In 1905, Haj. Umar bin Maaruf invited ceramicist Mr. Barmawi to come to Jatiwangi, who then taught his students how to make roof tile for his boarding school and mosque. Since then, Mr. Barmawi never left Jatiwangi. More than 100 years later, Jatiwangi is now known as the center of roof tile industry within Southeast Asia.
A massive new development started in Jatiwangi around 2008. Regency government converted its zone to be an industrial area. Starting from ready-to-wear clothing factories, the ex-sugar-factory was turned into a mall, Cipali highway toll (Cikampek – Palimanan; part of Trans Java line), and the International Airport of Kertajati in Majalengka. Such development has changed the landscape of Jatiwangi. Yet these developments added more spectacle for the people of Jatiwangi. To meet the manpower needs of new factories, migrants from other areas were sucked in, to work and live in Jatiwangi. The men who had been unemployed got a chance to work in the construction of the mall, highway toll, airport, etc.
Where do all these developments begin? In 2007, the ASEAN Economic Community started a new discourse related to the existing ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement. Initially, AFTA is only applicable to ASEAN countries. The new arrangement is heading towards the gradual reduction of duty tax up to zero in 2015. It also opens up a new collaboration with other countries outside the ASEAN region. In 2010, AFTA signed another agreement cooperating with countries, like Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. These are various kinds of agreement between ASEAN countries and non-ASEAN countries or countries external to the region; but the whole point of these agreements is easier and more efficient bureaucracy in terms of processing documents, employment of tax regulations and customs management between the countries involved. For instance, the new garment factories that grew in Jatiwangi area are developed through South Korean investment. With less tax or even zero customs, building an international airport would be the next step that makes sense in terms of facilitating these world-class businesses.
When we conceptualized 2015 as The Earth Year, we fell in love with the harmony of howling owls, while we waited for the sun to set in front of us. We were hanging out behind the Government Junior High School #4, at the Pon Neighborhood, Jatisura Village, approximately 100 meters from the Cipali Highway. At that time, the highway was undergoing construction. We were sitting across a pile of soil, which was used to elevate the ground for the highway. We began to wonder, “Once the car and truck roars arrive, can we still hear the owl howl? Will the owls still live around here? Will they go?”
All-year-round updates are available in www.cmf2015.tumblr.com
Catalog of the all-year programs is downloadable here