Archive for July, 2012

A Monument for J.C. de Groot

I have known this for quite sometime but when I introduced myself to Komunitas Aleut to explain the whole background of what brought me to all this, the leader of the community (Ridwan Hutagalung) reminded me that there was once a memorial monument for Dr. J.C. de Groot in Citarum street in Bandung and that his name was later to be a street name of what is now known as Jalan Siliwangi (Siliwangi Street). Then I was like taking this into my writing agenda for this blog. It has some importance at least for 1) The fact that the monument is now no longer existed, 2) Some people mistakenly refer to the wrong name. The latter I figured out just as I begin to write this blog entry.

Ridwan showed me how the monument looked like. It’s a back cover of a book and it’s not in any way decent to be shown here. Luckily, there’s a website called KITLV in the section of Digital Image Library. One of the pictures is the monument in question :

To its left is one of Bandung’s landmark: Gedung Sate. It is said the the monument was destroyed as it was considered indecent (showing nudity).

The late Bandung historian, Haryoto Kunto, has another picture of this monument from different angle. With some other details, it can be found here. I put it here for the sake of comparison with the above :

The detail there is quite interesting. I should translate it :

Di tempat Mesjid Istiqomah sekarang berdiri (Taman Citarum), dahulunya terdapat dua buah monumen peringatan yang sangat fenomenal dimasanya. Pertama Patung dada S.J. Aay, anggota Volksraad yang juga pendiri Ikatan Bintara Militer Belanda (1920) dan Monumen Radio Telefon Holland-Nusantara. Untuk monumen yang kedua, warga Bandung tempo doeloe lebih senang menjuluki monumen itu sebagai “Bloote Billen Plein” alias “Taman Pantat Bugil”. Monumen berbentuk globe dengan dua patung tanpa busana, berhadapan pada masing-masing sisinya. Monumen itu dibuat untuk mengenang pembicaraan pertama kali melalui radio telefon, antara Holland dan Nusantara yang terjadi pada tanggal 5 Mei 1923, melalu instalasi Pemancar Radio Telefon di lereng Gunung Malabar. Untuk memperingati peristiwa bersejarah itu, Walikota Bandung B. Coops, meminta bantuan kepada arsitek Prof. C.P. Wolff Schoemaker, untuk merancang dan mendirikan monumen bersejarah itu. Nasib kedua monumen ini, seperti nasib monumen-monumen lainnya, musnah ditelan jaman.

There were two monuments once considered phenomenal in the place that today is where the mosque of Istiqomah is located (Citarum Garden). The first is the statue of S.J. Aay; the member of Volksraad who were also the founder of Dutch Military Non-Com Union (1920), and the second, the monument of radio telephony between Holland – Indonesia. Bandungers prefered to call the latter “Bloote Billen Plein” or “The Statue of Nude Butt”. It showed a globe with two nude statues in the two side of it. The monument was built to recall the first conversation using radio telephony between the Netherland and Dutch Indies, taken place in 5thMay 1923 using radio telephony transmitter installation in the slope of Malabar Mountain. To commemorate the historical event, the major of Bandung, B. Coops had asked Prof. C.P. Wolff Schoemaker, an architect, to design and build the monument. The monument, like all others, was detroyed.

I need to check Haryoto Kunto’s book myself because the mention of that specific date is really startled me! (but I believe the website should be credible enough, though). This is to do with ‘a little debate’ that I have with someone about why the commemoration should take place at 5th May 2013. As you could read from my previous writing, my reason was simply the fact that at that day there was a momentum of the official opening. Now with this account, the date choice is somehow confirmed. If the Dutch consider the date to be historical (so that they need to build a monument for it), why should we think of another ? Okay, it says ‘the first radio telephony conversation’, … it’s somehow denoting the official recognition by the Dutch Government, because we could just imagine that de Groot must have tried the contact before exactly that date. Anyway, it also implies an irony because, as I have written before, at 5thMay 1923, the transmitter failed to work.

Idon’t know what is written in the monument, but a conversation with one of Aleut member has informed me that Haryoto Kunto translated the words into :
Bertepatan dengan peresmian hubungan Radio Telepon antara Indonesia dengan Negeri Belanda tanggal 5 Mei 1923 itu, sebuah upacara telah dilakukan di Tjitaroemplein (Taman Citarum) (Kunto, 1984:262).
My translation :
“In conjunction with the official opening of radio telephony between Indonesia and Netherland at 5thMay 1923, a ceremony was held in Tjitaroemplein (Citarum Garden) (Kunto, 1984: 262).”
I am not sure if it’s really the text. It just doesn’t sound proper.

Anyway, for the second, it refers to the naming of the street: one that is now called Siliwangi street. There are some internet websites saying that the name was once Dr. de Greerweg. I guess it could be more than just two, but at least what I found is here and here. The wording is almost the same, it could be a copy-paste from either one. There’s even a Youtube video mentioning Greerweg :

Now I can tell for sure, that it should be Dr. de Grootweg :)

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A Meeting with Some Local Communities

Yesterday at Mr. Djaka’s office, we held a meeting with some communities in Bandung with Interest in history. I have contacted some of them in advance of the meeting. Unfortunately not all of them could come to attend. However, those who attended have represented every parties who are supposed to come. They represented; Bandung Heritage, Mahanagari, Komunitas Aleut, STBA Yapari-ABA, Orari, and Bastek.


The goal of the meeting was to achieve common knowledge of what initiated the plan and to discuss whether some kind of organizational body is needed to facilitate the whole plan and arrangement. The latter is the reason why we invited some local communities. We need them to be in the plan and organizing. For the first, I explained the whole story, and this blog was one of the slide I presented. I think they all have the same picture now. The second is a little bit demanding. If it’s going to take form in a legal body, some money and red tape are needed for the process. Luckily, there are some alternatives.

The result of elaboration of the alternatives are going to be one of the topics to be discussed in the next meeting. It is planned to be sometime after the Eid Mubarak day. That’s a month to go and a fasting period for all moslem here. However, I would not just sit still at that time. More interpersonal approaches are already in my schedule, before anything official contact should take place.

A Panoramic View around the Ruin

pano-mode-camera-movementWhen Endro Purwanto asked me to go to Gunung Puntang, it was like a great chance to realise what I had in mind since the last time I went there: shooting a panoramic view. I’ve done this before in Bali, but not with my main SLR camera. It was only with a pocket camera, but with a stunning result! … as it has an in-built special grid at the viewfinder that would help me with continuous, frame-binded shooting, either horizontally or vertically. Mine is a Panasonic DMC-FH2.

It was a breeze. I took some series of shots, all of which are workable to be in one panoramic view, but the one that I present here are those that consists of 7 pictures. All are joined together in a row, so that you could have a very wide view of the location. However, unfortunately, I could not just put it here in this blog because the picture is horizontally long. The best way to view it is to download it. The link is here.

Have a click on it, or just take it as if you would download a file, and then you can view it on your computer. It’s really wide.

A Previous Attemp to Develop Gunung Puntang

As I did some searches on anything related to Radio Malabar, I found this website, tagged ‘Festival Gunung Puntang 2009’. My interest was on that last Dutch Soldier in Gunung Puntang that I have written, but then I also found someone familiar, whom I confirmed later to be my junior high school teacher; Mr. Hilman Firdaus. I did not try to contact him as I didn’t see why I should. Weeks later, however, as Mr. Djaka told me about the possibility that PT. Telkom would finance the commemoration, I was quick to realize that it’s a must that I had to see him. Later on, I also found a contact of someone who seemed to be responsible for the Festival’s blog: Endro Purwanto. I searched through Facebook and it took about two weeks before he replied and gave me his telephone number. Eventually, I managed to see these two gentlemen.

The reason for contacting them is clear. If anyone want to do something to (the ruin of) Radio Malabar, then he/she would have to deal with the area of Gunung Puntang as well. Both are just inseparable. Radio Malabar is within the area of Gunung Puntang. As it happened, there was a previous attempt to arrange for some activities in the area. So I thought it might be a good idea to contact the people in charge for those activities, for some information or insights that might help me planning for the commemoration. This turns out to be something fruitful for cooperation.

A visit to Mr. Hilman's House

Thanks to this era of information, with one way or another I managed to get Mr. Hilman’s cellphone number. I visited his house and explained everything about the plan. He also mentioned that Endro Purwanto was his confidant back then. It only took me a day after that that I came to see Endro Purwanto and his wife in a small cafe. We had a chat and he told me everything about the event he managed 3 years ago. I was quite surprised to learn from his story that the so-called Festival did not actually take place. It was carefully planned and thorough (it took him 2 years of planning) until for some inevitable causes it had to be suspended. Anyway, he still keeps the passion for his old plan, … and so I thought, that’s the point where the ensemble would start, which hopefully would turn into a symphonic orchestra :)

Stopping by to a Sundanese Restaurant on Our Way to Gunung Puntang

We then had a plan to visit Gunung Puntang, and it was on 3rd of July. A day before that, Endro Purwanto gave me a DVD of almost 1 gigabyte of files of all the plan he had drawn before. It was meant to be a festival, so there were lots of events in the plan. Using his words, there were Adventure Motor Offroad, MTB Down Hill, MTB –X Country, BMX Trail, BMX Dirt Jump, Lomba Memasak Anak Rimba (Jungle Cooking Competition), Lomba Foto (Photography Competition), Lomba Model (Modelling Competition), Wall Climbing Open Competition, Jungle Walk, Lari Lintas Alam (Cross Country Running), Lari Rintangan (Running through Barricades), Outbound Competition, Three on Three. They sound very much like it was really intended to make the most of all Gunung Puntang potentials.  From what I can see, he has covered just about anything imaginable. I knew his mind must have been set on it. With his Photoshop mastery, he made everything in detail for all those events … to the point that I feel so darn sorry, why it all should be suspended.

Now that the door is opened, the ball is moving. I still don’t know how the cooperation should roll to, though. For sure, I think it’s not going to be exactly as he had planned. I suppose some further discussion are needed. And that’s what I & Mr. Djaka plan to take place in 12nd this month, involving some other communities with the same concern in history.

These are some of Endro’s image works for his plan, those that related to Radio Malabar :

Poster Prajurit



From The Original to Renewed Plan for the 90th Commemoration

I feel like I have to reveal what I had in mind for the original plan of the commemoration. However, I had to revise it some way for the reason of practicality. For that, I ‘might’ put the original one  out from the whole scheme now. I said ‘might’ because I am still opened for any possibility that it could be realized. Later on, I had to widen the revised idea because the new development related to financing.

So the focus is on Radio Malabar. Something is supposed to take place at 05th May 2013. I know the choice for the date could be arguable. RM had been in the process of development in 1917, but not until 1923 it was widely known to public. As of that 05th May, it was when Governor General Dirk Fork officially open this facility. That’s it. I took the momentum of the official opening as the starting date for initial RM state of being.

556307_3550916701107_987092211_nIt took sometime afterwards that public communication service was opened in RM. I should look for more detail on this, but that was the moment when the phrase “Hallo Bandung” started to gain special meaning for Dutch people. They were far away from home and it had been so long for them. RM was the one and only mean of communication that they could hear the real voice of their significant others some 20.000 Km away in other continent. So “Hallo Bandung” had an emotional meaning.

I don’t know if any Dutch people who could now still feel that way with the phrase, or at least know that the words once existed and of some meanings. At least, one real evidence for this was a song sung by Willy Derby, entitled “Hallo Bandoeng” :

Hallo! Bandoeng!
‘t Oude moedertje zat bevend
Op het telegraafkantoor
Vriend’lijk sprak de ambt’naar
Juffrouw, aanstonds geeft Bandoeng gehoor
Trillend op haar stramme benen
Greep zij naar de microfoon
En toen hoorde zij, o wonder
Zacht de stem van hare zoon

Hallo! Bandoeng!
Ja moeder hier ben ik!
Dag liefste jongen,zegt zij met een snik
Hallo, hallo!
Hoe gaat het oude vrouw?
Dan zegt ze alleen:
Ik verlang zo erg naar jou!

Jongenlief, vraagt ze,hoe gaat het Met je kleine bruine vrouw?
Best hoor, zegt hij,en we spreken
Elke dag hier over jou
En m’n kleuters zeggen ’s avonds
Voor het slapen gaan een gebedHow
Voor hun onbekende opoe
Met een kus op jouw portret

Wacht eens, moeder, zegt hij lachend
‘k Bracht mijn jongste zoontje mee
Even later hoort ze duidelijk
Opoe lief, tabeh, tabeh!
Maar dan wordt het haar te machtig
Zachtjes fluistert ze:
O Heer Dank dat ‘k dat heb mogen horen…
En dan valt ze wenend neer

Hallo! Bandoeng!
Ja moeder hier ben ik!
Ze antwoordt niet.
Hij hoort alleen ‘n snik
Hallo! Hallo!…klinkt over verre zee
Zij is niet meer en het kindje roept: Tabeh

Note: an audio version only can be found here.
A youtube video of the song is here.

kootwijkMy idea was: how if we simulate a radio transmission right from the ruin of Radio Malabar, in the same band / frequency, to Radio Kootwijk in Netherland at 05th May 2013 ? As I have written before, it was a bad day for de Groot because the transmitter (or transceiver ??) didn’t work. Now, how if we transmit the voice of “Hallo Kootwijk” and “ Hallo Bandoeng” at that day and try not to fail ? This is not a mockery. For me this is more like, if we could travel back through time, we would tell de Groot that the future thanks for what he did and that here we have reached this stage of evolution that communication to all over the world is not a problem anymore. He was an important part of the World’s Radio History that human being should note. We are now in a much better time with the technology and that 90 years has really made a huge difference!

However, in the end, it sounds like too much of a romantic idea :) My discussion with some amateur radio members and others in emails have opened up my eyes that it is just too good to be true :

    1. The band of communication de Groot used at that time is called Low Frequency. It is the band of communication that is covered in the radio bandplan in Netherland, but not here in Indonesia. One told me that for special purpose, we could propose for usage to the government, but everybody knows it is not going to be as easy as snapping fingers.

    2. Even if we are licensed to use the band, communication is not going to be easy. As the band is out of the plan, it goes without saying that it would only hard to find anybody who owns a communication radio capable of transmitting in the band! OK, we could turn to the community of radio amateur who have this ‘creed’ to building a radio from scratch (called homebrewing). I also have contacted some people in that community. Their response leads to number 3 :

    3. Even with today’s technology, we would need a huge electric power to generate oscilator in that specific band and it is just not practical. An amateur radio facebook friend, Mr. Daryono, promised me that he’ll do his best to find information whether communication in Low Frequency could be carried out in low power (something called QRP). He took it as a challenge, at least in terms of knowledge.

    4. The antenna. Anything huge in size back then might be thought of something to do with technological achievement in that day. However, it’s not true entirely. De Groot had a reason that he had to build ‘berg antenna’ ranging from the top of the mountain down to the slope to the Radio Malabar building with 2 Km of cables. It was supposed to be like that! Now would it be efficient to try to communicate to Netherland involving all this essential demanding part ?

    5. Propagation. Communicating in Low Frequency is not something we could do anytime in a day, even a year. I don’t know much about this, but ionospherical and other factors in the sky would influence the success of radio contact.

So, given all of those obstacles, I personally think that the idea of simulation might not be a good choice, at least for now. Instead, we could just take the essence of the moment, and it’s a “Radio Contact” and that radio contact could be in any band / frequency. To the best of my knowledge, it is in High Frequency (HF): something that might be casual thing to do for some amateur radio members with their DX rigs.

OK, if anything should matter, amateur radio member could still do the DX in a more meaningful way. Say, how if the communication takes place not in the usual QTH station of an amateur, but out there, right from around the ruin of Radio Malabar, and the same way with the other part in the actual place of Radio Kootwijk building (which is said to be still very much intact) ? As with the communication itself, yes it’s going to be the exchange of “Hallo Kootwijk”, “Hallo Bandung”, etc, … but it could be planned in such a way that it conforms to the ‘tradition’ of Amateur Radio: Be it Special Call, International Logging Contest, whatever… I am not sure which are doable, but it can be discussed. (this latter idea of QTH is only my personal thought and subject to change if circumstances don’t fit).

Such is my original plan, but now it has to change. Not in terms of the kind of activity, but rather, in scope. The commemoration is going to be financed by a company (at least one company for now) as part of it’s CSR program; a company that has a historical root with Radio Malabar. The main point for this is that the commemoration should not only gain international public awareness in a day, but also to facilitate long-term public learning about history. For that, one clear choice is to refine Radio Malabar as a tourist object. It’s a ‘refine’ because it’s already part of Gunung Puntang Area as a tourism destination, only that nothing specific is given to it until now that would highlight Radio Malabar as a central point of interest. As with the area of Gunung Puntang itself, it is a fact that almost all supporting infrastructure in the area have been degraded and in need for some serious repair, improvement, and maybe even rebuilding.

For that bigger scope, I know that there was the so-called ‘Festival Gunung Puntang 2009’. I have made contact, seen them, engaged in some discussions, even gone to Gunung Puntang together with them yesterday. I will share the story for the next entry of this blog.

A Break for The 90th Anniversary

20131OK, it’s been quite a long silence here. I admit, ever since I came back from Bali for my office duty, there were so many things that need to be prioritized in my life. Most of all are of my office and teaching job. BUT that does not mean that I stopped thinking and planning about this project. Some development are already in the way which details I could not share here for now. However, the biggest break was that when one day Mr. Djaka called me.

As I have written before, he was a technical chief of Radio Rantjaekek, the receiving side of Radio Malabar. It turned out that Radio Malabar was what initiated the Dutch Government to found an office called PTT. I am not sure of what it stands for, but that would later be the historical background of two known government-owned companies; PT. Telkom & PT. Pos Indonesia. As Mr. Djaka, he is a retirement from PT. Telkom and said to me that the company is possible to finance the 90th anniversary of Radio Malabar next year. That was not a foreign idea to me, but it was quite a nice surprise when there was a way that it could be more than just an idea. Then, at July 22nd, I, Mr. Djaka & Mr. Her Suganda went to PT. Telkom to do some explanation. Their answer was straightforward: that we should put all the idea, plan, and details in a written proposal.

So here I am, started from an entry in my personal blog, it then evolves to something bigger and logically would involve a lot of people. The first thing that came to my mind was that it’s would be out of the question that any company would do the financing to somebody who represents himself or just few people. It has to be from somekind of an organization or committee. Secondly, if the commemoration should take place at May 5th, 2013, it would happen in just one day, but since it now has the possibility of being financed, I have to think bigger, and that is, conceptually speaking, to gain public awareness of Radio Malabar and enhance the area of Gunung Puntang to be a better tourist attraction (that would involve the history of Radio Malabar as one of the objects).

That first thing is what I do now. In fact, I wrote this as I came back from Gunung Puntang with some people with concerns for Gunung Puntang area. I have made some more contacts with known several other communities here in Bandung and that I would invite everybody concerned to a gathering for some discussion. The aim is of course to build a new community with Radio Malabar (and Gunung Puntang) as the focus of interest. I schedule this should take place some time before the fasting month starts now in the mid of July. As for the second, it was something I realized right away that I should in contact with people who had tried to develop the area previously. I didn’t guess it. It was because I knew there were the so-called Festival Gunung Puntang in 2009. I managed to contact and meet them … and some interesting story with this that I would share in the next entry. (Actually, I went to Gunung Puntang this afternoon with them).

That’s it. Yes, update was slow in this blog, but since my teaching period is due for this semester, I should have more time for this blog now. Hopefully I could catch anything that should have been written here.

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