Moris iha Tempu Molok COVID-19

Ho pandemia virus Corona ka COVID-19 ne’ebe oras ne’e ejiji ema hotu tenki hela iha uma, mantein hijiene no halo distansia fiziku no sosial muda tebes ita nia lalaok moris loron bainleet nian. Iha Timor-Leste mos aplika ona Estadu Emerjensia ka Lockdown hodi limita sidadaun ida-idak nia direitu ba movimentu no atividade sosial sira.

Jeralmente, sosiedade Timoroan sei fo reajen ba mudansa ne’e ho laran-husu oinsa mak pandemia bele muda sosiedade nia moris sai oinseluk hodi kria limitasaun hanesan ne’e? Iha loron bainleet ita hare’e ema lao ba mai ho livre, joven sira tuur iha estrada laliga rai, ema halibur malu iha uma hodi halo atividade oioin. Oras ne’e lalaok sira ne’e menus ona ka ita sei la haree durante tempu Estadu emerjensia.

Fotografia hirak tuir mai maski husi tinan lima ka neen ba kotuk mai ha’u sai fali hanesan pedasu nostaljia lalaok moris loron bainleet hirak ne’ebe ita halao ka haree molok pandemia COVID-19.

VZ, Marsu 2020.

THE QUIET BOY DID BECAME A PRIEST.

Lospalos was a city of cold summer breeze when I knew him for the first time at a local middle school.

His name is Jonio. He was a friend of someone introduced to me by somebody. I barely knew him and so did him to me yet by observing him from afar had given me a perception. His facial feature made me guessing if he might have an Indian or Srilankan ethnicity gene. I should have confirmed that to him during our Biology class on genetics (but I never did until today).

Unlike many other boys who tend to be overt, Jonio always looked quiet, gentle and shown serene gesture like Siddarth Gautama after became a Budha, especially when he smiled. He had a smile that could soothe your soul.  Some girls who knew him that time told me that he was typical of ‘quiet outside, but smart inside’ person as he was also known to be a smart boy in his classroom.

According to the general opinion of our girls talk-group (which based on our random unscientific probability theory), this typical guy usually will end up continuing his study at the seminary, a school for Catholic priest-to-be. Therefore, as an advice from our girl’s talk group, do not ever think about dating this type of guy as he would turn down your expectation to make him your future husband. How silly.

That time, when a boy could study in a seminary, he would then be considered as charming and ideal future man by most of the girls in the city – since he was studying in seminary, a school for future priests, future intellectuals and religious leaders. Many Timorese famous political figures were mostly known as seminary students when they were young. So, there was a common impression that a boy who studied in seminary, if he would not end up being a priest, he might turn to a future political leader or an influential figure thus became a potential future husband if you could win his heart.

The seminary students usually would only be seen until they returned home from vacation and only appeared occasionally at the Sunday church mass with an appearance of an eloquent humble gentleman as their new look. It was indeed a style that was once not seen in some of them before they enrolled in seminary school.

But Jonio was an exception. He had possessed that eloquence and humility, even before he enrolled. After finishing middle school, I heard that he enrolled in a popular seminary school located out of the district. For us, the ordinary student, the story of seminary school as a dream school has been just like a fairy-tale. Many people would love to go and study there, but only a few were selected. It was said that the admission to seminary school was strictly selective and rigid. Thus to past the admission test (document check, written and oral test) was already an initial achievement prior to study there.

That was how I believed that the unscientific prediction in our girl’s talkgroup was proven correct. Jonio would be a priest and no girl should dream of dating him and Jonio had never been known or heard to have a crush to any girl or dating since the mid school (or maybe he did but we never notice).

If the invisible label ‘You are now a charming guy for being a seminary student’ can be printed in a salenda, then one day, I thought, when he returned to the city for the vacation, sometimes at Easter or Christmas, he too would have that scarf wrapped around his neck with a lot of congratulations and admiration stares from the girls.  And with this title wrapped in him, despite his charm, those girls would also realize afterward that one day he would be a Catholic priest (who will not marry and live a celibate life). Would he be a priest or would he not?

On a Christmas Eve, I finally befriended him. Thanks to his friend who befriended me so we got acquainted with each other. We were not so close as friends, but it was nice to know him in person and despite his quiet personality, he actually had a good sense of humor and also a good listener. Perhaps because of being a seminary student, he remains to be a quiet, humble and polite boy I ever knew in my teenagehood generation. I never caught or heard him cursing or speak badly to others (maybe he did some and I had not known yet).

After finishing the high school at the seminary school, I heard that he still willing to continue his study in higher seminary school and became a novice of a well known religious community in Timor-Leste.

On one occasion, I had a chance to meet him when he was delivering the child and youth Sunday school service in a village of Uailili in Baucau. I met him again at his seminary school where I dropped by as a visitor. He just had finished lunch with his friends. They had rice, red bean soup and spaghetti with tomato sauce for lunch.  Among them, there was another three familiar faces of my former schoolmates in high school. I went to meet and greet them. We were surprised to see each other as if that day was destined to be a reunion day for the four of us. They told me how they managed to survive in the seminary with  those red bean soup and Italian pasta as the popular menu.

Meanwhile, in a corner of a corridor, I found Jonio  smiled, joked and laughed more when he was with his other seminarist colleagues. Yet when I greet him, I felt that he suddenly turned back to the quiet and polite boy like he usually was.  Seeing him there made me wonder if he would keep going on with his journey to be a future priest or he might change his mind in the middle of the road. Some ex-novices or ex-seminarist friends I knew who quitted in the middle of the road, later reasoned that God did not choose them – as Jesus said ‘for many are called, but few are chosen’  (or maybe it was they themselves who did not want to be chosen, who knew). Would God choose Jonio? Well, it may be or may be not. Only God and Jonio would know.

After another ten years or so, we met again, but only in a virtual world of social media called Facebook -an online book where you can find many faces of everyone in the world include your own face.  Jonio’s rank in his religious community study had raised from a novice to a Brother. We had a cliché conversation about ourselves, about his study or merely greeted each other for the birthday celebration that was notified prior by Facebook. How wonderful it is that today Facebook makes you know more about your friend’s personal identity which in the past was just as discreet as a personal underclothing.

Somehow, in the following years, we did not talk more except clicking thumb up symbol as our ‘like’ reaction when one posted a nice picture or words on the Facebook personal wall. Suddenly, it feels odd to ask the same old thing or many random trivial things to your friends through a virtual world.

Last year, I saw that he was in Manila, Philippine, one of the Catholic majority country in Southeast Asia. He studied there with his community fellows. Sometimes, he also posted some nice touristy places they visited in Manila. Mostly beaches with beautiful clear blue water and white sand like Cristo Rei beach in Dili. Anyway, I felt proud and wondering about him as well. Would he keep going ahead with his study? Only he knew.

This year, I saw him already ordained as a deacon in Manila and he looked contented when he did his liturgical tasks. On one post, it is shown him Christiniazing a Filipino baby in a church. I did not know why, I suddenly felt emotionally surprised,  touched and proud at the same time seeing him gracefully conducted his service.

Last month, I read another post about his official announcement of ordination in Fatumaca, Baucau. I could not go even though I really wanted to. I wished his ordination mass would be held in Dili. Then after a few weeks, he posted another announcement that there would be a thanksgiving mass for his ordination to be held in his home town. Again, I could not go because it is too far from Dili. I would miss out again to see him holding his first mass in his hometown for the first time and witnessing another remark of his journey in a religious path.

Well, I could only extend my virtual congratulations and best wishes in the Facebook comment box that already crowded with many other people’s congratulations words. And so, the quiet boy I used to know in the middle school had officially become a priest and yes he did.

Deep inside my heart, I do know and I would like him to know that I felt so happy and proud of him and wish him for the best in his journey being a priest. May he continue to be the chosen one.

                  ***

Salenda = a Timorese typical woven clothes scarf

To fr. J.

Gentlemen’s Hangout in Maubisse.

Two men on sunbathing chat in Maubisse, Timor-Leste

‘My Brother’

‘Yes’

‘What a beautiful morning, is it not?’

‘Yeah. It is indeed.’

‘The sun rays are nicely warm.

‘Yeah. It is.’

‘Let’s do sunbathing with these lovely babies of ours.’

‘Sure, my brother. They will love it.’

‘My dear brother…’

‘Yes.’

‘Something is bothering me.’

What is it? Do tell me. 

‘I received a news that a relative from my wife’s family has just passed away.’

‘Oh poor you… Sorry to hear that. So why it bothers you?’

‘I do not have enough money to submit for my family clan’s contribution. May I ask you to lend me some? Please do help me’

‘Oh man… No worry. I’ll see what I can do for you later. But now, let us enjoy this beautiful sunbathing first.’

Maubisse (Timor-Leste), September, 2017.

Nina’s Death

Monday night, at around 8 pm

Nina just passed away

After hospitalized for seven hours

For drinking certain milliliters of poison 

From a bottle of  battery water.

The medicals tried their best

But ended up unsucces.

‘Nina passed away?’ The father asked. 

‘My Nina passed away?’  The mother asked.

‘No, this is impossible!’

‘This cannot be!’

‘Ninaa, our beloved Ninaa…No…’

‘You cannot do this to us, your parents. 

You cannot leave us like this, oh my dear, my only beloved daughter. 

How can you  do this to us, my dear?’ 

‘Lord, have mercy on us.’

***

Nina, an adolescent girl. She was the only girl among her two brothers sibling. She was on her last semester of bachelor at a local university in Dili. 

On the night of her death, the whole family and relatives were shocked. They said on her last day she did not appear to act odd at all. 

In the morning she still went to the nearby shop to buy electricity credit cards for pre-paid electricity at their house. Everything seemed normal.

She did not say anything strange or harsh to anyone either. She went on quiet and serene. They said she had been a quiet girl since she was a little girl and the most quiet girl in the family. 

Now, the family are all shocked and confuse on why she ended up her life that way. They said, they have no idea why Nina did so. She did not say anything at all during the day before she was hospitalized. 

Now, they said they do not know why at all.

But I do not believe them.

Nina has a secret she kept or the family has a secret to keep. 

Nina…

May her soul rest in peace.

Dili, 2 July 2018.

SOCCER AND TAXI DRIVER

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I rarely engaged myself in being fan of any soccer team of any sort of match but I love to feel the vibe. From real life to the virtual platform of social media people commenting, cursing, praising and satirizing each other’s favourite soccer team to express their feelings on how they see the performance of these soccer teams and thus creates an atmosphere of entertainment to chill up the life’s boredom routine.

This afternoon, I went home riding a yellow taxi. After telling the taxi driver the direction to my destination, our conversation then changed to how calm Dili city is today. To me it was just another normal calm Sunday in Dili. But to the taxi driver, it was because of Portugal soccer team lost last night after defeated by Uruguay team. I did not even know who this taxi driver is, and sometimes I felt uneasy to talk with taxi drivers as some of them may appear flirtatious or rude to woman passenger. Despite so, some are also appear to be polite to the passengers and I found this taxi driver to be one.

‘Thank God, Portugal lose, otherwise there will be a noisy convoy around the city the whole day and for sure it will add more traffic’ he said.

‘Yeah, it’s true’ I replied agreeing to his comment.

Then the conversation continued with me asking him which soccer team he supported, which team that he thought would made it to grand final and if he did some betting on every match. His responses flowed as smooth as the speed of his vehicle. Later, I realized that we already arrived to Villa-verde street, my destination.

I gave him the coins of his taxi fee and wished him luck for his bet. He will bet for Spain. After he left, I realized how amazing that soccer can engage two strangers into an interactive conversation.
VZ
Comoro-Villa verde (Dili-Timor-Leste), 1/7/2018

FOR THE WORLD CUP

‘Hey listen,
I like Argentina.’
‘You like Brazil?
‘He likes France.’
‘She likes Germany.’
‘We like Italy…’
‘You like Mexico?’
‘They like Portugal.’
‘Each of us with our preferences, right?’


Every night, here we gather
In front of a TV screen belongs to a decent neighbour.
Watching the soccer match starts
scanning who the players are
judging how well they perform
betting which team will won at last
Yelling when one shoots the goal
Cursing when one cannot make it
Counting the time slot, analyzing the penalty, describing the match. Dramatically.
‘It is fun. It is intense. Stimulating. Dissappointing’. Everybody comment.
For almost a month will we bound to this gathering
As this is the month of World Cup
With a hot Timor coffee served in the plastic cup
By the mumbling wife of the TV owner.

VZ

Villa-verde, 19/6/2018.

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Rosary of A Rural Lady

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Photo: A Timorese local woman

You live in a peaceful village

You grow along with the nature, the green mountains

Learn to follow the rules and wisdom of the ancestors.

 

In the morning, the cockcrow of the roosters wake you up

While the sunshine has not risen yet.

You enter the kitchen, lighting up the hearth and it smokes out

Later, a hot pitcher of an aromatic smell of coffee is ready to serve

With some freshly boiled cassava roots

It’s morning already’ So you said to everyone…

 

You live in a hut made of palm leaves and trunk

For your children, it is the most beautiful palace ever

As long as you are always there for them, every day and every night

To shelter your children with love.

 

To the spring fountain, there you go to take the water

Even if it is quite far to walk.

Filling the whole water pot, you carry it on your head

To the farm and rice field you go

To secure the food for your household

With palm leaves, you weave the winnower, mat, and basket

Those items are to contain the goods that belong to your household

 

You live with all your strength to serve

Sometimes you become weak and powerless

Yet still, you rise soon afterward.

 

‘The night is coming…’

So you summon everyone to gather

In a table with an ample of food

You fulfill their hunger, thirst, and fatigue

Then, there you sit still

Listening and seeing them talk

Measuring their mind and soul,

Feeling their burden and relieve.

 

Today has passed away

Yet still you believe that tomorrow is coming

Despite you do know not what it will bring.

You do ask not a lot of things

You do aspire not a high dream

As to you, it is enough

When the future of your children can be bright

Though someday, you might not be there at all to see it….

Dedicated to Timor-Leste rural mothers…
Vitalia Ze, Dili, October 15,  2014

On the Euphoria of the Upcoming Timor-Leste Presidential Election

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Election in Timor-Leste Photo: http://timoragora.blogspot.co.id

In the latest week, Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste is having a tense of the pre-election syndrome as on Monday, March 20, the presidential election will be held throughout the territory and citizens with eligible status as voters will participate in the election in each residential sucos/villages at the municipalities. According to data from STAE (The Technical Secretariat of Electoral Administration) Timor-Leste, for 2017, there is total of 747, 583 voters and out of this total, 746,252 are national voters while 1,332 voters are abroad from Australia and Portugal. Obviously, this long weekend will be full of people moving to the districts and district public transportation mode like buses will be busy for sure.

Since my first participation as the voter in 2006, I have experienced the same situation occurred during every Election Day. People consisted of men and women from young to older age, will stand in a long queue for some minute even hours under the hot sun rays for their turn just to get inside to the vertical-square-shaped election box. As to vote is the civil right of every citizen in a democratic country, it is inside that election box that people will vote and determine the fate of the candidate leaders who competing for the position of the president. With a puncture or pen marked on the candidate’s picture, these voters will decide with their whole consciousness on the candidate they choose to rule the country. As Timor-Leste is a republic democratic country, hence the election is to align with the concept of democracy that leaders are chosen by the people to rule the people for the good of the people.

Since the CNE (National Commission of Election) Timor-Leste officially announced 8 candidates of the president, the euphoria of the campaign becomes quite intense featuring the major parties and the enthusiastic supporters held convoy along the streets while the banners featuring the promotional messages for the candidates are displayed all around the city of Dili. Some of these 8 candidates sponsored by political parties whereas others came as independent candidates. While these candidates are busy on their campaign and self-promotion on various means of media, there have been many rumors, predictions and assumptions spread from mouth to mouth that the candidate A may win absolutely over the other candidates or there may be a second round of election if the first round winner has insufficient votes less than 50%. Here, the hot discussion about the quality of each candidate keeps going on in the social media, online and hardcopy newspapers and in the daily interaction among the people all around the country.

Despite all these, there are also some people raise their concerns on how eligible these candidates are for their electability and what vision and mission they have to create a better change for Timor-Leste after elected. Until this day, many Timorese still has the concern on the Long-life Pension law, which seen as an over-benefitting entitlement, corruption keeps increasing explicitly while sectors of the economy, education, health, justice and agriculture still need huge improvement. Meanwhile, generally most of the campaigns are full of hypnotizing cliché promises and with the candidates tried to expose their charm as impressive as possible.

However, there is one of the most intrigued splashed rumors said this upcoming election already has the winner and the election is just a superficial formality.  This is, however, sounds annoying because if there is already a winner without people have to vote, and that everything has been plotted, then there is no point for people to drag their feet going to the vote center and vote. Nonetheless, hope that this rumor is just an inconsequential thought and this third Timor-Leste presidential election could successfully run well in peace and stability in the territory.

Until this week, friction occurred between the supporters of party A and Party B on the main road of Dili although did not cause huge damage. This is a pity part of the pre-election syndrome as the supporters are not politically mature enough to respect the political difference of other people. These, however, emphasize the importance of understanding and applying the content of civic education in order to respect each other.

While everywhere people start to have a concern about what will happen after the election, as a citizen, my only hope is that, the election could run well competently and fairly and that people as the voters are fully conscious and aware of the choice they made for the future president of Timor-Leste.

Dili, 17 March 2017