On November 18, 2017 the newly formed Abou Saad Shriners Oriental Band in Panama City, Panama, helped us make history by becoming the first oriental band to be chartered outside the Continental U.S. and Canada. This historic event was the culmination of a one year journey. Managing this project to completion gave me the opportunity to experience firsthand how our Shriner bonds transcend borders.
It all started with an email to the Association of Shrine Oriental Bands (ASOB) inquiring if there was a possibility to acquire used instruments for a new band in Panama City, Panama (Abou Saad). After the usual hand wringing and the hope that someone did answer the call, a second request arrived a number of weeks later
My call to action was answered from different corners of the Oriental Band domain. First to answer the call was my own band the Al Azhar Shriners OB in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Led by our Band Director Art Laing the band made the decision to provide a complete set of instruments for 18 musicians.
Jeff Moores, past ASOB President contributed surplus uniforms from Melha, his OB. Alas the momentum built to this point was suddenly disrupted by the first major obstacle in the journey. Shipping the instruments from Calgary to Panama required a long journey by truck to Eastern Canada, and then on to a cargo ship for the journey down to Panama. Total shipping costs amounted to US$2100.00.
At the annual ASOB planning meeting I made an appeal to my fellow ASOB executive members for help. The call for contributions to cover the cost was met within 5 minutes. Joining me in making sizeable contributions were:
Joe Brewton (recently deceased), Ralph Jubb, Don Moores and A.J. Di Caro. Total raised was US$1800. The remaining US$300 was contributed by the Abou Saad Oriental Band members.
I am very grateful to Potentate Ricaurter (Ricky) Arrocha his Divan and all the members of the Abou Saad Oriental Band for the care and hospitality afforded to me my lady Carmella and the ASOB delegation that accompanied me. We had a great time in Panama with tours of the Panama Canal and other Panama City highlights.
A special thanks to Lady Sandra Stanziola the Administrative Assistant for Abou Saad Shriners. Over our journey together in helping to get the instruments from Canada to Panama, I became convinced that Lady Sandra, knew how to part waters and move mountains. Thank you Lady Sandra for all your invaluable efforts.
When you get a chance visit the Abou Saad Shriners and play with the band. Those of us who offered music workshops during our stay were impressed with the resident talent in the band, the incredible drive and fantastic attitude evident. They are fun to hang around with. We offered new music to them which was well understood to the extent that the band performed brilliantly at the evening ceremonial.
And yes a few of us did affiliate with Abou Saad. I think the extra fancy shirts is what did it.
CHARTER MEMBERS OF ABOU SAAD ORIENTAL BAND
- Miquel Canales
- Ricaurter Arrocha
- Aristides Barria
- Alberto Thompson
- Alexander J. Di Caro
- Rodolfo Moreno
- Raul De Obaldia
- Jaime Zelaya
- Eduardo Crocamo
- Joseph Salterio
- Eladio Tribaldos
- Israel Gordon
- Miquel Brostella
- Bill Bailey
- Harry Pressman