Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feeling December

Rony Zakaria. 2008.
"When happiness could not be shared , it comes in a sorrowful way. Much more than sorrow itself".

Monday, December 15, 2008

Human Faces of Avian Influenza - a Group Exhibition

Usaha pengendalian dan pencegahan flu burung di Indonesia telah dilakukan oleh berbagai pihak, tak terkecuali praktisi media. Pada bulan Juni 2008, Departemen Pertanian Republik Indonesia dan United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) meluncurkan sebuah inisiasi media yang berjudul Media Partnership: Human Faces of Avian Influenza untuk melaporkan dan mendokumentasikan evolusi dan dampak Avian Influenza (AI) di Indonesia.

Selanjutnya, 13 praktisi media terpilih untuk menggambarkan hubungan masyarakat Indonesia dengan unggas dari berbagai aspek kehidupan lewat medium radio, cetak/online, TV/video, fotografi dan multimedia.

Grand Launch Media Partnership Exhibition: Human Faces of Avian Influenza akan menampilkan hasil produksi media dari ke-13 peserta Media Partnership sambil dihibur oleh Dewi Lestari, Kulkul dan Endah Rhesa.

Hari/Tanggal: Kamis/18 Desember 2008
Waktu: 18.30 – 21.00 WIB
Tempat: Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara
Jl. Antara No. 59, Pasar Baru, Jakarta Pusat

Acara akan dilanjutkan dengan pameran karya praktisi media peserta Media Partnership yang akan berlangsung selama 3 hari (19 - 21 Desember 2008) dari pukul 10.00 – 22.00 WIB.

Media Partners:

Dina Purita Antonio
Elly Husin, Akmal Yusmar & Wenang Pitoyo

Primus Pandumudita, Ria Moedomo dan Ima Puspitasari (USDI & STEI ITB)

Kemal Jufri
Rony Zakaria
Danu Primanto

Khairul Damanik
Luh De Suriyani
M. Nizar Abdurrani

M. Taufik Budi Wijaya
Ernal Rosa
Aser Paskah Rihi Tugu

Friday, December 05, 2008


le Kabuki / Rony Zakaria

I was being a bit lazy these last couple of weeks. I stayed home most of the time, doing practically almost nothing. Cutting my self some slack. Photographically? I took less serious pictures than I do usually and more of snapshots. Which is not a bad thing.

Anyway, I watched a Kabuki performance yesterday. I'm not a die hard fan of Japanese stuff to be frank, but I do love interesting culture and plus the venue is just 10 minutes by cycling from my place. So off I went.

untitled / Rony Zakaria

I don't understand much about Japanese culture, but beside how they put their movement synchronized in rhythm I am very amazed how they seemingly able to open their eyes all night long and didn't wink (at least not seen).

At the end of the day, I really like the performance. Certainly better than watching some cheap movies in the cinema.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Saving Angkor: The Restoration of Cambodia's Ancient Temples

Text and Photos by Rony Zakaria

Each day as the sun begins to rise, the magnificent Angkor
Wat forms a beautiful silhouette against the golden sky. This
morning ritual is attended by thousands of tourists, eagerly
waiting for the right moment to take photos of the landscape,
or just to witness the heavenly scene.

Angkor Wat is one of the many temples of the Angkor
Archaeological Park. Built by King Suryavarman II in the first
half of the 12th century, it was designed to represent Mount
Meru, the mythical mountain in Hindu mythology, and to
act as the central structure of the ancient city. In addition
to Angkor Wat, the Angkor Archaeological Park covers over
400 square kilometres and consists of over a thousand sites,
including the renowned Bayon and Ta Prohm temples.

The region of Angkor served as the capital city of the
Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century AD, and is
believed by some researchers to have been the largest
pre-industrial city in the world. Studies have shown that
Angkor could have supported a population of up to
one million people.

Yet the Angkor of today is a vastly different scene. During
the civil war of the 1960s, Khmer Rouge soldiers destroyed
temples, plundered its statues and even used bas-reliefs
as shooting targets. While rampant destruction and target
practice was less frequent after the fall of the regime, looting
and thievery still remains a big problem. Many of Angkor’s
magnificent temples have since been reduced to ruins.
Nondescript piles of rubble lie scattered through rice fields,
and many headless statues stand testament to years of war

and pilferage. But despite the region’s rocky past, visitor
numbers approach two million annually. Reports from the
Cambodian Ministry of Tourism also show that up until the
end of July 2008, there were already 1.2 million people visiting
Cambodia, with more than half visiting Angkor.

Such figures reflect the importance of the temples for
Cambodia not only as a national icon, as shown on their flag,
but also as their main tourist draw. The increasing number
of visitors has brought great income for the nation, but not
everyone is excited about this news.

Many preservationists have expressed their concern about
the large number of visitors to the area’s temples. They fear
that tourists will cause further deterioration to the temples,
as many of them were not designed to serve as public spaces;
some temples, in fact, were only accessible to a limited number
of people. As tourist figures grew, the condition of Angkor’s
temples deteriorated even further.

In 1992, Angkor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage
site the same year it was also placed on the List of World
Heritage in Danger. Amendments were also made in the
penal code of the State of Cambodia to introduce sanctions on
the destruction, theft and illicit traffic of cultural property to
enable existent authorities to immediately address the growing
problem. Since then, several restoration projects have begun
on the park’s temples. Many objects from the temples had been
deliberately removed from its original place and transferred to
the Angkor Conservation Office (ACO). Located on the west
bank of the Siem Reap River, the Angkor Conservation Office
(also known as Conservation d’Angkor) was established by
the French in 1908 to conduct archaeological studies of the
Angkor civilisation, and to restore the temples to their former
glory. It has since become a safe haven for sculptures and
items from Angkor’s many temples.

The Angkor Conservation Office is surrounded with
a high concrete wall, and in front, a large, intimidating
steel gate stands shut. Needless to say, the office is offlimits
for public and is certainly not an official tourist spot.
Within the compound, ancient stones, statues and reliefs
rest in neat rows, as if waiting for their turn in a long
restoration process.

According to Professor Thlang Sakhoeon from The Royal
University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, over 7,000 items are
stored and kept in the Angkor Conservation Office. Every day,
the professor and a team of archeologists analyse the retrieved
items, identify which site they were taken from, and enter
them into a database. The items then go through a painstaking
cleaning process with chemical cleaners and preservatives
to remove the paint on its surfaces. Many of the recovered
items have multiple layers of paint on them evidence of the
number of times they had changed hands before finding their
way back to the Angkor Conservation Office.

Often, recovered items are broken and the team has to
decide whether or not to put them back together again. To do
this, the team uses blocks, tackles and adhesives to reattach
the broken pieces. On average, a recovered statue goes through
several months of restoration before it is transferred to the
new national museum in Siem Reap.

Since 1993, more than a dozen countries have sent teams
to aid Angkor’s restoration. France, Japan, China, India and
the private United States-based World Monuments Fund are
among those that have taken on the arduous task of restoring
Angkor’s temples. The restoration of Angkor serves as a
powerful symbol of unity in a country still struggling to come
to terms with its violent past.

This is a model of cooperation more than 10 countries
and international organisations coming together in a spirit
of solidarity for the work of preserving cultural heritage,
Cambodian Senior Minister Sok An said.

Angkor’s heritage represents one of the last remaining
sources of information for the understanding of the Angkorian
past. By restoring the temples to their former glory, people
will be able to study them, so as to understand and protect
Angkor’s ancient Khmer identity, and to act as a bridge that
links the country’s past, present and future.

Published in the November 2008 issue of Asian Geographic Magazine

Click to View The Complete Photo Story of Saving Angkor

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Selected Quote

Surabaya, 2007 / Rony Zakaria

"In everything beautiful there is something strange"
- Costantine Manos

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why I Love Snaps

I love to do snapshots, they're not the best photographs, but that's the fun of it, you just snap it, no thinking! Simple and relaxing.

To Jakarta, a place where my anger, hatred, love and my peace mixed together in heart and mind.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Using Your Emotion

Bali, 2008 / Rony Zakaria

A lot of people said being professional is doing what you do best in any kind of mood, either sorrow, happy or being homesick. If you're a professional you have to put aside for a while your 'petty' emotion and give your full attention to your work. In other words, shutting off your emotion, not mixing it with your work. They said it's something you have to do to get things done.

Sometimes I had to be professional, being single minded, focused with the work I had to deliver, blocking everything else including my feelings. But also in many occasion I did the complete opposite, letting my emotion played part in the process of my pictures. And to be honest, most of the time, if not always, it just amazed me, many pictures just appeared in a way I wouldn't have thinked of before. Pictures that I look and I feel connected with them, "my own" pictures.

And although being professional is a good thing and something I have to keep in mind, the latter approach always gave me a total excitement and somekind of a weird uncertainty, which is fun, something that can give you a thrill. And fortunately I never got disappointed with my results.

To describe it more, it's just like you're taking a risk or to gamble but you know that you're going to get something out of it, you won't end up with nothing or lose everything. You just don't know what it is you're getting. I don't concider that mysterious uncertainty a risk, I'm feeling it as a breathtaking and magical process!

Just like Henri said "To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart". It's not just the craft perhaps, it is more.. Maybe you have to feel more.. and more..

What about you? What do you feel?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dua Minggu di Bali

Bali. 2008.

Sudah dua minggu saya berada di Bali. Ada sebuah urusan liputan yang membawa saya ke pulau dewata untuk satu bulan penuh. Dua minggu membawa saya ke banyak tempat, bertemu banyak orang dan banyak keunikan.

Namun ada sebuah rasa sama yang selalu dirasakan setiap berada di pulau Dewata. Rasa yang unik, seperti ingin pulang ke rumah namun tidak ingin meninggalkan. Rasa yang sederhana tapi rumit, namun tidak serumit cinta picisan.

Masih dua minggu lagi untuk menggenapkan satu bulan dan rasanya begitu sebentar tapi juga lama. Dan kali pertama saya rindu Jakarta.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Selected Quote

"There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive."
- Jack London in The Call of The Wild

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Passing Through a Holiday

Sudirman at Peace / Rony Zakaria

I gave up an office carreer out of boring routinity and stress and so far since my desicion to resign, it had saved me from strings of void boredom. And it wasnt until last week that I've realized that holiday season is not my favourite time.

Holiday means a time when people with jobs don't have to go to work and instead they can spent it taking a break, having fun and relaxing with family and friends, doing their own stuff. But that's not the case with me, I don't have a normal routine job, I don't have to go to work everyday and I think everyday as a vacation. And when an 'real' holiday came upon me, I just lost my creativity.

Yes, I was trapped in Jakarta with nothing particular to do in mind. So I tried to do some quick getaways, first to Mt. Gede, then to Jogja, and to Jepara. I tried, tried and tried but to no avail. The train tickets were fully booked! I was destined to be in Jakarta.

Out of desperation I consoled myself. Perhaps this is the time when I have to pay my 'dues', staying in Jakarta when almost everybody was travelling elsewhere. I pledged to be content spending a real holiday in town.

One of my consolation was my bycycle. I got it second-hand from a friend recently and so I used it to wander and roam around in Jakarta. With less car and motorbike, cycling though the wide road, between the tall buildings and skycrapers of Jakarta was not bad at all, it feels really pleasant and exciting. I then visited Suropati park, a open-air public park where people can just sit down and talk or read, but the fact was everyone who's not leaving Jakarta was going to public spaces including Suropati, making it more similar to an amusement park than a quiet peaceful space. I definitely lost my creativity finding my spot. So after that, I banned every popular public spaces.

The 'Small Forrest'

In the end I found one place suitable for eliminating my time. It's a nice place just 10 minutes from my residence. It's like a small forrest inside a city, there a path for bicycle to do cross-country and there're lots of big trees where you can sit and lay down while reading books. It's a small heaven for me. I was happy.

A second place to visit oftenly during this 'contemplating' time was a darkroom. And in this dark and tiny room I spent several days to develop and print my negatives. It was ok and time passed really quick in there. It's like working in a secluded place where you are alone thinking only about the work and suddenly you look at your watch and 4 hours had passed.

Thinking again, the seemingly long days of this 'holiday', It's not the best experience but certainly I had worse and more boring than this.

So it was okay. I'm just glad that Jakarta is crowded again.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baca Buku

Sejak kecil saya selalu menyukai benda yang bernama buku. Masih tajam teringat dahulu ketika setiap hari saya akan datang ke toko buku seberang sekolah dan menanyakan tentang buku cerita terbaru kepada tante pemilik toko, walau saya cuma akan membeli seminggu sekali saja. Sebagian besar uang jajan saya dahulu habis untuk buku, dan saya bisa merelakan untuk tidak jajan di sekolah apabila ada buku yang ingin dibeli. Pernah suatu ketika saya belum punya cukup uang untuk membeli buku yang baru terbit, harganya 1.100 rupiah, dan saya dengan polosnya ingin nyicil dulu seratus rupiahnya.

Sampai sekarang rasanya kesukaan itu tetap berlanjut. Buku menjadi salah satu pengeluaran terbesar saya. Namun pengeluaran yang cukup besar itu selalu terbalas setiap kali saya selesai membaca buku demi buku yang dibeli. Dan ketika kembali menginjakkan kaki ke toko buku, hal yang tersulit adalah menahan diri agar tidak membeli buku. Saat berada disana, diri seperti terbelah dua, ada seorang anak kecil yang ingin membeli buku-buku menarik bagaikan mainan yang baru saja dilihatnya dan ada bagian diri lainnya yang pelit, yang sepertinya lebih dewasa dan bekerja seperti akuntan, mengingatkan diri bahwa saya sedang bokek dan harus menahan diri. Perdebatan dan cekcok terjadi. Namun keadaannya seringkali, apabila tidak selalu, si anak kecil yang menang. Fortunately!

Saya tidak pernah memikirkan kenapa saya bisa suka membaca buku. Pikir saya selama ini, toh banyak orang juga membaca buku, dan kita tidak memerlukan alasan khusus untuk suka membaca. Tetapi dari beberapa percakapan dengan teman-teman saya, mereka mengungkapkan kenapa mereka membaca buku dan itu membuat saya berpikir kembali kenapa saya bisa menikmatinya. Saya sangat menyukai perkataan seorang penulis tentang hal ini, E.B. White: "As in the sexual experience, there are never more than two persons presenting the act of reading, the writer who is the impregnator, and the reader who is the respondent".

Saat membaca buku adalah sebuah yang saat yang unik, kita berdialog dengan keadaan yang soliter, saat yang pribadi namun juga berbagi, berimaginasi. Membaca buku buat saya mirip seperti halnya sebuah perbincangan, semakin kita menikmati semakin lama pula kita betah untuk melanjutkan perbincangan itu halaman demi halaman. Like having a good conversation.

Do you like to read books?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Short Trip to Bima

Bima, NTB. 2008

Last week probably was one of my busiest seven days in this year. But busy doesn't always mean stressful and exhausting. Well, it was tiring a bit but it didn't drain all my energy, yes I had fun too.

It all started with Bima, Nusa Tenggara Barat. I was there for a short assignment. I would be there for the next three days. The assignment was quite simple: to photograph several local community projects in the area. But on the contrary the journey was not. I was travelling with a writer and we have to spent almost 5 hours flying and on the road to finally arrived to Bima. Since there is no direct flight to Bima, we have to fly first to Denpasar and connect our flight from there with Merpati to Bima.

It was three O'clock WITA (Central Indonesian Time) when we arrived at the small, casual but tidy airport of Bima. But it wasn't until tomorrow for our travel around the area, I spent the rest of the day resting to charge my stamina back.

On the next day we travelled to several spots to see the local projects. It was really hot and dry, which reminds me of Banda Aceh and Yogyakarta. But by far this is the worst heat I ever experienced. It was like hell but the views were heaven.

When we arrived at the first site it was almost noon. The infrastructure project were simple and it was built by the locals themselves. Besides the heat everything was casual, normal and a bit boring. But then the extraordinary (read:the fun) started when the smooth journey to a village outside the city was disturbed with a flat tire. And of course the fun didn't stop there. When we arrived at Ntori village, a lot of people have already gathered at the local office.

Leaving a foot trace during a flat tire break. Bima. 2008.

The head of the village greeted us along with several elders. It seemed that everyone misunderstood thinking that we are representatives from the NGO instead of a 'mere' writer and photographer. Even after Evi, the writer, explained about our false 'celebrity' status they still want us to give a speech in a formal conference event. Fortunately for me, a person who is holding a camera, I could find an excuse to get out of that. And yet the suprise still continued. They gave us presents and souvenirs in a formal ceremony way. I felt really uneasy about this. People just smiled and very generous, something that I rarely finds in the city like Jakarta.

Afterwards, we travelled up to the hill to see the infrastructure project, a tunnel bypassing a hill to flow water from the source to the village downhill. The people were very proud to tell us that they built it using their own hands. I still couldn't believe that these people could do the work without any heavy machine. It's just 'luar biasa' (extraordinary) as they said repeatedly.

The water pipe tunnel at Ntori village.

During this trip I learnt a commonly used yet unique local sentence: Kelimpo Ade, which has a lot of meanings. In general people in Bima use this sentence to say sorry or to say be patient. Our driver who is a native of Bima said that the sentence is perfectly used for a conversation with a debt collector. Well, they did say it has multiple meanings :D

The rest of the day it's just a normal job. Except before we left, one of the villagers gave us another souvenirs, bottles of Honey from Bima. We are very grateful although very uneasy yet again. I must say that people in Bima are one of the most friendliest people I've ever met. They really treated us like VIP guests and they were really sincere.

On wednesday, the next day, we left Bima for Jakarta. I didn't have too many adventures there but surely I brought something back.

For facing the following days of the busy week I could say to my self and fellow friends, a local wisdom from Bima, be patient, be brave, be persevere, Kelimpo Ade.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Selected Quotes

"On stage I have to make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone."
- Janis Joplin (1943-1970)

"I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society."
- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Last Kampong featured in Asia Views

This week Asia Views featured my story, The Last Kampong in Singapore, in their monthly regional magazine.

Asia Views is a weekly online-magazine and a monthly regional magazine. Asia Views is published by a group of leading regional media organizations, such as Malaysian Business (Malaysia), Newsbreak (Phillipines), Tempo (Indonesia) and Today (Singapore).

View the complete story of The Last Kampong in Singapore

Friday, August 22, 2008

Snapshots and Notes of Independence

Last week I spent four days in Pramuka island, an island part of the Seribu islands (Kepulauan Seribu) just north of Jakarta. It was a diving trip, I was taking a diving course there. The trip was from August 14th to 18th which meant that I would spent the independence day of Indonesia on the island.

I'm not a formal person and I don't think I have to prove my love of my country by attending a formal ceremony for the independence, I know that I love Indonesia through and through and that's it, period. But on August 17th morning a friend of mine, Okky, dragged me from my morning drowsiness to a football field where the islanders having a formal ceremony celebrating the independence. My last upacara bendera was back in school time years ago and I still remember precisely the one time that I was scolded by a teacher because I didn't sing the national anthem.

Students waiting for the ceremony to be started

When we arrived at the field, many students, elementary, junior high and high school already gathered forming rows and lines. The ceremony was running late because some the government officials were still not arrived. It's really quite unfair for the students who waited under the bright clear sky and burning sun while the officials sitting on chairs and covered by the roof protecting them from the heat. So much for equality and freedom.

While we wandered around, a lot of people staring curiously at us, especially at me. The facts that both of us wearing shorts instead of trousers (well the elementary students wore shorts :D), my appereance resembling a Japanese tourist and Okky who annoyingly (if not funny) pronounced herself to everyone as my 'guide' gave a logical reason why they're doing so.

Local students at Pramuka island

When the ceremony finally began, silence spreads through. The only sound I could hear was the elementary students next to me teasing friends and laughing silently. When the flag was raised, the national anthem was sung, but only by a small number of people including me and Okky.

After the flag raising and the national anthem I decided to leave the ceremony, Okky followed. Her stunt that day was not over as she 'greeted' every children we met along the way who didn't go to the ceremony, "Why didn't you go? You should go". And of course it freaked out every single of them, I know I would.

It was the 63rd commemoration of Indonesia independence. where we are free from any foreign military forces but, do we enjoy the true freedom? Soekarno, our first President, said this 42 years ago:
"we have only scratched the surface".
It was a long time ago and yet it sounds so contemporary today.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Living Merapi in Tempo

Today Koran Tempo published my 'Living Merapi' story in their sunday edition newspaper. They ran a nice double spread page for the story. Although I don't quite satisfied with the editing, I think they've done a great job selecting the pictures. Overall, I am happy with the layout and the selection.

'Living Merapi' at Koran Tempo online
See the complete story at

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Bang-Bang Club

"I hope I die with the best fucking news pic of all time on my neg. - it wouldn't be worth it otherwise..."
The passage was taken from Ken Oosterbroek's diary dated May 20th, 1988. He was a South African photojournalist who was killed on a clash during the last days of the apartheid era. He was a member of the so-called Bang-Bang Club.

I have just finished reading the book entitled after the group's name 'The Bang Bang Club'. I heard and interested about the book a couple years ago but just couldn't find one then. Until recently a senior writer and journalist, Nina Masjhur, kindly lent me this book, when during a conversation I mentioned about it and she in coincidence has the book.

The book tells us about the political history of South Africa during the heat when apartheid was falling apart and how the local photographers and journalists covered and reported the story. It concentrates on a group of photojournalists who hung out together, trusted each other and risked their lives to compete getting the best picture of the bloody conflict, The Bang-Bang.

There are four of them who bonded most closely in the group, Ken Oosterbroek, Kevin Carter, Joao Silva and Greg Marinovich. With Kevin as the most famous of all because of his picture of a collapsed starving child stalked by a vulture, the famed picture which won him a Pulitzer prize. Moreover it was a story of young and ambitious photojournalists who saw the war affecting their career, their country and their personal lives. Simply the bullets, blood and war tore them apart as a journalist and as an individual.

Kevin Carter's famous image that won him Pulitzer Prize in 1994

A quote taken from the book said:
"I have got to a point where the pain of life overrides the joy to the point that joy does not exist... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain... and I am haunted by the loss of my friend Ken"
Kevin Carter
Kevin said this after the death of his colleague and best friend Ken Oosterbroek. A death that deeply affected Kevin and the other two. So deep and also mixed with the other problems he had, Kevin took his own life soon after he received his Pulitzer prize.

A wounded Greg Marinovich is assisted by photojournalist
James Nachtwey, while Joao Silva takes pictures of Gary Bernard
and an officer from the National Peacekeeping Force as they
carry the fatally wounded Ken Oosterbroek in the background,
18 April 1994, Thokoza township. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters.

Written by the two surviving members of group, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, it gives us an insight feeling in becoming a photojournalist furthermore a war-photographer. Telling us it is just not a simple and exciting job to do, this is a serious job and very important.

That they are not just taking pictures, instead they are documenting history for those who can't be there.

It brought me more respect to the profession.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Living Merapi

Mount Merapi. 2008 / Rony Zakaria

Mid 2006, two years have passed since Mount Merapi errupted, forcing locals living at the slope saving for their lives from the mountain's wrath. Not the first for them.

After the dusts and chaos fade away. When peacefulness replacing anger, Merapi brings a lot of blessing for the villagers around its slope. One of them is the constant flow of active lava to the valley near the villages. The active lava produces top quality rock and sands for raw materials. Most of the villagers live their life as sand and rock miners at the valley.

They not only working to make ends meet but also keeping the harmony in balance. Without the miners, the lava which never stops flowing will drown the valley and possibly the village.

This is how the Merapi people live with their nature. Living in harmony and in balance.

Living with Merapi.

Complete story at

Friday, July 18, 2008

Kutipan Pilihan

Merapi, Central Java. 2008 / Rony Zakaria

"On tops of mountains, as everywhere to hopeful souls, it is always morning"
- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Last Village of Singapore

It was a quiet scene. Only dogs, cats and chickens were seen wandering around. You can see rusty mailboxes, wooden houses, unpaved roads in the area. And it is hard to believe that such scene is in the middle of Singapore, one of the most developed country in Asia where everythings seems to be modern and tidy, where apartment, HDBs and buildings decorating the sky.

But this is real. In Kampong Lorong Buangkok you can see a simple life hidden from modern buildings that surrounds it. The area of 1.5 hectares is valued $SGD 33 million an offer of which the landlord of the village repeatedly rejected.

Old Singapore is the words to describe it. But the question is how long can it last? Hopefully it will be for very long time.

See more photos at

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Birthday, a Reminder

Minutes to Dusk. Yogyakarta. 2008

I turned 24 recently. It's not something too special and of course I never did celebrate it. Well, I don't take it for granted but for me birthday is more like a reminder instead of a milestone.

I am really grateful for the last twelve months I have experienced good, exciting, spontaneous and adventurous moments. From skipping my graduation day, climbing a volcano, hitchike till swimming in an open sea. Crazy moments during a journey, with mother nature, with friends.

I don't have a favourite year, I never picked one, and never compare between those years. I am just happy enough that so far I have experienced every year of my life differently.

I do sometimes look back, remembering moments that have passed. And for me birthday is a reminder to look forward again, not too long looking at the same page, to yet again make new adventures.

And to experience another year differently...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Pulau Pramuka, Kepulauan Seribu. 2008.

Minggu lalu seorang kawan baik, Rama, mengajak saya ke kepulauan Seribu selama tiga hari. Ia sedang melakukan penelitian bawah laut bersama timnya dari Institut Pertanian Bogor dan dia sangat berbaik hati mengijinkan saya untuk ikut. Tentu saya senang karena Kep. Seribu merupakan salah satu tempat yang belum pernah saya kunjungi, walau masih berada di kawasan Jakarta.

Berada didalam laut merupakan pengalaman tersendiri buat saya. Saya selalu menyadari akan keindahan dunia bawah laut dan saya tidak merasa perlu membuktikan hal itu. Namun saya menyadari sesuatu saat berada dibawah sana. Sekeliling menjadi sunyi sepi, tiada suara selain nafas, tak ada percakapan yang asyik, tak ada suara angin semilir, sepi dan diam titik, hanya kita dan laut. Kita manusia, ternyata begitu kecil dan sendiri ditengah laut yang besar. Namun kenyataan tersebut tidak menakutkan namun menenangkan, terasa damai bukan sepi. Laut kini sungguh menjadi teman baru saya. Tempat saya leluasa berbincang dengan alam, dengan diri saya sendiri. Berkontemplasi

Saya yakin semua orang pasti pernah melakukannya, baik secara sadar maupun tidak. Saya sering melakukannya saat dalam perjalanan. Saat duduk di kereta, di bus, di puncak gunung atau ketika sekadar menunggu lelap datang di malam hari. Semua membuat perjalanan saya makin berarti. Menunggu jawaban dari pertanyaan-pertanyaan yang selalu ada. Entah yang terucap atau yang tidak. Tapi jawaban pasti ada seperti halnya adanya pertanyaan-pertanyaan itu.

Juni 2008.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quotes from Henri Cartier-Bresson

"You have to milk the cow a lot – takes plenty milk to make a little cheese."

"Life is once. Forever."

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Setelah 10 Tahun Berlalu

Aku tulis sajak ini di bulan gelap raja-raja
Bangkai-bangkai tergeletak lengket di aspal jalan
Amarah merajalela tanpa alamat
Kelakuan muncul dari sampah kehidupan
Pikiran kusut membentur simpul-simpul sejarah

O, zaman edan!
O, malam kelam pikiran insan!
Koyak moyak sudah keteduhan tenda kepercayaan
Kitab undang-undang tergeletak di selokan
Kepastian hidup terhuyung-huyung dalam comberan

O, tatawarna fatamorgana kekuasaan!
O, sihir berkilauan dari mahkota raja-raja!
Dari sejak zaman Ibrahim dan Musa
Allah selalu mengingatkan
bahwa hukum harus lebih tinggi
dari ketinggian para politisi, raja-raja, dan tentara

O, kebingungan yang muncul dari kabut ketakutan!
O, rasa putus asa yang terbentur sangkur!
Berhentilah mencari Ratu Adil!
Ratu Adil itu tidak ada. Ratu Adil itu tipu daya!
Apa yang harus kita tegakkan bersama
adalah Hukum Adil
Hukum Adil adalah bintang pedoman di dalam prahara

Bau anyir darah yang kini memenuhi udara
menjadi saksi yang akan berkata:
Apabila pemerintah sudah menjarah Daulat Rakyat
apabila cukong-cukong sudah menjarah ekonomi bangsa
apabila aparat keamanan sudah menjarah keamanan
maka rakyat yang tertekan akan mencontoh penguasa
lalu menjadi penjarah di pasar dan jalan raya

Wahai, penguasa dunia yang fana!
Wahai, jiwa yang tertenung sihir tahta!
Apakah masih buta dan tuli di dalam hati?
Apakah masih akan menipu diri sendiri?
Apabila saran akal sehat kamu remehkan
berarti pintu untuk pikiran-pikiran kalap
yang akan muncul dari sudut-sudut gelap
telah kamu bukakan!

Cadar kabut duka cita menutup wajah Ibu Pertiwi
Airmata mengalir dari sajakku ini.

WS Rendra, 17 Mei 1998

Sajak ini dibacakan oleh Rendra di DPR pada tanggal 18 Mei 1998)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Black and White

Perayaan Waisak di Borobudur, Magelang

Black & White, hitam dan putih, dua hal yang saling bertolak-belakang. Layaknya perdamaian dan kekerasan. Saya kembali lagi ke Yogyakarta minggu pagi (18/5) untuk memotret acara Waisak di Candi Borobudur, Magelang bersama beberapa kawan dari Galeri Foto Jurnalistik Antara. Sebuah kerinduan pada Jogja membawa saya kembali.

Pada hari Waisak (20/5), ribuan orang berkumpul di Candi Borobudur memperingati hari suci umat Buddha. Sebuah acara yang merefleksikan kedamaian, perdamaian dalam hati walau bisa dibilang cenderung seremonial saja. Beberapa kawan dari Jogja mengatakan acara tahun ini jauh lebih kecil daripada tahun sebelumnya. Mungkin karena Waisak tahun ini dipusatkan di Jakarta. Satu hal yang terlihat jelas adalah banyaknya fotografer, menurut kawan saya yang ikut bersama salah satu rombongan klub foto jumlahnya mencapai hampir 500 orang dari satu rombongan saja.

Selasa sorenya saat bertolak kembali menuju Jogja, kawan-kawan dari Galeri Antara pamit pulang terlebih dahulu. Mereka mengejar kereta malam untuk kembali ke Jakarta. Saya memang sudah merencanakan untuk tinggal beberapa hari lagi.

Keesokan harinya ada kabar dari SMS yang diterima kawan saya. "Ada demo besar menentang kenaikan BBM besok, dijamin bentrok!". Hari itu dibeberapa kota besar memang direncanakan akan ada demonstrasi besar-besaran menentang kenaikan harga BBM oleh pemerintah.

Saya menuju ke jalan Malioboro, tepatnya di gedung Agung, istana negara di Yogyakarta. Demo oleh beberapa organisasi mahasiswa berjalan tertib dan cenderung tenang, hal itu berlangsung sampai siang. Keadaan mulai berubah dari adem-ayem menjadi 'tidak biasa' saat polisi mulai memasang pagar kawat didepan istana. Attitude dari massa rombongan mahasiswa yang berorasi pun berbeda dengan yang sebelum-sebelumnya.

Saat massa mulai membakar ban dan 'ogoh-ogoh' didepan kawat berduri, suasana berangsur panas, secara emosi dan tentu juga secara harafiah. Baik polisi yang dilengkapi dengan tameng dan pentungan serta mahasiswa harus bekerja keras menjaga emosinya masing-masing.

Demonstrasi Menolak Kenaikan Harga BBM, Yogyakarta.

Kericuhan terjadi saat para mahasiswa bergerak kedepan kawat berduri dengan bambu-bambu panjang untuk menembus barikade. Adrenalin saya semakin terpacu untuk memotret dalam keadaan seperti itu. Saat mahasiswa mulai melempari aparat dengan bambu dan botol minuman, Polisi pun tidak bisa menahan emosi, banyak dari mereka yang berlari mengitari pagar berduri dan mengejar para mahasiswa yang memprovokasi mereka.

Saya ikut berlari dibelakang para polisi yang sangat emosional dan dilengkapi dengan senjata. Kejadian tersebut berlangsung cepat. Beberapa mahasiswa dikeroyok serta dipukuli dengan senjata tumpul. Terdengar jelas suara hantaman senjata yang bertubi-tubi. Beberapa dari mereka dibawa ke markas. Tercatat ada empat orang mahasiswa yang ditahan. Para polisi yang mengejar para mahasiswa juga langsung disidang ditempat oleh atasannya.

Seorang Demonstran dibawa oleh Aparat setelah bentrok

Setelah ricuh, keadaan mulai berangsur mendingin. Massa mahasiswa tidak lagi sebanyak sebelumnya. Banyak yang terlihat memisahkan diri dan pulang. Tuntutan mahasiswa mengenai pembatalan kenaikan BBM pun samar-samar dan hanya sesekali terdengar. Ejek-ejekan antara mahasiswa dan aparat lebih banyak menghiasi sisa demonstrasi hari itu. Para mahasiswa membubarkan diri pukul enam setelah pihak polisi bersedia memenuhi tuntutan mahasiswa: 'mengobati' mahasiswa yang dipukul.

Hitam dan Putih, dua hal yang berbeda. Salah satunya tidak bisa hilang agar yang lainnya tetap ada. Saat hitam atau putih berganti menjadi abu-abu, kita akan bertanya-tanya apakah ia akan menjadi hitam atau putih kembali?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Moving On

Central Java, 2008. - Rony Zakaria.

Everything that has a beginning always has an end. That phrase sound so cliche but yet so contemporary.

I began my journey to Jogja almost three weeks ago, planned to stay for a single week but living the dream for 17 days instead. I did quite a lot, climbed Mt. Merapi, dressing as abdi dalem (Kraton Inside loyal servant) to cover The Sultan's daughter wedding, and of course meeting new faces and images.

I was very lucky to have a good friend, Oscar, who are willing to spare some space of his room for me to sleep. I never see my self as a tourist, more as a traveller. I never sleep in a hotel, I never rent a car, I never hire a guide. I don't feel I will get the real local experience and mood if I did those things, and of course I would be broke. I travel with my heart and feet not with a pack of money.

Anyway, I feel really comfort in Jogjakarta. One of the most interesting city I have visited and most desirable to stay longer and longer. But to rephrase the first sentence: Everything has to end and so is my journey. With a heavy heart and reluctant to leave the city I'm going back to Jakarta before doing another journey soon. Everything indeed has to end. But you can always restart it anytime.

And I will.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Menikmati Merapi

Pernah seorang kawan dari Palembang mengatakan bahwa baginya tidak ada yang mengalahkan perasaan ketika sampai di puncak sebuah gunung. Dan aku sangat dan selalu setuju pada ucapannya itu.

Saya mencoba untuk naik ke Gunung Merapi minggu kemarin bersama Heru, seorang kawan dari Jogja. Kami berangkat menuju Selo dengan sepeda motor. Kira-kira 2,5 jam dari Jogja. Sebenarnya ada jalur pendakian lain ke puncak Merapi, yaitu di Deles dan Kinahrejo, namun Selo akhirnya dipilih karena kemudahan medannya dibandingkan dengan jalur lain.

Belum sampai di Selo, hujan deras menerpa kami dan akibatnya sepatu basah. Sampai di Selo sekitar pukul 4.30 sore, tujuan pertama adalah basecamp, tempat para pendaki beristirahat dan berkumpul sebelum naik. Cukup banyak orang disana, hal yang wajar di akhir pekan, dengan tas-tas khas pendaki gunung. Ada kabar pula ada rombongan besar dari Semarang, sekitar 150 orang. Setelah meletakkan tas, saya beristirahat menunggu waktu. Kami merencanakan untuk naik malam hari pukul 10.

Menjemur sepatu sebelum naik

Basecamp yang dipenuhi puluhan orang membuat suasana cukup ramai dan cenderung bising. Obrolan-obrolan serta nyanyian-nyanyian terdengar dari beberapa kelompok. Terdengar lagu grup pop Indonesia terbaru dilantunkan lengkap dengan alunan gitar yang kadang diselingi lagu Iwan Fals. Cukup menghibur telinga walau akhirnya mata tak bisa terpejam. Tak terasa ketika waktu tiba untuk berangkat.

Angin berhembus pelan, udara dingin tapi tidak terlalu dingin, sepi namun tak sunyi. Malam itu tidak nampak bulan, kami memakai headlamp untuk menerangi jalan yang akan dilalui. Saya cukup kepayahan menjalani medan dalam satu jam pertama. Stamina yang pas-pasan dan kurang pemanasan (perencanaan naik Merapi ini, seperti gunung-gunung sebelumnya, juga sangat mendadak) menjadi salah satu faktor. Namun setelah beberapa kilometer dilalui, tubuh sudah beradaptasi dengan kondisi jalan. Kilometer-kilometer berikutnya tidak terasa seberat yang sudah lalu. Istirahat setiap 10 perlahan dikurangi menjadi setiap 30 menit.

Sekitar satu jam sebelum Pasar Gubrah, titik camp terakhir sebelum pendakian ke Puncak Garuda di Merapi, kami beristirahat cukup lama karena kabut yang cukup tebal. Tiada matras dan tenda kamipun menggunakan mantel hujan sebagai alas dan sleeping bag untuk selimut. Selama 45 menit kabut menghalangi jalan kami keatas dan selama itu pula kami beristirahat.

Kami tiba di Pasar Grubah jam 3 pagi. Sudah ada banyak tenda didirikan. Seperti mereka yang sudah sampai dan mendirikan tenda, rencana kami sama yaitu naik saat matahari sudah muncul. Setelah melihat-lihat akhirnya Heru menemukan satu tempat yang cukup nyaman untuk dijadikan spot rebahan. Saya pun tertidur setelah sleeping bag kembali menyelimuti kaki dan tubuh. Memberikan kehangatan yang sungguh langka.

Pagi di Pasar Grubah, Merapi

Saat matahari mulai terbit, saya sempat terbangun. Namun kantuk membuat saya lebih rela melewatkan sunrise untuk kembali menutup mata barang sejenak. Ketika benar-benar bangun, sekitar jam 6.30, dingin sangat menusuk tulang. Tangan terasa beku, ujung jari benar-benar mati rasa karena dingin. Segala cara saya lakukan untuk menghilangkan dingin: berlari-lari kecil, mondar-mandir. sedikit lompat-lompat. Sampai hingga semua cara tersebut tidak mengurangi rasa beku di telapak tangan, saya akhirnya menggunakan air seni yang hangat (baca: mengencingi tangan sendiri) untuk menghangatkan tangan. Bisa dibilang jorok, tetapi saya bilang perlu :D

Sarapan di Merapi

Setelah Heru bangun, kami sarapan dan kemudian packing. Pukul 8 berangkat dari Pasar Gubrah menuju puncak Garuda, titik tertinggi Merapi. Jalan sangat terjal, kemiringannya mencapai 70 derajat dan berbatu-batu yang rawan lepas. Dalam perjalanan naik, banyak orang yang sudah mulai menuruni. Semakin keatas mulai terlihat asap-asap keluar dari sela-sela bebatuan. Saya harus mengakui bahwa medan Merapi merupakan yang terberat dari gunung-gunung yang sebelumnya pernah saya naiki.

Menuju Puncak Garuda

Kami akhirnya sampai di puncak Garuda pukul 9.20. Perjalanan yang cukup melelahkan akhirnya membuahkan hasil sampai ke puncak walau kabut sangat tebal. Saat kabut semakin tebal dan mulai hujan rintik, kamipun tak berlama-lama di puncak. Pukul 10 siang kami sudah bergegas turun kembali.

Perjalanan turun memang tidak seberat naik namun hujan turun dan membuat licin jalan. Hari itu saya cukup puas bisa kembali bersahabat dengan alam dan diri sendiri.

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.” - Mohandas Gandhi

Djogjakarta, 5 Mei 2008

Friday, May 02, 2008

Djogja Day 7

Yogyakarta - 2008 / Rony Zakaria

A week has passed in Jogjakarta. I really do enjoy living here so far, enjoyed it so much till I decided to extend my stay for another week.

I'm having fun but also in the same time doing my work here. And I don't know why, the situation, the people, the feeling, everything just goes on very well. What I can say is so far so good.

Tomorrow I'm going to do another adventure. Climbing Mt. Merapi which erupted two years ago in 2006.

I'm very much looking forward to it.

Standing on the peak. On the top. The peak of the world.

Feeling the greatest emotion in life.

Being human.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taking a Break from Jakarta

Leaving Jakarta/Rony Zakaria

At the beginning of this week I decided to take sometime off from Jakarta. I desperately need to get out from the town from a while. I think it has been too long since I travelled. I recalled almost four months ago when I went like crazy (with a crazy companion as well) to Bali and East Java.

To make things short I got a ticket to Yogyakarta yesterday, took an 8 hour trip by train. This is not my first time to Djogja, I was there twice before. But it was almost 6 years ago since my last visit there. I always fond of Djogja since my first trip back in childhood years.

So, today is my first day in Djogja and I am looking forward to many more.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Publikasi di The Jakarta Post

Sebuah seri foto saya terbit di Sunday Edition harian The Jakarta Post minggu kemarin, 6 April 2008. Seri foto tersebut mengenai perilaku "menunggu" orang-orang di Jakarta ketika berada di transportasi umum. Pengantar fotonya ditulis oleh Alex Supartono.

How do we occupy ourselves on the bus, mikrolet or metromini? What do the people around us do? Do we give it much thought? Or is it an insignificant part of our lives?

Jakarta-based photographer Rony Zakaria, 24, shows us how we spend our minutes, sometimes hours, moving from one point to another using public transportation.

His photographs capture the essence of ordinary events in our everyday worlds. Actually, we don't do much. We close our eyes and try to sleep, keeping one hand on our belongings. We look without really seeing. We isolate ourselves from people whose skin in fact touches our own.

Life in Jakarta, which has a population of about 12 million, is almost always communal. In public spaces, there are few niches set aside for individuals to sit alone.

Photos by Rony Zakaria
Text by Alex Supartono

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Kutipan Pilihan

"There are too many images. Too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn’t an art anymore. Maybe it never was"—Robert Frank, Vanity Fair, April 2008, p177

Monday, March 31, 2008

Publikasi di Koran Tempo

Minggu kemarin, 28 Maret 2008, Koran Tempo menerbitkan seri foto saya mengenai Angkor di kolom fotografinya. Judulnya pada edisi hari minggu tersebut: "Merawat Angkor". Lima buah foto mengenai revitalisasi dan usaha pelestarian situs bersejarah Angkor di Kamboja. Saya cukup puas dengan pemilihan foto oleh editor Koran Tempo walau lima foto buat saya terasa kurang banyak (yah, fotografer memang banyak maunya :D).

Untuk foto-foto yang lebih lengkap mengenai "Saving Angkor", bisa dilihat di

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kutipan Pilihan

"Kalau mati, dengan berani, kalau hidup dengan berani. Kalau keberanian tidak ada, itulah sebabnya setiap bangsa asing bisa jajah kita" - Pramoedya Ananta Toer dalam Larasati

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Out of My Mind

Street Scene, Jakarta, 2008 / Rony Zakaria

It's already March, the third month in 2008 and yet I'm still in Jakarta. I have nothing against Jakarta beside its traffic congestion, heavily poluted air, its notorious criminal rates and the last but not least overpopulation. Ok, let me correct my statement: I have everything against Jakarta and have every reason to leave this capital of Indonesia. But despite all that, I can't go right away, well it's kinda' sucks but I will be in Jakarta at least for another month.

Trying to feel content, I decided to give my self and this town a chance to make our peace. So, I grabbed my camera and start walking on the streets of Jakarta. I've been living in Jakarta since I was born and when I began photography four years ago, until this very second I almost never produced a work about Jakarta. Maybe this will be away for me to understand more about Jakarta before judging it prematurely.

I really enjoy shooting in the streets and I think it is also a good way to improve my patience. Something that I realize I'm lacking of.

Alex Webb, a Magnum photographer said about his method of work "I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner".

So, I'm having a truce with Batavia for now.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Exhibition in Taipei

I'm exhibiting several of my photos in an exhibition at River gallery, Taipei. Kloie Picot, a Canadian photographer based in Taiwan and a friend of mine, invited me to submit several of my work.

The exhibition itself is intended for charity. All the photos in the exhibition are for sale and all the profit will be given for the benefit of the Palestinian and Iraqi refugee.

I won't be coming since I'm still stuck in Jakarta right now. But certainly hope that the exhibition will doing well for the artists and the purpose.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ruining My Negatives!

Saya akhirnya memproses sendiri film bw di rumah minggu kemarin. Ada tujuh roll film yang saya proses hari itu. Proses tersebut menghabiskan waktu empat jam dari meracik cairan chemical foto, developing dan mengeringkan negatif.

Semua tampak berjalan mulus, saat selesai di proses, hampir semua negatif memperlihatkan exposure yang oke. Namun kesalahan datang pada akhir, saat mengeringkan negatif film saya gantung di ruang terbuka, di tali jemuran. Saat saya melihat frame demi frame di setiap negatif yang ada, banyak bercak yang mengotori gambar. Bercak-bercak itu merupakan debu-debu yang terbawa oleh angin.

Ini dua frame dari hasil scan negatif-negatif saya. Kesalahan terjadi namun pelajaran berharga didapat.

Sarinah, Banjir Jakarta 2008.

Jalan Sabang, Banjir Jakarta 2008.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mengingat "Jasa" Suharto (1921-2008)

Larry Burrows / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images
Suharto dan istrinya, Siti Hartinah sedang latihan menembak.
Bersama mereka, Tommy yang menutup telinganya.

Saya sedang berada di rumah kawan saya di daerah Jakarta Timur ketika berita itu datang. Suharto meninggal. Istri kawan saya kemudian memberitahu semua saluran televisi sudah dipenuhi dengan berita mengenai kematiannya.

Hari itu hari minggu. Saya masih ingat betul ketika Siti Hartinah, istri Suharto yang lebih dikenal sebagai Ibu Tien, meninggal pada tahun 1996. Saat itu kehebohan juga terjadi di media dan entah kebetulan atau tidak, hari itu juga hari minggu.

Kematian Suharto merupakan akhir dari rentetan berita yang membosankan setiap harinya di media massa mengenai dirawatnya mantan Presiden RI kedua yang memerintah selama 32 tahun dibawah rezim orde baru itu di Rumah Sakit Pusat Pertamina (RSPP). Namun juga merupakan awal dari rentetan berita yang akan memenuhi media cetak dan elektronik selama beberapa hari kedepan.

Keesokannya, Harian Kompas, surat kabar terbesar di negeri ini, menurunkan laporan khusus sebanyak 16 halaman. Jakob Oetama, pendiri Harian Kompas (bersama alm.PK Ojong), menulis sendiri berita utama kematian Suharto. Hampir seluruh media elektronik meliput secara langsung prosesi perjalanan jenazah Suharto dari Jakarta sampai ke Astana Giri Bangun, kompleks pemakaman keluarga di Karanganyar, Jawa Tengah yang menjadi tempat peristirahatan terakhirnya.

Dari Astana Giri Bangun kemudian berlanjut dengan tayangan-tayangan khusus untuk mengingat jasa-jasa "Pak Harto", sebutan yang sangat populer di jaman orde baru, bahkan ada satu tv yang menuliskan "Selamat jalan Bapakku, Eyangku", ternyata memang televisi tersebut dimiliki oleh salah satu anggota keluarga Cendana.

Puja-puji dilayangkan dengan diiringi lagu-lagu sedih seakan-akan seluruh penduduk Indonesia yang 200 juta itu berduka semua. Seolah seorang pahlawan besar meninggalkan kita. Seolah melupakan bahwa 10 tahun lalu, televisi-televisi yang sama memberitakan tentang jatuhnya rezim orde baru, tentang kebobrokan Suharto. Dan sekarang seolah-olah semua itu tidak ada, bersih dan suci. Sangatlah ironis mengingat saat berkuasa dulu, Suharto yang menerapkan kontrol media yang ketat, tidak segan-segan membredel media bila terdapat berita yang menyinggung pemerintah. Kini ia dimuliakan oleh mereka. Tempo dan Sinar Harapan merupakan beberapa dari media-media yang pernah dilarang untuk terbit dimasa pemerintahan Suharto.

Jasa besar yang paling sering disebut-sebut adalah berhasilnya dia membawa Indonesia Swasembada Pangan Beras. Hal itu dicapai dengan pengenalan bioteknologi di bidang pertanian menggunakan varietas bibit padi unggul. Namun, disaat inilah industrialisasi pabrik masuk dengan para pemodal besar yang membuat posisi petani semakin terjepit dan makin miskin sampai sekarang. Dan apabila dilihat, kecuali 1984 Indonesia masih terus mengimpor beras untuk memenuhi kebutuhan pangannya.

"Gelar" Bapak Pembangunan Bangsa juga kembali disebut setelah lama tak terdengar. Suharto dianggap sukses membangun Indonesia dengan program Rencana Pembangunan Lima Tahun atau Repelita. Namun pada kenyataannya, masih banyak desa yang belum dialiri listrik dan jaringan telepon. Apabila pada jaman orde baru, ada desa yang mempunyai jalan yang sudah diaspal, hampir bisa dipastikan jalanan itu dibangun ketika Suharto akan melakukan kunjungan ke daerah tersebut. Suharto sering mengunjungi daerah untuk berdialog dengan para petani dan nelayan, kegiatan tersebut dulu terkenal dengan sebutan Kelompencapir (Kelompok Pendengar, Pembaca dan Pemirsa). Saya ingat sering melihat acara ini dari TVRI waktu kecil.

Pelanggaran HAM juga terjadi dibawah rezim orde baru, termasuk pembantaian terhadap simpatisan komunis pada tahun1966-67, yang jumlahnya melebihi setengah juta jiwa. Suharto juga menjalankan operasi Petrus (Penembak Misterius), sebuah aksi dari militer Indonesia pada tahun 1980an untuk menembak mati para residivis tanpa proses hukum. Tanpa babibu, langsung tembak.

Tidak seorangpun diadili dalam kasus pelanggaran HAM itu. Pengusutan kasus korupsi sebesar 35 juta dollar yang dilakukan yayasan Supersemar milik Suharto pun masih berlarut-larut dan tidak jelas kelanjutannya.

Suharto jelas harus diingat, tidak boleh dilupakan. Namun yang lebih penting ia harus diingat baik dan buruknya. Bahwa dibalik sebutan "Smiling General" terdapat sisi buruk yang sama sekali tidak pantas diteladani.

Saat saya melihat liputan langsung di televisi mengenai upacara pemakamannya. Ibu saya juga menonton liputan itu, tampak ia sedikit mengeluarkan air mata. Sewaktu kecil ia pernah mengingatkan pada kami, anak-anaknya agar hati-hati kalau bicara soal presiden. Saat jeda iklan sambil sedikit terisak ia bertanya pada saya "Ron, kamu ga sedih pak Harto meninggal?".

Saya hanya menjawab singkat "Enggak".

Monday, January 28, 2008

Processing My Negatives

Old Market / Rony Zakaria

I started photographing almost three years ago. But the fact that my first camera is digital, I never ever processed a negative film in a dark room. With digital camera you don't have to take your film to the lab or to a darkroom, because your camera does it for you. Right after the click of the shutter button, you can instantly preview the result.

And it was until yesterday I finally learnt and actually experienced the process. Sihol, a fellow photographer, was kindly enough to teach me the craft. He told me about what chemical to use and the right temperature to develop a good negative.

I started to have interest in the developing process of a film when I tried shooting with analog film camera. Test driving at first, it becomes more frequent and finally I decided that I have to learn much more about film, including its developing process.

And the results turned out quite ok for a first timer. But I need a lot of practise to perfect it. Well, practice makes perfect right!