The pristine, crystal clear blue waters, its magnificent coral gardens and lush forests are fitting descriptions of a paradise untouched and yet to be discovered. But one does not need to look far to find this green sanctuary for it can be found much closer to home.
Located at the northern tip of the island of Mindoro and popularly known as a top vacation destination for its beautiful beaches, Puerto Galera offers a lot more than just the sand and the sun to its tourists and locals. Its diverse marine life offers scuba divers a breathtaking site that they will forever remember and its mangroves and rainforest mountains help its locals with livelihood. The natural environment of Puerto Galera is truly a testament of its unique ecosystem.
In 2005, Puerto Galera entered new waters when it was included in the prestigious Club of The Most Beautiful Bays of the World. Soon afterwards, the bay of Puerto Galera became a part of the world tourism map and brought a new level of global attention and international prestige to the Philippines. Married to Araceli Valenzuela, a grand-daughter of national hero Dr. Pio Valenzuela with whom he has four children, Hubert d'Aboville, founder and head of the d'Aboville Foundation and Demo Farms, was at the forefront of obtaining the accreditation at the general assembly of thirty club members of the World's Most Beautiful Bays held in Morocco.
As the founding president of the Most Beautiful Bay Association of Puerto Galera, d'Aboville believes that it is high time that we not only celebrate the rich bio-diversity of Puerto Galera but also its indigenous cultural heritage. "Since we are already on our 4th year of being a member of the World's Most Beautiful Bays Club, we at d'Aboville Foundation and Demo Farms have made it our mission to create an eco-cultural tourism experience for our foreign and local visitors this coming February 18 & 19, 2011 at the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival which will be staged in a totally natural outdoor environment at the foot of Mount Malasimbo," d'Aboville said.
The two-day event will coincide with the full moon which will showcase the Mangyan Tribe's art and music as well as traditional handicrafts such as weaving and basketry. The festival will also exhibit local contemporary art through site-specific art installations by notable artists that include Dondi Katigbak, Denis Lagdameo, Olivia d'Aboville and Kawayan De Guia. The musical part of the festival will bring a series of performances of ethnic, jazz and latin music by local and international artists. "We need to focus on creating tourism destinations with sustainable activities aligned with the local cultural heritage and its people which make for a sustainable and eventful eco-cultural experience for both foreigners and local tourists," says Jeannie Javelosa, a culture and arts expert.
Aside from bringing awareness of the indigenous culture of the Mangyans, a major aim of the Festival is to finance the reforestation along the Baclayan Trail and provide livelihood projects to the Mangyans. Each Festival ticket sold will provide one tree planted along the trail which will carry the name of the person who bought it. The ticket price will also pay for a two-year "maintenance" of every tree that will go to a Mangyan family through the Tourism Sector Coordinating Association (TOSCA), thus providing the Mangyan community a sustainable means of livelihood.
In line with its mission, tourists will enjoy all of the outdoor activities in an all natural amphitheatre-shaped area located at the foot of Mount Malasimbo, 200 meters above sea-level and overlooking a magnificent view of the bay. The audience will sit on mats and throw pillows, surrounded by the trees and will have Mount Malasimbo's rainforest as background. The organizers of the Festival have not only maximized Puerto Galera's luxuriant environment but has put its natural beauty in the limelight once again.
Respected marine biologist and scuba diving aficionado Gerry Reyes shares, "I have always loved diving in Puerto Galera because of the vast amount of marine life you get to see. We hope that once people see the beauty of Puerto Galera's ecosystem as a whole, they will be encouraged to participate in preserving our environment. After all, we do owe it to our ancestors who have taken care of our surroundings for us."
Hubert d'Aboville has taken the initiative to make the most of the international accreditation to help develop Philippine tourism and is again, partnering with the Department of Tourism under the leadership of Secretary Alberto Lim to continue to protect, enhance and promote Puerto Galera Bay as one of the world's renowned bays to hasten economic development while preserving its natural resources.
Secretary Lim expressed his optimism and support to the festival. "On behalf of the DOT, I would like to express my full support of the Malasimbo Music & Arts Festival. This event will be a worthy example of how the private and public sectors can work together to bring about sustainable development and alleviation of poverty in our country," he said.
Tickets will be available at all fifty resort partners of Puerto Galera before Christmas 2010. For more information, visit www.malasimbofestival.com.