Thursday, 25 February 2010



Bungklang Bungkling: PETANI

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Petani’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 21st February 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada

Petani (Farmer)

There is a question among the Balinese: what will happen to the island when the young Balinese decline to become farmers? Who will take care of the rice fields?

“Don’t worry, the bulés (westerners) will take care of our rice fields. They might become farmers here,” says I Made Tibah Klampit.

“What is he talking about? Is he suffered from dengue or something?” asks I Wayan Mundeh Kaliasem.

Made feels insulted. However there is a rule that when a member feels insulted in the warung, he is not allowed to be upset or express his anger by beating the table. What he has to do is to take a bottle of palm toddy and drink it in one go until finished.

“I’m serious with. I passed a group of tourists in the rice fields this morning.”

“I guessed that they went trekking to enjoy rice paddy views, so I tried to be a guide and explained to them about Balinese culture and about agricultural conditions in my village. I told them about subak, Tri Hita Karana, Tumpek Bubuh, Tumpek Kandang and nangluk merana. But it was all useless. I then realized that they knew everything about subak, Balinese traditions, etc. As a matter of fact, they just wanted to buy the land.

“I was getting excited because I thought that my village had become a tourism area. I will be rich and able to buy new car, television, fridge and go to restaurants. I was thinking about the profit I would get for being a broker.”

But Made failed to be a broker because the bules were not going to build villas, they were going to build organic farm instead. It’s a kind of agriculture system that doesn’t use chemical fertilizer, insecticide or pesticide. They would like the villagers to join them. The villagers can become labours.

“It has let me down. They don’t only do tourism business, but they also do farm business here,” says Made.

In hotel business, they are General Managers, but the Balinese are only staff, and in the farms, they are landlords, while the Balinese are just labours.

“When all of our lands are occupied to be hotels, and our rice fields belong to them, we might buy rice from the bulés.”

Made looks very sad. But it is a mystery whether he is sad from thinking about future Balinese agriculture sector condition or failing to be a broker.

Everyone looks worried from thinking that they will become labourers on their our island.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: CHINA

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘China’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 14th February 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada


Each culture has its own holiday.

Hindu (Bali) has Galungan while Chinese has Imlek. There are some similarities in both cultures: both of them have fruits for their offerings, eat pork, use incense when they pray and have many gods.

“But you don’t have tajen (cockfighting) during the Imlek, says I Wayan Kaplag Kaplug (Wayan Hit Here and There).

A few days before Imlek, it usually rains heavily. Under this condition, only frogs are happy. But human beings consider such a condition as not good for them, because they will have to just stay at home or sleep.

That’s probably why the palm toddy warung looks quiet: there are only three people at the moment talking.

‘Well, it’s not really important to speak about morals: as you might have heard, a very famous spiritual guru has been reported to the police for having done sexual harassment to his students,” says I Wayan Bungut Uag (I Wayan Big Mouth).

“The Balinese should learn from Chinese. They leave their own country to make a living overseas, they are hard-working people, smart at spend their money wisely,” Made continues.

“Yes, they are keen enough to try and make a living outside their own country, and now they are everywhere, they have become hard-workers, reliable businessmen, and even bright students. Amazingly, even though they’ve never returned to their native country, they still can maintain their traditions and culture. As you can see, there are Chinese temples everywhere, starting from USA to Europe. Imlek has become an International holyday.

“As a matter of fact, most Balinese are reluctant to leave their island to make a living. They only dare to ‘show off’ in their own island but afraid to compete overseas” says Made.

“Perhaps that’s why Bali doesn’t have many prominent figures that internationally-recognized. In addition, Balinese culture has not been able to become world culture yet. It’s still only to be featured in brochures for tourism.

Wayan doesn’t quite understand what Made says. He doesn’t understand about China and global issues. All he knows about China is about Chinese coins, Chinese wine and Chinese medicine.

“But why are you still in Bali then? Why don’t you make a living in China,” asks Wayan.

“The people in my village still like me. Who do you think will take care of the temples and the banjar (village community). And the people are supposed to vote me to be mayor,” Made kidding.

But everyone knows that the real reason Wayan stays in Bali is because he doesn’t understand English and he doesn’t have any skill at all either.

“One thing about the Balinese is that they talk and talk but when they are asked to ‘realize’ their dreaks, then they step aside,” Wayan continues.

For Balinese, it is much easier to talk and say good things about themselves. And they enjoy living and die in their own island. Perhaps that’s why the Balinese never ‘win’ against the Chinese in many aspects of life.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010



Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: TSUNAMI

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Tsunami’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 7th February 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada


The weather has been rather bad recently: strong winds, heavy rain and very cold. Even the television broadcasting has a problem. That’s why the group discuss something easy.

“If it keeps raining like this, I’m sure our village will flood,” says I Made Firasat Buruk (I Made Negative Thinking). He is worried that all his ducks will die due to flood. Doesn’t he know that ducks can swim? It is himself need to worry about as he cannot swim at all.

Ni Luh Makin Digosok Makin Sip (The More You Rub Her the More She Loves It) is very worried about flood too. She knows that her warung is not a permanent structure, its posts are made of bamboo and the roof is just made of woven bamboo. If it floods, the warung will finish straight away.

“I’ve been thinking that being a human is not safe anymore. There are more and more criminals, dirty politicians with their big mouths, and natural disasters everywhere,” says Made.

“Bali is just a small island, so if a big natural disaster hits Bali, where we should evacuate?” replies I Putu Bayu Usak (I Putu Coward).

“If Tsunami hits Kuta and Sanur, where will you go?” one asks.

“You should go to the highest place. The closest high place you can reach is Bedugul. But how can you go there? You will have no chance to run. If you take bemo, it will be too slow. You will have already died by tsunami before you reach Bedugul.”

“We can try telecommunication towers. But the local government has demolished many of them. I think I will go to Nusa Dua because there are many huge hotels there,” comments I Wayan Polo Mbuh (I Wayan Useless Brain).

“We might still be able to deal with tsunami. What if the Mount Agung erupts? You will have no place to run to. It can even worse, if tsunami, mount eruption and earthquake happen at the same time; Bali will totally sink.”

“What rubbish you are talking about, you are too pessimist, all you say are about disasters, you are making people sad,” says Wayan.

The Balinese’ lives have already full of problems, even though there haven’t been any serious disasters. Many of them even die and can not go anywhere.

“Rabies, HIV/AIDS, drugs are ‘real problems’ that have taken many Balinese’s lives. We aren’t even able to deal properly with them.”

Another serious problem that also has taken many Balinese’ lives is ‘poverty’.

“The real example is Made. Made is just a duck shepherd. One day if all of his ducks die due to flood, he will have nothing at all and will be finished. For him, no ducks no money, so how can he survive?”

The conclusion is that in spite of natural disasters, Balinese have had already many problems.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Bungklang Bungkling: DESA (Village)

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Desa’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 31st January 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada

Desa (Village)

“What does desa mawacara, negara mawa tata mean?” asks a member of the group.

“It means that the state should not interfere too much to the village’s business,” I Wayan Nigting Tangkah replies (I Wayan Beating Chest).

Wayan is known as a ‘hero’ in his village. He always cares when there is a problem in his village.

Two days ago he led his fellow-villagers to demolish the water tank built by the Local Public Work Department office. The water tank is used to save water from the village’s spring and distribute the water to the neighbouring villages that have no water resources.

“I don’t understand what the local government is doing. They want to conquer our spring. They don’t know that it belongs to us.”

Wayan doesn’t seem to understand anything about the constitution which states that the land, water and natural resources belong to the state. His mind is too narrow to understand this. He would never understand either how to live side by side with the people from neighbouring villages.

He knows that the spring in his village provides enough water for his village and other villages as well. But he is such a narrow-minded person that he claims that the spring belong to his village only, not the state. The problem is that Wayan’s fellow-villagers are also narrow-minded. They just agreed with Wayan when he asked them to demolish the public water tank. Some of them even played the gamelan to give support to their fellows.

It is said that the village situation reflects the characters of the villagers living in the village itself.

It has been difficult to find harmonious Balinese families who live in one compound. They are never able to live side by side. Instead, most of them envy one another. They are also rude to their own brothers or sisters. Sometimes they even use black magic.

When you can not leave harmoniously with your own family, how do you expect you can do it with your neighbours? This is a fact we have in Bali. If a neighbour of yours is success, you will envy them and hope they will suffer a loss.

You are supposed to be happy when your neighbours are successful. The reason is that they will be in better position to help you when you need their help.

The fact is, when a neighbour of yours buys a new car, you will envy him. You think that he gets the money from corruption or using black magic. This situation may develop into worse situation when many fellow-villagers hate him and that he might be in trouble when he dies, e.g. the villagers will not carry his cremation tower properly but ruin it instead.

The same thing happens at the village level. One village always tries to be more superior than the other, especially in matters of ceremony. When one village finds that its neighbouring village holds a ‘recharging’ ceremony (ngenteg linggih) which may cost Rp. 500 million, they might tear down their own temple so that they have a reason to hold similar ceremony that costs a lot more. Everybody in the village would think how the ceremony must cost 1 billion Rupiahs at least. They think that the more a ceremony costs, the more successful it is and the happier they are.

But nobody really cares about the problems such as: the money they use for the ceremony is usually a loan from the bank, and that they have to work very hard to pay it back; some villagers even are unemployed after a big ceremony as the places where they work fire them for being absent for a long time, due to the ceremony; the members of the ceremony (karya) committee debate on the use of the funds; there are long debates among the custodians during the long preparation of the ceremony.

What they want is just to show off and think that they are better than their neighbouring villages. It is no problem for them although it can make them go bankrupt.

In some ways the Balinese are still narrow-minded.

“We are in the 21st century. And Asia Free Trade has started which mean that foreign traders can sell everything in our country. So why you are still so narrow minded,” complains I Made Bali Jani (I Made Bali Now).

“I was born here, grown up, went to school, dropped out here as well and even will die here. I don’t give a damn about the ‘21st century’ or Asia or whatever it is” Wayan replies.


8 A.M, 4 FEBRUARY, 2010



10 A.M, 4 FEBRUARY, 2010


Comment from Gung De:

Barong Landung adalah pralingga, sekaligus perisai bagi desa-desa yang terancam kegeringan. Bahkan di banyak tempat,Barong Landung dipuja sebagai simbol sejarah yang sangat kelam di masa lalu. Kisah yang bersumber ketika Sri Jaya Pangus, raja Bali dari dinasti Warmadewa, kerajaannya berpusat di Panarojan, tiga kilometer di sebelah utara Kintamani. Sri Jaya Pangus dituduh telah melanggar adat yang sangat ditabukan saat itu, yakni telah dengan berani mengawini putri Cina yang elok bernama Kang Cing Wei. Meski tidak mendapatkan berkat dari pendeta kerajaan, Mpu Siwa Gama, sang raja tetap ngotot tidak mau mundur. Akibatnya, sang pendeta marah, lalu menciptakan hujan terus menerus, hingga seluruh kerajaan tenggelam.

Dengan berat hati sang raja memindahkan kerajaannya ke tempat lain, kini dikenal dengan nama Balingkang (Bali + Kang), dan raja kemudian dijuluki oleh rakyatnya sebagai Dalem Balingkang. Sayang, karena lama mereka tidak mempunyai keturunan, raja pun pergi ke Gunung Batur, memohon kepada dewa di sana agar dianugerahi anak. Namun celakanya, dalam perjalanannya ia bertemu dengan Dewi Danu yang jelita. Ia pun terpikat, kawin, dan melahirkan seorang anak lelaki yang sangat kesohor hingga kini, Maya Danawa.

Sementara itu, Kang Cing Wei yang lama menunggu suaminya pulang, mulai gelisah, Ia bertekad menyusul ke Gunung Batur. Namun di sana, di tengah hutan belantara yang menawan, iapun terkejut manakala menemukan suaminya telah menjadi milik Dewi Danu.Ketiganya lalu terlibat pertengkaran sengit.

Dewi Danu dengan marah berapi-api menuduh sang raja telah membohongi dirinya dengan mengaku sebelumnya sebagai perjaka.Dengan kekuatan gaibnya, Dalem Balingkang dan Kang Cing Wei dilenyapkan dari muka bumi ini. Oleh rakyat yang mencintainya, kedua suami istri -- Dalem Balingkang dan Kang Cing Wei -- itu lalu dibuatkan patung yang dikenal dengan nama Stasura dan Bhati Mandul. Patung inilah kemudian berkembang menjadi Barong Landung.

Barong Landung bukanlah sekadar penghias pura, ia adalah duwe dengan segala perwujudannya yang sangat keramat. Ia dibuat pada dewasa ayu kilang-kilung, dari kayu bertuah seperti pule, jaran, waruh teluh, kepah, kapas, dan "dihidupkan" dengan ritual prayascita serta di-plaspas untuk menghapuskan papa klesa secara sekala niskala. Di sini, ia pun diberi pedagingan berupa perak, emas, dan tembaga, juga pudi mirah (sejenis permata) yang dipasangkan di ubun-ubun lengkap dengan rerajahan-nya -- ang, ung, dan mang.


"As posted on the FACEBOOK - "SAVE THE BUKIT" dialogue page."

@ Amir: Re "don't be negative and cynical", and re: "education".

@ Pak Amir: RE: not being "negative and cynical" and "education"

You know, Pak Amir, life is an education. And I have learned that:

1. If an island can't, after three attempts, build itself a
ring-road/by-pass without urban sprawl encroaching on the green belt
then it probably never will. Negative and cynical about the present
state of traffic management in South Bali is therefore a healthy
state of mind. To go out everyday with a sunny disposition and say
"WOW, what a great new billboard by SEA SANTOSO eating up half the sky
on Sunset Road!!!" would be delusional. To pretend that a few
educated Indonesians can make a difference speaking gently at the
Governor's pow-wow is a long shot. But let’s remember also: "Hope dies

(A famous and very educated Jakartan once said, out of
exasperation with the emerging Ibu PKK/Ordre Baru taste: "When the
last Dutch-educated Jakartan dies, the city will return to the
Barbarians". He was speaking metaphorically. And he is a very proud

2. If a culture can't preserve its architectural heritage, as we are
seeing in Bali today --- with exquisite Majapahit red-brick gates and
temples going down , daily, like flies-- to be replaced with gaudy
black monsters and truly hideous giant black and white marble signs
appearing outside every temple-- then one is perhaps right to be a bit
depressed and cynical. Especially someone who has spent 35 years
documenting the beauty and appealing for its conservation.

3. If I had decided, in 1973, to make my life in Bali purely because
it had such great scenic attractions and heavenly townscapes then I
would have moved out years ago.....but I chose Bali because I fell in
love with the people and the culture which amazingly, despite all this
visual pollution and environmental degradation, remain pretty much
unchanged. And I think, syukur, that most of us 'educated arrivistas'
feel the same way. I think it folly to believe that any amount of
pressure can change the developers who are cold-blooded and
hard-hearted and un-sympathetic (to the environment and the culture,
lets face it) ---look at Sakenan, Tanah Lot.
Negative and Cynical have been good to my people (design consultants)
when dealing with unscrupulous developers and clients (which accounts
for about 95%, ask any architect...don't just take my word for
it)......I'm sure not going to give up.