This Indonesian wants to return home

Jan. 07, 2010

By Media Mindanao News Service
News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988
Posted by Davao Today

Imagine yourself sailing in the middle of Celebes Sea for one week on a roofless banca. You could not get any faster for there is no engine to propel your banca.

Sometimes it rains hard and it’s very cold. Sometimes the sun shines too generously, scorching your skin.

The wind defines the pace. It gets stormy at times. You’re helpless. Your banca is your sole retreat. Oh, well, you have the sea if you know how to swim with the man-eating shark. Scary, but Sendring Barahama conquered the wind, the sea, the sun. In 1969, then 18, together with an uncle and two nephews, Sendring navigated the Celebes Sea from Marore island of Inonesia to Balot island of the Philippines.

Technically, Sendring and company were border crossers.

Life was hard in Marore where Sendring’s family tilled a two-hectare farm. In search for the proverbial greener pasture coupled with an adventurous spirit, Sendring set out for a cruise to a better life.

During the voyage, water supply ran out. Border crossers cope up by drinking sea water with drops of calamansi juice.

The Indonesian consulate in Davao City cannot figure when the Indonesians started coming by sea. It must be very long ago, as early as the 30s on the basis of a barter trade, Haryo Sasungko, current immigration officer told MMNS. However, it was only in 1974 when the Philippines and Indonesian government sat down to discuss the entry and agrees of both constituents. The following year, a joint Border Cross Agreement was forged creating a committee to monitor the movements of migrants and merchants.

Sasongko’s estimate may be correct. When Sendring arrived in Balot island, he found the place close to home. In Balot, there are probably more Indonesian and Indonesian mestizos than pure blooded Filipinos. In fact, many of them have spread to other provinces on the look-out for better working terms. Sendring no less did the same.

After three years as a household help in Balot island Sendring left for General Santos City. Then, to Glan town of South Cotabato and to Davao City in 1974. He also worked as cook at the Indonesian Consulate for sometime.

In 1980, he went to Kabacan, North Cotabato to tend the rice warehouse of a big landlord. Three years later he went back to Davao City and has worked here since.

“I am a cook, a laundry man, a laborer and a dressmaker,” Sendring, now 36, talks about himself in the vernacular. His Bisaya is as good as any Bisayan-speaking person. Learning the dialect, however, was the most difficult part for Sendring.

Although, the Marore dialect and Bisaya have many similarities, probably because of a common Malayan origin, there are also glaring differences. The Indonesian accent is heavier, for instance.

“Sometimes I got the feeling they (the Filipinos in Balot) were making fun of me,” Sendring recalls his early days. It took him only three months, though, to understand the dialect. In six months, he already acquired the tongue.

With ease, he mingles with Filipinos and looks like one, in fact. There is hardly a distinction in looks between a Filipno and an Indonesian especially when you compare them with the tribals. And for the past 18 years that Sendring has stayed in this part of the country, he already shares the sentiments of ordinary Filipinos, especially the workingmen.

“Taas ang palaliton karon,” Sendring voices out. (Prices are high). He receives P300 as a stay-in household help. Although he doesn’t worry about food and rentals which eat about 60% of wage-earners expenditure, he has observed the consistent marking up of prices of commodities.

He does the marketing, that’s why.

But Sendring does not intend to stay here in his whole life. Says he: “When I grow old, who will take care of me? Practicality tells him relatives can be relied on as one enters the twilight of his life.

Besides, Sendring is still an Indonesian nationalist at heart. Marore island remains his home and Indonesia his country.

“I want to die there,” he vows.  (Media Mindanao News Service News Digest Volume 1, August 1987-July 1988 Posted by Davao Today)

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