The Organization of Bantoanon Students, popularly known as ORBS, would have been celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year had it survived. Founded in November, 1989, the ORBS aimed to address the problems commonly encountered by Bantoanon students that force them to quit schooling, permanently or temporarily, to promote academic excellence, and as an offshoot, to contribute to the development and progress of Banton and work for the welfare of the rest of the Bantoanons.
Under the leadership of its founders with Eufronio Ferrera, Jr. as president, the organization made a blazing start and before 1989 ended, it has introduced itself to the Bantoanon community with a lot of promise despite the hassles of organizing and membership recruitment. Binuot, the official organ of the organization, was launched in December. It has joined efforts with the San Nicolas Youth Organization (SNYO) in sponsoring what probably was the first Kiddie Show in Banton. Commissioned by the Sangguniang Bayan of Banton, the ORBS turned the Rizal Day Celebration into a grand affair, probably the grandest ever for that red-letter day. A month later, it held a successful fund-raising and social affair, a Valentine party dubbed as "A Night to Remember". The first tutorial team composed of the cream of the crop of Bantoanon studentry was formed. In the Holy Week that followed, the first ever college orientation seminar was conducted to the graduating students of Banton Municipal High School, Batch 1990. Its other projects include the "Libro Mo, Libro Ko" program and the establishment of the Students Loan Fund.
In June of 1990, the first elected set of officers with Ronelo Fababeir as president, took over - formalized in the induction ball and fund-raising dance affair billed "Here Comes The Rain". It was then that the ORBS slogan - Building a Home Away From Home - was adopted. In pursuit of its priorities meaningfully described by its slogan, the leadership introduced a regular basketball playdate for the sports-minded members of the organization, led an outing of members to Batu-bato in November, and held the usual dance balls that served not only as fund-raising activities but a venue for the members to socialize. It made efforts to improve the Binuot by introducing the first Binuot literary awards, conducting a news-writing seminar at BNHS, and finally opening the Binuot to young professionals. It made the 1990 Yuletide season in Banton more colorful with its sponsorship of the Yuletide Basketball Tournament (YBT) for youths and a game show highlighted by a raffle. The organization also actively supported the BEARNs "Barrio Fiesta sa Manila", and once more sponsored the Rizal Day celebration in December of the same year. During the Holy Week, it continued the college orientation seminar for graduating high school students.
"ORBSahan sa Maynila", a dance party, formally installed Honeyboy Fesariton as the third president of the organization. Under his leadership, ORBS continued some activities of previous leaderships such as the publication of the Binuot. They conducted an essay-writing contest for high school students.
In June, 1992, Rodil F. Fadri took over the reins of the organization. He and his co-officers were formally inducted in the dance ball billed "Cliffhanger". Under his leadership, Binuot publication continued and the Yuletide Basketball Tournament was revived. ORBS also actively participated in the canvassing of the Manila Chapters search for its bet to the Miss Diamond Jubilee through a popularity contest.
ORBS then began to slow down. Its membership failed to convene to elect new officers for the school year 1993 - 1994. In September, it sponsored "Silence Breaker", another dance affair, obviously to inject new life to the dying organization. After more than six months, Binuot was once more lighted. Yet, it seemed it really was the last hurrah for the languishing organization.
It, nevertheless, survived till the start of the following school year. ORBS diehards hoped the elections would bring in the needed energy for ORBS to regain lost glory. The new set of officers, headed by Michael F. Fabiala, though, could not save the organization as it headed to its grave.
In 1996, Rodil F. Fadri, seeing new leadership prospects from the Banton National High School Batch of 1994 worked for the revival of the organization. His efforts were aptly rewarded. The strobe lights and the roaring disco music that enveloped the Cembo Sports Complex in Guadalupe, Makati City during the "ORBS Re-Launched" symbolized the re-birth of the organization. Binuot was lighted anew.
A fresh leadership with Michael Fonte taking the reins made a lot of promise. In December of the year, ORBS was once again in the thick of the Yuletide Basketball Tournament as its management and sponsor.
But the energy was not sustained. Year 1997 was a dose of cold water to the ORBS leadership. The new ORBS vanished like a shooting star. For good ???
Though gone, the ORBS left a legacy. It has achieved a lot. Still, the organizations achievements do not end with the list of projects and activities mentioned. It has attained a lot more - unnoticed and probably not even intended. For one, the organization served as a training ground of future leaders in our workplace or in our society.
Second, it ushered an era, though short-lived, of revitalization of Bantoanon organizations, particularly the youth organizations. Barangay youth organizations based in Manila, BHS/TBHS graduate class organizations, and so on became active and visible, probably inspired by the successes of the organization especially in the baylihans it sponsored which gathered at least three hundred heads each time or driven by the kaya rin namin yan attitude of Bantoanons. It even spread out of Banton the Cajidiocanons In Action (CIA) was organized.
But why did ORBS collapse? The main reason is the leadership vacuum left by the able officers. The vision of the founders and the officers to have a self-reliant student organization seemed too ambitious. Leaving the organization for good after graduation, they must have not realized that not at all times there will be leaders who will rise to the occasion. Or maybe leadership training was not in their mind.
Looking at these achievements, former ORBS officers could only look back and resent letting the organization die. It was like letting a home crumble into pieces, like letting go of a beautiful dream, like leaving a broken promise, like letting lose sight of a guiding star, like letting the flames of binuot be eaten up by the darkness. The shadows of the ORBS haunted the selfless men and women who really dreamt big for one of the very important sectors of our society, the real hopes of our hometown.
Many times they would ask, is it worth another try? Is it still really relevant?
From all points of view, it is relevant. The problems Bantoanon students encounter now are the same problems the students of ten years ago or so encountered then. More so, academic performance seemed to have continued to decline. Lastly, no new organization or groups has taken over to address these concerns. In fact, youth organizations have been hibernating for so long a time now to the disadvantage of Bantoanons. Revitalization of the organization could even trigger a new round of re-activation of different youth organizations, as it did in the past.
Having learned its lessons, a stronger, more productive and lasting ORBS can be put in place. This time, graduates who lose their membership from the organization could be automatically absorbed into a pool of advisers. This time, leadership training should be a priority. This time, former ORBS members will exert efforts to support the organization. When the actual brainstorming from other former ORBS members is done, there may be a lot more possible improvements that may surface.
With this in mind, former ORBS members initiating the revitalization of the organization has set a reunion of all former ORBS members in a the dance ball billed "Retrieve" sponsored by BMHS Class 1990 at the Pasay Sports Complex on November 20. Prior to that, a students convention will be held at the University of Santo Tomas Grounds (in front of the College of Medicine) on November 14 at 1:00 oclock. Should the re-organization materializes, induction will be made during the said dance ball. Rodil F. Fadri, former ORBS president, spearheads this endeavor.
Volume II No 4