Pasca Studi di Luar Negeri: Siapkah Indonesia dengan Tuntutan Zaman?


AcademicMemiliki pengalaman studi di luar negeri adalah pengalaman berharga yang bisa diraih oleh seorang pemuda Indonesia. Bukan saja karena studi di luar negeri membutuhkan persiapan yang matang, studi di negara orang lain juga membutuhkan kebulatan tekad untuk mencapai apa yang dicita-citakan. Terkadang muncul sebuah pertanyaan, apakah yang akan dibawa oleh pemuda-pemudi Indonesia setelah kembali studi dari negara orang lain tersebut? Berikut ini saya akan memaparkan, mungkin tidak banyak, tentang tantangan dan kesempatan yang saya alami sekembali dari Amerika Serikat untuk mengikuti program pendidikan tingkat pasca-sarjana, S2 di Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Tantangan pertama yang dihadapi adalah pandangan pujian, sekaligus skeptis dari beberapa lulusan dalam negeri yang bekerja di beberapa perguruan tinggi di daerah. Artinya, pandangan pujian selalu datang dari insan cendekia yang memang bisa menghargai prestasi akademik orang lain berskala internasional dan pandangan skeptis berasal dari individu-individu yang merasa iri dengan kelebihan orang lain, dan sedapat mungkin untuk menjatuhkan si pemuda atau pemudi yang studi di luar negeri tersebut. Hal ini memang rasanya tidak masuk akal, namun tentu menjadi kendala yang sangat unik untuk pengembangan Indonesia ke depan.

Tantangan ke dua yang dihadapi adalah berkaitan dengan hal administratif. Tidak sedikit yang komplain mengenai penyetaraan ijazah, namun bagi saya pribadi itu baik, sepanjang hal administratif ini bertujuan untuk proses “mengakui” ijazah luar negeri tersebut. Jika saya perhatikan, sistem pendidikan luar negeri, lebih terfokus sehingga pola pendidikan tinggi di negara tersebut telah mementingkan proses belajar daripada hasil atau produk yang bisa dihasilkan. Selain penyetaraan ijazah, tantangan lainnya adalah mengenai jabatan akademik, fungsional, dan golongan. Tiga hal ini  harus diurus sedemikian rupa terlebih dahulu, baru hak sebagai dosen diperoleh. Terkadang, urusan sertifikasi dosen pun belum tentu mengalami proses yang mulus, malah berliku-liku, alias data di forlap belum ter-update dan sistem online Indonesia yang masih belum se-update yang ada di negara-negara maju. Akibatnya, dosen yang benar-benar fokus kepada kegiatan akademis terkendala karena urusan administratif seperti ini.

Tantangan ke tiga berkaitan dengan tuntutan studi di luar negeri. Jika anda menamatkan pendidikan tingkat S2 di luar negeri, maka besar kemungkinan anda wajib studi di luar negeri untuk tingkat S3. Pertanyaannya adalah, studi di luar negeri tidak semudah studi di dalam negeri. Ada proses berliku dan ala kelok sembilan yang harus dihadapi untuk bisa studi di luar negeri. Apakah sama tantangan yang dihadapi ketika seseorang studi di universitas ternama di luar negeri dengan persyaratan yang mendunia, sementara di dalam negeri, persyaratan yang sama tidak diberikan pada level yang sama? Selain itu, proses untuk bisa diterima S3 pun tidak semudah yang dibayangkan. Jika sebuah Perguruan Tinggi memang berdedikasi untuk memajukan kualitas pendidikannya, maka PT tersebut tidak hanya mendorong dosennya untuk S3, tapi juga harus konsisten dalam hal membantu dosen tersebut menamatkan studinya tepat waktu dan dengan kualitas yang baik. Jika dosen tersebut dibiarkan saja sendiri menghadapi segala tantangan yang dihadapi di luar negeri, maka amat disayangkan jika banyak lulusan luar negeri dari sebuah PT ingin pindah dari PT tersebut karena apa yang mereka butuhkan tidak terdapat di sana.

Selain tantangan, kesempatan juga ada setelah studi di luar negeri. Kesempatan yang ada adalah pemenuhan publikasi di jurnal internasional. Oleh karena lulusan luar negeri memang di-design untuk memenuhi kebutuhan internasional, maka kesempatan publikasi jurnal internasional terbuka untuk mereka. Namun, di saat yang sama, administrasi di Indonesia pun kembali mengganggu, seperti, aspek linearitas, karena sistem penelitian di Indonesia belum lagi inter-study. Di Indonesia, linearitas dikenal untuk gelar S1, S2, dan S3 yang bidangnya sama (nah, ini berat lho, nggak gampang). Penelitian jadi lebih terfokus, itu bagus, hanya saja, sayangnya peneliti sering stuck dan bosan mengkaji yang sama terus-menerus. Jika bidangnya Teaching, maka penelitiannya tentang Teaching, bagaimana jika ia suatu saat punya ide cemerlang tentang Teknologi? Bisakah dikaitkan dengan Teaching?

Intinya, setelah studi di luar negeri, kami dihadapkan kepada kondisi di mana kami harus tetap tampil bagus, sementara lingkungan, kesempatan, administrasi, appresiasi, dan prosedur yang ada tidak terlalu mendukung kami untuk maju melangkah ke masa depan yang lebih baik. Saya pun tidak sedikit dan tidak sekali, mendengar akademisi berkata, “yang penting gelar, masalah luar negeri atau dalam negeri, itu terserah”.” Saya cuma prihatin. Jika begitu, untuk apa ya pemuda-pemudi Indonesia yang berkorban perasaan jauh dari keluarga, menantang maut dengan suhu yang minus, bersabar dengan pola makanan yang tidak sesuai selera kadang-kadang, setibanya di Indonesia, dianggap, “kamu lulusan luar negeri? trus, apa? mau bangga-banggain diri di sini? Ini Indonesia, bung! kalau nggak mau, balik aja gih ke negara di mana kamu studi dulu!” Saya pun semakin prihatin. Memang tidak semua lulusan luar negeri yang bagus, namun setidaknya tanyalah proses apa yang ia lalui sehingga bisa studi di negeri orang tersebut. Yang kami inginkan adalah kesempatan untuk mengembangkan Indonesia melalui ilmu yang kami miliki. Kami tidak butuh jabatan, tapi kami butuh kesempatan untuk berkembang demi Indonesia. Jika terkendala dengan keputusan sepihak yang seringkali terjadi di Indonesia, salahkah kami memang brain drain itu terjadi?

Yang lebih menyedihkan adalah pernyataan ini: “kamu maunya yang gratisan, tentu iya. kami saja studi dalam negeri pakai uang sendiri!” Rasanya, ingin pergi saja ke negara orang tersebut dan mengabdi di sana. Tahukan biaya yang kami keluarkan ketika studi di luar negeri? Tidak akan terbeli dan sebanding dengan rekan-rekan yang studi di dalam negeri. Apa saja itu? Tanyalah kepada yang lulusan luar negeri.

Siapkah Indonesia dengan tuntutan zaman? Indonesia dituntut untuk meng-global, mengapa harus menutupi diri dengan kesempatan yang ada?

Padang, 31 Mei 2015 

Fulbright – An Example of Study Objective (2010) for Indonesian Applications


My friends in Indonesia asked me several questions dealing with how they should write a good Study Objective for Fulbright scholarship. For the purpose of sharing what I wrote for my application and helping them to achieve a better result for them, I decided to share my study objective in this blog. After learning and studying in the United States for about two years in the Master’s degree, I found many tremendous achievements I reach both as a writer and as a teacher of English. Here is my Study Objective that I sent to AMINEF in 2010. For your information, I did not revise this document because I want you to see how I change and improve myself in terms of writing clearly in English (not just grammar correctness).

Syayid Sandi Sukandi

Master’s Degree

 

Study Objective

I am interested to study in a master’s degree in the field of English language and literature in the United States. The concentration within the field is Composition and Rhetoric. It is relevant to my educational background—Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature—and to the needs of the college where I am currently working. A master’s degree program will provide me with more in-depth learning and advanced training so that I will have the expertise I need inside and outside the academic world. Indeed, a master’s degree will enhance my academic qualifications and help me gain professional development as an English lecturer in STKIP PGRI Sumatera Barat.

In STKIP   PGRI Sumatera Barat, I teach English subjects. The subjects are Writing I   (Paragraph development) and Writing II (Essay writing), Translation I   (English-Indonesian translation) and Translation II (Indonesian-English translation), Cross-Cultural Understanding, Speaking III (Speech), and English Correspondence. Recently, I have a plan to teach other subjects as well, such as Introduction to Literature, Reading Comprehension, Public Speaking, and Academic Writing. Since I do not possess a master’s degree, the chances to realize the plan are still out of reach. Therefore, a master’s degree program in English language and literature will surely improve my knowledge base in those subjects so that I can realize the abovementioned plan.

In the master’s degree program, I will focus my study on Composition and Rhetoric.   This is because the college needs lecturers who have academic skills and experience in all kinds of writing or rhetorical situations. The future objective for this is when I have accomplished my master’s degree program; I will take responsibility as an English lecturer whose specialization is writing. Besides, I will be involved as a member of the editorial board in the research unit of the college. The task of the unit is checking and revising the language of research articles before they are published in academic journals. Considering these goals, I am sure that the skill and experience that I will receive in a master’s degree program in the United States will not only aid my academic development but also empower me to achieve the goals.

The head of the English department and Chairperson of the college have encouraged me to pursue a master’s degree by focusing on composition and rhetoric in English. They officially want me to serve as one of the trainers in the program of Professional Teacher Education (PTE) in 2011 to teach subjects related to Writing in the college. The program itself is conducted under the regulation of the Directorate of Higher Education of Indonesia. Therefore, I need to have a good understanding of composition and rhetoric in order to be admitted as a trainer in the program. Composition and Rhetoric will be a considerable emphasis to the overall program of my study in the master’s degree so that I am eligible to perform the best work in the program and effective in training the students who participate in it.

Regarding this Fulbright scholarship program in particular, I want to obtain a master ’s degree of English language and literature in the United States not only because it is an English speaking country but also because it has an excellent reputation for quality of education. As an Indonesian, I believe that studying English in the United States can help me acquire greater fluency in the English language, which, in turn, will help my future students. When I come back to Indonesia after successfully completing my study, I will have a better understanding of English as both a field of study and a   communicative tool. In addition, I will understand the cultural values of daily life in the United States. These values, then, can be shared with my students in the college in order to help them better understand the importance of cross-cultural understanding.

An additional thing that I want to learn in the United States is to know and understand how American students learn in their class. In this case, I would love to share the knowledge of Indonesian cultures with students in the United   States. This activity will positively contribute to my personal experience as a lecturer and this kind of experience is really a rewarding one for me. When I have understood how the American students learn, I would like to apply the positive sides that I have seen in the United States to my students in STKIP PGRI Sumatera Barat. I hope that a better improvement of cross-cultural understanding between the students of Indonesia and of the United States can be properly maintained after doing the above thing.

To sum up, studying English language and literature with Composition and Rhetoric as its focus in the United States will give me many great insights that I can develop and apply in the college after finishing my master’s degree. Conducting research dealing with students’ ability in composing academic writing and sharing a well-shaped concept of English and American cultures with my students will benefit them in their university lives and in the future. I also hope to enhance and promote the future or long-term objectives of STKIP PGRI Sumatera Barat as one of Indonesia’s important educational assets. In the end, a Fulbright scholarship will help me ensure the future development of Indonesia’s students and teachers.

From what you can read above, you can see that I tend to compose my ideas on grammatical aspect too much. As a result, I did not let my ideas out on paper. Perhaps, this very aspect was the thing that created a gap between me as a student of English as a foreign language with most Americans who are, of course, native speakers of English. Now, after learning Writing in the United States, I am able to use my own linguistic abilities to argue and even compose my own ideas in writing – truly with my own “voice”. Writing in English has become one of the joyful experiences I have in me. Every time I read a book, I could hear someone is saying something to me through his or her works. Besides, I also learned how to engage with American and international students in the classrooms in order to see how they argue and think as well as react about different things.

To be honest, I did not travel a lot around the United States due to several circumstances, but by reading, I can have a thorough comprehension of this country. It turned out that being an American is not as easy as being an Indonesian. America is so complex in lots of aspects, especially after the influence of European settlements in history, the riot of civil wars between “white” and “black” people, and the political interests of this country over other countries that might not be interpreted well enough, given the barrier in language. I am also aware of how Americans frame certain ideas in English because, sometimes, what they intend is the same with mine, but because of the language barrier, the same intention is not translated well across different types of English language users on the globe.

For my friends who want to apply for this Fulbright scholarship, please remember that this country is not as singular as your country, Indonesia, especially on the basis of race. In this country, you cannot call others based on how they look. You need to respect one another. You also need to be respected by others, equally. I thought that I would see blonde and light skin people all around, instead, I see people even within the same color as I am – Asian American. Therefore, I cannot judge others on the basis of skin colors in the United States. Also, religion-wise, you will see the reality of how people see your religion through different lenses. Since I am a Muslim, I know that not so many people in the United States know clearly what Islam is. If I accidentally meet people who disrespect it, I tend to explain to them that what they did was disrespectful. If they still do things that harm me emotionally, then I will better go and leave them, for good. The more you understand this country, the more you will see that basically, people everywhere are the same. What makes them different is what came to them for the first time. My point is: before you came to this country, please be prepared mentally and socially. Never lose yourself as an Indonesian because they basically want to know you more, individually, because you are the “chosen” people from both countries. They also want to know more about your country through you. Sharing what you know to the best you can is a good thing to do. In spite of that, do something as you need. You do not need to do things that do not resemble yourself. If you do not eat pork, for example, tell them. If you do not drink alcohol, inform them. They will respect what you believe and choose. However, always set your studies as a priority. In my case, if I let myself drowned on traveling too much, I will end up learning nothing for my professionalism, especially since I focus on the Teaching of Writing. Without practicing Writing, never dream to reach a point where you can write, deeply on “your style.” I think I have achieved it now. In years ahead, I hope I can write my books. 🙂

Good Luck with your applications. Oh, before I forget, please remember that the living costs in the United States are high. Sometimes, this situation does influence your mood to learn and study. All the best to you!

2013 – A Year of Achievements and of Learning the Beauty.

Film Bertema Agama dan Budaya di Indonesia – Caranya?


Aku Cinta Film Indonesia – Film Yang Bagaimana?

Setiap kita, pada dasarnya, menyukai film, apapun jenis genre-nya. Baik itu kartun, animasi, aksi, petualangan, misteri, horor, termasuk film bertema reliji atau agama dan budaya. Namun, pertanyannya, film seperti apa yang telah atau kita tonton itu? Lantas, seberapa jauh film bisa berpengaruh pada hidup kita? Kenapa pula sebuah film wajib dikaji terlebih dahulu oleh pakar kebudayaan dan sastrawan sebelum diedarkan ke khalayak pemirsa Indonesia?

Tulisan saya berikut ini diniatkan untuk menjawab pertanyaan-pertanyaan ini. Saya memang bukan termasuk ke dalam pihak-pihak yang bisa membuat film dan memproduksinya. Walaupun demikian, sebagai salah seorang penikmat, sekaligus pengkritik film, saya tentu sedikit banyak mengerti akan apa yang baik dan bagus mengenai sebuah film. Berangkat dari latar belakang saya sebagai mahasiswa lulusan Sastra Inggris (sekarang, Ilmu Budaya) di Universitas Andalas, dan saat ini (yakni pada saat saya menulis tulisan ini) sedang studi di Amerika, dengan bidang Bahasa Inggris, konsentrasi pada Komposisi: Budaya, Sastra, dan Bahasa, maka setidaknya ada sebuah kewajiban bagi saya untuk berbagi ilmu dengan pembaca blog saya ini tentang Tips Membuat Film Bertema Agama dan Budaya di Indonesia. Melalui tulisan ini, saya akan membahas sedikit banyak kaitan antara Film dengan Budaya, serta antara Film dengan Alam Bawah Sadar pemirsa. Konsep yang akan saya gunakan untuk membahas Topik ini berkaitan dengan Teori Alam Bawah Sadar yang diajukan oleh Sigmund Freud. (Bagi mahasiswa sastra dan psikologi, pasti telah mengenal teori ini). Teori-teori berat sengaja tidak saya jabarkan di sini karena tujuannya bukan untuk memaparkan suatu konsep yang rumit, namun menjelaskan upaya yang benar dan baik perihal membuat film bertema agama dan budaya di Indonesia dengan bahasa yang sesederhana mungkin, mengingat tidak semua pembaca Indonesia yang paham bila saya cas cis cus dengan Bahasa Asing di sini.

Film — Konteks — Pemirsa

Sebuah film, dianggap dan dinilai sebagai sebuah “teks”. Dalam ilmu Kajian Media, teks bisa bersifat semua yang kita lihat dan baca serta dengar dalam kehidupan sehari-hari. Sama halnya dengan Film, di dalam Film, yang kita tonton itu, termuat di dalamnya sebuah Konteks. Konteks berfungsi sebagai bingkai, atau wadah di mana film tersebut diproduksi dan diedarkan serta dikonsumsi sebagai media hiburan sekaligus pembelajaran bagi pemirsa. (Kalau hanya sekedar Hiburan, kan sudah ada Musik dan Lagu, ya toh?) Dengan demikian, keberadaan Pemirsa juga bisa mempengaruhi Konteks di mana Film tersebut akan ditayangkan. (Ingat lho, biaya membuat Film itu tidak sedikit, jadi jangan jadikan kegiatan ini sia-sia). Kaitan antara ketiga unsur ini tidak bisa dipisahkan begitu saja, sebab tanpa keberadaan Pemirsa, Film akan menjadi sia-sia; dan tanpa sebuah Konteks, Film bisa menuai berbagai macam permasalahan karena keberagaman tipe dan macam pemirsa. Di Indonesia, pemirsa kita bermacam-macam. Mulai dari anak-anak hingga dewasa. Kaitanya dengan pembuatan film bertema agama dan budaya, tentu Pemirsa di sini adalah orang-orang yang erat kaitannya dengan agama dan budaya di mana Film tersebut diproduksi. Logikanya, Film yang dibuat sebaiknya sejalan dengan Sifat dan Karakter Pemirsa atau Penonton di Indonesia agar Film tersebut Menarik dan Layak untuk ditonton serta dapat dijadikan Media Pembelajaran bagi generasi muda untuk berfikir akan nasib bangsanya ke depan kelak. Jika kita lihat ke Indonesia, terdapat berbagai macam unsur kebudayaan yang ada, tersebar dari Aceh hingga ke Merauke. Mengenai Agama, terdapat pula Lima Agama di Indonesia: Islam, Nasrani, Katolik, Hindu dan Buddha. Sebagai orang Indonesia, kita sebaiknya sadar akan keberadaan penganut agama ini. Oleh sebab itu, yang perlu kita pertahankan adalah keberlangsungan akan kerukunan umat beragama di negara kita. Sebuah Film yang bertema Agama, wajib untuk tidak menyinggung agama apapun. Sebuah Film yang bertema Budaya, wajib untuk bisa merepresentasikan budaya yang disampaikan dengan seksama, agar tidak ada pihak-pihak di Indonesia yang merasa terintimidasi atau merasa terancam, apalagi jika Film tersebut berkaitan dengan komunitas marjinal yang ada di negara kita.

Penulis — Sutradara — Produser

Peran penulis, sutradara, dan produser sangat erat dan penting fungsinya bagi proses pembuatan sebuah film. Mengenai penulis, siapa pun bisa menjadi penulis. Pertanyaannya, penulis yang bagaimana? Pertanyaan yang sama juga jatuh kepada sutradara dan produser. Sebuah pertanyaan kritis yang timbul dari benak saya adalah: “Apa prinsip, visi, dan misi serta niat sutradara dan produser sebelum memprakarsai sebuah pembuatan film? Apa latar belakang mereka secara pribadi? Film-film apa saja yang telah mereka produksi? Apa komentar dan kritik dari pemirsa mengenai Film yang mereka produksi?” Saya mengamati bahwa pada dasarnya, pemirsa Indonesia, tidak mencermati atau mempertanyakan siapa individu yang termasuk ke dalam tiga unsur ini. Penulis yang sejati, ketika karyanya di-film-kan, pasti akan sangat terharu, namun, dia tentu akan wanti-wanti, apakah karyanya bisa “diwakili” dan “terwakili” di layar lebar atau tidak. Alasannya, banyak juga kenyataan di mana Pemirsa kecewa menonton Film Layar Lebar yang diangkat dari Novel karena banyaknya bagian cerita yang dipotong. Alhasil, itu akan merugikan kandungan makna Novel si Penulis. Sutradara, pada dasarnya, adalah individu yang memotori dan meracik sebuah film menjadi menarik dan berdaya guna. Baik atau tidaknya penilaian Pemirsa mengenai Film-nya, itu termasuk ke dalam tanggung jawab Sutradara. (Kenapa? Baca terus, ya?) Sementara Produser, atau mungkin bisa juga disebut Sponsor, bertanggungjawab perihal Pembiayaan Film, meski Produser juga tertarik kepada Profit atau Untung dari Film. Di titik Produser ini, perlu juga dilihat, ingin mendapat untungnya tersebut berupa apa? Apakah dengan cara menghalalkan segala upaya untuk meraih untung? Menghindari sisi kemanusiaan?

Film Asing — Lebih Laku — Banyak Ditonton (Film Indonesia?)

Kita sadar kalau Film kita tidak semuanya yang laku di pasaran per-film-an internasional. Ada yang bagus, tapi juga tidak sedikit yang kurang bagus. Sementara, kita sering tergiur dengan lakunya film luar, bahkan terkadang, bisa mengalahkan posisi film tanah air kita. Kita juga ingin film kita mengalami hal yang sama. Lantas, kenapa bisa laku? Wajar saja laku, karena faktor bahasa di film tersebut dan faktor budaya pemirsa internasional serta selera pemirsa internasional.

Mengenai bahasa, tidak selalu film yang laku di dunia internasional itu mutlak menggunakan bahasa Inggris, namun, dengan menggunakan bahasa Inggris, setidaknya cakupan jumlah pemirsanya menjadi lebih luas. Faktor budaya juga mempengaruhi bagaimana sebuah film dinilai di mata dunia internasional. Karena budaya Indonesia yang cukup “kontras” dengan budaya “luar”, wajar film Indonesia sedikit terasa berbeda nuansanya bagi pemirsa internasional. Ujung-ujungnya ini berkaitan dengan selera pemirsa internasional. Tidak mutlak pemirsa internasional suka film yang berbau kekerasan atau animasi yang penuh intrik serta dibarengi dengan kualitas video dan audio yang bagus. Namun, unsur seperti ini sudah sangat menunjang untuk menjadi sebuah film yang bagus. Sebuah film drama yang bertema keluarga saja bisa laku keras di pasaran karena menginspirasi bagi mereka. Kenapa? Karena film yang laku keras tersebut memberikan inspirasi kepada pemirsa sesuai konteks kebiasaan dan “selera” hidup di mana mereka berada. Kalau kita menonton film Hollywood, misalnya, konteks alur ceritanya dibangun dari sudut pandang orang Amerika. Sementara, film Bollywood, juga mewakili bagaimana orang India mewakili berbagai macam cerita yang diinspirasi dari kultur mereka sehari-hari. Bagaimana dengan kita? Apakah film kita sudah mewakili keberagaman budaya kita? Apakah film kita masih berorientasi profit? Kaitannya dengan Agama dan Budaya, film-film Hollywood dan Bollywood juga memiliki tema Agama dan Budaya, tapi tentu sesuai konteks Amerika dan India. Namun, apakah kita melulu meniru bagaimana orang lain membuat film? Lantas, apa yang menjadi ciri khas film kita? Nah, pada titik ini, kita kaitkan dengan selera pemirsa Indonesia secara garis besar. Saya masih ingat ketika rekan kuliah saya dulu bilang begini, “Hollywood itu identik dengan pistol, sex, dan teknologi. Bollywood itu identik dengan nyanyi, tari, dan aneka masalah sosial di India. Kalau Jepang, ada Samurai. Kalau China, dengan Ninja” Sementara, Film kita? Banyak ide yang bisa dijadikan film. Cuma, dari mana ide tersebut? Dan, apa ide tersebut baik atau jahat? Itu dulu, baru pikirkan soal profit. Kalau Film menarik, ada unsur pembelajaran di dalamnya, dan unsur audio-visualnya mendukung, siapa sih yang tidak akan menonton? (Lho, kok bisa gitu? Kan harus nonton dulu?) Kan ada sinopsis, dear one… Kan bisa baca sinopsis itu.

Film — Novel

Banyak film-film besar yang diangkat dari Novel. Tidak hanya di Indonesia, tapi juga di dunia. Anda pasti sudah tahu akan hal ini. Pertanyaannya, apakah mutlak novel yang laku keras bisa laku pula setelah di-film-kan? Belum tentu. Apakah novel yang biasa-biasa saja bisa membuat filmnya laku keras? Bisa jadi. Seperti argumen saya di atas, sebuah Film, laku atau tidak, bergantung kepada Konteks dan Pemirsa. Kalau Film nya sudah menawarkan kontroversi bagi Pemirsa, saya khawatir akan keberadaan Sutradara dan Produser. Mereka bisa dipertanyakan oleh Pemirsa, dan itu tentunya adalah hak Pemirsa. Novel, pada dasarnya, sama dengan Film, cuma perbedaannya terletak pada cara kita “mengonsumsinya”. Untuk Novel, kita seringkali membangun imajinasi dari susunan kata yang ditulis oleh penulis novel tersebut. Sementara Film, kita hanya duduk, diam, dan menerima apa yang disuguhkan secara visual. Nah, pada bagian ini, manakah yang lebih berbahaya? Novel atau Film? Jawabnya, Film. Mengapa? Jika kita analogikan dengan Makanan, Film sama dengan Makanan Cepat Saji. Tersedia dengan cepat kepada kita. Kita tidak punya andil di dalam “menyaringnya” kecuali setelah “dikonsumsi” terlebih dahulu. Sementara Novel, bagus atau tidaknya jatuh kepada pembaca dalam skala individu, bergantung kepada sejauh mana Imajinasi si Pembaca di dalam memahami karya yang dibacanya. Sementara Film, sekali ditayangkan di layar lebar, ratusan Pemirsa akan mengonsumsinya ke dalam alam bawah sadar mereka. Apa yang digunakan oleh akor dan aktris di film tersebut, akan secara tidak sadar ditiru oleh Pemirsa, seperti Anda, apalagi kalangan anak Remaja yang belum bisa menyaring akan apa yang mereka lihat dan “konsumsi” dari sebuah Film. Coba sekarang saya tanya, “Sebutkan artis paling cantik di Indonesia menurut Anda? Artis Pria Mana yang Paling “Hot”? Film Mana yang Membekas di Hati Anda?” (Tulis Jawabannya di Komentar Bawah ini ya?)

Film Indonesia — Moral Bangsa

“Lagi-lagi, Moral. Bisa enggak sih kita tuh berhenti ngomongin soal Moral? Masalah bangsa tuh udah lebih banyak dari ini”, protes salah satu mahasiswa saya waktu saya mengajar Cross Culture Understanding (Pemahaman Antar – Budaya). Jawab saya, “Oh, Tidak Bisa. Bukankah Indonesia itu Korupsi, Kolusi, dan Nepotisme, juga karena bobroknya Moral? Dalam Islam, bukankah Moral itu yang namanya Akidah dan Akhlakul Karimah? Dan bukankah Moral itu berkaitan dengan Pancasila?” Alasannya begini: “Moral, tidak berbentuk, dan abstrak, alias tidak bisa dilihat. Tuhan pun tidak bisa dilihat. Tidak suka membicarakan Moral, berarti tidak suka akan keberadaan Tuhan di tengah-tengah kehidupan kita. Bukankah Agama itu fungsinya untuk menjadikan manusia lebih manusia?”

Apa kaitannya dengan Film? Pengalaman saya ketika saya mau berangkat ke Amerika, saya menonton film Hollywood, mulai dari yang ada “esek-eseknya” dengan yang banyak adegan perkelahian serta yang penuh dengan nuansa science dan teknologi. (Anda tahu kok, yang mana aja). Nah, ketika saya sampai ke Los Angeles, terus ke Atlanta, dan kemudian ke Detroit, terus singgah ke Minneapolis, dan St. Louis, saya perhatikan kok kehidupan di Amerika itu jauh sekali dengan apa yang disampaikan oleh Film-nya ya? Memang sih, film tidak mencerminkan dunia nyata. Saya tahu itu. Namun, apa yang terjadi? Yang terjadi adalah saya “disuguhkan” secara tidak sadar untuk melihat Amerika itu bagaimana, terutama perihal “selera film” mereka, dan unsur-unsur budaya lainnya, seperti gaya bicara dalam Bahasa Inggris, cara memakai baju, dan berbagai macam kebiasaan hidup sehari-hari. Ketika saya lihat yang nyata, kok berbeda? Ternyata kehidupan di Amerika Serikat itu lebih kompleks daripada yang saya bayangkan (karena saya belajar Topik ini di negara tersebut). Nah, ketika saya sudah berada di Amerika, baru jelas “konteks” film Hollywood tersebut. Saya pun mengerti akan “selera” orang Amerika Serikat dengan “selera” orang Indonesia berbeda dari segi dimensi psikologis, sosial, dan kebiasaan hidup mereka sehari-hari. Ingat, Konteks Film berkaitan dengan Siapa Pemirsa dan Latar Belakang Film tersebut ditayangkan. Bagaimana kalau itu terjadi dengan Film Indonesia? Kita punya Film Berbau Hantu, Pocong, dan Kuntilanak (dominan), apa kita mau orang luar itu menilai kehidupan kita dari sana? Kita malah akan menjadi generasi paranoid. Bukannya takut kepada Sang Pencipta Alam (Allah SWT), malah takut ke Hantu, Pocong, dan Kuntilanak. Bayangkan kalau Film kita tidak mencerminkan Moral Bangsa kita, atau tidak mengajarkan Moral yang baik-baik, apa jadinya bangsa kita di mata dunia? Meski sih, banyak “penyakit-penyakit” yang perlu diperbaiki sana-sini, nggak cuma “Film”, namun, setidaknya, membuat Film yang mendidik dengan baik dan benar kan termasuk salah satu upaya untuk kita agar bisa membawa kita ke upaya kemajuan Indonesa yang baik dari segi aspek spiritual (di mana aspek ini memang kurang di berbagai belahan dunia). Kepekaan Penulis, Sutradara, dan Produser sangat diperlukan dalam hal ini. Contohnya? Banyak yang bisa dijadikan Film. Tinggal, kejelian Penulis, Sutradara, dan Produser membaca keinginan Pemirsa Indonesia (yang jumlahnya Jutaan) jika ingin Film-nya laku keras, bukan sekedar membuat Film yang diniatkan mendapat Profit, namun isinya biasa-biasa saja, malah membuat kontroversi. Itu kan, sia-sia, namanya. Di mana letak etika perfilman kalau begitu?

Film Asing — Politik dan Ideologi

“Wah, apa pula ini? Berat kali kata-kata kau, bah!”, katanya. Kataku, “Kalau begitu, kapan kamu mau belajar?” Oke, sekarang kita lihat ke Film Asing dan apa kaitannya dengan Politik dan Ideologi. Kok bisa? Seperti yang saya jelaskan di atas, sebuah Film diproduksi dan dipengaruhi oleh “konteks” di mana Film tersebut akan diproduksi, ditayangkan, dan diedarkan. Logikanya, jika Suhu Politik dan Ideologi di negara di mana Film tersebut dibuat tidak kondusif, besar kemungkinan Film yang akan ditayangkan berisi kritikan terhadap negara itu sendiri, namun perlu juga diingat, di Indonesia sudah ada Badan Perfilman Indonesia tidak? Di negara lain, mereka memiliki konsep “hukum” mereka sendiri, yang cukup berbeda dengan kita. Misalnya, konsep kebebasan atau “freedom”. Dinamika kehidupan mereka juga berbeda dengan kita, yang seringkali dinamika ini dipengaruhi oleh kultur mereka yang turun temurun, kemudian iklim, kondisi geografis, dan pengaruh budaya baru dari imigran yang ingin menjadi warga negara di negara tersebut. Namun, ketika kita lihat proses disetujuinya sebuah Film untuk layak edar ke publik, kita lihat dulu, konteks “mengapa” film tersebut bisa layak edar. Kita lihat film Hollywood, apakah mereka memproduksi film setelah mencermati budaya negara lain? Kan tidak. Bollywood? Apakah mereka memperhatikan budaya Pemirsa dari negara lain? Kan tidak. Boro-boro. Mereka tentu juga punya “selera” mereka masing-masing. Selera ini pun dibentuk dan dipengaruhi oleh kondisi politik dan ideologi di mana mereka tinggal dan dibesarkan. Hal yang sama juga terjadi pada kita. Itu sebabnya, ketika kita menonton film buatan luar negeri, kita cenderung menikmatinya sebatas menikmati, meski pada hakikatnya, cara kita berfikir dan memutuskan sesuatu dalam hidup, juga bisa dipengaruhi oleh apa yang kita “lihat”. Salah satunya, ya, dari Film. Mungkin saat ini kita sekedar menonton saja sebuah Film, tapi coba ketika seseorang menyebut sebuah kata saja yang berkaitan dengan Film yang kita tonton tersebut, apakah pikiran kita otomatis ingat kepada “sesuatu”? Lalu, apa bedanya dengan Iklan, coba? Bagaimana Iklan di Indonesia? Bukankah Film juga bisa digunakan sebagai Media Informasi Politik dan Ideologi melalui Alam Bawah Sadar? Kalau Anda ke Mall, misalnya, Anda cenderung membeli Produk yang ada Iklannya, atau sekedar beli-beli doank? Penonton awam mungkin tidak “ngeh” akan hal ini sebab ketika menonton Film, tidak dilandasi dengan pengetahuan yang ada, sekedar menonton, atau on the surface. Bagi penonton aktif dan kritis, dia seringkali suka mempertanyakan: “Kenapa begitu?; Kok bisa sih?; atau Maksudnya apa Film ini?” Biasanya, yang kritis seperti ini tentu yang memiliki Wawasan di dalam Memahami Film dan mendalami Makna Film tersebut dibuat. Kalau kita bisa menikmati sebuah Film, sekaligus meng-kritisi nilai-nilai yang ada di dalamnya, Kenapa tidak? Sebagai penonton Kritis, tentu sudah kewajiban kita untuk berbagi makna apa yang kita peroleh dari Film yang kita tonton. Bisa jadi penonton lain sekedar nonton doank, dan kita tahu jelas makna Film-nya secara positif dan negatif?

Film Indonesia — Mencerdaskan Bangsa

“Bangsa Indonesia sudah cerdas, kok, mereka udah tahu apa yang mereka lihat dan kerjakan”, kata seseorang pada saya. Saya jawab, “Waduh, jangan percaya. Kalau percaya, berarti elo sama aja dengan enggak mau maju, dan mendekati sifat Ujub, bangga diri, yang akhirnya enggak membawa elo ke mana-mana, selain menjadi stagnan, atau itu-itu aja. Akhirnya, elo dan bangsa elo kagak bakal mau belajar, karena sudah ngerasa cerdas”. Sekarang, kita kembalikan ke Film kita. Apa perlu Film itu harus mencerdaskan bangsa? Lalu bagaimana Film yang mencerdaskan bangsa itu? Begini, tadi di atas kita kan sudah membahas mengenai kaitan antara Konteks dan Pemirsa, sekarang, kita lihat kepada konsep kata “cerdas”. Menurut saya, Cerdas itu tidak sama dengan Pintar. Seseorang yang memiliki nilai Matematika misalnya, berarti ia Pintar di dalam Matematika. Seperti saya misalnya (ceilah), saya bisa Berbahasa Inggris, itu namanya Pintar Berbahasa Inggris (meski saya akui, Bahasa Inggris saya tidak bagus-bagus amat kayak native speakers itu. Lol.). Cerdas itu, menurut saya, bisa menggunakan Ilmu yang dimiliki untuk menyelesaikan masalah yang ada dan yang sedang dihadapi dengan benar dan baik tanpa ada penyesalan di kemudian hari. Coba kita lihat ke bangsa kita? Masalah macam apa yang enggak ada coba? Banyak kan? Nah, apakah kita mau Film Indonesia juga menciptakan masalah baru di tengah-tengah pemirsa?

Bukankah Cerdas namanya jika melalui Film kita menyajikan ke Pemirsa Indonesia akan sebuah Masalah atau Realita yang ada (bukan dari masalah pengalaman pribadi seseorang yang seringkali bias dan terlalu subjektif), lalu kita sampaikan sebuah Solusi akan permasalahan yang ada dengan bingkai agama dan budaya Indonesia yang baik dan benar, bukan dibuat-buat. Perlu diingat, Solusi yang diberikan harus dari sudut pandang agama dan budaya kita, bukan dari apa yang baik dan bagus menurut Sutradara dan Produser. Jika tidak, itu tadi, bisa melanggar Konteks, dan pada akhirnya Pemirsa akan merasa terintimidasi dan tersinggung dengan penayangan Film tersebut. Sekali Film dibuat, sekalipun dihapus, akan ada-ada saja pihak yang mengait-ngaitkan Film tersebut dengan konsep-konsep ini itu, yang pada akhirnya akan membuat beberapa kelompok masyarakat akan termarjinalkan. Lebih dalam dari ini, kita lihat ke bangsa kita. Tidak semua orang yang pernah mengelilingi Indonesia, itu Fakta. Nah, ini juga bisa dijadikan Film, bukan melulu soal Agama dan Budaya saja, bisa juga bertema tentang Alam Indonesia, agar orang Indonesianya lebih peduli lagi dengan alamnya. Kerja sama antara Dinas Pariwisata dengan Dunia Perfilman Indonesia, juga oke kan? Selain Film seperti ini memuat Realita Alam Indonesia, Film ini juga akan bernilai jangka panjang bila ditonton oleh generasi Indonesia yang mempelajari Karya Seni bangsanya nanti di tahun-tahun mendatang. Bisa jadi ada mata kuliah berjudul “Perfilman Indonesia”, ya ‘kan? Apakah orang Bali pernah ke Padang, misalnya? Apa yang mereka ketahui tentang kehidupan di Padang, misalnya? Apakah orang Bandung, pernah ke Jayapura, misalnya? Masih banyak kan yang bisa dijadikan bahan materi menjadi Film?

Berikut ini beberapa poin yang ingin saya sampaikan kepada Penulis Film, Sutradara, dan Produser. Poin-poin ini masih sederhana, namun saya berharap untuk bisa dipertimbangkan dengan seksama.

Sebelum Membuat Film

  1. Pahami Karakter dan Budaya Bangsa dengan Secermat-cermatnya – Ingat Pemirsa : “Siapa Penonton Karya Saya?”, misalnya.
  2. Hindari Membuat Film yang Terlalu Banyak Adegan “Panas” (kalau perlu tidak ada) – Ingat, Industri Pornografi tidak akan pernah berhenti karena itu buatan negara lain, jadi tidak penting kalau Film Indonesia menyuguhkan hal yang serupa. Film Indonesia harus lebih kreatif dari ini. Jangan menyuguhkan hal yang biasa jadi murahan.
  3. Cari Inspirasi dari Kisah-Kisah Orang Indonesia yang Sukses dan Berhasil dalam Hidupnya. Itu lebih Nyata. Sebab, sudah ada Solusinya pada Mereka. – Ingat, Film yang Baik itu adalah Yang Menginspirasi kepada Kemajuan dan Kebaikan, bukan menyisakan Tanda Tanya, di mana Tidak Semua Pemirsa yang Berfikir dengan pola dan struktur yang sama. Alhasil, Film Anda pun sia-sia, dan tidak bermanfaat bagi Pemirsa. Perkejaan yang sia-sia itu, tentu bukan karakter bangsa kita, kan? Kan katanya mau maju? Trus, kan katanya mau jauh dari penjajahan? Kok malah niru gaya orang lain, ya toh?
  4. Sering-sering baca Novel karya Penulis Indonesia – Ingat, Pemirsa Utama adalah Bangsa Indonesia. Kalau Novel yang akan diangkatkan menjadi Film adalah Novel karya Penulis Indonesia, maka besar kemungkinan “selera” Pemirsa Indonesia juga sama. Ini membantu Pemirsa Indonesia untuk memahami “konteks” film tersebut. Dan, tidak perlu membawa tema yang berat-berat, yang ringan-ringan saja, tapi menarik, dan bisa dijadikan pembelajaran. Tidak usah difikirkan “selera” Pemirsa luar negeri, sebab mereka juga sudah punya banyak stok Film di negara mereka. Laku di Indonesia saja sudah membawa Jutaan Rupiah, mengapa Repot-Repot Memikirkan Untung dari Negara Luar? Pada bagian ini, tentu penting kita lihat Konteks Film kita. Kalau masalah sensitif Budaya dan Agama kita diangkat, sebaiknya jangan. Masih ada wadah dan media yang lebih proporsional untuk hal ini.
  5. Pahami Dampak Film Tersebut bagi Anda – Ingat, Tidak Semua Pemirsa akan Berfikir seperti Anda. Kalau Film yang Anda buat itu berkisah tentang Realita dan Masalah Kehidupan, berikan Solusinya yang Konkret, Jelas, dan Masuk Akal serta sesuai dengan Konteks di mana Pemirsa Hidup dan Tinggal, apalagi disesuaikan dengan Konteks Agama dan Budaya mereka. Bukankah Anda akan bahagia jika Film Anda bisa membawa kedamaian di hati Pemirsa? Bagaimana rasanya bagi Anda, bila beberapa Pemirsa Anda mengungkapkan rasa senangnya setelah menonton karya Film Anda? Dan bagaimana pula rasanya jika Anda mendengar dan membaca caci maki Pemirsa Film Anda?
  6. Diskusi dengan Pakar-Pakar yang Menguasai Ilmu Perfilman, Budaya, Seni; dan Belajar dari Film-Film Box Office Indonesia, bukan Box Office Negara Lain. Ini penting, karena berkaitan dengan Konteks. Dari seluruh Film kita yang laku keras, coba dianalisa Film seperti apa yang masih “disukai” Pemirsa, kalau memang niat Anda ingin mendapat Profit. Pertahankan ke arah demikian. Sepertinya, Pemirsa kita, pilih-pilih di dalam menonton Film. Dan, sistem pemasaran Film biasanya dari mulut ke mulut, dan dari blog ke blog, serta dari status di FB mereka, atau Twitter, dan bahkan radio, serta pamflet yang disebarkan di kampus-kampus. Kalau saja satu orang kritis terhadap Film Anda, maka, besar kemungkinan teman-temannya yang lain juga tidak akan suka. Jadi, sebaiknya perhatikan betul konsep Konteks dan Pemirsa jika Anda ingin Film Anda laku dan diminati oleh Pemirsa Indonesia.
  7. Selalu Ingat Pemirsa – Ingat, Pemirsa itu Individu, bukan Khalayak Ramai, tidak bisa dipukul Rata. Bisa jadi karya Film Anda sangat berarti bagi seseorang yang Anda kenal, (atau Anda ketahui di dunia maya, misalnya), namun bukan berarti Anda membuat Film untuk dia seorang, kan? Apa manfaatnya bagi orang banyak untuk mengetahui dan menyaksikan Film ini? Diskusikan dengan teman dan rekan-rekan Pakar Ilmu Budaya, Sastra, Film, dan Bahasa, serta Pendidikan, yang duduk manis di kantor mereka di berbagai Universitas di Indonesia mengenai inspirasi yang Anda dapat. Dan juga, tanyakan juga kepada anak-anak muda yang sedang nongkrong, Film seperti apa yang bagus buat mereka. Apalagi kalau tema Film Anda adalah Agama dan Budaya. Tema ini sangat-sangat berat untuk diangkat. Kalau tidak punya landasan yang jelas mengenai Agama dan Budaya apa yang akan Anda angkat, Anda hanya akan menghasilkan kekisruhan. Hal yang sensitif tidak perlu disajikan, sebab, bukankah budaya bangsa Indonesia, yang suka menjaga perasaan sesamanya? Kalau kita membuat Film dengan tujuan dan target Pemirsa yang jelas, pasti Film kita, paling tidak, bernilai manfaat bagi Pemirsa kan? Film yang bagus itu, menurut saya, adalah yang bila kita tonton berulang-ulang, akan selalu ada makna dan nilai yang ada di dalamnya, tidak hanya sekedar sebatas mengangkat isu terkini atau hal-hal yang sudah jelas garis pembatasnya di tengah kehidupan kita. Orang awam pun, jika mereka suka dengan sebuah Film, pasti akan dibeli Copy-nya yang asli, dan dipinjamkan ke teman-temannya. Alhadil, Pemirsa Anda akan lebih banyak ketimbang yang duduk di bioskop. Secara jangka panjang, pasti akan mengikuti karya-karya Anda kembali ke kemudian hari. Jadi, mana yang penting, unsur Profit, atau unsur manfaat jangka panjang dari Film Anda itu?

Pada saat membuat Film:

  • 1. Apakah Pemain Film sudah terkenal atau pemula?

Ini perlu diperhatikan dengan baik karena “image” pemain Film akan mempengaruhi Pemirsa di saat menonton Film. Kalau pemain Film-nya sudah kadung memiliki image yang baik di mata masyarakat, berikan kesempatan kepada pemain Pemula, agar mata orang Indonesia segar dengan apa yang mereka saksikan di Film Anda. Namun, tidak salah juga mempertahankan selebritis yang bagus dan baik kepribadiannya di tengah masyarakat. Sekalipun dia bermain antagonis, toh, orang akan tetap suka padanya. Kalau pun selebritis itu berperan baik-baik, atau protagonis, misalnya, orang tetap tidak akan suka kalau kenyataannya si dia punya perilaku buruk dan tidak patut dicontoh.

  • 2. Apakah Lokasi atau Setting Pembuatan Film memiliki Sejarah atau Intrik Khusus dengan Film yang akan Dibuat? Kira-kira, reaksi warga Indonesia mengenai lokasi tersebut bagaimana?

Kalau kita Arif dan Bijaksana, kita tentu seharusnya tahu apa kaitan antara Film kita dengan lokasi syuting. Jangan salah lho, Film-Film Barat itu sangat mementingkan Lokasi. Lokasi berbicara secara tidak langsung kepada Pemirsa. Karena lokasinya di “New York”, maka terkesan Oke kan? Coba tengok Film-Film yang berlokasi di kota-kota besar Amerika Serikat, misalnya. Makanya banyak yang suka karena kata “New York” saja sudah membuat orang lain suka. Coba kalau kita menonton Film yang lokasinya di daerah kumuh, atau tempat-tempat di negeri dongeng, apa ingatan kita tertuju pada suatu tempat di sekeliling kita? Setiap Pemirsa, memiliki ingatan tersendiri lho, soal lokasi syuting dan setting di mana cerita Film tersebut dimainkan. Dan, yang lebih lagi, Film juga bisa digunakan untuk memasarkan nama dari suatu kota atau negara, misalnya, Australia. Oleh sebab itu, sensitifitas Sutradara dan Produser di dalam membaca situasi ini penting. Buat saja Film yang  disukai Pemirsa sesuai Konteks, pasti kemungkinan laku sangat besar. Jadi, enggak perlu berbelit-belit, kan? Apalagi yang kontroversi, mereka juga bakal menonton, tapi jika setelah menonton karya Anda, Pemirsa Anda malah mengutuk pekerjaan Anda, apa manfaatnya, coba? Tentu kedamaian di hati Anda, akan terusik. Jika tidak, yah, Tuhan Maha Tahu.

  • 3. Apakah Alur Cerita Masuk Akal?

Pemirsa akan bertanya-tanya di saat menonton Film. Apa iya, bisa begitu? Misalnya, dari itik menjadi kuda zebra. Kok bisa? Ya, itu masuk ke wilayah animasi. Bisa aja, karena memang beranjak dari dunia tidak nyata. Kalau dunia nyata? Ya tentu buat Film yang Alur Ceritanya Masuk Akal. Jangan sampai Pemirsa ketawa cekikikan pas tahu, kalau Judulnya Serius, eh, alurnya seperti perubahan dari sebuah batu menjadi burung elang. Kalau animasi, ya animasi, segala hal bisa terjadi. Tapi kalau Film dari dunia nyata, tentu kita bisa mengukur, sejauh mana sih “ke-tidak-masuk-akal-an” yang disuguhkan? Kalau Filmnya tidak Masuk Akal, seperti Super Hero, jangan tanggung-tanggung, meski tetap sisi kemanusian harus tetap ada. Lalu tanya juga, “Masuk Akal, nggak? Apa kira-kira orang lain akan mengalami Hal yang sama? Kira-kira, bagaimana ya?”

  • 4. Apakah Unsur-Unsur Kebudayaan Sudah Direpresentasikan dengan Baik?

Ini penting lho. Bayangkan kalau seandainya sebuah kata kasar di daerah Batak, misalnya, digunakan sebebas mungkin di Film Anda yang justru malah menghina orang Batak karena tidak sesuai dengan Konteksnya. Film Anda sudah terlanjur dibuat dan diedarkan. Lalu bagaimana? Kan kita sudah tahu pepatah orang Indonesia, “Sedia Payung Sebelum Hujan”, yang sama dengan konsep, “Better Safe than Sorry” di mata dunia. Itu sebabnya, sensitifitas akan kebudayaan bangsa kita itu penting. Jika tidak, tentu Film yang Anda buat itu malah menjadi Titik Api, yang malah mengobarkan masalah baru di khalayak Pemirsa? Sebaiknya, alangkah baiknya jika Film kita itu, dibuat untuk memberikan penerangan akan Solusi dari sebuah Permasalah Hidup yang ada, dan Solusi tersebut harus sesuai dengan, kembali, Agama dan Budaya kita, serta Hukum dan Aturan Negara kita. Kata siapa membuat Film itu, gampang? Susah lho. Capek juga. Yang gampang itu membuat Film Sampah, seperti Pornografi itu. Isinya itu-itu aja, tidak ada penambahan (bagi Anda yang dewasa, pasti mengerti akan hal ini). Maka dari itu, kita tentu tidak ingin menjadikan karya kita sia-sia, ‘kan?

  • 5. Apakah Kostum yang Digunakan pada Film ini akan Menyinggung Sekelompok Etnis di Indonesia?

Perlukah bagian ini? Perlu. Bukankah budaya kita terkenal dengan pakaiannya yang baik dan rapi? Kalau Film Anda bertema Agama dan Budaya, usahakan Anda mengerti dulu, mana yang boleh dan tidak boleh di agama dan budaya tersebut, termasuk perihal pakaian atau Kostum. Jika Anda sembarangan membuat karya yang tidak sesuai dengan Agama dan Budaya, berarti Anda sudah berniat jahat terhadap Agama dan Budaya tersebut. Sederhana, tapi memang demikian adanya, kan? Penjual yang baik itu, yang menjual barang dagangan berkualitas tinggi, dan tentu, kalau Pembeli Komplen, itu hak si Pembeli. Kita tentu pernah menjadi Pembeli kan? Tentu mengerti kenapa Pembeli bisa Komplen. Mengenai Budaya Etnis, lebih baik kita angkat etnis tersebut ke Film kita, sembari kita berikan Solusi yang baik dari permasalahan yang mereka hadapi melalui Film kita dengan sudut pandang yang sejelas-jelasnya. Itu baru namanya, Seni, bukan sekedar Gambar Bergerak. Coba bayangkan, misalnya, pakaian tradisional Bali, digunakan untuk tema pelacuran di kota Jakarta, kan enggak nyambung, malah itu menghina budaya Bali, kan? Ingat lagi konsep Konteks dan Pemirsa.

  • 6. Apakah Totalitas Akting Pemain Film sesuai dengan Bagaimana Dirinya di Dunia Nyata?

Media Informasi dan Teknologi berkembang pesat di Indonesia, termasuk Televisi, Koran, dan Majalah. Peran Pers di dalam membuat berita mengenai selebriti juga bisa mempengaruhi bagaimana Pemirsa “menilai dan melihat” sebuah Film. Jika saja ada selebriti yang reputasinya buruk di media massa Indonesia, sudah tentu Pemirsa sedikit enggan menyaksikan Film Anda, kecuali jika memang Film Anda pantas dan layak ditonton oleh Pemirsa. Pemirsa yang kritis dengan Film akan berfikir, Manfaat Film ini buat Gue Apaan ya? Gue enggak mau buang-buang duit dan waktu cuma buat Film ini doank. Begitu.. Kan, bangsa Indonesia, sudah mulai cerdas? Apa iya?

  • 7. Apakah Unsur Seni disini Berupa Keindahan Bahasa dan Cerita atau Keindahan Tubuh Belaka?

Seni yang baik itu, adalah Seni yang menggugah hati, rasa, dan indera, bukan hanya nafsu. Melihat foto-foto pose selebritis wanita atau pria yang telanjang atau pun hampir telanjang, tidak akan membawa apa-apa selain dangkalnya unsur Seni. Lagi-lagi, kita lihat Konteks Seni di sini. Seni di Indonesia itu, seperti apa? Apa nonton orang bertelanjang di depan layar atau yang sedang bersetubuh? Tidak, kan? Trus, video lagu dangdut itu, bagaimana? Itu sih, biasa, cuma goyang-goyang aja. Kalau sudah menayangkan video manusia yang berpose hampir bugil, sama artinya dengan menggunakan seorang manusia demi objek seks. Apa bedanya dengan menonton penari bugil di bar? Bagaimana rasanya jika Anda sedang berpose seperti itu dipublikasikan ke khalayak ramai? Apa Anda mau? Saya sih, enggak, meski dengan bayaran jutaan pun. Bukan karena saya jelek atau tidak secakep artis lainnya, cuma karena saya tahu akan jati diri sebagai orang Indonesia. Buat apa sekolah kalau pada titik ini, masih mau dibodohi orang. Ya, kan?

Setelah Membuat Film:

1. Serahkan semua penilaian tentang Film Anda kepada Pemirsa. Bukankah Anda membuat Film, sebagai sebuah karya, untuk Pemirsa Indonesia agar mereka bisa menjadi lebih baik menurut pandangan Anda? Jika mereka tidak suka, itu kan bagus, bisa dijadikan bahan untuk membuat Film yang lebih baik lagi di kemudian hari?

2. Berikan Penjelasan Mendasar pada Bagian Awal Film tersebut agar Pemirsa Mengerti “Konteks” bagaimana Film tersebut Harus Dilihat supaya Tidak Ada Kontroversi Mengenai Film Anda dan Anda tidak perlu dilaporkan ke Pengadilan karena Alasan Pencemaran Nama Baik, Baik Nama Baik atas Nama Individu, Suku, Agama, Ras, dan atau Kebudayaan Daerah di Indonesia. Ini penting, lho.

3. Buat Trailer Film Anda semenarik-menariknya dan Sesuaikan dengan Alur Cerita Film secara Keseluruhan. Anda tidak mau, kan, calon Pemirsa lari atau membenci Anda hanya karena menonton Trailer Anda yang jelek? Sekalipun hanya dari Trailer, adalah hak Pemirsa untuk menilai kualitas Film yang Anda buat. Jika Trailernya jelek, mana mungkin Pemirsa akan membuat duit dan waktunya untuk menonton Filmnya secara keseluruhan?

Kesimpulan:

Silahkan ambil sendiri-sendiri ya.

Saya cuma menjelaskan saja. Boleh diambil dan dicerna baik-baik. Jika ada yang kurang pas di hati, silahkan komentar di bawah ini ya. Jika setuju, jelaskan juga mengapa Anda setuju.

Salam.

Sukses selalu perfilman Indonesia! Jadilah yang unik dan kreatif. Bukan jadi pengikut gaya Film orang. Be yourself as the way who you are, if you find something good that people say for your achievement and you, deeply inside you know that, please don’t deny it ~ 

Merdeka Indonesia! Indonesia Raya! 🙂

(Ditulis di Edwardsville, Illinois, Amerika Serikat, January 5, 2013)

The Beauty I feel when I am being a Muslim (March 7, 2012)


Well, people may have different point of view in terms of how they believe in something, especially believing in something known as “God”. I was actually born from a family where my parents adore Islam and Allah SWT.  I am an Indonesian as well. Yes, what a big deal to be an Indonesian, right? Living in a country in which people all over the world view Indonesia as a Muslim country, but there is something I need to mention: we actually do not view our country as such. However, as an individual who is living and staying in Indonesia, as I can tell, what they say about Indonesia is correct. A lot of people in Indonesia are Muslims and they believe in Allah SWT. The major problem that causes such ‘dispute’ among cultural experts, political figures, or even scientists all-over the world in viewing Indonesia, especially those that are seen in the news, merely due to the multiculturalism that Indonesia has. I believe that you will agree with me that each child who is born into this earth would have his or her point of view when he or she is growing up as someone. Looking at the world around him or her will be the way the child learns or understands why such and such chaos might happen.

Now, I currently stay and live in the United States, pursuing my degree in English. The institution in which I am actively enrolling as a student is Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. I can tell you, this is a nice and good university for me. Not only to study but also to live are things that make this campus interesting. I have not often traveled around the United States to see how beautiful or great other universities in the United States. However, I can tell one thing, feeling like being myself in a foreign country is such a huge thing to have. People always say, “be yourself”; however, sometimes, what I see and perceive is that some people tend to be someone else in order to feel secure within him or herself and with other people around him or her. This is not my principle. Wherever I go, I always be myself. That “myself” is being a Muslim. A friend of mine who is living in Indonesia asked me this questions: “Is that difficult to be a Muslim in the United States?”

Honestly, to answer such question is such a great task for me to do. The basic thing, I mean, for that answer, is to say, “no”. It is not difficult. I was just wondering why such question came to me as if I had a difficult times. Perhaps, what the person who was asking had in mind was that I will have terrible life in the United States. Then, I think, this post might be a way for me to write about this. I divide the view for this thing into two aspects. The aspects are before I came to the United States and while I am staying in the United States.

To be honest, when I was still in Indonesia or before I came to the United States, I viewed the United States as such a “huge and developed” country, or, roughly, an advanced one. Actually, I did not know the person who used this term before, but I am sure that this person might be an educated one. Then, I searched for information about the United States. Again and again, as I could also see as well as in my country, too; I often heard and read cases like racism, Muslims under-attack by some people, suicide, murders, or even so many other crimes that happened in the United States. I thought that that was what the news was meant to be. No wonder why I was a “little nervous” to come to the United States. I realize that I was a Muslim, but will the cops capture me as a terrorist while, in fact, I had nothing to do with that? There were many questions came over my head for several days before my departure to the United States. It was exactly at the end of August 2011, I flew from Narita to Los Angeles. That was indeed my first time flight for the international one. “What a great step!”, I said to myself.

Days and days passed so quickly. After living for several months in the United States, but, of course, in a small town, I had experienced having lots of types of foods, friendly faces of American students as well as faces of international students at SIUe, and welcoming faculty and staffs. At this stage, I did not feel so many problems with my religious identity as a Muslim, though I actually stay in an area in which many people are mostly Christian. In spite of having this difference, I honestly can tell that I do not have problems with any other personal matters. I could still do may five-times prayers a day and I could do Friday prayer with Muslim friends from other countries, like Turkey, the US,Nepal, and India. Then, if I relate this perspective with the question above, I would say, “There is a beauty I feel when I am being a Muslim”. Therefore, the answer of the question above is “no”. However, this is only in my perspective. Perspectives of other people might be different than mine anyway.

What about the beauty? What is that?

People here, especially the young ones, they get drunk by consuming alcohol, though not so many of them. Sometimes, they feel “cool” when they get drunk. For me, that never solves problems. That is just a matter of life-style. As a Muslim, I would not want to consume any alcoholic drink. And, until now, I am still fine. The sad part is that I do not have lost of “good friends” to have because of being “different with surroundings”. By avoiding consuming alcoholic drinks, I am saving myself and my money as well. I do not drive in the US; therefore, this would be a perfect one for me to stay healthy. Walking an hour a day is a good thing to do in order to avoid having the problem of heart attack. So, at this point, the beauty is like a king. I could control myself. It has been taught in Islam that I should control myself, not other stuffs control me over myself, especially over my mind.

Then, who does not like having sex? Sex is fun. Is that true? Well, that’s true. As a Muslim, it is “harram” or prohibited to have sex with opposite gender before getting married. I am sure I could see that there are a lot of sexy girls out there, wanting to be touched and grabbed their “pants”, but, that does not make me as a “man” if I do that. Feeling sexy is okay, but showing the sexiness to other people is another case. I have been taught in Islam that I may only touch a woman when I marry her. If I do not marry her, then, I am not allowed to touch her. To appreciate the prettiness of a girl is okay, but to possess that prettiness without good “way” is not acceptable in any way. There goes a reason of why Muslim women should wear hijjab or veil in order to cover their hair. Women are such beautiful creatures that God has created for men. Men have sexual desire to women. Therefore, if women could not control their appearances, or being sexy all the time, then, the problem that could happen is that the men will view women in the “sexual eyes”. No wonder why there are so many women become victims of raping. In Islam, this is bad because both will be equally guilty. At this point, the beauty that I feel when I am being a Muslim is that I have control over me. People may wear anything they want, but it is me who has responsibility to control things that I have seen. If the appearance that I have seen is beautiful, I would say, “Masya Allah” (Praise the Lord); if the appearance of a woman whom I have seen is bad, I would say, “Astaghfirullah” (Oh Allah, please forgive me). Meanwhile, if I have seen women who are almost “naked” in front of me, I would say, “Astaghfirullah” (the same as above) and “Naudzubillah” (Oh God, please forgive me). At last, who would want to be naked in public? They may want to do that, but as an educated person, I will never want to perform myself “naked” or even a half “naked” in public. When I am naked, the image of my body will be public consumption. This is the core of why women should wear hijjab. They are created in such a beautiful body. It is the times for women to be protected from sexual abuse. I think, Islam has this perspective, which is protecting women from such matters and protecting the men from doing such matters.

What about food? Well, this one is also controversial among other people in the US. I do not eat pork or pig. Eating meat that contains pork is a sin. Then, how if I eat something, due to my hungriness (no other foods to eat) and eat that food without knowing the ingredients of the foods? Let’s say, the food contained pork and I did not know that? If there are no other foods, (remember, no other foods), I can still eat it. If there are still many options of food, then, eating pork is a last choice and even become “harram”. Islam is making things easier for me. I could stay healthy, and in the same time, I could notice things that I want to eat with things that I may not eat. I am the king of my life. I would not easily follow what other people do just because those things look fun to eat. To me, this is a big discipline. Islam teaches me to have my own freedom.

All in all, as a Muslim, I would say that having good discipline and good responsibility in terms of things that I see, drink, or eat are the very basic things to do as a Muslim. For some people, it is hard. However, it is not as hard as they could imagine. The point is that I learn how to take control over myself. We cannot control other people, right? Therefore, controlling ourself will be a good thing to do before we control others. In fact, as Qur’an said, “every human is a leader, and every leader will have responsibility”. Isn’t that great?

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To my brothers, Robby and Rina, hope you grow better and better than I do. 🙂

A Narrative Essay from Minangkabau land, “The Bright Sun in Ulak Karang”


This essay is completely personal in tone and is actually one of my assignments for the course Advanced Composition in SIUE. The name of the lecturer is Dr. Anushiya Ramaswamy. I had a great class with her. I guess that all students were happy to study with her, too. You may give respond to this essay and give your feedback about this post. Your feedback is very much needed for the improvement of my writing. Thank you.

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The Bright Sun

The Bright Sun in Ulak Karang

There was a time in my life when I saw the sun shined brightly in the morning. The sun looked beautiful because of the faint and mellow light. It was not too bright actually. It seemed like having the gold color in the sky, in which the light tenderly touched the earth. It felt like a gift from God to all the living creatures on earth. As usual, the sun had started the day and it looked as if it was saying, “Good morning” to everyone who realized that there was the sun, which always started the morning time. Moreover, the nature also started the morning with beautiful things to see and hear. The birds were singing, the air was fresh, the trees were green and calm as if they provided the peace and relax feeling, and the grass in the ground was wet by the fresh aqueous vapor left by the night. That was a perfect moment for me to see the beauty of nature in Ulak Karang, a small town in Padang city of West Sumatra, Indonesia. Not only the nature but the way people live and the culture that was alive in it were things that made me interested and fascinated with the place.

One time, I asked my mother the meaning of the words Ulak Karang. I lived in Ulak Karang since I was a little child. I was curious to know the meaning of the words because I thought that perhaps, someday, a friend of mine who came from other places in Indonesia and even from other countries in the world would ask a question about the name of the town where I had been growing. She said that the words were derived from Minangkabau language, one of ethnic languages used widely in West Sumatera, Indonesia. Minangkabau language was unique because it had no specific connection to Bahasa Indonesia, an official and a national language used by all people in Indonesia. However, there were not many Indonesian people who could use this language because each province had its own ethnic language. Even the greatest thing is that in one ethnic language, there would be more sub-ethnic languages that were diverse one another in terms of accent, dialect, and tone.

In spite of having these thousands forms of ethnic languages, Bahasa Indonesia was a language that helped many Indonesian people could be united and connected one another across the archipelago and the thousand islands. Nevertheless, the language of Bahasa Indonesia was not possessed fluently by old generation, such as grandfather and grandmother whose age was more than ninety years old. They knew ethnic language but they did not really know Bahasa Indonesia. This could happen because they had no education at the time when they were young people in their generation. The colonization performed by the Dutch, Japanese, and Portuguese, which were later called as the colonizers for more than ten centuries ago in Indonesia had influenced the education of the local people at that time. In spite of that, the old grandfather and grandmother could speak Dutch, Japanese, and Portuguese language although many of whom were passed away before 1990’s.

I assumed that they could speak the languages because they made an intense interaction with those people under depressed condition every day. In order to keep their life went on; they had to deal with the language used by the colonizers. Recently, there are not many of the Indonesian young generation could understand the languages of the colonizers because the colonization had been over but, somehow, as a way of the colonizers’ to “fix” the broken history, they provided scholarship for Indonesian students. No matter what, things that had happened years ago would last in history and what is happening now will be history in the future.

In relation to the Minangkabau language, one word could mean something else in a given context. This was one of the particularities that I understood well about this ethnic language. In this case, it was the meaning of the words Ulak Karang. Ulak meant strong waves and Karang meant corals that lay in the coastal area. Therefore, Ulak Karang meant, in epistemological perspective, coral that had always been hit by the strong waves. The adjective for the coral would be strong and tough although big and waves come to the coral and tried to break it into pieces.

I asked my mother this question, “So, what is the great thing of naming this area as such?”

She said, “Well, as you already know, coral is strong, isn’t it? Then, when it comes to understanding the words Ulak Karang, you should see that from the philosophical perspective. Can you try to get the meaning from that perspective?”

At that time, I was just a teenager so I had no idea what that meant with philosophical perspective.

I answered, “No, I don’t know. I know the words that but I just don’t know the meaning of it”.

After listening to my question, she began explaining it in longer sentences.

“Our ancestors were sailors and traders. Why? It is because we are living near the sea and the wide ocean. They like to go sailing and communicating with other people in overseas and go back home bringing a lot of good things, and, don’t forget one thing, a story. They have battled the waves in the sea. The waves are hard and strong, and sometimes, the wind blows so hard that it makes the ship hard to keep sailing. Then, because of facing the strong waves, they named their effort to live in the sea as Ulak Karang. Karang refers to them and Ulak refers to the strong waves.”

I was still in doubt to make the relationship of the meaning into the identity of mine as a young man. If it would be so important for the young generation to understand the meaning then there had to be a certain connection within the words into current globalization situation.

I asked, “What is the relationship with today’s condition?”

She said, “It means that whenever the waves hit you as strong as they might be, you should be as strong as Karang in facing the waves. Your life, your principle, your self-esteem, your dream is symbolized as Karang and the waves are the obstacles that you were facing or will face in your world. Because of that powerful meaning, then, this is why this area is called as Ulak Karang.”

I nodded after knowing the meaning.

To my mind, that was the way for me to know that Minangkabau people were creative and they had a great way in symbolizing meanings through words that they used to illustrate specific event or values reflected in nature. The philosophy “Alam Takambang Jadi Guru” (Nature as the Teachers) had made me understood that all things in human’s life were connected to the nature. Human being was a central part of the nature and, in the excellent ways; the nature taught human how to live in the world through sciences, technologies, and knowledge. However, these three things could not be formed well if human did not make themselves to get involved in everlasting the nature so there would be no reason for human to say they were not a part of it.

This was the thing that could be seen in the big cities in Indonesia. There were many buildings with more than fifty floors built but the sanitation and the environment did not receive any attention from the authority. Trash could be found in canals and in some places like in Jakarta. The government had tried to clean it through the Department of Health but the main problem was in the mindset of the people. They were busy to collect money from their jobs and business but they forgot about the environment. Conversely, things were different in the rural areas of Indonesia, especially Padang, West Sumatera. This city was clean and the students were taught how to stay clean with the environment and pay attention to sanitation by not throwing trash everywhere but directly to the rubbish bin.

Actually, I was born in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia but I grew up in Padang, West Sumatera, Indonesia. Java was an island that had millions of people lived in it. Among the five big islands, Java was the most crowded island in terms of population. There were several provinces in Java island. One of the provinces was West Java, located in the western side of Java and it was close to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. In West Sumatera, there was an ethnic called Minangkabau; meanwhile, in West Java, there was an ethnic called Sunda. West Java had its capital city called Bandung. Bandung had many Sundanese people lived in it. Because I was born in Bandung; therefore, I thought that I was completely a Sundanese but then I realized that I was a Minangkabau person as well.

I realized that I was a Minangkabau person after my mother informed me about in which clan I would be associated. “What does it mean to me?” I asked my father.

My mother was a Minangkabau woman and my father was a Sundanese man. It meant that my mother was born in West Sumatera while my father was born in West Java. My father answered my question by relating his answers to the family system that was legally accepted in Indonesia.

In terms of family system, Minangkabau and Sundanese had differences. Minangkabau had matriarchal system, which meant mother was put as the central figure of the family system. In contrast, Sundanese had patriarchal system. This system made father as the central of the family system.

My father said, “If you are living in West Sumatera, you are a Minangkabau person and if you live in West Java, you are a Sundanese. You have two associated clans that are highly known and appreciated in Indonesia. It doesn’t matter, son, but, you just need to know your family root so that you know where you belong. However, wherever you go, you are an Indonesian. That is the most important thing”

I felt that I was fortunate to have these two amazing clans. Since I had spent my time in West Sumatera; consequently, I knew more about Minangkabau culture than Sunda.

To understand the Minangkabau culture as a whole was not an easy thing to do. For me, to understand a culture took times and a lot of effort. If someone wanted to understand culture; interacting with the people and having an open-minded way of thinking were a must. Although I had been growing up in a place where Minangkabau culture was practiced in every part, it did not mean that I understood it completely. I started to learn the place where I had lived and all of its uniqueness when I was in Junior High School.

Studying local culture in Junior High School was a great time for many Indonesian students because it was a perfect moment in their life to know where they lived and how they would see their own local culture as the young generation. There was a subject called BAM (Budaya Alam Minangkabau) – The Knowledge of Minangkabau Culture and Nature) that I had to learn at school. In that subject, I learnt that the basic thing about Ulak Karang was that it was one of the places of where Minangkabau people lived their life in the nature-based way of thinking. It meant that all aspects and cultures as well as habits of the people who lived in Ulak Karang were based on Minangkabau culture.

However, due to globalization and the influence of technology, some cultures of Minangkabau had been being improved into some degree. For instance, girls must be at home in the afternoon but now girls were allowed to go outside as long as their parents knew where they wanted to go and with whom they went. The time to go for them should be before nine at night. If the girls were out after that time, they should contact the parents immediately in case something bad happened and be ready to go home. However, when the girls had reached the age of twenty five, then, the parents would allow her to go outside. They should be responsible for what they did.

Meanwhile, Minangkabau people had culture called as “merantau” for boys. “Merantau” had a meaning that was, going far away from home to gain some experience and learn how to make life in a foreign land. For boys whose ages were more than 20 could go wherever they wanted in Indonesia. Recently, there were many of them went to countries in the world, like the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, India, China, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries. They build the interpersonal and intrapersonal relationship with people in those countries. When they become someone in that country, or, being successful people, they would eventually help their family, brothers and sisters to develop their homeland.

The good thing in this aspect was that they had been taught how to obey the rules and discipline. The principle of “Dima bumi dipijak, di situ langik dijunjuang” was widely known by all Minangkabau youth. In English version, it gave a sense as in “wherever you go and wherever you are, you have to understand local culture and respect the people there. They are your family when you are not at home”.

This principle had changed the mindset of many young men in Indonesia, particularly those who were from West Sumatera. They wanted to go abroad to study or to work everywhere in the world. They never cared too much for what they did to earn something for living but they knew very well in what way they should work. On the other words, they wanted to work in “hallal” jobs instead of working in clubs, bars, or hotels where they served people who had a lot of money but treated others as they wanted promiscuously. However, when I thought over this principle, it was as a good one since mutual understanding and respect of different cultures of the world could happen and be realized when this principle was taken into account. People were so different in some ways, but in so many ways, people were the same in the world.

In terms of the matriarchal system applied through motherhood and sisterhood, it made me amazed. In West Java and some parts and provinces in Indonesia, the system was patriarchal, which fatherhood was the role but in Minangkabau, women and sisterhood took the role. As it was in my family and generally in Minangkabau families in Ulak Karang, a mother had always been respected. People knew that mother was the person who had given birth in such a hard and difficult way.

A mother in a big family was called as “Bundo Kanduang”. Bundo Kanduang was a respected mother in a big house of Minangkabau. The big house itself was called as Rumah Gadang. Bundo Kanduang and the rest of the family lived in the big house. Nowadays, this house was only used in village; and in the cities, this kind of house was used for official administration buildings like governor office or legislative office only. The unique thing from this house was the roof. It looked like two sharp things that were in the same form as in the horn of the beef and cow, and they were put by pointing the sharp flank into the sky. There were some places where people could find house like this in Ulak Karang. One of them was in Lamun Ombak, a well-known restaurant in Padang city.

Although this traditional house was traditional in its form and use, the cost to build this house was higher compared to the cost spent for building a common house; therefore, traditional house was no longer used in big cities except in villages where old traditional houses were still standing and being used by the villagers. People who lived in big cities would prefer to live in an apartment instead of in traditional house but when there was time for holiday, they usually spent their holiday times in such house.

Bundo Kanduang played a significant role in the big house. Her husband was categorized into Niniak Mamak – people who played role as the executive in the Nagari, a term used to refer to the Minangkabau region in West Sumatra and this group consisted of males in the big house. When Bundo Kanduang passed away, the big house would automatically belong to the first daughter of Bundo Kanduang, together with all wealth that was possessed by Bundo Kanduang.

Then, the daughter would continue the role of her mother until she died. Unfortunately, this system had no longer been applied since modernization and national Indonesian law influenced many aspects of the way how Minangkabau people lived. Some people might stand on and followed the rules applied in Minangkabau system of law and some people might refer to the national law applied in Indonesia. In general, Indonesian people would refer to the national law since it was applicable to a large number of Indonesian civilians. Therefore, local law would take place only in the local level while national law would be applied in the national scale.

Although I was born in Bandung, West Java, another big island in Indonesia, I loved to live in Ulak Karang, Padang. It was actually a city with many cultural aspects and things to see and look. However, if it was compared to Bandung, Padang was, in some ways, more traditional than Bandung. This could happen because Padang people loved their culture and they wanted to maintain it until the next generation. Meanwhile, the influence of Jakarta to Bandung had made Bandung to be one of the dense cities in Indonesia in terms of population. That was why I did not really enjoy myself when I went to Jakarta and Bandung.

In spite of having less advanced way of life in terms of technology and current fashion, Padang had become the second better place in Indonesia to study and live. There was no traffic jam and the food was widely known as the delicious one in the world. One of the most favorite food which was in the good graces by western people who came to Padang was Rendang, a food that had meat and coconut flavor with spicy taste. International people might never know this food in their countries but once they tasted it, they would love the food. For the most part, that was what I had seen from a large number of people from overseas who visited Padang city.

I loved looking at the sunrise and the sunset in Ulak Karang,. If I wanted to see the sunrise, I did not have to go anywhere. I would just sit in front of the door of my home because the sun shine is directly showing up in front of me while standing at the door. When I had a spare time in the afternoon and wanted to see the sunset, I usually went to Bung Hatta beach. The location of the beach was in the southern part of Ulak Karang. Ulak Karang itself was similar in comparison with Edwardsville. However, the difference was that Edwardsville had a Cougar lake while Ulak Karang had a beach because it was located near the coastal area. When the sunset was set, the beauty of the sun was felt as if it was like a lady who was smiling in the golden dress, dancing in the open sea and her dress was shining, glittering, and sparkling.

The light of the sun in that late afternoon was beautifully reflected in the surface of the sea. The reflection of the sun light became beautiful scenery to be seen. The surface of the water was sparkling as if they were the stars that swam in the open sea. They seemed like dancing in the blue sea far away from the shore. That kind of scenery had always been lasting on my mind since then. I still remembered the time when my father, mother, brother, and I went to the beach. I was looking for starfish and dead coral as well as beautiful green or brown stones; my father and mother were sitting in the rocks, not too far from the place where my brother and I were playing. I had made a castle and my brother made a small car with a picture in it by using the grounds in the area where we were standing. In a few seconds, the waves came and they destroyed all the things we had created. We were all happy and laughing at that time. I could see that my father kept watching us carefully from afar because he did not want something bad happened to us.

The beach itself was named as Bung Hatta because it was located next to Bung Hatta University. The campus of the university was beautiful because it had green garden around the beach. While I was watching for the sunset, I usually spent my afternoon hours in that place to read a book or just to write anything on my diary. Looking at the open sea and enjoying the sound as well as the way the waves moved in the beach made me wondering about the world and all the beautiful things that it might and always had inside. In that moment, I wrote a poem that was reflected in my mind. Writing a poem had always been a way for me to let go all complex and abstract things that I had in my mind. It would be a long writing if all that things were written. After I wrote the poem, I usually published it in my blog, entitiled The Silent Corner.

One of the poems that I had written was this:

As I opened these eyes to see the darkness
I barely couldn’t sleep well that night
I was trying to look out from the window
to see the silent of the night

That moment,

the stars were standing prettily above
smiling and dancing one another
beautifully…

On the left side of the stars

there was the moon
standing lonely surrounded by the stars
on the dark night in the sky
his face was so pale and blue
as the king of all dreams of all nights

And then,

I was searching for the warm side of the night
it was barely nowhere, but…
ever since I put these hands on this chest
there was a melody,
of the every beat of this heart
it speaks as the calm and peace sound of a lake
saying, “I am the moon”

It was such a pain to love

for never expecting to be loved
It shines lonely in the night
as the moon that hides in the dark cloud
feeling so shy…

When all the stars and the sky were silent

there was only a smile
smiling in the morning whisper
to welcome the sun,
restoring all the pain and sorrow
oh, morning whisper
and
I am smiling into the sun…

(Syayid Sandi Sukandi, March 6, 2011, 19.30 WIB, after having dinner with my family)

I published the above poem in https://syayidss.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/smiling-in-the-morning-whisper-a-poem/. I wrote the above poem to reflect feeling and emotional background about Ulak Karang beach and the sun. However, the beach was so simple in nature, with some coconut trees in the shore, white sand, waves, and sea birds that were flying, and some of them were catching up some fishes for their food. Sometimes, I threw a stone to the beach and it sank in the strong wave as if it was eaten by a monster. The same thing happened over and over again when someone threw a stone to the beach.

Slowly but sure, the sun went down as if it was saying “good bye” to all people who saw it and it was disappear deep down into the golden-orange sea. In its climax, the sunset turned to be glowing in the orange color and the sky turned to be reddish. In that way, the feeling would be so peaceful and relax because it felt like bringing your mind to welcome the night time. As I walked step by step to go back home, I could still hear the sound of the waves from a distance. They felt like singing from far away. Slowly, the sound was disappearing when I reached home and got inside. At last, I said to myself, “That was really a bright sun in Ulak Karang and I love it untill now”.

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This narrative essay was inspired by my family and all positive friends in Minangkabau. Finally, I could get good grade for this essay. However, the good grade is not the only thing I want to achieve but more on how I could improve myself.