SOLO, the Spirit of JAVA Part 1 | SunStar

SOLO, the Spirit of JAVA Part 1

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SOLO, the Spirit of JAVA Part 1

Friday, July 08, 2016

BOROBUDUR – the world’s largest Buddhist temple serves as background to Peter Rey, JB, and the author.

THE 2nd quarter ASSEAN JCI Senators Board Meeting was held in SOLO, Indonesia.

SURAKARTA, or commonly known as SOLO, is the older of the two royal cities (Jogjakarta) in Central Java. Not long after their establishment – in 1745 and 1757 respectively – SOLO’s two royal houses wisely stopped fighting and instead threw their energies into the arts, developing a highly sophisticated and graceful court culture. You might like to know that the Gamelan (Javanese traditional music instruments) pavilions became the new theatres of war, with each city competing to produce the more refined court culture – a situation that continues to this day.

While Rey attended the conference – Peter, JB, and I contracted an SUV for a day tour that started at 6 A.M. After a 2-hr drive, we arrive at a location surrounded by volcanoes and jagged limestone cliffs to the world’s largest Buddhist monument, BOROBUDUR - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was well worth hiring a guide to explain the significance of the statuary and bas-relief scenes while walking through an extensive system of stairways, corridors, and among the bell-shaped spires of this 9th-c most-visited tourist attraction of Indonesia. We felt that climbing BOROBUDUR is a pilgrimage in itself, meant to be experienced physically and spiritually. By 10:30 A.M., we left for another location.

As we drove nearer, we caught sight of three giant, rocket-shaped shrines, each smothered in intricate narrative carvings, which suddenly loom up by the side of the highway to another UNESCO World Heritage Site - PRAMBANAN. The complex consists of six temples in a raised inner courtyard, surrounded by 224 minor temples, which now lie in ruins. It was a quick going-in-and-out of the various sanctuaries and we easily covered the area on foot under the midday sun.

As head of the ASSEAN JCI Senators delegation, Rey and I were dressed up in the traditional Javanese Keraton outfit for a royal reception at the Mangkunegoro Palace. My face was made up; hair fixed to an extended bun; and attired in a black blouse and geometric-motive batik skirt.

Rey was provided everything - from headgear up to his sandals, including a Kris tucked at his back. We were honored with a performance of ‘Wayang Orang’ (dance drama based on Hindu epics) accompanied by the royal Gamelan orchestra. Delegates were then ushered to partake in a feast consisting of the past kings’ favorite dishes. What a wonderful day!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 09, 2016.

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