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Colombia National Day: Concert Concha Bernal brings Colombian folklore to Jakarta to celebrate

(photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO, Jakarta – As part of the celebration of Colombia’s National Day and to promote Colombian culture to ally countries, the Colombian Embassy in Indonesia organized a concert featuring native folklore musician Concha Bernal. Her concert was held at the Usmar Ismail theatre, Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Thursday (18/07/2019). The event was attended by around 430 people, including Deputy Minister of Political Affairs, Law, Defense, and Security of Indonesia Slamet Sudarsono, members of the diplomatic corps in Indonesia, senior Indonesian government officials, as well as the general public.

The Republic of Colombia celebrates Independence Day every 20th of July. It declared its independence from Spain in 1810. Colombia, along with many other South Americans countries, began their struggle for independence back in the 1800s.

Colombian Ambassador to Indonesia H. E. Juan Camilo Valencio G. opened the event with an opening remark: “Remembering today, this is an important moment for the Colombian history, when Colombian’s patriots began their independence movement. It was the beginning of a long road of battles,” he said.

Juan also added that music is the language that can bring people around the world together, especially Indonesians and Colombians. “Tonight’s event is celebration of Colombian culture and talent. A culture that bring us close to overcoming all differences. We would like to celebrate together through the universal language of music.”

Concha Bernal is a singer-songwriter born in Santa Marta, a city on the Caribbean Sea in Northern Colombia. Concha’s lyrics and music reflect the traditional customs and practices of her homeland. Her performances are fun and colorful, combining vocals with the sound of instruments of Native Americans.

Concha and her group began their tour in Southeast Asia with a concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Colombia and Vietnam. The concert was held in The Youth Theater, Hanoi, Vietnam (02/07/2019). After Vietnam, they visited several other Asian countries prior to Indonesia, including Singapore, Philippines, China, UAE, and South Korea. (Rei)

Mercure Jakarta Cikini: The Best choice for savvy business and leisure travellers

Lisa P. Sanjoyo. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Mercure Jakarta Cikini is the best choice for savvy business and leisure travelers. Centrally located in the key commercial area of Jakarta, our great location offers easy accessibility to all the lively city has to offer. Additionally, the hotel is a convenient base to explore the cultural, historical and the trendiest entertainment venues and premium shopping malls in Jakarta. The hotel features 197 rooms that are well-de­signed for everything you need for a great stay with fabulous cuisine at our restaurant and a dazzling rooftop view swimming pool and bar.

Meet Lisa P. Sanjoyo: she has dedicated her professional life to Accor chain of hotels before becoming the General Manager of Mercure Jakarta Cikini. Lisa has been work­ing in the hospitality industry since 1998. At that time, she started working in one of In­donesia’s leading local chains. In 2004, Lisa joined Accor group, assuming various po­sitions in Ibis Slipi, Novotel Jakarta Mangga Dua Square, Mercure Jakarta Kota, until she assumed position as General Manager of Ibis Jakarta Mangga Dua and finally, in Mer­cure Jakarta Cikini since its opening.

To her team, she also places herself not only as a superior, but also as a mother fig­ure that can be caring and understanding, but also stern and disciplined. She is also involved with many organizations, such as ATFAC (an Accor CSR Program), BPD PHRI Jakarta, organizing AccorHotels Greater Jakarta Sales & Marketing and also other organizations and communities.

As a mother with one teenage girl, she enjoys her family time with cooking and reading. Gender equality is very important to her. Her husband works in a different in­dustry and has a rule that if one needs to be away from home, then the other needs to stay. One parent must be present at home. This is the rule that they don’t compro­mise. Five words that she described herself as are: Detailed. Consistent. Perseverant. Family-loving. Motivating.

Avenzel Hotel and Convention: Purity in Comfort

Avenzel Hotel and Convention. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Avenzel Hotel and Convention is a four-star hotel located in the heart of Cibubur. It has 249 luxurious rooms, a large ballroom, and a meeting room alongside a swimming pool, health club, and spa. The hotel also has easy access to the Cibubur toll road to and from Jakarta and Bogor, and to industrial areas, shopping malls, and several tourist destinations, such as Park Wiladatika Cibubur, Kampoeng Cibubur, Fantasy Island Cibubur and Mekarsari Fruit Park.

The values of quality management, excellence in service and profitable growth are the vision of Topotels management, as the operator of Avenzel Hotel and Convention. With a mission to be the best hotel and a leader in the hospitality industry, Topotels currently manages more than 25 properties throughout Indonesia and Asia. For four consecutive years it has been a leading hotel in Indonesia. Topotels provides professional and integrated management services in all aspects of hotels, resorts and serviced residences, with offices in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Myanmar.

25 Years of Dyandra Promosindo Working in the MICE Industry

Giving back success, with thanks. (photo: IO/Yoga)

IO, Jakarta – Dyandra Promosindo, a creation of  PT Dyandra Media International, Tbk. on March 3, 2019 celebrated its 25 birthday. The Company, which is in the MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention & Exhibition) industry, specifically as a professional event organizer, on July 23, held its 25th Year Anniversary Celebration Dyandra Promosindo, dedicated to the government, partners, clients, and the media as a form of appreciation.

The Event 25th Year Anniversary Celebration Dyandra Promosindo was attended by more than 800 guests, and held in the Grand Ballroom Tribrata, Darmawangsa, South Jakarta. Starting from dinner, to a video of Dyandra Promosindo milestones, and finally a special performance from Glenn Fredly, the singer with a golden voice, producer, composer and songwriter with more than 24 years in the music industry.

“On this silver anniversary, we want to express our thanks for the support, cooperation, prayers, and trust since 1994 until now. We hope the support for Dyandra Promosindo will never fade, and we will continue to work hard to advance Indonesia’s MICE industry. On this occasion, we also humbly want to express our highest appreciation to all stakeholders, in this case the directors, investors, employees, clients, media, venues and all individuals that we cannot mention one by one,” said Dyandra Promosindo President Director Hendra Noor Saleh, who is also the director of PT Dyandra Media International, Tbk.

On July 18, 2019, Dyandra Promosindo held a corporate social responsibility event in the education sector called “Dyandra Teaches” which was done in SD Negeri Leuwiranji 03 in Rumpin Bogor. The event was held as a form of concern by Dyandra Promosindo towards a better education for the future generation of the nation.

Until now, Dyandra Promosindo has 11 subsidiaries, which focus as professional event and exhibition organizer, music promotors, brand activation, and digital agency: PT Kerabat Dyan Utama (Radyatama), PT Dyandra Global Edutainment (DGE), PT. Debindo Mitra Tama (DMT), PT Debindo Mitra Dyantama (DMD), PT Dyandra Tarsus International (DTI), PT Dyandra Communication (Dyacomm), PT Fasen Creative Quality (Quad), PT Visicita Imaji Semesta (Visicomm), PT Idea Besar Komunika (Ideacomm), PT Visi Sarana Media Digital (Underlined) and PT Dyan Mas Entertainmen (DMEAsia).

“There have been many interesting things going on in Dyandra Promosindo during these 25 years. Our prayers are that Dyandra Promosindo becomes the largest and best event and exhibition organizer in Southeast Asia, through event management as a brand that uses the latest technology and is supported by creative and highly competittive human resources,” concluded Hendra.

Spend Saturday Night with “Java Jive” in Swiss- Belhotel Pondok Indah

(photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Pertaining to the development and awareness of Swiss Café Restaurant in the Pondok Indah area, especially the outdoor area which is a popular place for entertainment, Swiss-Belhotel Pondok Indah is holding “An Intimate Night with JAVA JIVE” on August 3, 2019.

JAVA JIVE is an Indonesian band founded in Bandung in 1989, one which dominated the Indonesian music scene in the 1990s. The band consists of Noey (bassist), Dragonfly (guitarist / songwriter), Edwin (drummer), Tonny (keyboardist), Danny, and Fatur (vocalist).

“An Intimate Night with JAVA JIVE” will be held on Saturday, August 3, 2019 and will start at 17.30 WIB. The event will begin with a special menu Swiss Café Restaurant buffet and a collaborative performance by DJ Vellin Chua’s and LIVE PA by DJ Erza Mourinho as the opening act.

Those who want to enjoy a night with JAVA JIVE may choose from various packages. The Dinner Package, worth IDR 500,000net per person, includes one glass of beer / wine / soft drink / juice. The Room Package starts from IDR 1,800,000net per night and includes breakfast for two people, dinner for two people, a 15% discount for eating and drinking ala carte at Swiss Café Restaurant, and a 10% discount for SPA massage treatment. The Table Package: Gold or Silver for 10 people. Silver tables are worth IDR 10,000,000net and include dinner for 10 people, red / white wine (up to 4 bottles), black label (1 bottle including a mixer and free flow of snacks). The Gold Table is valued at Rp. 13,000,000net and comes with the addition of one bottle of Jose Cuervo Reposado in addition to the contents of the Silver Table.

“All visitors attending ‘An Intimate Night with JAVA JIVE’, will receive a 15% discount on food and beverages ordered ala carte outside of the package (excluding alcoholic drinks). There will also be more benefits for members of the SBEC (Swiss-Belhotel Executive Card), which include a 15% discount on all package prices,” said Budi Utami, Director of Sales & Marketing. This event is supported by Ardan Radio Bandung, JAK FM, MOST Radio, KIS FM and Radio Prambors.

For further information on ordering other Swiss Cafe programs, please contact us directly at 021-750-1088 or 0811-1142-161 or email , and visit our website at

Swiss-Belhotel Pondok Indah is a 4-star hotel with 159 rooms located in the elite residential area of Pondok Indah – South Jakarta. It features free Wi-Fi internet access services that can be accessed in all areas of the hotel, 40-inch LED TVs with a variety of local and international channels, as well as safes. To complement the needs of guests, other facilities include meeting rooms with a capacity of up to 180 people, a very large swimming pool area and a spa; laundry service and a gym are also provided. Furthermore, the Swiss-Café ™ Restaurant is available for guests who want to spoil their tongue with a variety of local and international menus.

Traveloka introduces multiple-city flight feature

Fly to an array of destinations. (photo: IO/Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Traveloka, one of the foremost online travel and lifestyle booking service providers in Southeast Asia, constantly focuses on its users’ needs, and how to provide convenience for them. Its latest feature, the Multiple-city Flight, allows users to order flight tickets for several flights in a single transaction. Users can buy round-trip tickets for up to five destinations at once, with a choice of domestic and international destinations: Japan, South Korea, Australia, China, Europe, and the United States.

In the “Multiple-city Flight” launch, Caesar Indra, Traveloka’s Transport CEO, explained “In order to continue to satisfy users’ needs and to provide them with sustainable solutions, we strive to accommodate their travel needs. People tend to jump from one city to another when traveling abroad. This multiple-city flight feature will greatly expedite their travel. Using this feature, Traveloka users can explore more interesting tourism destinations at a more affordable price, by making a single bulk order. Furthermore, this feature helps travelers to make their travel schedule more flexible, because they can go on their journey without having to return to their original destination city.”

Traveloka’s internal data shows that medium and long-haul flight grew 70% YoY in Quarter I of 2019, and is expected to continue expanding throughout the year. Indonesians can now afford to travel more abroad, and they do. South Korea is now one of the most favored destinations in Asia. Other hot destinations include Japan, the Netherlands, France, and England.

Indonesian tourists tend to visit more than one city on each trip: when visiting South Korea, for example, they would land in Seoul, then travel to Busan or Jeju, and onwards before finally making their way home from the last city they visited. With their Multiple-City Flight, Traveloka seeks to encourage its users to explore the world around them, as well as to show their commitment to accommodate the needs of their users.

Also present at the launching was Andrew Jonghoon Kim, Director of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Jakarta. He stated, “Within the past few years, Korea has exceeded the Korea Wave and it is getting better-known as a favorite tourism destination for Indonesians. According to our statistical data, the average annual increase of Indonesian tourists has been consistently over 10% for the past 5 years. Therefore, as a primary partner (of Traveloka), we gratefully welcome this multiple-city flight feature as Traveloka’s latest innovation. We believe that this feature signifies positive support for the number of Indonesian tourists who want to visit Korea, especially since using this new feature, Indonesia travelers can freely explore the most favored tourism destinations in South Korea, such as Seoul, Busan, and Jeju.”

Traveloka was fully supported by Bank Mandiri during the launching of its multiple-city flight feature. Bank Mandiri’s Senior Vice President of Credit Cards, Vira Widiyasari, stated that the Bank’s cooperation with Traveloka is mostly inspired by the Company’s desire to serve whatever needs of their clients, especially in relation to the traveling lifestyle supported by increased per capita income of the people. “Bank Mandiri and Traveloka has been maintaining promotional cooperation since 2014. Bank Mandiri constantly provides full support of all of Traveloka’s initiatives, including in this multiple-city flight launch. Users of Mandiri credit cards who perform multiple-city flight transactions will obtain an additional discount of up to Rp 500,000.00 and an installment plan of up to 12 months that can be combined with Traveloka discounts to a maximum value of Rp 1,500,000.00. We are optimistic that this cooperation can increase transaction frequencies for Mandiri credit cards and Traveloka,” she said.

The multiple-city flight offer is available in the Traveloka v. 3.9 app or higher for both Android and iOS. It is also accessible via desktop. This feature also contains “Smart Combo”, which shows you affordable air ticket prices for single and return trips. “This is part of Traveloka’s commitment to provide comprehensive and integrated travel and lifestyle solutions. We understand that foreign travel will continue to grow. This is why we provide the multiple-city flight features that our users have been using since April,” Caesar said.

Prabowo-Megawati roundtable talks

(photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO – Jakarta – The deputy Chairman of the Gerindra party  Edhy Prabowo reveals the contents of one-on-one talks between Prabowo Subianto and the PDIP Chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri, which lasted approximately an hour.  There are a number of topics which are delivered by the Gerindra Party Chairman to Megawati.

The First, it is regarding Prabowo’s readiness to help the government if he is requested by Jokowi.  On the other hand, Prabowo also emphasizes his readiness to be in opposition for the sake of nation and state.

“Mr. Prabowo also emphasizes, what he conveyed to us, that principally the same as what he had said to Pak Jokowi before, that if we are needed, we are ready. However if we are not (needed), we are in outside, and it is not a big deal.” Edhy said at the Parliament Building, Senayan, Jakarta, Thursday (07/25/2019).

“Well, once again, if we are indeed needed, principally, for the sake of Red and White, and Garuda, yes Pak Prabowo is ready.” Edhy added

Prabowo, said Edhy, also conveyed to Megawati that his party does not want to distract the harmony in the Jokowi coalition.  Considering that many parties worried that the joining of Gerindra is only to target the government positions.

“Do not worry about us as if we were going to take office and so on. We have been outside the government for ten years. And for us to build the country does not have to be with position.  “In fact,  he has dedicated his life as an army for 30 years, and it is countless how many times he almost lost his life. Therefore, it is ridiculous if his  goal is just that small,” said Edhy.

“Moreover, we also don’t fell comfortable in our internal as there are still many people who support and complain. about it internally, we also complain a lot, yes, those who complain. However, the point is people think as if we looked for a position. That’s not right.” he added.Edhy stresses that Prabowo’s readiness if being asked by Jokowi to jointly build the nation is solely for the sake of Red and White, nothing else. Reconciliation is done to build the country, not to target positions.

“This is also how we are from the coalition next door should do after (the election)  finished, and no 01 was announced as the winner.  we must reconcile, and if there is a question who proposed the reconciliation, Yes, both parties initiate it. Nobody feels superior and so on.  “And we put ourselves  equally because we both are building the country,” Edhy said.

However, said Edhy, Prabowo returns the decision to the President.  Prabowo only said he is ready if  Jokowi indeed asks him to help in the government.  “That’s all, the decision is all at the president,” Edhy said.  (dsy)

Anies Baswedan’s response to meeting Surya Paloh

Anies Baswedan. (photo: IO/Rei)

IO, Jakarta – DKI Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan declared he only discussed issues concerning the Capital City during a meeting with Surya Paloh, Chairman of NasDem party, yesterday. He denies they talked about politics in 2024

“No (discussion about 2024). We talked mostly about Jakarta and its needs,” Anies told reporters at Sahid Jaya Hotel, Jalan Sudirman, Central Jakarta, Thursday (07/25/2019).

When asked whether NasDem supports his work program in DKI Jakarta, Anies had no comment, reiterating that his meeting with Surya Paloh was focused only on DKI Jakarta.  “Talking about Jakarta, the focus is on Jakarta,” Anies said.

Previously, Surya had emphasized that his Party gives its all-out support to Anies, in his role as Governor of  DKI.  When asked about the chance of Anies advancing to the 2024 presidential election, Surya declined to comment, saying he would let Anies himself decide. He would however express his support should Anies finally make the move.

“In 2024 it all depends on Anies. There must be an intention, and all good intentions must be maintained as long as possible,” Surya said.

“God willing, if all goes well and is in line with expectations, God willing. If everything is like what we hope for, the support should not only come from one group, including one NasDem political institution. We hope that the parties will support all of the  nation’s children to fulfill their capacity and  the leadership capability for the sake of this country,” continued Surya Paloh answering the question whether NasDem will support Anies in the 2024 Presidential Election. (dsy)

The hopes of 1998 and some thoughts on freedom of expression in Indonesia today

The models clothes have captions restricting women whereas the model to the side is dressed like an automation. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

IO – Article 28E paragraph 3 of the In­donesian Constitution guarantees In­donesian citizens freedom of expres­sion. After the fall of the New Order government there was an enormous euphoria with regard to democracy and freedom of expression, especially amongst the young. Two nights ago the President addressed the nation reminding us that we are a Pancasila (the five Indonesian principles of state which includes democracy) country and that the government will have no tolerance whatsoever for those who might wish to subvert the state motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or Unity in Diversity or for those who are intoler­ant of others and of other religions. Nearly a month ago, the Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati made a similar speech declaring that there was no place within the Ministry of Fi­nance for anyone who did not support the Pancasila. It seems that democ­racy and freedom of expression have also brought some problems of their own.

“From Now On Everything Will Be Different” by Eliza Vitri Handayani. (photo: ANZ LitLovers LitBlog)

In 2015 the police in Bali instruct­ed the organizers of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival to cancel sever­al sessions on books involving politics including Eliza Vitri Handayani’s From Now on Everything Will Be Different. The book examines the question of how free Indonesia really is after 1998 as seen through the lens of a young woman and a young man dealing with the societal pressures around them. How free did Indonesia really become after the fall of the New Order gov­ernment. “I am part of the generation who came of age after 1998. So, in a sense it is the story of my generation. Growing up we were told that we can­not control what happens and that we should obey and not question things. After 1998 everything felt possible; that we could have a say in how our country is run. It was mind blowing! And I wanted to see how people were coping with that because it was not magic. There was still a lot of hard work to do and restrictions. I want­ed to explore in my book how free we really are and what does it mean to be free.”

The book was published by Vaga­bond Press in Australia and by Obor in Indonesia. In 2016 it was launched without incident in Jakarta and in Makasar. 2015 was the 50th anniver­sary of the 1965 Communist events and massacres that followed. Eliza thinks that certain factions were espe­cially sensitive that year to any books touching upon the events of 1965. “My book actually says very little about 1965. Then again, the Jakarta and Makasar launches were very low-key affairs compared to the Ubud Writers Festival which is far more famous and an international event.”

Eliza Vitri Handayani addressing the audience at the Fashion for Words. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

In 1998 Eliza was 15 years old. “I was born in Jakarta from parents of a humble background. My father was a Jakartan and my mother was from Madura. I went to public school and was sent to a Muslim school for my lower secondary school education. It was not a pesantren or what we think of as a religious school now. We fol­lowed the state curriculum and just had a few more religious lessons compared to other schools. I did not have to cover up my hair although now any girl going to that school probably would have to.”

For her upper secondary school education Eliza was able to get a place in a military school right next to the military academy in Magelang. “It was free and I needed a change for the situation at home left me very unhappy. It was the first time I saw Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Di­versity) in action: there were pupils from all over Indonesia. I met people from Papua and NTT and we really had to put Bhinneka Tunggal Ika into practice: to appreciate others and learn how to live with them without conflict.”

Eliza designed the dress she is wearing with excerpts from the proofs of her book. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Even then Eliza loved to write. Later she managed to get a schol­arship to a liberal arts college in Connecticut. “I had always dreamt of going to study in America and it was all I hoped for. I felt that I did not belong in Indonesia because I felt so different. Nobody else appreciat­ed my thoughts or my mind or my wanting to become a writer.”

In America she was encouraged to speak for herself and also her in­dividual thinking. There was a big appreciation for the arts there. Un­like people here who major in the arts, in America such people are not just considered people who could not make it in the sciences. In America she found it was considered cool to be a writer. “But after graduation I wanted to come home. I have a lot of questions about being Indonesian. Who am I? I want to find out if ev­erything people have been telling me is true.”

Eliza has all the idealism and hope of youth in her when she says, “And then I read Kartini’s letters! It was mind blowing! Someone else ex­ploring and saying, ‘It’s going to be so hard to change things. Its going to be so hard – but I’m going to try!’

She is now reading up on Indone­sian history, “Because I am curious and I want to find out more! I mean, what happened? It’s a story and it re­lates to my identity and what it means to be Indonesian. I could write about it all and do something useful here and so, not have to go away; do something meaningful because I am a person for whom meaning is important…”

Eliza (on the far left) stands with other artists of Fashion for Words with a mannequin bound in chains in their midst. (photo: courtesy Fashion for Words)

How can one’s heart not be touched when a young person who is searching says that with all sincerity? So far, Eliza has written many short stories appearing in such diverse journals as The Griffith Review (Aus), Asia Literary Review, Koran Tempo, Exchanges Journal (US) and other publications. Her best she says is “The Love Story of My Father and Me”. “It’s complex. It’s close to my heart. I love the story,” she says simply. Her editor says that it breaks new ground. IKAPI awarded one of her science-fic­tion books its Anugerah Adikarya award for best young adult fiction but personally Eliza does not think too highly of her book. So, far she has written two novels. “From Now on Everything Will be Different” was also launched in Oslo and at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The many artists, designers and young people who participated in creating Fashion for Words. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

In 2012 Eliza had already estab­lished InterSastra (InterLiterature) as a literary exchange platform. She had already begun to notice attacks on freedom of expression in things regarding women’s rights, religion, LGBT issues, big business interests, etc. After the launch of “From Now on Everything Will be Different” was cancelled at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival Eliza says that she became even more aware of the sit­uation with regard to freedom of ex­pression and especially the attacks on cultural events. She says she began to understand, “Freedom can never be taken for granted and we must take care of it and be prepared to struggle for it.”

So, as of 2016 InterSastra began to do events that would encourage and promote freedom of expres­sion. They began to translate and publish a series of banned literary works known as “Defiant Voices” so that people could read and judge the books for themselves. Later the se­ries became “Unrepressed” opening a space to write about taboo or margin­alized subjects. Then they began to experiment with different mediums in order to reach a larger audience.

A dress by Kolektif As-Salam. Its many colours symbolize different interpretations and the beautiful narratives used to make women accept restrictions. (photo: courtesy of Fashion for Words)

Ayudilmar in collaboration with the Inter-Factory Workers Federa­tion (FBLP) created 8 outfits based on conversations with workers about their worries, strengths and who they saw themselves as. Here the under­lying thought was that thousands of workers create millions of cheap ready-to-wear cloths but never get to wear them or are invited to the fash­ion shows or receive credit for them. Meanwhile, Wangsit Firmatika fo­cused on men’s wear which he says is very limited in its form, variety and colours whereas in fact men have di­verse of ways to express themselves. They do not all have to be rugged and strong. Some may like to cook or cry and their clothes should express that.

This year as part of the Creative Free­dom Festival (an international cultur­al festival association with themes of empowerment, activism and the po­tential of community) InsterSastra with the support of Inter Seni Indo­nesia (Indonesian Inter-Arts Associ­ation) and the Norwegian Embassy held a fashion show at the Cemara Galeri 6 in Menteng called “Fashion for Words”. According to the curator of the fashion show, Ika Vantiani the four fashion designers whose works were being modelled were chosen for the humanist element in their cre­ations.

As written on the wall behind this model, women are given so many restrictions about how they should look. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

More controversial were A. An­damari’s designs which tried to ad­dress the limits placed on women’s clothing because their bodies are all too often seen as objects: loose weight or you’ll never get a husband, dress like that and you deserve to be raped, you’re too old for that, you’re too skinny!”

Kolektif As-Salam focused on Muslim women’s wear. Febri Sast­viani Putri Cantika better known at Uti to her friends is from Jogjakar­ta and studied community planning at Institut Pertanian Bogor or Bogor Agricultural Institute. She founded a group known as Kolektif Betina or (Female Collective). Its members were musicians, artists, curators and ac­tivists representing all sorts of life styles. They tried to hold a festival in Jogjakarta celebrating all forms of women’s expression called Lady Fast. It was intended to have bands, feminist workshops, handy craft lessons, discussions, a bazar – but was closed down by people accusing them of being Communists. “We are not Communists. All we wanted to do was to celebrate women’s freedom of expression.

Kolektif As-Salam focused on Muslim women’s wear. (photo courtesy of Fashion for Words)

So, I have seen the limits on freedom of expression,” says Uti. “In this fashion show we designed clothes with Muslim women in mind. Something has happened to our so­ciety for such a radical and conserva­tive Islam seems to have sprung up in so many places. And we cannot even have a dialogue with them, not even when they are our own family mem­bers. These groups claim that women have to cover all their hair and their bodies and society puts pressure on women to do so. So, what we tried to convey in this fashion show was a progressive, peaceful and tolerant Is­lam that looks upon men and women as equal. A Pancasila Islam.”

From left to right: Amanda Suharnoko of MADIA (Society of Interfaith Dialogue), Dr Amina Wadud an African American Muslim feminist, Eliza Vitri Handayani and Prof Dr Siti Musdah Mulia. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Prof Dr Siti Musdah Mulia, an Indonesian Muslim intellectual and teacher who has received various international awards attended the fashion show and agrees with Uti. When asked why she was there she responded by saying, “The young artists who created the fashion show are active members of my pengajian (Qur’an study group) and it was they who asked me to participate. If you study it you will in fact find that Islam is a very liberal and rational religion. I always say to them that religion should not be exclusive in nature but rational and always responsive to hu­man needs. These young artists often hold fashion shows where they try to insert their ideas as artists. They are trying to counter a trend in society that is becoming less and less ratio­nal: demanding that all women wear chadars for example; at an ice cream parlour the other day they were de­manding a special room for women to eat ice cream and a special shariah hospital.

There are different views in Islam for example about what the Qur’an means by the word aurat. Some inter­pret it in such a way as meaning that a woman must completely cover her­self with only her eyes showing. Oth­ers interpret it differently. I cover my hair because I am a religious teacher so I need to do more than an ordinary person just as nuns in Catholicism also wear habits and cover their hair. I may not agree with everything the LGBT movement does for example, I find somethings vulgar but neverthe­less, I feel that we must treat them in a humane manner and Islam is a tolerant and humane religion.”

Democracy is not an easy system, especially in a land such as Indonesia with thousands of islands and hun­dreds of languages and traditional cultures and beliefs. Governing dem­ocratically requires a very fine bal­ancing act with both a determined as well as adroit leadership but as Eliza Vitri Handayani puts it, “Free­dom of expression is essential to both democracy and one’s personal life. With freedom of expression we may criticize the government, we are free to create and we can feel safe to truly be ourselves.” (Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Febri Sast­viani Putri Cantika better known as Uti (far right) stands with her friends and fellow artists. (photo courtesy of Fashion for Words)

Betawi in Paintings: An exhibition at Sunrise Gallery – a celebration of Jakarta’s local art

“Food Stall at Rawa Simpruk village” by Sarnadi Adam. In this painting Sarnadi remembers the simple and comforting village life of his boyhood when the men would have breakfast together at a food stall after morning prayers. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

 IO – Sarnadi Adam is the most famous painter of Betawi art. He was born and raised in what is now the wealthy Simpruk neighborhood of South Ja­karta. When he was a boy it was called Kampung Rawa Simpruk and still had marshes. Sarnadi remembers it fond­ly, “It was such a green and pleasant place. There were fruit trees every­where durian, rambutan, jack fruit, guava, water apples, banana and papaya trees and loads of fruit trees that have now become rare in Jakarta such as kemang, kerendang or men­teng. It was so shady the sun could scarcely penetrate. We all lived in Bet­awi style houses which were either wholly or partially made of wood.” He pointed to one of his paintings, “Some were slightly raised. That made them cool and there were also air holes in the walls close to the floor.”

The exhibitions runs till the 29th of July 2019. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

The Sunrise Art Gallery and Ar­cade at the Fairmont Hotel recently launched an exhibition of Betawi art which will be opened till the 29th of July 2019. “It was partly to celebrate Jakarta’s anniversary. I wanted to help expose more people to Betawi art. Very few people are familiar with it including Betawi people themselves. I thought it would be great to expose Betawi art in a five-star hotel like the Fairmont,” Jessica Senjaya the own­er of the Sunrise Art Gallery and Ar­cade with a happy smile. “The theme was “The New Face of Jakarta” so I invited Pak Sarnadi to represent the older generation and then we chose two young Betawi artists to paint the theme from the perspective of Betawi artists who never knew the old Betawi villages as Pak Sarnadi did but know them more as Jakarta is today.”

“Sunda Kelapa Harbour” by Deden Hamdani is where it all began. There was already a small port called Sunda Kelapa when the Dutch first arrived. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

So, who are the Betawi and what is Betawi art? In the 17th century the Dutch East India Company captured Sunda Kelapa and established a small fortified town that they named Bata­via. Through the centuries the Dutch brought people from all over the Indo­nesian Archipelago to Batavia at first mostly either as soldiers or slaves. They invited the Chinese to come and trade and to work as skilled artisans or farmers and they brought many skilled slaves from the Coast of Cor­omandel in India. Later people came by themselves to trade or work be­cause the Dutch forced everyone who wanted to trade to come to Batavia which was the entrepot where all the trade goods were brought. In the 19th century they allowed Arabs to settle. The Betawi people and their culture are an amalgamation of all these cul­tures and peoples including the earlier Sundanese culture that was already there before the arrival of the Dutch. The Betawis appeared on the scene in the 18th century but it was only in the 19th century that they really identified themselves as what is probably now the youngest ethnic group in Indo­nesia. The Betawi language is a type of creole Malay. The Betawi culture has its own traditions, cuisine, danc­es and music. This amalgamation of peoples and cultures are what art critic, Agus Dermawan T. refers to as, “that unique and complex cycle of Betawi culture…”

“Three Betawi Dancers” by Sarnadi Adam. In this painting the Chinese influence on Betawi culture is not difficult to see; both in the women’s costumes as well as decorative features of the Betawi house. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )

Sarnadi says that the Betawi cul­ture has many similarities with our modern Indonesian culture. After all the Indonesian culture was born in Jakarta (The Sumpah Pemuda or Youth Pledge of 1928, the Polemik Ke­budayaan or Cultural Polemics and the modernization of the Indonesian language which all helped to form the Indonesian language and culture all took place in Jakarta). Both cultures are a result of an acculturation of in­digenous as well as foreign cultures and both use the Malay language as the basis of their language.

Jessica Senjaya, the owner and director of Sunrise Art Gallery and Arcade. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )

Jessica Senjaya says that she named her art gallery Sunrise be­cause it signifies the start of a new day and also because it is now the turn of Asia or the East to rise to the fore in world affairs. She studied in­ternational business and finance in the America. As a lover and collec­tor of art her father took her to art galleries, auctions and exhibitions in order to inspire in her an interest in it. He succeeded and Jessica did a course in art business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art Singapore. In 2016 Jessica opened her gallery and when Jakarta’s anniversary came around this year, she opened the exhibition: Betawi in Paintings.

Jessica says that Indonesian art collectors tend to buy and in this way support Indonesian art. They only buy foreign art by extremely well-known foreign artists such as for example Yayoi Kusama or Banksy in Japan. “They are averse to risk when it comes to foreign art” she explains. Both Jessica and Sarnadi Adam strongly believe that as in other countries the government should help support the arts. In Australia for ex­ample there is a regulation that when a government building is erected Australian art pieces also have to be bought to decorate it. There are sim­ilar regulations in a number of coun­tries. Jessica and Sarnadi also hold that the government should provide more support for education in the arts and to preserve traditional arts and culture. With the new government cultural strategy announced last De­cember they may find that this may already be on the government agenda.

“Betawi Dancer Looking to the Future” by Sarnadi Adam. The dancer is standing in front of a traditional Betawi house. These were often slightly elevated from the ground to keep them cool. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )

Sarnadi Adam has exhibited his paintings not only in Indonesia but also Thailand, the Philippines, Chi­na, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. He comes from a Betawi family where for genera­tions the men in his family designed and built Betawi houses. They were very artistic in their rendition of the decorative woodwork on the lintels, eves and verandahs of the Betawi houses that they built. “There used to be many little villages with Beta­wi style houses. They are all gone. Imagine in those days a house would have around 2000 square meters of garden. Now the land has all been turned into real estate with terrace houses or flats. If you want to see a Betawi house now you need to go to the Betawi village created by the city government at Setubabakan, Jaga­karsa in South Jakarta but those are not genuine old Betawi houses but rather houses built in the traditional Betawi style by the city government of Jakarta. “

Sarnadi Adam at the exhibition Betawi in Paintings. His paintings are one of the icons of Betawi culture and he is the most famous artist of this genre. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Sarnadi describes the Betawi life of his youth as having been an agrar­ian one. The life when he was a boy in the early 1960s was a safe and comfortable one. He relates how at the time there was no Plaza Senayan or any high-rise buildings at all other than the Sarinah department store and Hotel Indonesia. “Life was so peaceful,” Sarnadi reminisced. “The rain would come down and dampen the earth leaving it wet with small pools of red mud for the earth here is red. As a child I would take the twigs of bushes and trees and dip them into the mud and paint. That is how it all began with me…”

He was around 8 years old at the time and always won the prize for best drawings at school. He had an algebra teacher called Mr Suminto who came from Jogjakarta and ad­vised Sarnadi’s parents that they should send their talented son to a lower high school that was specialized in the arts. It was then the 1970s and there were only three such schools in Indonesia namely in Jogjakar­ta, Padang and Bali. Sarnadi chose Jogjakarta because it was the closest and it was free. Sarnadi was delighted with the school which was so geared towards his passion for art. He then went to the Institut Seni Indonesia or the Indonesian Arts Institute in Jog­jakarta. It was there that Sarnadi be­came interested in batik making and learnt to batik. He began also to make  batik paintings on cloth using a cant­ing. As far as he knows he is the only Indonesian artist to do so now. Batik making is of course a very traditional art in Jogjakarta, nevertheless, Sar­nadi’s motifs remained Betawi. He says that Betawi art lies not only in the subject that is painted but also in its full-bodied colors, vibrancy and movement.

“Faces of Betawi Dancers” by Sarnadi Adam. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

In 1985 Sarnadi returned to Ja­karta. He teaches at the teacher’s training college, IKIP and lectures in fine arts at the Universitas Negeri Jakarta. “There are so many artists in Jakarta but I never met one who was interested in just painting Beta­wi culture. Actually, there was never such a thing as Betawi painting in In­donesian or Betawi art history. I, in fact created this tradition and I have fought for two decades to establish it,” Sarnadi explained.” My parents were very proud that my paintings were exhibited not only here but in various parts of the world. I think the Betawi community is also proud of me, to the point that my paintings have even become a sort of icon of the Betawi culture for they show Betawi cultural traditions and way of life.”

“Fish Harvest” by Sarnadi Adam. Sarnadi used to go to the sea with his parents to buy fish. His favourite was bandeng (milk fish) pesmol (pressure cooked) and during the Chinese Cap Goh Mei festival bandeng was especially popular. (photo: IO/ Tamalia Alisjahbana )

The old Betawi way of life was such a simple and friendly one. He indicates his painting entitled “Food stall at Simpruk village” and says, “There was a routineness to it that I found very comforting. We would rise early in the morning and the men and boys would go to the lang­gar (small mosque) to pray and then we would all gather at an open air stall – just a table with benches and eat a traditional breakfast of Beta­wi nasi uduk ( steamed rice cooked in coconut milk with cinnamon, lemon grass, cloves and pandanus leaves, sprinkled with fried onions and usually served with tempeh in soya sauce, anchovies and sam­bal or spicy sauce). Everyone knew each other and was chatting. It was so nice. Then in the 1970s the real estate companies and the high-rises began moving in and Jakarta lost its rice-fields, its fish ponds, its orchards and people were moved and families often no longer lived in the same area. Nevertheless, the torch has not died, the Betawi community continues to meet routinely and practice Betawi arts and traditions.”

And how does he feel about the President’s plan to move the capital to Palangkaraya in Kalimantan? Sar­nadi thinks for a moment and then responds, “Has the government really calculated the costs carefully? Would it really be efficient? As a son of Ja­karta and a Betawi I feel as though they would simply be repeating what they already did in Jakarta. The vil­lages would be bulldozed to make way for high-rises, real estates and infrastructure. I expect there will also be local people there who will be moved from their villages and fami­lies. How will it all affect their local culture and traditions?”

“Optimistic” by Ahmad Nasrullah who sees the new face of Jakarta with optimism. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana)

Although, at present he is satisfied with the efforts of the city government to help preserve and promote Beta­wi culture, he does worry about the future of Betawi art and he tries to motivate and inspire at least some of his students to paint Betawi art. So, when he holds an exhibition, he invites his best students who show an interest in Betawi art to exhibit together with him. In this exhibition two younger Betawi artists also have their works on display.

“The Bird Market” by Ahmad Nasrullah. Rearing birds is very much a part of the Betawi culture. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )

Jessica Senjaya wants the exhi­bition to show how the Betawi are adapting to the new face of Jakar­ta and Ahmad Nasrullah’s painting “Optimistic” clearly answers this question. Nasrullah has exhibited at several exhibitions and Sarnadi points to his “The Bird Market” com­menting that it is truly unique to still have such a variety of birds and cages in the middle of a metropolitan city like Jakarta.

Most people view the Betawi culture and people as being strongly Muslim as symbolized in “Masjid Istiqlal” by Deden Hamdani. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )
“Cathedral Church” by Deden Hamdani. However, as this picture shows Betawi culture includes people of many faiths. (photo: IO/Tamalia Alisjahbana )

Meanwhile, Deden Hamdani whose paintings are also on display prefers to paint places. His “Sunda Kelapa Harbour” reminds us of how it all began. There already was a port by that name before the Dutch arrived. Deden’s paintings of “Masjid Istiqlal”, the largest mosque in Jakarta and his painting of the “Jakarta Cathedral” remind us that as Sarnadi says, “Al­though most Betawi people are Mus­lim there are also non-Muslim Betawi people such as the Christian commu­nity in Tugu who claim Portuguese influence and the Chinese who have lived for generations in Kota Tua who are non-Muslims but still say: Saya Cina Betawi! (I am a Betawi Chi­nese!).” (Tamalia Alisjahbana)


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