Jakarta

Legend surrounds Jonker,
Si Pitung


JAKARTA (JP): No one can guarantee that the two sites have authentic historical backgrounds in order for the Jakarta Administration to put them on the list of protected places that have to be preserved and properly treated.

The city Museum and Restoration Agency list them purely based on legends and beliefs relating to the two figures within the local Marunda community. Local legends say that Jonker, a native of Ambon -- some 1,300 kilometersnortheast of Jakarta, was in the Dutch military with the rank of captain during the colonial period.

The other part of the tale, which has apparently become the popular part,reveals that Jonker was extremely strong, immune to weapons, was immortal and even had the power to disappear.

This heroic version is popular particularly in Ambonese society, either in Jakarta or in their hometown in the province of Maluku.

A senior Ambonese Frida Manusama, 69, said that the legendary story of Tete (Ambonese for grandfather) Jonker, has been retold from generation to generation in Ambonese society.

""I myself was told by my parents when we visited the sacred Jonkeran (taken from the name Jonker) water well near the tomb site which has disappeared,"" Frida, a resident of Pejambon, Central Jakarta, said.

She believes that all Ambonese youths also acknowledge the heroic epic.

Like many Ambonese, Frida also doubted the deceased laid beneath the so-called Jonker tomb.

""Nobody knows about his death,"" she said.

In the past, Ambonese usually conducted a devotional visit to the tomb, Frida said.

The tradition could be no longer seen these days for unclear reasons, sheadded.

The authentic story of Jonker and his curriculum vitae remains unclear. Anumber of books record different versions about him, while experts have no details on the legend.

Literature says only that he worked for the Dutch troops before later turned into a deserter.

Sejarah Teluk Jakarta (History of Jakarta Bay) published by the Jakarta Museum and Restoration Agency states that Tete Jonker was from Tumelaku Manifa in the western part of Ambon Bay.

The book records that young Jonker left his hometown to join the Dutch troops from 1661 to 1682.

He stayed in Marunda from 1684.

Betrayal

During his service with the Dutch troops, Jonker secretly made contact with indigenous fighters to find ways of how to kick the Dutch colonials out of this land.

Unfortunately, one of his subordinates betrayed him and reported his maneuvers to the colonial government.

Under a careful arrangement, the Dutch troops one day besieged Jonker from all directions and later killed the captain.

He was then buried in his land, known as Pejonkeran, the book says, without giving details of the time.

Another book entitled Historical Sites of Jakarta by historian Adolf Heuken has this version:

It says the Ambonese captain fought for the VOC Dutch East India Company in India, Ceylon, Makassar, Sumatra and Banten and had temporally served asa bodyguard to the Susuhunan (ruler) of Mataram, a great Kingdom in CentralJava.

For his service, the book says, Jonker was rewarded with a vast estate inMarunda where he lived with his Ambonese retainers for many years.

The book adds that finally he was falsely accused of planning an attack on Batavia. He was killed perfidiously in 1681 by his personal enemy De St.Martin, a member of the Council of the Indies.

But the book does not mention anything about Jonker's tomb, since the writer, a Dutchman, still doubts the accuracy, according to Heuken's assistant Grace Pamungkas.

On the other hand, many Ambonese and other people stick to their own versions.

Up to today, the Jonker tomb still regularly receives visitors from different walks of life. Some of them come to the site to pray or just simply to meet a shaman, who acts as the caretaker of the grave site.

Until 1965, the grave was just a pile of earth with bare stone on its topwithout any information.

According to the head of the archeology section of the city's Museum and Restoration Agency, Candrian Attahiyat, the tomb complex was actually a common cemetery which was formerly located closer to Jakarta Bay.

""In 1950 it was moved to its present area, which has been turned into theMarunda industrial bonded zone, due to abrasion,"" he said.

Whose body?

Like many, Candrian also has doubts about the body under the tomb.

He said the site in Marunda might not be the real final resting place of Jonker.

The agency protects the place simply to accommodate the strong belief of many people.

Should the grave really contain the body of the hero, Candrian said Kapitein (Captain) Jonker must be a Muslim since the tomb was facing North in an attempt to allow him to face the West.

Muslims in this part of the world pray facing to the West, toward the Holy Ka'bah in Mecca.

But several Christian Crosses have been seen at the graveyard complex. Some people, who claimed to be Jonker's offspring, insisted that Tete was aChristian.

One of the remaining tombs at the site which faces the opposite directionis the grave of Opo (god) Dotulong from Minahasa in North Sulawesi. Dotulong was believed to be one of Jonker's subordinates.

Candrian said that years ago the tomb became the spot where several shamans practiced. Their number reached its peak in 1968 when Hwa Hwe gambling -- which was based on two numbers -- was popular in Jakarta.

A local resident, whose house is located in front of the tomb, Nurlince Siregar, said that people of all walks of life often visited the tomb to meet Pras, the shaman who now take cares of Jonker's tomb.

""The customers have to bring beer with them because the shaman has to drink before he goes into a trance. He's just like Jonker, who was an alcoholic,"" said Nurlince.

She added that people come to the shaman for different reasons. Many areill and want to get better. Others want to be promoted at work.

On the wall of a small building that protects the tomb from the sun and rain, a number of tiny boards are placed with inscriptions that read: ""Allahu Akbar"" (Allah is Great), ""Tete Manis Den Katong"" (in Ambon means God is Great), and Tuhan Beserta Kita, Amin"" (God is with us, Amen).

Si Pitung

The other protected site at Marunda which almost has the same unclear background as the tomb of Jonker is the home of Si Pitung, the Robin Hood of Betawi, the indigenous Jakartans.

Many Betawi still believe in Si Pitung, who was a Betawi himself, who stole from the rich to help the poor at the time.

But Candrian doubted the version, saying that experts had yet to find evidence that he really helped the poor.

""I also believe that Si Pitung was not a single person but a group of thieves. Some say there were seven people,"" he said using the Javanese language where Pitu which means seven.

According to him, a popular film entitled Si Pitung from the early 1970s created a false image about the figure, who was described as Robin Hood alaBetawi.

""Only 20 percent of the story in the film was true, namely the location, the costumes and names of the figures,"" Candrian said.

However, he said Si Pitung was real.

In the 1900s, many local newspapers regularly reported the series of thefts carried out by ""Si Pitung"" which later became a national problem, hesaid.

The target of the robberies was mostly the wealthy Buginese, Chinese and Arabs.

The house of Si Pitung in Marunda, built in the early 20th century, in fact belonged to Buginese Syafiudin, who was indeed one of Si Pitung's victims.

""The city administration bought the house in 1982 from Syafiudin's offspring to become a protected building because of its rare coastal area'sarchitectural style, which is erected above several pillars to avoid floods,"" said Candrian.

But a book titled Bangunan Cagar Budaya di Wilayah DKI Jakarta (Historic Buildings in Jakarta) said that the building had the architectural style ofthe famous Phinisi Bugis traditional ship.

The building is very well maintained and gloriously stands among the fishermen's shacks just a few meters from Jakarta Bay.

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