Accredited as one of the 35 most beautiful bays in the world, the Bay of Puerto Galera was the backdrop for installation art celebrating nature and music at the recently concluded Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival.
Some 23 artists and art groups created pieces to complement the captivating scene at the festival grounds of Mount Malasimbo, works which will then stay at the venue for as long as it can withstand the elements.
Artist-curators Agnes Arellano and Billy Bonnevie noted that Puerto Galera should not just be on the tourist map for its beaches, but for its ingenuity too. An artists’ haven since the 1970s, with the likes of Freddie Aguilar and Sampaguita gracing its shores, the destination in Oriental Mindoro drew local and international travelers who came with their flutes, harmonicas, and bamboo saxophones, as well as other instruments of choice.
“We knew it was time for it,” said Bonnevie, who had been on the arts organizing committee along with Arellano since day one of the Malasimbo fest. Once involved in the Baguio International Arts and Music Festival in the 1980s, he remarked that there had also been a Puerto Galera Music Fest in the 1990s and early 2000s.
For Malasimbo, artists come to the mountain to do an ocular, spending time watching the bay and the highlands. There is more than enough space so that they are allowed to forget the confines of the gallery and create public art. The artists frequently use materials from the venue itself, such as discarded wood.
Soon, the organizers hope to turn the private property into a formal outdoor museum that is open all year round. People who have had their fill of the beach can head there and have a picnic and commune with nature.
The organizers also plan on inviting more artists, both local and international.
For those who missed the festival, here are seven installations that caught the eye.
1. Planet Claire by Troy Silvestre
Coconuts and bottle caps are some of the materials used to create the creepy crawlies—although these insects were more cute than creepy.
2. The Tree of Life by Hiyas Bagabaldo
Greeting visitors at one of the hilltops of Malasimbo are 30 small, black masks with colorful spheres on the forehead, simulating brainwaves. At the peak of the group is a bigger mask with a brain painted on it.
3. Feathered Sepe by Raphael David
An eerie avian creature with a face that looks like human flesh, but made of silicone rubber, emerges from behind a coconut tree. Just the thing to wake up inebriated revelers coming from the bar a few steps away.
4. Pieces by Angel and Doring Lalongisip
The artists from Puerto Galera carved tiny faces into felled branches, at one site making a menagerie of friendly animals from prehistory and the present, and at another, what seems to be a pregnant woman with grass for her body.
5. Baby Boom! by Mikai Rodrigo
Tiny limbs and heads strewn in between candy-colored guns make for a disturbing piece of art.
6. Dreamer by Niccolo Jose
The artist sorted out wood of different sizes to create a figure lounging on its back and gazing at the sky. Twigs are used to pin the materials together, said Arellano. He also uses an anatomy book as a guide.
7. Haliya Mantra with Eternal Oval by Agnes Arellano
A replica of Arellano’s work exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum, Haliya Mantra is inspired by the Bicol myth of the moon goddess who habitually comes down to earth to bathe in its waters. She is spotted by a woodsman, who hides the clothes she uses as her stairway back to the heavens. They become lovers, and the moment the artist captures in sculpture is the goddess as she floats in the same spring where the woodsman first saw her, looking at the moon and contemplating on the future of the child growing in her belly.
The sculpture lies on a circular bed of pebbles, the rim of which has been raked to form a musical staff. Little knobs are perched on this staff so viewers can read the music as they go around it.
Eternal Oval, a sculpture shaped like an egg, is not far away. The elements are part of a 1983 inscape, which envelopes spectators in the artwork’s components, instead of just having them walk around it, called Temple to the Moon Goddess.
Every year this particular piece will keep growing, said Arellano.