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Update from The Asi Studies Center for Culture and the Arts (ASCCA) in Banton
by: N. F. Magno
 
The 1622 Unang Usbor musical band was formed to promote the continued use of the Asi language in a form that the youth can strongly relate to: Music. This is one small act of trying to save what could possibly be a dying language. Since its launch, the band has successfully played in local events in Banton and have gotten good reviews and constructive suggestions for improving their repertoire and presentation. The band recently held auditions for understudies and alternate singers/musicians. The youth have shown eagerness to be part of it.
 
ASCCA has also organized its avid high school student volunteers into a youth cultural group. This group plans to: 1) circulate a newsletter in English and Asi in Banton to hone their writing skills in these 2 languages, and 2) to form a native dance troupe or a choral group. Like 1622, these are small initiatives that nurture the enthusiasm and vision of locals toward cultural heritage preservation and regeneration.
 
We would like to thank the generous volunteers and patrons who make such initiatives possible. In my brief experience doing some work with ASCCA in the past months, while the donations go a long long way, it is the vision and persistence of our volunteers that ensure that the hard-earned funding is put to good use, even when the locals lose sight of the bigger picture. The irony that the locals refuse to champion themselves is understandable: time spent in causes like cultural heritage preservation is time spent away from the pressing need of subsistence. But this doesn't always have to be the case.
 
1622 earns some honorarium (from the barangays that invite them) for an attempt to preserve the Asi language. The ASCCA Patabo Center in Banton hopes to enliven local craftsmanship by opening up a space in the poblacion for craftsmen's trade. The most sustainable projects always offer win-win. RDL-CLEAR and its affiliates are making win-win possible. This is a pat on the back for everybody to feel good about themselves.
 
One obstruction to local improvement seems to be the myth that the good of one group is always at the expense of another. The only thing that fulfills this really is if we believe our interests to be opposed to our fellow Asi, Romblomanon and Onhan. RDL-CLEAR has always seemed united in at least this one aspect: uplifting the province from poverty, lack of education, lack of livelihood, environmental degradation, cultural death. Continuing on the path to depriving others (in both partisan and non partisan ways), thinking that we enrich ourselves by doing so, we actually achieve the opposite. We need wellness to beget wellness.
 
ASCCA applauds other locales (both organized and private endeavors) that are also taking small steps toward the strengthening of Romblon Province. May we never tire of keeping the vision and the virtue of sanrokan alive. One day a thousand flowers will bloom.
 
We also encourage other locales to organize and make initiatives, no matter how small. They will count more than nothing at all.