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Have you ever been to Bali, Indonesia?
I’m asking this question because I’ve never been there. Our merchant ship only passes the Melacca (Malaka) Strait between Indonesia and Malaysia but I’ve never went ashore to the city,like my fellow seafarers. Indonesians are like Filipinos, especially Bicolanos. There is no wonder about this because our ancestors mostly came from Indonesia when Islam took hold of the archipelago in the early 15th century. Many Indonesians fled to neighboring islands, like the Philippines even before the colonization of the Spaniards in the country. Bicol region have traces of Indonesian dialects or words. I can now conclude that the name Mayon (the famous volcano in the region) is the same with Mayong in Bali. There is also a barrio named Mayong in Tiwi, Albay, just near the Mayon Volcano. Even our local cuisine can be traced its beginnings mostly from Indonesia. When counting numbers from one to ten, there is also a clear similarity with Indonesians (saro, duwa, tolo, apat, lima, anum, pito, walo, siyam, sampulo).
I have two favorite hubbers from Indonesia, prasetio30 and febreidethan. I’m sure they can attest to the veracity of these facts. Unluckily, the local archives don’t have much data about this because the invading Moros burnt many public edifices, including vital documents concerning about the history of our region, the Bicol peninsula.
While researching for linkages about my ancestry, my grandfather said about the Indonesians, as early settlers in the region. So, here I am, going back to my roots. I will start in the beautiful island of Bali wherein the influence, customs and belief of the great Majapahit dynasty still lives in the hearts of many Balinese.
Bali is one of Indonesia’s 17, 508 islands with a total land area of 5, 653 sq. km. Approximately 95 percent of Bali’s 3.5 million people practice a form of Hinduism blended with Buddhism, animism and ancestor worship.
Time spent in Bali is time spent immersed in the culture and religion of the place. Hinduism is an all pervasive thing in the island. Its temples are everywhere. If you want to have a peaceful getaway, you can meditate in one of the sacred temples or places in the island.
Places and Villages to visit
Tanah Lot & Ulu Danao
These temples feature traditional Balinese style meru, or multi-roofs. In Balinese religion, meru represent mountains or volcanoes, which are the abodes or homes of the gods. Both are also built on water -Tanah Lot on a rocky formation off the southeast coast, while Ulu Danao on an all but submerged little island on a lake. Danao in our Bicol dialect means body of water, especially lake. The best time to visit Tanah Lot is at sunset where you can enjoy a picture-postcard view of crimson sky behind the temple’s soaring architecture. Ulu Danao is unique because it is attended by Hindus and Buddhists. The devotees undoubtedly enjoy the temple’s cool mountain setting, with its underlying enchantment and mysticism.
It is a large volcanic lake in the island’s northeast that supplies most of Bali’s irrigation waters. This crater lake is guarded by the ashen Mount Abang. To the east is the moody Banung Batur volcano. Its eruptions in 1917 and 1926 almost wiped out the population in the nearby villages. These days, restaurants along the southern road of the lake serve as monitors. Tourists can also enjoy the sumptuous Balinese cuisine with the volcano at the background. The village nearby is the famous Secardadi. In order to reach the place, if you stay in Kuta (where most holidaymakers stay, you first go through Batubulan, the center for stone crafting. Every shop in town is like a museum, showcasing life-size sculptures of lions, monkeys and other native attractions.
This is a northern village in the cooler mountain region. It’s main craft is woodcarving. Woodcarvers still use the traditional way - no machineries, producing anything from rocking horses to fantastic ceremonial masks.
This Bali’s northwest district is the haven of the great rice terraces, similar to our rice terraces in Benguet, Mountain Province (Philippines). Aside from rice, the main crops of the island are vegetables, cocoa, coffee and cloves (for those aromatic cigarettes).
This is the local fishing community where holidaymakers and tourists as well can share the black sand beach of its coastline.
With bright colored clothes and accessories, Bali dancers are mostly young girls. Balinese girls dress for a full-moon festival. There is what they call Ubud offerings at the north of the Ubud palace.
There is a ceremony in Bali that is done almost any time of year. It is called a Sanghyang trance dance, to ward off demon spirits, birth ceremony or a wedding. Blessings of the priests inside the temple were both festive and faithful.
The most distinct Balinese dance is the Legong. According to legend, Legong weas created by command of the 18th century king of Sukawati. He ordered his court dancers to reproduce a vision of two angels who visited him while he was meditating. The dancer start training as early as five years of age. The best are selected as community dancers when they are eight years old. By the age of 14, a Legong dancer will be ready to retire.
Tri Hita Karana
For many Balinese, happiness can only be achieved if there are harmonious relationships between humans, God and the environment. The world witnessed this philosophy, called “Tri Hita Karana,”in action after the October 2002 bombing. Instead of social unrest amnd despair, the Balinese - Hindus, Moslems and Christians alike- helped each other rebuild their island.