The advent of post-modern times and its implication on the lives and identities of peoples who bore the brunt of some 500 years of colonial history, reinforces the need to re-generate appreciation and renewal of traditional cultural practices and values. Such consciousness is seen to principally counteract the global and hegemonizing influence of western art and popular culture, imbedded not only in political and economic infrastructures modeled after the west, but more importantly, on the cultural and social institutions that have been established as emblems of human cultivation, progress and modernity.
It is in this regard that centers and programs for cultural and artistic research that now exist in the modern institutions of learning as well as cultural and artistic agencies in Asia can be of great and indispensable relevance. Their immediate mission to document and �preserve� the historical past in terms of expressive practices and unique cultural paradigms for human existence can provide a new enlightenment, alternative ideologies, and directions not only in the pursuit of knowledge and artistic excellence, but in the actual application of tradition-derived artistic wisdom in modern creative expression.
Focusing on the musical arts as a principal agency in culture change, the present global environment continues to challenge and obfuscate thrusts towards cultural re-generation and revitalization outside western frontiers- geographically, ideologically, philosophically, and culturally. For one, the institutionalization of the study and understanding of traditional Asian musical arts, stemmed from the western concept of comparative musicology, now academically known as ethnomusicology, which from the very beginning, marginalized all other musics outside the western art music tradition. Today, modern research centers in traditional music trace their pedigree from the western concept of museum conservation and artifact preservation in the purview of anthropological practice.
Since modern scholarship and academic research in the traditional music cultures was introduced in Asia, institutions have been established with a variety of perspectives vis-�-vis the state of knowledge, dissemination, and practice in each national and cultural environments. These perspectives emanate from such branches of studies as history, philosophy, theory, practice, and education, focused on the concern on the conservation and transmission of musical traditions in Asia. The variety of missions, goals and objectives of these institutions, reflect visions of both the national polity as well local communities and the experts and culture bearers themselves, on whose views and activities the future of Asian cultural life are significantly anchored. On a more pragmatic and practical level, these institutions have also created their own methodologies in gaining knowledge and information, as well as practical mechanisms in disseminating and utilizing these knowledge and information to contemporary society (national, regional, and global) in the fields of scholarship; musical practice � both creative and performative; education; and mass communication. Most of these institutions have been operating independently of each other and developing their own operational structures vis-�-vis their perceived needs in their immediate social environments. Although cursory and occasional information on these different institutions have been shared in conferences and fora, current aspirations to collectively gain knowledge of musical cultures of Asia among Asians for greater appreciation of historical kinships and the sharing of identities and cultural patrimonies need to establish mechanisms by which programs in musical documentation and conservation can be linked together and be able to share materials and resources that could assist and enhance the work of each individual institution, through institutionalized dialogue and exchange. Such dialogue and exchange is envisioned to effect a larger and more composite view of Asian musical life, in terms of history and practice � traditional and contemporary.
It is in this regard that UP Center for Ethnomusicology whose Jose Maceda Collection has been recently inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, proposes to organize and host a formal dialogue in the form of a conference �symposium among selected music research centers in Asia. Taking off from the achievements of the UP Center for Ethnomusicology since its beginnings some fifty years ago, especially in bringing about new perspectives and understanding of musical traditions in Asia in the fields of music scholarship, composition, and education , this project seeks to dialogue with experts and their institutions in the region with similar activities and objectives. The project is aimed at directly addressing the issue of how Asians look at their own musical heritage in the 21st century. As the main agencies for providing the source materials for the knowledge and learning about Asian traditions, research centers in Asia need to define and continuously re-assess their relevance to contemporary Asian society outside the western paradigms of cultural conservation.