ASIN was formed in late 1976, the nucleus of which was the duo of Mike Pillora Jr. and Cesar Bañares Jr., who were playing at folk joints and pub houses in Manila as 'Mike and Cesar'. A year later, Lolita Carbon was recruited by the duo to fill in the missing middle voice and eventually became the third member. Pillora named the trio 'Salt of the Earth' after the song recorded originally by The Rolling Stones and later by Joan Baez, written and composed by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Other than the song title, Pillora also based the name of the group from the Biblical metaphor salt of the earth which represents the humble and sincere masses.
In 1978, the trio (who were all songwriters, composers and arrangers) signed their first recording contract and localized their name 'Salt of the Earth' into 'Asin ng Lupa'. They ultimately became known simply as ASIN. Simultaneously, the members had adopted local names for themselves and they were later known to their fans as Nonoy, Saro and Nene.
In the same year, their eponymous debut LP "Asin" was released, giving birth to an alternative form of music which was different and distinct from what was mainstream. Their songs conveyed a message that had instilled awareness into the vast majority of Filipinos and became a rallying call for emancipation.
In the last quarter of 1979, they launched another album called Himig ng Pag-ibig ("Hymn of Love"). The group's break-up abruptly followed. However, their absence from the music scene did not hamper their growing popularity.
The group was not heard of until 1983. In the summer of the same year, AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales), a students’ business organization based in the island of Cebu, made a project to reunite the group. Nonoy was summoned and was tasked to reunite his band. This resulted in a jam-packed reunion concert of the group at Cebu Coliseum, Cebu City. From that time on, ASIN, with their manager Dindo, rolled into a series of performances in Mindanao, sporadic shows in the Visayan Region, and marathon concerts in Luzon.
The culmination of all these events led to the creation and launch of their third album Himig ng Lahi ("Hymn of the Race") in the same year. Through Nonoy, Fred Aban Jr., the session bass player known by the name Pendong, was anointed by the trio and became the fourth member of the group, despite him not being a songwriter (please note that the clause "despite him not being a songwriter" contradicts the fact that "Mga Limot na Bayani", "Siglo", "Pag-asa", among others were written by Pendong Aban Jr.). Since everybody in the group was a "junior" (each one was carrying their father’s first name), Nene also proclaimed herself a "junior".
In early 1984, the group released an experimental album called Ang mga Awitin ng Bayan kong Pilipinas, an adaptation of traditional and contemporary songs from various regions of the Philippine archipelago.
In November 1985, they came out with another original compilation that Nonoy called ASIN...Sa Atubiling Panahon ("Asin...In A Doubtful Time"). This was unfolded by the roll of events that happened in the beginning of the following year, among which was the EDSA Revolution that toppled the ruling Marcos regime. ASIN called it "atubiling panahon" (doubtful time) and the group split for a second time.
In 1988, they decided to regroup again hoping to come up with new material to make another album that would speak of the time. Instead they were urged by their new manager into making an adaptation of outdated songs and came out with a double album called Himig Kayumanggi and Sinta.
Later on, ASIN went into intrigues that led to the expulsion of Nonoy. The disgruntled Nonoy went to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Greece, Israel and Egypt to "look for his soul". Back home, the dream of making a new album was not fulfilled. Soon after, Saro and Nene, together with the name (ASIN), joined the band known as Lokal Brown.
In 1990, the remaining members of Asin (who were under the leadership of a clique headed by their new manager) disbanded. Saro went back to his home province of South Cotabato, Nene formed 'Nene Band', and Pendong formed 'Grupong Pendong'.
In 1992, a concert promoter gathered the three original members, Nonoy, Saro and Nene for a reunion concert. Pendong, according to the promoter, was not included because his wife was difficult to deal with. The concert was staged at the Folk Arts Theater. However, it was nothing more than a one night gig and each member went back again to their ways after the concert.
In 1993, the other members were shaken with the news that Saro was shot in the forehead in a karaoke bar in his hometown. He was murdered in cold blood by a mob headed by a lawyer alleged to be the legal counsel of the Governor of South Cotabato. The culprit was put to trial and was convicted for murder and was meted out with the verdict of life imprisonment but after 14 years of serving his sentence, he was released for justifiable reasons.
Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, Nene or Asin as she is known among her fans in Cagayan province up north, frequented her friend Willi Catral for some gigs. Her frequent visit to Tuguegarao has help her establish contacts with environment groups like the Sierra Madre Outdoor Club.
In 2000, Craig Burrows, MBE, originally from England but a long term resident of the Philippines, came up with the idea to bring together the remaining members of the group and make an album. He first spoke with Nonoy who eagerly agreed and later brought Nene and Pendong to Nonoy's island residence. The three had a few meetings wherein Nonoy came up with the concept for the album which the two eagerly accepted. However, the album was not realized.
Nonoy's concept was never realized, but in 2002, with the support of Burrows, Nene and Pendong made the album Pag-ibig, Pagbabago, Pagpapatuloy. Later, Pendong shared his stories with the media, of how Nonoy had finally decided to put down his guitar and settle into a peaceful life; and of the band's beginnings, of how together with Nonoy and Saro, he met Nene at a folk rock club called Kola House and then decided to form their own musical group, naming it 'Salt of the Earth'. This he claimed was the beginning of the group ASIN.
Nonoy continued to perform with a new partner named Ginji, known together as 'Noyginji Interaktiv'. They distributed CDs with new compositions, such as "...Ang Karugtong" ("...The Continuation").
In mid-2006, Nene and Pendong parted ways. Pendong and his family emigrated to USA where he continued playing as Grupong Pendong. During the last quarter of the same year, Nonoy and his family moved to Israel and continued to perform as Noyginji Interaktiv. Nene stayed in the Philippines and played as a soloist.
On July 14, 2010, Nonoy and Nene reunited as ASIN to pay tribute to their fallen colleague Saro Bañares Jr. in Koronadal, South Cotabato. Their performance marked the opening of the 44th T’nalak Festival, a yearly celebration showcasing dances and crafts of the tribal communities as well as the produce of South Cotabato. The following day, they were invited by Manny Pacquiao to play in his home province Saranggani before a large crowd. On the third day, they casually played for invited guests of the mayor of Lake Sebu in Surallah, South Cotabato.
Asin was the first group to incorporate Filipino indigenous instruments into pop/rock music. They also studied Filipino tribal music and did what they could to be true to the origins of the music. Instead of plagiarizing the indigenous music, they set about educating people about respecting the origins of the music and representing it with agreement from the tribal sources.
Asin was also important in the local politics and although they did not set out to be a political band, they reflected the political message needed for the times. This should be seen against the backdrop of martial law during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos. Occasionally, their recordings were confiscated as subversive, yet, on the other hand they were invited to play at the Presidential Palace.Lolita "Nene" Carbon (1978-present)
Mike "Nonoy" Pillora Jr. (1976-present)
Cesar "Saro" Bañares Jr. (1976-93 died in 1993)
Fred "Pendong" Aban Jr. (1983-2006)
There are only 4 members of ASIN, all others are session musicians.Asin (Vicor Music, 1978)
Himig Ng Pag-ibig (Vicor Music, 1979)
Himig Ng Lahi (Vicor Music, 1983)
Ang Mga Awitin Ng Bayan Kong Pilipinas (Vicor Music, 1984)
Asin Sa Atubiling Panahon (Ivory Music, 1986)
Himig Kayumanggi (Ivory Music, 1988)
Sinta (Ivory Music, 1988)
Pag-ibig, Pagbabago, Pagpapatuloy (Vicor Music, 2002)
Mga Ginintuang Awitin Ng Asin (Vicor Music, 1984)
Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran (Vicor Music, 1994)
Ang Bayan Kong Sinilangan: Paglalakbay sa mga Awitin ng Asin (Vicor Music 40th Anniversary) (Vicor Music, 2004)
18 Greatest Hits (Vicor Music, 2009)
"Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran" (Vicor Music, 1978)
"Pagbabalik" (Vicor Music, 1978)
"Ang Bayan Kong Sinilangan" (Vicor Music, 1978)
"Itanong Mo Sa Mga Bata" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Ang Buhay Ko" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Himig Ng Pag-ibig" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Balita" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Gising Kaibigan" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Usok" (Vicor Music, 1979)
"Lupa" (Vicor Music, 1984)
Ugat: The Best Of OPM Folk Rock Vol. 1 (Vicor Music, 2008)
Ugat: The Best Of OPM Folk Rock Vol. 2 (Vicor Music, 2010)
Best Folksong of the Year for "Orasyon" – AWIT Awards 1984
Best Album of the Year for Himig ng Lahi – AWIT Awards 1984
Album of the Year for Himig ng Lahi – Jingle Magazine Awards 1984
Best Vocal Arrangement for Group in "Lupa" – Cecil Awards 1986
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Likas Yaman Award for Masdan Mo and Kapaligiran 1991
For Lolita Carbon – Best Rock Recording for "Paraisong Liku-liko", AWIT Awards 1990
For Pendong Aban, Jr. – Best World Music Album for Ang Grupong Pendong – Dito Sa Lupa
Album – Katha Music Awards 1995
Best Folksong for "Pagbabalik" – Aliw Awards 1979
Nominated as Best Rock Recording for "Usok" in the 1st Cecil Awards
Best Musical Arrangement for Dalawang Dekada ng Asin (Overture), AWIT Awards 2002
Environmental Champions 2004 - DENR/WORLD BANK Publication - Environmental Monitor 2004, given June 20, 2005