Published on December 30, 2014
On New Year’s Eve on Wednesday evening at 20.00 hrs West Indonesia Time (WIB) the History Channel (Indovision channel 206) will show the documentary film “Building Batavia” directed by award winning director Justin Ong.
The film traces the grandeur of Dutch colonial city planning and architecture in the heydays of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company around the 17th century. Present day Jakarta was then named Batavia to the Dutch ancestors, the Batavieren.
Justin Ong faithfully captures the architecture of the time and its city management, how the Dutch built huge warehouses to store Indonesia’s precious spices awaiting shipment to Europe. There is the Stadhuis or Municipal Building that today houses theJakarta History Museum, city canals that duplicate canals in Holland, the many mansions owned by wealthy landowners , all these that together made Batavia to be known as the Jewel of the East.
Indeed since the history of Jakarta started at the port of Sunda Kelapa, which has remained to be a most photogenic port for traditional boats, the film captures Sunda Kelapa then and now as a busy trading cosmopolitan port where merchants from China, India, Indonesia and Europe met to exchange precious goods.
It also shows the Stadhuisplein , now known as Fatahillah Square, that was once surrounded by grand government buildings and those of large corporations, that now house the Museum Arts and Ceramics, the Wayang Museum, the Bank Indonesia Museum and the Bank Mandiri Museum.
Another outstanding building featured is Toko Merah, or the Red Shop, built in the 18th century, it is located at Jalan Kali Besar Barat when boats could sail right into this part of the Ciliwung river. Toko Merah was once used as a maritime academy and later converted into a center for the slave trade. Captain William Bligh of the Mutiny of the Bounty fame was once a guest here.
And to show the Culinary opulence of the time, Justin Ong took shots at today’s famed heritage Oasis Restaurant in the residential Menteng area to show how the wealthy of the time enjoyed the spread of food and elab orate service in those colonial days long past.
Justin Ong won Best Director in the 2010 Asian Television Awards for his documentary film Fight Master-Silat, which was later produced by the National Geographic Channel. Another of his wellknown works is the film A Leader`s Legacy – Tun Abdul Razak and Inside Istana Negara that were both produced for the National Geographic Channel.
The Government of Indonesia together with the provincial Government of Jakarta have earmarked the Kota Tua – Old Batavia area as a special destination through meticulous conservation efforts and the participation of architects, stakeholders and the surrounding communities in a Destionation Management Organization to revive Old Batavia to its former glory, adapted to modern, creative applications.