Monday, April 14, 2014

An important piece of women's writing in Indonesia

The book first revealed itself to me in the midst of a conversation at ISAI (Institute for the Studies on the Free Flow of Information). It was lying on the table, in the midst of all the other books in a room full of books--shelves after shelves of them behind us as we talked--and so, I took shots of it, just as a matter of course. The conversation was hard and heavy, Yan Naing's questions about radio broadcasting in Jakarta were heavy ones, I had a hard time grappling with radio frequency terminology; and so were Ryan's questions, freight with the weight of the Bangsamoro identity, but I found myself scribbling on my notes, "Who was Sudjojono dan Aku?" The answer suddenly came three days later, when Indonesian political activist Pak Tedjabayu Sudjojono suddenly showed us another version of the same book, telling us the writer was his mother; and Sudjojono was his father, the renowned Indonesian artist who was not content with painting beautiful scenes in Indonesia, he painted scenes depicting the Indonesian people's struggle. The book's title actually meant, Sudjojono and me, referring to Sudjojono, the artist, who left her. But the son, it seemed, had forgiven him. "Despite the fact that he left my mother, he was still a good artist for his people," Pak Tedja said. His mother, I perceived from our conversation, was also an equally, perhaps, even more than an extraordinary woman. I sense that what she had written here, and in that other book, "From camp to camp," depicting her life as a political detainee in Soeharto's Indonesia, should be an important piece of women's writing in Indonesia. I would like to read it one day and right now, it is still available in Bahasa. [I was also surprised to know that this very extraordinary woman, whom Pak Tedja said oftentimes think in Dutch, actually translated Dr. Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in Bahasa when he was still a 12-year-old child.] Pak Tedja read its English version at 15.

Departures and Arrivals

Sleepless in Jakarta

But this was four or five nights ago, already too long and far behind me now, I'm already back in Davao, survived the sudden onset of malady and weakness that sent me in panic while I was on transit, have taken a long rest and have at least finished my story, which I just sent to Seapa, and am now preparing myself to go back to my normal routine, going back to the office, checking my emails, etc.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Dreaming of eggs sunny side up

Craving for the tastes of home, I went to the nearest McDo, don't blame me, where else will I go? At least, they have eggs, in their most basic form; though they only serve them scrambled, with salt in sachets. I love them sunny side up, you know that, with the yellow already a bit cooked but not too cooked as to lose their lovely orangey color; but still, I don't mind the scrambled ones for a while, with the Teh Tarik, so hot and glorious! It's election day in Indonesia, so, that must be why most tables are taken, they've lots of polling places in the Thamrin area, one or two of them only one or two blocks away. I took my tray upstairs and headed straight to the veranda, where smokers lounged, bodies reclining, a foot or two on a chair, naked knees and tattered jeans at the table, puffing cigarettes, sipping coffee, giving the whole place a leisurely air. Even with the news of the storm approaching the Philippines (I hope it weakens), it's a hot Wednesday morning here! I can actually order eggs, cooked in any which way I like, back at the hotel, but they really charge in dollars. I'd rather stop whining and start writing.

Dawnbreak in Jakarta

Awake at 4:23 am, trying hard but simply unable to write, staying by my window, looking out to the lightening sky as BBC talks about the slow-moving storm approaching the Philippines, expected to bring about heavy rains in the central parts. Oh, never again, please. I hope Karl took note of what I've been warning him about; would stay away from his boarding house in case the water gets too high. If he won't, if he forgot, please tell him again. He will listen to you. Whisper to him, even as he sleeps. The dark sky turns so blue so fast. My lids feel very heavy. I promise I will be writing here the whole day. I'll stop running around, looking for stories, when the stories are only right in my body. I won't gorge myself with too much information I can't digest. I look forward to the whole day of writing, locked up inside this room, moping, calculating. I can hear the calls for prayer from some distant mosque.