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.