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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Concert in Manila signals rebirth of unique Asi musical culture

Many Filipinos may not know it, but there is a Romblon tribe called
Banto-anon, popularly known as Asi, which is how their language is also
called, that prides itself of a rich cultural heritage. The Asi tribe has
also a unique musical culture, newly rediscovered.
On Saturday, August 8, this musical culture will be unveiled in Manila, with
the holding of the first Asi? The Concert at the Arellano University Gym on
Legarda Street, Manila, starting at 6:00 P.M.

The Banton High School Alumni Association (BHSAA), with the support of
Biniray 2009, the online group Romblon Discussion List-Cultural, Livelihood
and Educational Assistance for Romblon (RDL-CLEAR), the Asi Studies Center
for Culture and the Arts (ASCCA), and Kusog Sibalenhon, is mounting the
musical extravaganza.

The concert is unique because all the musical performers will sing in Asi,
which has now only an estimated 60,000 speakers in the Romblon towns of
Banton, Sibale, Simara, Calatrava and Odiongan.

Romblon has two other regional languages: Unhan and Ini.

"Our goal is to promote the Asi's cultural heritage, provide local talents
exposure to a bigger audience and help hone their talents, and promote
closer ties between the Asi-speaking Romblonons," Fadri says of the concert.

Singing talents Catherine Lea Fietas-Beltran and Al Jandy Fadriquela will
sing in the concert, so is the group from Sibale called IngSaBat. The lead
performer will be 1622-Unang Usbor, Romblon's only performing band, whose
members recently attended a music clinic under the tutelage of Joey Ayala
and the Bagong Lumad.

Nota Magno, who teaches anthropology at the Ateneo de Manila University and
who is working with the ASSCA, 1622: Unang Usbor's manager, said Ayala will
be at the concert.

"As artists," Ms. Magno says, referring to the members of 1622-Unang Usbor,
"their relevance is in the cultural work (that) they do for the Asi of
Banton and of Romblon, not only the music that they bring. Their work
extends from raising music appreciation among the Asi to the revival of the
Asi language, a crucial element of Asi cultural heritage".

If you are a Romblonon Asi, Unhan or Ini, block this date in your calendar
and come to the concert to gain a richer in emotional experience. If you are
not a Romblomanon, but are a culture buff-interested in how the Asi weave
their emotional dreams and aspirations and express their take on the current
issues of the day through the universal language of music, this concert is
for you.

A ticket to the concert costs P250.00. Call 556 17 62; 0917 623 8842, or
0918 918 2178 to reserve one.

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