Tag Archives: Asia

Eksistensi Singo Barong di Taiwan

Selvi Agnesia, born in Bandung, 30th of November, 1986, took Master Degree in Anthropology, University of Indonesia. She lives in Jakarta, working as art manager of production in Studiohanafi, besides cultural and art critic. Between 2009 – 2016 she worked as cultural and art journalist, while taking part in performing arts management of several Indonesian theater groups and art institutions, such as in Festival Tokyo 2012, 2013, and Imagine Festival Basel-Switzerland, activist of New Zealand Cultures in 2015. She is currently taking trans/voice project Indonesia-Taiwan residence program.


Photo by Sima Ting Kuan Wu, courtesy of think archipelago

Ruang Hall Gungguan Elementary School, Pingtung County padat oleh ratusan pekerja migran Indonesia dari berbagai pelosok Taiwan. Selain orkes dangdut Om Ramesta yang cukup popular di kalangan PMI, kehadiran Paguyuban Singo Barong Taiwan menjadi bintang utama dalam rangkaian acara silaturahmi organisasi Densus 87 Pingtung dan Putra Katong pada 21 Juli 2019.

“Kami membawa satu rombongan lebih 30 orang,” ungkap Heri Budi Santoso, Ketua Paguyuban Singo Barong Taiwan, saat ditemui sebelum pementasan penutup Singo Barong di Pingtung, Taiwan Selatan. Tidak sia-sia, besarnya pengabdian sebuah loyalitas pada seni tradisional Reog Ponorogo yang dibawa oleh teman-teman Pekerja Migran Indonesia (PMI) yang merangkap sebagai seniman tersebut mendapatkan apresiasi besar di negeri Formosa.

Menjelang penutupan acara silaturahmi tersebut, pertunjukan Reog Ponorogo yang dinanti beraksi. Dimulai dari para penari jatilan yang bergerak gemulai mengikuti alunan musik dan nyanyian yang dibawakan para pengrawit. Gemulai gerak tarian yang dibawakan Lorena, Puput, Dinda, Anis dan lain-lain lambat tapi pasti semakin menarik para penonton bergeser ke depan hingga akhirnya terlihat beberapa pemuda menemani mereka menari, lembar demi lembar 100 dolar Taiwan diberikan sebagai saweran.

Tidak lama kemudian, giliran Tari Patih yang dibawakan dua orang penari laki-laki yang berperan sebagai panglima Singo Barong. Keduanya bergantian menari diselingi atraksi akrobat dan gerak gesture yang menghibur. Seusai tari jatilan dan tari patih, akhirnya dua sosok Singa berkepala burung merak yang ditunggu mulai beraksi.

Kedua sosok singa berkepala burung merak berdiri saling berhadapan, mereka mulai dengan mengibaskan kepalanya, kemudian satu sama lain bergerak bergantian. Alunan musik kendang, terompet, gong dan angklung membuat ritme gerak kedua Singo Barong semakin kencang.

Photo by Sima Ting Kuan Wu, courtesy of think archipelago

Penonton dibuat terpukau sekaligus khawatir. Terutama penonton paling depan yang khawatir terkena kibasan. Ratusan layar handphone terlihat merekam aksi mereka. Tetapi amukan Singo Barong yang ditunggu ini tidak berlangsung lama. Sebab, tentu saja bukan perkara mudah bagi Rudi dan Hendrik, dua pemain di balik sosok Singo barong untuk membawa beban lebih dari 50 kilogram. Permainan mereka secara fisik mengandalkan kekuatan leher dan gigi.

Banyak pula yang mengira bahwa atraksi Reog Ponorogo melibatkan hal-hal mistis. Namun pada realitanya, para pemain Singo Barong berlatih hingga mampu mengendalikan dan memainkan Singo Barong dengan seimbang.

“Yang penting ada kesungguhan dan giginya gak ompong. Kalau giginya sudah ompong yah gak bisa soalnya memainkan harus digigit. Walaupun orangnya kecil, kalau mau belajar sungguh-sunggu dan tahu tekniknya pasti bisa,” ungkap Heri diselingi canda.

Demi Warisan Budaya

Satu bulan sebelum Singo Barong Taiwan pentas di Pingtung, pada akhir Juni 2019, para personil berlatih di Toko Indo Cen Cen daerah Zhongli, Taiwan dalam rangka silaturahmi Singo Barong yang akan berlangsung di Taman Zhongli.

Di lantai paling atas Toko Indo Cen Cen, sembari menunggu hujan reda, para personil terlihat duduk melingkar dan asik berbincang dalam bahasa Jawa. Sedangkan yang lain, Lorena dan Dinda, dua penari jatilan sedang asik berdandan dan bersiap memakai kostum.

“Kami sudah lama menyewa tempat ini buat kumpul dan simpan kostum, tapi kalau untuk latihan biasanya di taman saat minggu ketiga di setiap bulannya” ungkap Heri.

Photo by Sima Ting Kuan Wu, courtesy of think archipelago

Dua topeng kepala Singo Barong berhias bulu merak terlihat gagah menghiasi dinding ruangan tersebut. Tidak mudah membawa kedua topeng ke Taiwan. Topeng pertama didatangkan pada tahun 2014 ketika tahun pertama Paguyuban Singo berdiri. Tope kedua menyusul didatangkan pada tahun 2018. Dibutuhkan biaya hingga 1 juta dolar Taiwan atau sekitar Rp 500 juta untuk mendatangkan topeng tersebut. Heri dengan tegas mengungkapkan, biaya tersebut murni berasal dari bantuan teman-teman Pekerja Migran Indonesia.

Saya sempat berpikir. tentu saja tujuan teman-teman PMI ke Taiwan tentu saja untuk bekerja dan mencari uang, namun mengapa mereka tetap loyal dalam memberikan bantuan bagi eksistensi paguyuban Singo Barong.

Memasuki generasi ketiga dan tahun kelima berdirinya Singo Barong Taiwan, paguyuban ini telah pentas keliling di beberapa kota seperti Hsinchu dan berkali-kali di Taipei. Kehadiran mereka selalu dinanti teman-teman PMI dan animo masyarakat berupa undangan pemerintah Taiwan juga cukup besar.

Namun, hingga saat ini, kendala yang dialami kelompok berada pada soal dana dan regenerasi pemain. “Yang nonton kita banyak. Yang main susah.”

Kesibukan bekerja para PMI yang sebagian besar bekerja di lingkup domestik cukup menjadi kendala untuk mengumpulkan orang untuk ikut serta bermain. Tidak hanya mengandalkan talenta-talenta orang Ponorogo asli, mereka turut membuka siapapun orang awam yang bersungguh-sungguh untuk berlatih. Selesai masa kontrak di Taiwan, para anggota dan regenerasi juga tentunya akan berganti, maka pembinaan dalam kelompok tetap harus terus dijalankan.

Situasi tersebut sangat berbeda dengan keberlangsungan Reog Ponorogo di tempat kelahirannya Ponorogo, Jawa Timur. Setiap tahunnya, terutama bertepatan 1 Muharam, seni pertunjukan yang berlangsung dari cerita rakyat ini dihelat secara nasional dalam Festival Reog Ponorogo dari berbagai kelompok se-Indonesia. Reog Ponorogo pun sudah masuk sebagai kurikulum pelajaran kesenian dan diberlakukan di setiap desa. Peran pemerintah begitu aktif, berbeda dengan kondisi yang dialami Singo Barong Taiwan.

“Bagaimanapun yang terpenting ini adalah warisan budaya” tegas Heri. Ia dan komunitasnya berharap semoga Reog Ponorogo dapat dikenal oleh marayarakat Taiwan, selain mempertahankan keberlangsungan seni pertunjukan Reog Ponorogo ke depannya agar masyarakat tetap bisa mengetahui bahwa ada Singo Barong di Taiwan.

Singo Barong menjadi sebuah organisasi yang menjadi wadah berkumpul semua Pekerja Migran Indonesia tanpa memandang ras, suku dan agama.

Joged Idul Fitri dan kebebasan beragama di Taiwan

Selvi Agnesia, born in Bandung, 30th of November, 1986, took Master Degree in Anthropology, University of Indonesia. She lives in Jakarta, working as art manager of production in Studiohanafi, besides cultural and art critic. Between 2009 – 2016 she worked as cultural and art journalist, while taking part in performing arts management of several Indonesian theater groups and art institutions, such as in Festival Tokyo 2012, 2013, and Imagine Festival Basel-Switzerland, activist of New Zealand Cultures in 2015. She is currently taking trans/voice project Indonesia-Taiwan residence program.


Pukul 05.00 pagi, Rabu, 5 Juni 2019, alunan suara takbir dan tahmid meraung di halaman Taman Taipei Travel Plaza- Taipei Main Station. Umat muslim laki-laki dengan sarung dan kopiah, serta perempuan berhijab datang berbondong-bondong. Kebanyakan dari mereka berstatus pekerja migran Indonesia (PMI).

Tercatat sebanyak lebih dari 50.000 umat muslim datang dari berbagai penjuru Taiwan dengan kereta, bus, dan sebagian lainnya terlihat kompak menggowes sepeda bersama-sama dengan wajah yang sumringah. Ada juga yang datang sambil mendorong kursi roda para ama dan akong, menempatkan pemberi kerjanya tersebut disampingnya, sebab pelaksanaan Idul Fitri 1440 H tahun ini bertepatan dengan hari kerja.

Dua lansia menunggu pekerja migran menjalankan ibadah di hari raya Idul Fitri, 2019, Taiwan. Photo by Sima Wu Ting Kuan, courtesy of think archipelago.

Sebenarnya, sebagian pekerja dapat melampirkan surat izin kepada atasan yang dikeluarkan oleh pihak Kantor Dagang Ekonomi Indonesia (KDEI), namun sebagian PMI sulit untuk melepaskan tanggung jawab pekerjaanya, terutama jika merawat lansia.

Menjelang pukul 06.30 pagi suara takbir bercampur aduk dengan suara obrolan berbahasa Indonesia, Jawa, Sunda dan himbauan petugas dari mikrofon yang sibuk mengatur para umat, “Tolong segera dirapikan barisannya, yang belum dapat tempat jangan khawatir, shalat idul fitri masih ada gelombang selanjutnya.”

Sebagian lainnya terlihat sibuk beraktivitas dengan ponsel masing-masing untuk bervideo call dengan keluarga, berswafoto dan siaran langsung di media sosial. Suara keriuhan itu akhirnya senyap seketika ketika imam mengumandangkan, “Allahhu akbar.” Di antara megahnya gedung-gedung, di bawah langsung atap langit, mereka khusyuk bersujud pada pencipta.

Usai shalat, mereka saling bersalaman. Terlihat haru yang tak dapat disembunyikan. Setidaknya, meskipun mereka jauh dari orang tua, suami, istri dan anak, terdapat rasa syukur dapat merayakan idul fitri bersama-sama teman keluarga setanah air. Pelaksanaan shalat idul fitri di Taipei Main Station terbagi dalam tiga gelombang sejak pukul 06.30 hingga 09.00 waktu setempat. Setiap gelombang dipandu bilal, imam salat, dan khatib yang keseluruhannya berkewarganegaraan Indonesia.

Tradisi perayaan Idul Fitri di kalangan pekerja migran

Dari Plaza Taipei Main Station, saya berkunjung ke kota Keelung, 30 menit dari Taipei dengan menggunakan bus. Keelung merupakan salah satu kota pelabuhan sejarah terpenting di Taiwan. Di depan pelabuhan sudah berdiri panggung megah dan deretan bazaar kuliner. Dari pagi hingga menjelang sore, panggung diisi oleh hiburan musik dangdut, pop dan tarian-tarian daerah.

Mayoritas pekerja migran Indonesia di Keelung bekerja sebagai anak buah kapal dan pekerja domestik yang mengurus lansia dan keluarga. Di tengah kegembiraan bernyanyi dan berjoged, seorang pekerja mengungkapkan, bahwa ini merupakan hiburan yang ampuh untuk pelipur sepi dari rasa rindu pada keluarga.

Ada tradisi yang berbeda antara lebaran di Indonesia dan di kalangan PMI di Taiwan. Usai shalat idul fitri, tak ada saling kunjung antar keluarga dekat. Yang terlihat justru perayaan bersama teman-teman seperantauan dan halal bihalal dengan hiburan musik dan tarian.

Seluruh pengisi acara yang berasal dari PMI heboh bernyanyi dan berjoged bersama, menyajikan sebuah pemandangan yang langka untuk ditemukan di tanah air, berbeda dengan penampakan mereka yang kerap berkaraoke bersama di warung Indonesia atau tempat karaoke khusus sambil membawakan lagu dangdut ala pantura, Banyuwangi dan musik dangdut yang sedang populer.  

Hal lain yang berbeda dari lebaran di tanah air adalah langkanya ketupat di Taiwan, sebab daun kelapa untuk bahan ketupat memang jarang dijual. Sebagai pengganti digunakan lontong dengan daun pisang atau plastik, sedangkan yang terlihat di tenda-tenda bazaar makanan di antaranya bakso, siomay, opor dan berbagai minuman dingin yang dijual oleh PMI.

Kebebasan beragama di Taiwan

Muslim women in hijab perform Idul Fitri mass prayer in Taiwan, 5 June 2019. Photo by Sima Wu Ting Kuan, courtesy of think archipelago.

Shalat Idul Fitri di Taipei terselenggara berkat kerja sama berbagai pihak. Misalnya di Taipei Main Station, Administratur Taipei memberikan fasilitas tempat, sedangkan Kepala Kantor Dagang dan Ekonomi Indonesia (KDEI) mendukung pendanaan penyelenggaraannya dengan melibatkan Pengurus Cabang Istimewa Nahdlatul Ulama Taiwan, Pengurus Cabang Istimewa Muhammadiyah, sejumlah organisasi kemasyarakatan lainnya, BUMN Indonesia dan perusahaan swasta di Taiwan. Wali Kota Taipei Ke Wen Zhe turut hadir dalam kegiatan tersebut dan memberikan sambutan bersama KDEI di Taipei, Didi Sumedi, menyampaikan ucapan selamat hari raya Idul Fitri kepada para umat.

Umat muslim di Taiwan berjumlah kurang dari 1% dari populasi, namun Taiwan yang berlandaskan demokrasi terlihat nyata turut melindungi kebebasan beragama. Hal tersebut tampak dari pelaksanaan shalat Idul Fitri yang tersebar di berbagai kota di Taiwan, beberapa di antaranya Taoyuan, Nankan, Penghu, Taitung, Changhua, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Keelung, Dolio, Donggang, Taichung, dan Yilan.

Tersebarnya ruang ibadah di sederet kota tersebut memberikan kesempatan bagi lebih dari 200.000 pekerja migran Indonesia dan berbagai masyarakat muslim dari negara lainnya untuk menjalankan kebebasan beragama selain menjadi ruang interaksi sosial. Ekspresi kebebasan spiritual lewat seni terasa lebih dekat saat Idul Fitri di Taiwan.

Begitulah cara mereka merayakan di negeri formosa yang katanya sesyahdu musik dangdut.

Old banyan temple upholds new green policy

Liu Rong TempleLiu Rong Temple, with over 1500 years of history dated back from Song Dynasty, is a tranquil scenic spot for both Buddhist worshippers, scholars, and tourists, surrounded by ancient banyan trees seemingly hidden in the concrete jungle of Guangzhou, one of the largest cities in China.

The renovation in the 90s has introduced two modern symbols of the temple, the Gong De Tang praying center, and the learning hall center.

Before it underwent major and costly renovation in the 90s, Gong De Tang was in its antiquated shape. hence the growing community and visitors alike called for a restoration which, after its completion, was followed by a new policy “the modern civilization prayer service”, encouraged in part by the central government.

In the face of environmental issues, the temple prohibits visitors from carrying incense to perform their ritual in the temple, instead providing a limited number of 3 earth-friendly incense sticks per person for free.

There will be no more sight of excessive ashes from burned joss papers as in old rituals.

Another modern facility in the complex is the conference center to hold traditional, cultural, and art learning, taught by Buddhist scholars from colleges across China.

In the first half of 2018, over 12 seminars were held, attended by around 5000 guests, domestic and foreign alike.

Liu Rong Temple

The Akihabara crossings

Inna KC
Inna KC

Laurentius T. Pesik
Laurentius T. Pesik

TEXT  I  INNA KC
PHOTOGRAPHS  I  LAURENTIUS T. PESIK

japan

Akihabara is known as the heaven for otakus with its collection of Japanese anime and comics. Following years of redevelopment, this place is now famous for Akihabara Crossfield, a business complex with the aim of promoting Akihabara as a center for global electronics technology and trade.

You can also find the the famous AKB 48 theatre in Don quijote Akihabara and the cafe just right next to the JR Railways Station.

Shinjuku is a commercial center and home to many well-known sights and tourist attractions. Several of the tallest buildings in Tokyo are located in this area The most interesting part of Shinjuku would be the Kabukicho district, Tokyo’s most notorious red-light district. To the south is Shinjuku Nichome, Tokyo’s largest gay district.

Ueno is the face of Tokyo with cultural atmosphere. It is famous with art galleries and  museums, shopping and jewellery wholesale arcades. This is also the place where you can experience traditional Japanese performing arts, such as theatrical entertainment and comical story-telling (rakugo).

japan 4

Dawn at silent hills

This is barely a road. That is why we call it the road least traveled. Trekking on East Asia’s prehistoric humans site, unremitting wind whispers an exclamation of silence at Zhou Kou Dian, 50 kilometers southwest of Beijing, China. Here are images during the trail to Peking Men Site.

The great impersonator

Sports, music dan traveling are three things Laurentius T. Pesik like most. He excels in event organizing and works in Jakarta. He nurtured the love of mountain hiking in his formative years. Forming a group of hikers, he and friends eagerly searched for quite and cold places on higher altitudes. His goal is to reach every summit of the mountains he climbed and posed those proud moments in front of a camera. Now he thinks about sharing other no-less appealing photos down the city streets.


Tokyo Tower (4)

The capital city of Japan has shown that being number two does not mean losing out. A famous expression said imitation is the best form of flattery. But in Tokyo’s case, especially during the rapid post-war rebuilding and modernisation, an inspiration taken from another established city icon was the center of the people’s delight.

Even to those who are not aware of history, it is not beyond imagination that Tokyo Tower took inspiration from Paris city icon of the 19th century, the Eiffel Tower.

Constructed in late 50s, more than ten years after their unconditional surrender in World War II, the then turned pacifist country amassed their strength to get over the haunting past and start rebuilding the cities.

It aimed to be higher than the tower it was remodeled from. In its completion in 1958, with 13 meters height difference, it claimed the title of the world’s tallest free-standing structure.

They did not turn inward for introspection to create a modern symbol of this new energy. Instead, the Japanese willingness to embrace western influence and resulting in dramatic socio-economic changes like what they had shown during the Meiji Restoration era had repeated again.

But in post-war era, Japan heightened their take on western influence to a new level, more than knowledge, modernity, or the world view, but also the culture.

Were they lost in anxiety for modernisation? The tower has appeared in many fictionals, creative products, and a major vista in travel guide to Tokyo.

The project redesign of Shanghai World Financial Center

World Trade Center Shanghai

Nicknamed Bottle Opener, the trapezoid aperture at the top of the WTC skyscraper in Shanghai was originally designed in circular. But halfway up the construction, the city mayor and some residents stated their objection in what they deemed a semblance of Japan’s state symbol.

In 2005 KPF eventually got approval in a redesign submission, concluding the sentiment-fueled victory of the Chinese citizens over their ghost of the past, but on the flip side exacerbated the delay, already caused by the 1997 Asian monetary crisis, to 11 years in total to complete the then tallest building in China at 492 m.

The 9/11 effect on Shanghai tower construction

Besides the change of height from the initial plan 460 m, another cause of delay, in concern of design, was implicated by the post 9/11 scare which had pushed the engineers to come up with some desperate measures to plane crash scenario, such as adding 12 fireproof refugee areas and external elevators.

It was said that trapezoid was chosen because it is the most reasonable in terms of price, but rendering an extra cost at no less than USD200 million, adding a total cost of over USD850 million funded by an international consortium of 36 companies.

Although seven years later the twister-like Shanghai Tower would surpassed it by contrast height at 632 m in 2015, the World Financial Center still pride itself until today for the title the best skycraper built in 2008 for its simplicity in structural design.

It has also become one of the prized achievement for Kohn Pedersen Fox, an American-based architect firm widely accredited for supertall works whose first project was a conservation project of ABD Armory Building in New York, 1978.

Japanese developer Mori Building, whose first project in Shanghai was the HSBC tower, then named it on its completion in 1998 as Shanghai Mori International Tower, and whose president Minoru Mori considered Shanghai to have more vitality than Beijing, began the monumental work in 1997 at Lujiazui, the epicenter of Shanghai modern cityscape. Some said that he made the decision after the completion of Oriental Pearl TV & Radio Tower in 1994.

The Golden Pavilion

Born in 1984 and living in Osaka, Japan, Shinya Kagomoto has a specialty in the approach to architecture photography, among other subjects. He moved to Beijing, China, as an exchange student from 2008 to 2010 and befriended many Indonesians. He mainly speaks Japanese, but at work he also speaks Chinese and English. Kagomoto-san looks forward to seeing the blooming international relation between Japan and any other countries. He hopes that many more people will come to Japan to feel the country’s spirit of modenisation with traditional wisdom.


Golden pavilion 1

I like to travel in autumn. It has good temperature (not too hot, not too cold), leaf color is changing to yellow and red. Kinkaku Temple, or also called the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan, was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1994. I want to go there to see gold contrast against autumn color this time around.

This gold temple is in north of Kyoto. There is no train station near this temple. The best way is by bus, which means that it is inconvenience for us to go there. But many foreigners still visit this gold structure. Ginkgo leaf changes to yellow.

Maple leaf changes to red in autumn. Japan has a lot of mountains. So, we can feel that autumn is coming when these trees change their colors to yellow and red everywhere.

The Golden Pavilion
See more images in think archipelago V5 Feb 2014. Click picture to subscribe.

National Center for the Performing Arts Beijing

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Most of the time, art is more of something to be appreciated by feelings rather than understanding. But in homogenous society, even among the well-educated, everything foreign tends to be a subject of study from a single perspective.

Beijing high society bragged about the spectacle of the country’s new wave of performing arts in Turandot, played in the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing two years after its inauguration. It is one of the most widely publicized Chinese operas in 2009, which is an adaptation of a masterpiece by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini. It was met with positive reception. But it will take time before it is the public who commend, not the media.

Main hall 3

No city in the modern history of the world experienced such colossal transformation in a very short time the way Beijing had in the past decade. And few arts center had drawn such immense impact on social environment like the way NCPA had on urbanites in the capital city of China. It was not the only nouveau object approved by the authority in order to gain the world’s attention that had been frowned upon by its own citizens.

CCTV tower, dubbed the Big Pants, drew the same degree of criticism due to its peculiar shape. But what made NCPA so controversial to the locals was that it was built in the central area of power for the ruling regimes since many centuries ago. As if NCPA did not stop breaking the conventions in location only, the design was surely to make many Chinese scratch heads.

NCPA dome shape that gives a futuristic look makes a staggering contrast to the Soviet-style buildings that house many governmental institutions around the vicinity.

A number of people have begun this hate to love relationship with this building since the project was initiated in 2001. But apart from its appearance, NCPA still has to confront another issue, the shows.

Traditional Chinese operas and orchestra are still frequent programs as the two has enjoyed wide acceptance among Beijingers, but the introduction to foreign culture either through adaptation works like Turandot or imported shows, and more contemporary performance could take a longer process, as the Chinese society moves toward openness.