A Stopover in Loes

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OJEK: A Lospalos version of Thailand’s Tuk Tuk

26904247_10215246973431895_2294865965664384956_nLast year was just the same with the years before in Lospalos city, one of post administrative of Lautem municipality. It is usually difficult to get public transport whenever people wanted to go somewhere around the Lospalos city unless they have their own motorbike or willing to walk. However, this year, I am quite surprised to see a new type of public transport exists here. It is a rickshaw type of vehicle with three wheels imported from India. In Lospalos this rickshaw vehicle is called ‘Ojek’ which is referring to the service it provides as public transport within the city. Looking at this vehicle reminds me of Tuk Tuk, the similar type of vehicle existed widely in Thailand as a popular public transport.
Being different with Thailand’s Tuk Tuk that goes faster, this Ojek or Lospalos version of Tuk Tuk goes gently against the road. Until today, some parts of the road in Lospalos are still smoothly paved while some parts are lately have been roughly paved with white rocky soil and it makes the road became a little bumpy. The good thing about riding Ojek is that it enables us to easily see the view along the way while getting some fresh air as it is an open-air vehicle. There is another type of this rickshaw that is enclosed with a transparent glass window that can be open when needed. However, when it goes through the bumpy road, we will be shaken and get a bit upset if we do not hold tightly to the vehicle.
The unique thing about this vehicle is that it uses electricity as the source of energy by recharging it directly to the electric socket. According to the driver who operates it, he at least will need to recharge the vehicle during five hours and it costs around 2 USD of the pre-paid electric card. The price of using Ojek service is depending on the distance with the service cost ranges from 0.50 cents for the nearest distance to 2 USD for the further one. In a day, on average, an Ojek driver can earn around 15 to 20 US Dollars as the income.
The electric rickshaw operates recently this year in Lospalos city. Before Lopalos city, this type of vehicle has been used as public transportation for few years in Manatuto that has similar characteristic of a flat landscape with Lospalos. Indeed, using Ojek can help people moving around to the nearby places in the city that are too far to be reached by walking.
The driver also tells that at first people are quite hesitant to use Ojek as public transportation perhaps because of this type vehicle is new to them. However, lately, Ojek has gained the local passengers attention, especially the students during school time and common people in general. Somehow, during vacation, the number of people using Ojek is not as much as the school time.
“Tiu (uncle), I wish this Ojek had existed in Lospalos since I was here many years ago. That would be much better, right?’ I told to the driver while sitting behind him. He gave me a brief laughter.
‘Oh.. dear sister, I wish for the same too. But it just came recently and we also have just known about it’. He replied.
I chuckled gleefully. What he said was correct.
Lospalos, January 3rd 2018
Note: Lospalos is one of administrative post belong to Lautem Municipality of thirteen municipalities in Timor-Leste country.

Last Year’s Christmas Hut

This year, the Christmas hut in our village is left undo

In fact, last year, it was the most beautiful Christmas hut in our village made by our local youth

There was blinking lamps light the every night

Picture of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus with shepherds and their lambs and the three kings were there

Every night, all the youth of the village would came ro gather and hangout here

Some will brought their mp3 player and play all kind of Christmas songs

The village became live becausebof that Christmas hut

This year, those local youth who used to do the hut are gone 

Some go to Dili, the capital city

Some went abroad, to Korea, england, Ireland, to find job

This year, there is no more Christmas hut in our village.

Obrato, Manatuto Municipality

Dec 23, 2017

Timor Runguranga: A Gulliverian Travel of David Palazon as an Alice in Wonderland.

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“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
Ansel Adams

If there were a simple and practical way of time travelling around us today, then I would say that photography is one of it.

My first time encounter with David Palazon was back in 2013, at the office of the State Secretariat of Art and Culture (SSAC) in Villa Verde (today has moved to Praia dos Coqueiros Street), Dili,  when I was working with UNESCO Art and Culture Programme as  an administrative and programme assistant. At first sight, as a Timorese, I was a bit curious of David with his presence as a malae (foreigner in Tetum). Why does this malae willing to travel far away from Spain to Timor just to do all these fancy work of photography and all related stuff?

Before joining the UNESCO Art and Culture team, I used to think that art and culture is something fancy and has to be luxurious. But being introduced to David Palazon’s work as photographer and having the opportunity to witness his work with SSAC on the preservation programme of the tangible and intangible art and cultural heritage of Timor-Leste, made me realize the importance of art and culture documentation and preservation for Timor-Leste.

On doing his work of documenting the art and cultural events and objects in Timor-Leste through photography and videographical work, I saw that David’s passion and enthusiasm are painted in each of his work pieces.  In gathering all these artistic and meaningful documentation, David also engaged the Timorese fellows in a collaborative work and together each of them express their messages on each photographical work they have produced on how rich the Timor-Leste art and culture is. From that time, I start to believe that Timor-Leste is indeed a wonderful land of art and culture and I would always admire it and appreciate it as a Timorese.

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David Palazon (Stand in the middle from the first row behind) and his fellow source person friends of Timor Runguranga book.

However, despite being Timorese and one can say being the owner of all this Timorese richness of art and culture heritage, a question rose in mind, how can we continue to value and preserve these heritage of art of culture? How can we share the beauty of this value of Timor-Leste art and culture to our fellow Timorese and to the world around us? As Timorese, we may already carry out the role of valuing and preserving by maintaining the continuous practice of the heritage. On the other hand, in the context of Timor-Leste’s fluctuating development progress, more effort is necessary to encourage the act of valuing and preserving the Timor-Leste art and culture. One of these efforts, as I would concern, is to have the documentation. As without it, we would lose some significant things in life.

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Timor Runguranga is indeed has answered that concern of mine in a very artistic, satirical, mindful and yet heart-touching ways. When I received David’s invitation to attend the launching of the book in Timor Aid last year, I was kind of wondering, what exactly this photographical book would look like? The title word runguranga itself has caught my attention so much as it made think about messiness because runguranga as I understood it in Tetum, is everything related to messy and messiness. I had no idea why I pick up the book home only to keep it as collection and open a glimpse of it sometimes when I have a bit of free time. But once opening it, I start to promise myself that I have to go through the book and I did it at last.

After reading each page one by one, I laugh at myself on how I have underestimated this book. For me, looking at the pictures displayed inside it, has gave that sense of looking at the old family photo in a thick photo album. So nostalgic and emotional until you want to smile, laugh, frown and cry at the same time. Why? Because this book has captured how life has going on in Timor-Leste lately since its independence in 2000s. Within the decades, the runguranga essence that kept decorating the independence progress of Timor-Leste has brought us to learn many things as a new emerging country and that being runguranga has shaped us to grow along with the turmoil of the modern globalized world.

This book, being as a diary and memoir, has also capture the exchange of feelings as well as the exchange of collaboration between the insider and outsider who met in this small world of Timor-Leste and entwined them both in a world of rungurunga that only each of them can perceived when they were here. As some wise man has said; do not judge a book by its cover or do not judge people by its outer appearance then I would say do not judge a country if you have not been there. This book will confirm that saying with the collaborative work it displayed and the emotional sense each source person has shared.

This is why I found this book to be one of the inspiring photographic books I have ever seen. Apart of being a photo album, diary or memoir, this book, is also a fairytale storybook of Timor-Leste that one may share to their friends, family and children who would like to visit Timor-Leste or to see Timor-Leste in the past decades. I would also say that this book would be a collection of inspiration and motivation for me as a Timorese, to help advocate the art and culture preservation in Timor-Leste. As for the visitors who would like to know about Timor-Leste this book is very recommendable as an indirect tour guide.

To conclude, I would like to say that Timor Runguranga is the answer of my first impression quest to David himself which today I have called as maun (brother in Tetum) David, on why he is willing to travel  from far-far- away land of  Spain to Timor-Leste. By reflecting his Gulliverian journey throughout all territory of Timor-Leste in this book, I would call him ‘the male version of Alice in Wonderland’.

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To buy the book, please follow the link below:

http://www.blurb.com/b/7181097-timor-runguranga

Further infromation about David Palazon’s work can be found in this link:

https://davidpalazon.com/timor_runguranga/

ZV/VZ

I live in Dili and I love to read novels, watching movies, listen to beautiful musics and wrote things I found interesting.

Dili, 31 July 2017

From Dili to Jakarta via Bali (1)

It was the last day of June 2013.

I was full of excitement as a teen.

Waiting for my Sriwijaya flight at the Nicolau Lobato Airport in Dili.

With a mind of a wanderer, I asked,  “Would this trip be a jolly?”.

Later the flight came and I went ahead in a tremble along the departure gate.

I got on the airplane; a beautiful air hostess with red dress greeted me.

She had the most beautiful smile of the day.

I showed her my boarding pass; she guided me to my seat.

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I sat contently yet carefully paying attention instead.

Another air hostess was demonstrating the flight safety guide.

After an hour, the plane left the ground and started to take off. My heart jumped.

‘I am flying high!’ my mind exclaimed.

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It was my first trip from Dili to Jakarta.

There is a short transit at Ngurah Rai airport of Denpasar in Bali.

That was also my first time to see Bali, although just at a glance.

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Down there, I saw Bali’s beautiful blue sea with the white cliffs.

The red-brown houses formed like beads.

They spread over a huge green carpet of its green field.

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A very long bridge shaped a curvy line over the sea.

How I wondered to explore those places one day.

“Oh, how wonderful isn’t it?” myself said.

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I had heard about Bali since I was a child in 1990s.

People said that Bali is an island of gods, a paradise for tourists.

That time, I wish that one day I too could visit Bali, as a tourist.

I wanted to see the gods. I wanted to enjoy being at its paradise.

Finally, my wish did come true. Even though only for an instance.

Vitalia Ze, Dili-Bali-Jakarta, 30 June 2013.

My First Lunch in Jakarta

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It was a hot day in Jakarta

I was enjoying my first lunch

A plate of soft white rice

Accompanied with fried tofu, fried tempe* and an appetite-teasing brown fried chicken

The delicious jackfruit Gudeg* in a glossy redness to me

Together they greeted me with their special aromas

That was my first lunch in Jakarta

“Happy Eating…’

VZ, Jakarta, July 2013
*Tempe = A specific Indonesian food made from boiled soybeans and fermented then become a    soybean bars.
** Gudeg = An Indonesian-specific red curry dish made using jackfruit and is typical of popular food from  Yogyakarta, Indonesia.