocals is Bhava Mitra, whose voice reminds me of datus and warriors of long ago.
Just as superb was percussion group Gong Myoung from South Korea. Trained in traditional Korean music, the quartet has woven together musical genres, influences and instruments, delivering rhythms that are a refreshing respite from K-pop (sing it with me: I want nobody, nobody but you…).
One of the members sheepishly addressed the audience, “The only English phrases I know are ‘I’m hungry,’ ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I love you.'”
But if you sound like they do, who needs to say anything?
By passionately keeping their heritage alive, these groups have created music that transcends boundaries and that’s universally understood.