14 August 2017 10:00

Javanese gamelan is unique and apparently, the ensemble managed to attract not only locals but also foreigners. One of them is Peter William Hendrik Smith — or to his friends: Parto.

Peter has been learning how to play gamelan for a long time. He even stayed in Solo for years, making him able to speak Javanese fluently.

The man was in Yogyakarta last week to attend Yogyakarta Arts Festival (FKY) where he along with his students performed a gamelan concert.

Let's get to know him better.

1. He firstly knew gamelan when he was helping someone unpack a gamelan package sent to his campus.

Parto was a music student. As he was playing piano, people used the next door room for Javanese gamelan. He wanted to help arrange the gamelan. He directly fell for the new carving and bronze. He was then curious about how it sounds and after listening to it, he fell in love even deeper. Different from piano, playing gamelan with his friends made him wanting to know more about it.

2. Parto likes to eat Javanese food.

Parto once lived in Ngasinan, Jebres, Solo and the experience let him taste Indonesian food. Patro loves Indonesian sambal including petai (bitter bean), dogfruit and coconut sambal.

3. For Parto, gamelan can be a way of meditation.

Javanese gending songs such as Ayo Praon, and Rondo Kempling are ear-catching and people who listen to the songs admit they can make them relax. Apparently, gamelan songs are good for meditation.

4. He has been teaching gamelan for 30 years.

To his knowledge, there are 100 students learning how to play Javanese gamelan, 5 learning how to play Balinese gamelan, and 2 learning how to play Sundanese gamelan. This time, he brought 100 of his students to perform Javanese gamelan in Indonesia.

5. He wants the next generation to continue playing gamelan.

It turns out that a lot of youth who are also enthusiastic in playing gamelan. There are many times Parto attended Javanese gamelan performances with young players. In England, there are also a lot of youth joining gamelan ensemble in his campus.

Watch the video here:

Original Indonesian article by Laksa Mahardikengrat



  07 August 2017 12:38

by Karyn Nishimura-Poupee

When 82-year-old Masako Wakamiya first began working she still used an abacus for maths — today she is one of the world's oldest iPhone app developers, a trailblazer in making smartphones accessible for the elderly.

Frustrated by the lack of interest from the tech industry in engaging older people, she taught herself to code and set about doing it herself. 

The over 60s, she insists, need to actively search out new skills to stay nimble.

"As you age, you lose many things: your husband, your job, your hair, your eyesight. The minuses are quite numerous. But when you learn something new, whether it be programming or the piano, it is a plus, it's motivating," she says.

"Once you've achieved your professional life, you should return to school. In the era of the internet, if you stop learning, it has consequences for your daily life," Wakamiya explains during an AFP interview at her home near Tokyo.  

She became interested in computers in the 1990s when she retired from her job as a bank clerk. It took her months to set up her first system, beginning with BBS messaging, a precursor to the internet, before building her skills on a Microsoft PC, and then Apple's Mac and iPhones. 

She asked software developers to come up with more for the elderly, but a repeated lack of response led her to take matters into her own hands.

Wakamiya learned the basics of coding and developed 'Hinadan' one of Japan's first dedicated app games for the over-60s — she is now in such demand that this year Apple invited her to participate at their prestigious Worldwide Developers Conference, where she was the oldest app creator to take part.

'Source of inspiration'

'Hinadan' — 'the doll staircase' — was inspired by the Hina Matsuri, a doll festival which takes place every March, where ornamental dolls representing the emperor, his family and their guests are displayed in a specific arrangement.

In Wakamiya's app, users have to put them in the correct positions — a task which is harder than it sounds, requiring memorization of the complex arrangements.

The app, which is currently only available in Japanese, has been downloaded 42,000 times with hundreds of positive comments from users. 

And while these figures are relatively small compared to Japan's big-hitting apps which are downloaded in their millions, 'Hinadan' has proved popular enough that Wakamiya plans to release English, Chinese and possibly French versions of the app before next year's festival.

Its success has propelled her on to the tech world stage, despite the industry's reputation for being notoriously ageist

In Silicon Valley, workers in their 40s are considered old by some firms and according to media reports citing research firm Payscale, the median age for an employee at Facebook is 29 and at Apple is 31.

But international tech firms and start-ups are slowly waking up to the economic potential of providing for silver surfers, and Wakamiya has already met with Apple's chief executive Tim Cook.

Wakamiya recalls: "He asked me what I had done to make sure that older people could use the app. I explained that I'd thought about this in my programming -- recognizing that older people lose their hearing and eyesight, and their fingers might not work so well."

"Mr Cook complimented me," she says proudly, adding that he had hailed her as a "source of inspiration".

No time for sickness

Wakamiya concedes that she finds "writing lines of code is difficult" but has a voracious appetite to learn more.

"I want to really understand the fundamentals of programming, because at the moment I only learned the elements necessary for creating Hinadan," she explains.

More than a quarter of Japan's population is aged 65 and above, and this is projected to rise to 40 percent by 2055. The government is struggling to ensure its population remains active and healthy -- and so also see the dynamic octogenarian as an inspiration.

"I would like to see all Japanese elderly people have the same motivation," one official told AFP.

Wakamiya says her ultimate goal is to come up with "other apps that can entertain older people and help transmit to young people the culture and traditions we old people possess".

"Most old people have abandoned the idea of learning, but the fact that some are starting (again) is not only good for them but for the country's economy," said Wakamiya, who took up the piano at 75.

Hinting that her good health is down to an active mind and busy life, she adds: "I am so busy every day that I have no time to look for diseases."

Agence France-Presse


Krystal Buckle  31 July 2017 08:50

Gridlocked traffic jams, towering malls, exhaust fumes and inescapable smog often come to mind when one mentions Jakarta. Poor infrastructure and limited mobility make it a city that is easy to write off.

Yet beneath all that lies a group of artisans opening up Indonesia’s creative potential on a global scale, challenging the traditional role of air-conditioned malls as the hub of all social activity. By reviving community spaces and showcasing local talent on an international stage, a new generation are defying the norms that come with living in Jakarta. Many artisans grew up abroad and have returned to explore the potential of Indonesia’s raw materials and skills. The individual profiles below are only a snippet of the people and creative energy emerging in Jakarta. Meet Agus, Talita, Helianti and Caroline.

Talita Setyadi of BEAU

© 2017 brilio.net/Krystal Buckle

Not many people can say they’ve tasted a soto-flavored pastry cake. Talita Setyadi, owner of BEAU, wants to change this.

The musician-turned-pastry-chef-turned-manager has a fascinating story worthy of a movie. As an Indonesian raised in New Zealand, Setyadi often visited her Grandmother’s bakery in Yogyakarta as a child. She studied music at university, was part of a three-piece folk trio and sold homemade macarons at her gigs. After graduating, she trained as a pastry chef in France. Ironically, “I found out, during my internship there, that I wasn’t actually a good working pastry chef. I would get bored doing the same thing,” she says. New York was next, where she studied restaurant management and bread baking.

In 2013 she returned to Indonesia and opened BEAU. “What I found was, oh my gosh, this is totally the best country in the world to do pastry. Because you can do something new,” she says. “Coming back, I saw a plethora of food ingredients that I was not able to play with in France. Like coconut sugar. You can hit five birds with one stone.”

However, Talita believes the remnants of a colonial mindset remain entrenched in Indonesia’s society. “Here it’s about survival. So, we just copy what works. Which is cool but I think that Indonesia is on the threshold, we’re developing and we need businesses like this to get people to wake up. I wanted to be that for Indonesia,” she says. “I want to empower people. From the beginning I wanted to be a pioneer, a trailblazer. The young kids in Indonesia, they need someone to look up to.”

For Talita, pastry is a medium for art expression, just like music. Opening a business in South Jakarta meant she could finally do something that had never been done before. “I could make an Indonesian brand that eventually can be brought overseas and enjoyed globally,” she says. A growing community of artisans, like Talita, is an evidence that there is more to Jakarta than just its face value. However, “the city’s untapped potential can only be reached by an understanding and awareness of the creative process," according to her.

Agus Winarto of Kertase

© 2017 brilio.net/Krystal Buckle

This man is determined to bring back paper quilling, in style.

Agus Winarto lives in West Jakarta in an apartment that also doubles as his studio. Pieces of paper are strewn across his workbench and figures hang from the ceiling. “What I like most about paper quilling is that you can always create. Nothing is ever ruined, I just recycle it again,” he says.

Paper quilling was always a hobby for Agus, who studied graphic design in Jakarta. He says it was a book about paper art that sparked his interest in the craft because at that time, “you couldn’t just look at Instagram or Facebook for paper quilling photos”. In 2014, he made his hobby a reality by starting Kertase. The name Kertase reflects a need to understand and love your own culture. Starting off simple and gradually working into more complex designs, many of Agus' creations are based on the wealth of culture available at his fingertips. “My creations depend on and reflect my mood. If I’m happy, I make flowers and bright colored figurines,” he says.

Each paper design is customised especially for the customer based on the colors they like, their favourite foods, hobbies and more. Agus has previously held workshops in Kota Tua and hopes his business will continue to grow.

Helianti Hilman of Javara Indigenous Indonesia

© 2017 brilio.net/Krystal Buckle

This woman is sustaining the livelihood of 52,000 indigenous farmers across Indonesia.

Helianti Hilman is the CEO of Javara Indigenous Indonesia, a community-based organic food company. Starting with just 8 farmers and products in 2006, the company has now grown to over 52,000 farmers and supplies more than 750 products to countries all over the world. But to Helianti, Javara is much more than a company. It’s a way of life.

“Basically what we are carrying is an indigenous food system. For us it’s not just about selling a product but conveying the story behind it. The farmers decide what season to start growing based on star signs and ancient techniques. These are skills we want to nurture and keep alive,” she says.

In 2007, Helianti visited her network of farmers on what she calls a three-month roadshow. During this time, “I moved from one place to another and that’s when I started to learn about the beauty of the ancient wisdom of the Indonesian food system".

With all of their assets remaining at a local level, Helianti’s business model focuses on nurturing the growth of local entrepreneurs. Javara is investing in youth ‘farmpreneurs’ and this year launched a ‘school of artisans’ that helps young farmers, foragers and fishermen to transform themselves from conventional farmers into farm entrepreneurs. To compensate for a rapidly decreasing number of Indonesian farmers, the company is aiming to create 25 artisan schools across Indonesia in the next five years.

It takes a strong woman to stand up to big companies and dedicate their life to representing the minority. Passionate is only one way to describe Helianti Hilman. Her motto? “Do not settle for less.”

Caroline Tobing of Paisley Things

© 2017 brilio.net/Krystal Buckle

The most important thing for Caroline Tobing is that people understand the story behind each of the handcrafted items she sells.

“The number one reason why I don’t let other people sell these products is because behind every single product there is a person. And I want you to know about this person because I don’t make a living out of this, it is purely a non-profit foundation.”

Born in France, raised in Indonesia, schooled in Singapore and educated in the US, Caroline’s tale is one that eventually leads back to Jakarta and Paisley Things. What begun as a mild fascination surrounding a hand-made broom, developed into a full-blown appreciation and cultivation of Indonesian ‘things’. As a non-profit program under the Darius Tobing Foundation, Paisley Things supports local artisans across Java by working with them in their own environment. All the money from the sale of the items in her shop goes back into the foundation to help more people, develop more programs and support more artisans in their villages.

“Each of these artisans have skills which are heritage skills. Skills that are hard to duplicate because they learn it from somebody in their house when they were a child. These skills, if you don’t keep them working, will die when they become a driver or a maid and will not be passed on,” Caroline says.

Her South Jakarta shop currently features Batik hand-embroidered in Surabaya, organic citronella, hand-painted Kaling Kerupuk, cutting boards made from recycled pieces of wood and hand hammered galvanized aluminium buckets.


Krystal Buckle  13 July 2017 10:15


Paisley Things was born from a broom six years ago.

After noticing a man selling hand-made brooms with complex embroidery at an agricultural show, Caroline Tobing was immediately curious as to how it was made. After visiting his village in Cianjur, she decided to purchase and sell some of his products to friends and family. It wasn’t long until other artisans begun to approach her, and from there Paisley Things was born.

Caroline had no plans to start a shop but that, she says, was the fun of it. A non-for-profit program under the Darius Tobing Foundation, Paisley Things supports local artisans across Java by working with them in their own environment. “We go to them. Our program means that we approach the artisans, we meet them and we go to their home. We supply them with the down payment, we supply the tools that they need and when the product is finished they call us and we go back to the village, we take the product with us and we pay the remainder,” Caroline said. 


Fair-trade and sustainable practices form the crux of Caroline’s philosophy at Paisley Things. All the money from her shop goes back into the foundation to help more people, develop more programs and support more artisans in their villages. Over the past six years, Caroline has witnessed a growing appreciation for recycled and handmade products made by locals. “They are realizing that yes, perpetuating this knowledge of handmade is important for their own heritage. There is also a hunger for handmade, for one of a kind items,” she said.

From Batik hand-embroidered in Surabaya to organic citronella, hand hammered galvanized aluminium buckets, cutting boards made from recycled pieces of wood and old hand-painted Kaleng Kerupuk, customers can look forward to a continually evolving, one-of-a-kind collection.

“Each of these artisans have skills which are heritage skills. Skills that are hard to duplicate because they learn it from somebody in their house when they were a child. These skills, if you don’t keep them working, will die when they become a driver or a maid and will not be passed on,” she said.

Donations from the program assist in supporting orphanages, retirement homes, libraries, schools, preschools and individuals. When questioned if she would ever consider exporting her products and handmade items overseas, Caroline’s answer was a flat no. “The number one reason why I don’t let other people sell these products is because behind every single product there is a person. And I want you to know about this person because I don’t make a living out of this, it is purely a non-profit foundation," she said.

Learning the stories behind each artisan and their creation is part of the adventure that Paisley Things provides to its customers. According to Caroline, “a lot of artisans don’t realize that their skills are beautiful skills that are important to save. People are buying their things not because they feel sorry for them but because for them it is a beautiful object to bring back to their country.”

It is clear that strong beliefs and morals form the framework that holds Paisley Things together. Scattered with eccentric trinkets, it is hard to walk past such a warmly decorated shopfront. Over the course of our interview, Caroline’s passion for this project was clear and her final words to me were this:

“Buy local, buy fair-trade and buy Indonesian. Find out where the piece of art you’re buying is made. Is the person benefiting from it? Or is it chain-made?”




Adelia Anjani Putri   10 July 2017 12:30

It’s safe to say that most Indonesians are not used to staying in hostels where strangers share bedrooms and toilets. Some may feel uncomfortable with being so close to people they don’t know and some may feel that such an arrangement is unsafe for themselves and their belongings. 

Jakarta’s Old Town, or Kota Tua, is another thing some people are not comfortable with, especially locals who have heard stories of what (might have) happened there, from drug dealings to prostitution. While Kota Tua has unlimited tourism spots and is one of the city’s most popular sites, the area is still considered shady and unsafe.

Steven, on the other hand, thinks that there’s nothing wrong with both. In fact, with Hostel Teduh, he’s trying to prove to the world that staying in a hostel located in the city’s most intense area could be the best thing you experience while in Jakarta.

So, how did the hostel start?

The hostel started three years ago. Basically, I got bored with work and I wasn’t doing anything in Bali for about three weeks and then I didn’t have anything better to do than to open a hostel because I, myself, enjoy traveling and meeting new people. I grew up in three or four countries, so I’ve been very used to the communal lifestyle, the hostel way of living. I grew up in a boarding school, meeting people from all sorts of backgrounds and nationalities. When I was in college I went through dormitories and stuff so I’m very used to having people all across the globe and I enjoy that kind of environment and community.

How many people do you host every month?

It ranges, but on average 600-700 different guests. As you can see, most of them are caucasians, Europeans. We have several South East Asian tourists and travelers coming. The locals, we have some too, because we’re located near Pasar Pagi, Mangga Dua area and the wholesale places. So people come here, buy their stuff and send it. They do come by here for cheap accommodation. But over all, the majority are global travelers going through Jakarta.

Why did you decide to make a hostel? The hostel culture is not big here, right?

Well, why not? The Asian culture is not used to communal living. People in Europe, else where, they are very used to it, because for them they’re usually part of a community: they play soccer, they’re in a sporting team or youth organization, and when they travel around, they usually stay in a hostel because it’s cheap, it has everything, you get to meet other people, and you get to be rowdy — you don’t have to be part of a structural system. In hostels, you come and go, you interact with them.

Besides that, I also have a background in resort management and operation. I just realized a lot of those things are on the extreme sides of the spectrum — hostel being flexible and fun, while resorts have proper structure, they treat you with titles and else. I stick to the basic stuff: where you travel is what you get. So, now here, we get more travelers here than tourists.

What’s the difference between travelers and tourists?

Tourists they come, pop in and out, they come in tour. If you’re a traveler, you come and explore, go for the adventure, go around the city and stuff. It’s an adventure going to different places, trying the things around you, experiencing all things Jakarta has to offer. I feel like traveling is much more fun than being a tourist.

Traveling tends to be more flexible in terms of time frame and it’s a lot longer. You opt to live in a hostel so you can meet people, get information and stuff.

But, would you like to get more locals to stay here?

Of course, I’d love to. The world is getting flatter and flatter each day. People travel, experience differences and learn to respect each other. However, most domestic travelers are not comfortable with new things so they tend to stick with their own kind. But I’d love to host more locals here!

A map of Jakarta's Old Town drawn on Hostel Teduh's wall. © 2017 brilio.net/Adelia Anjani Putri


Why Kota Tua? It’s kind of a shady area, right?

Well, where else you’d go if you’re to visit Jakarta? It’s kinda Bronx, I know. That’s why we name it Hostel Teduh, so when you get inside, it’s a whole different place compared to the outside. It’s tranquil and chill, teduh.

I’ve heard scary stories about the area, so is it safe for guests to travel around here?

Funny enough, it’s more ‘intense’ than ‘unsafe’. The reason Jakarta is Jakarta is its intensity. Once the guests come out, all they get is “Hey Mister!” or “Bule, how are you?”. For some, it can be overwhelming, the heat, the noise. It can be kind of crazy if you come from a place where everything is structured.

But, this part is Jakarta at its best. It’s not the friendliest place, but in terms of people, they’re really warm here.

I think this is the main misconception people have about Kota Tua: that it’s a dangerous place. I’m running a business in Kota Tua and I’ve been living here since I came back. Long story short, you still get those things on the peripheral, but if you really look, there’s nothing’s wrong with this place.

Pinangsia and Asemka area, for example, the people here are doing the things they’ve been doing for decades. The Bank Indonesia, the center of government, they were here. But there was an epidemic back then so the city center was moved to Thamrin and Sudirman.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, although sometimes the cover is kind of declaring something. If you open the book, it’s so colorful, so vibrant and unforgettable. Sometimes you just want to forget it because it’s too intense, but for some, when they go around they see something different.






Petra Hapsari  18 May 2017 19:30

Senior comedian Indrodjojo Kusumonegoro or famously known as Indro Warkop had a special wish for his 59th birthday that fell on May 8.

Indro chose to celebrate his special day with children fighting cancer in Yayasan Pita Kuning Anak Indonesia (Indonesian Children’s Yellow Ribbon Foundation), a social foundation specializes in helping children with cancer.

But he didn't stop at his birthday party. He wanted to do more for the sick kids.

Through a crowd-funding website kitabisa.com, Indro is trying to gather some donation to help the foundation taking care of the sick children. 

“I want to celebrate [my] birthday. Not for me, but for my heroes: the little whizzes who keep on fighting against cancer,” he said.

“For my 59th birthday, can I ask for something? Not a gift in a box for me, but donation for children at Yayasan Pita Kuning.” 

Indro is a founder of Yayasan Pita Kuning Anak Indonesia where dozens of cancer fighters children have been supported since 2010.

The foundation also gives financial aid for them, including transportation and other medical fees.

Until today, the donation page has gathered Rp 14,160,964 from the targeted Rp 59 million. The page will be closed in ten days.

Well, it’s late, but you can still give Indro his birthday gift if you’d like.


Andry Trysandy Mahany  11 May 2017 17:11

Jakarta non-active governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy on Tuesday. Ahok was detained in Cipinang top-security prison before transferred to Mobile Brigade Command headquarters detention center (Mako Brimob) yesterday.

The Cipinang Penitentiary itself is a top-security prison, capable of holding up to 1,500 to 4,000 prisoners. Some activists, political dissidents, spiritual leader of terrorist group and some corruptors like M. Nazaruddin and Jero Wacik are also known to be inmates of this prison. 

Behind the fame of Cipinang Penentiary, there's an important figure who took a big part in establishing the compelx and Indonesia's current detention system.

Meet Purwo Ardoko.

He was born in Jombang, East Java and graduated from Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS). Purwo's carreer began in 1986 when he was an independent expert in one of the consultants working on the draft for Tangerang Women's Prison.

The father of three used to be an honorary employee in the Department of Public Works until 1990. The monetary crisis that hit the country on 1998 even forced him to become a hair polish seller.

Photo: Facebook/@purwo.ardoko

In 1999, his friend offered a modern prison construction project. "My friend said the Justice Department needs a sketch for a modern prison," he said.

First he studied the vision and mission of the department about the jail before performing a field survey where he voluntarily became an inmate in Cipinang Prison to gain insight about life behind bars.

"I stayed for three days in Cipinang, becoming an inmate," he said.

In the prison, he noticed the culture and habits of the inmates. Purwo also discovered how prisoners were offered better rooms for money.

He learnt how to live in groups or gangs. Having born in Jombang made him "owned" by Surabayan gang. For three days, Purwo had to pay Rp 75 thousand for the gang's leader.

"I got no sleeping mats. [I used] only a newspeper and I had to bought it first. The pillow were made of pile of clothes," he continued.

Then, he also asked to "explore" Salemba Prison in Central Jakarta and Sukamiskin Prison in Bandung. Not only that, he also observed prisons in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Thailand.

He said that the Indonesian prison is outclassed in the facility and number of employees but outperforms at the system.

Purwo then started to plan the design. The principles were low cost, easy maintenance and easy operation.

His first project was Cipinang Narcotics Prison. The construction took 2.5 years to finish and was inaugurated in 2003 by former President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

The prison design planning referred to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, a part of the 1977 UN Resolution, that ordered a consideration of space, lighting and sanitation for the inmates' wellness.

As a result, a blueprint of modern Indonesian prison cells and building that has been used as a prototype for the ideal penentiaries throughout the country.

According to Purwo's plan, each person requires 5.4 square meters for mobility. The cells need to be at least 4 meters tall and has a 20 percent of the surface area for ventilation so inmates can get adequate air circulation.

For sanitation, toilet has to be provided.

The walls should be coated with antifungal paints to avoid sulfuric materials that could result in erosion.

The outer walls are to be made to withstand impact with the durability of 2 tons per point. The walls are to be built of reinforced concrete cased with a thickmess of 20 centimeters. The grate is a prime choice material with 20 millimeters in diameter.

"With this, it would take 10 people to smash the wall and an hour non-stop to saw the bars," he explained.

Security factors are important parts of prison development and they include safety fences, security posts, guard towers, control room, door setups and inhibition of access between rooms.

Sterile area also participates in minimizing any effort to escape the building. The safety fences consist of four layers outside the building. With such an architecture, Purwo said, if any of the prisoners manage to escape, then it could be assured that there is a conspiracy with the officers.

"[An] escape [happened] not because of the building, but the system or undisciplined officers," added Purwo.   


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