This is a story from personal experience and purely subjective. In May 2010, I heard a story from a friend who just came back from her Keroncong research. Her story captivated me and drove me to visit the company which housed invaluable master tapes of old Indonesian songs: Lokananta in Solo. Once I was there, with my own eyes I saw one of this country’s biggest heritage in such dilapidated condition and employees who were still unclear of their employment status. I was dumbfounded and did not know how to react. It was even more heart breaking after I saw the grand recording studio. The equipment was still there and worked properly regardless of very minimalist maintenance.
The mammoth work of Paul Yampolski in cataloging Lokananta’s collection was still in use as guidance of the archive. However, the discrepancy between catalog and existing collection was unknown. Digitizing process to preserve the collection was happening slowly without involvement from government and definitely on no apparent budget. Clearly, Lokananta still meagerly worked because it was labour of love from the employees.
When I was there, a rumor spread that Lokananta was about to be sold and the area would be turned into a shopping mall. My heart sank when I heard it. Lokananta as one of Indonesia’s greatest heritage after being abandoned for so long, would be lost without a trace. Once again, a piece of important history that shaped the very essence of national identity would be gone. Lack of appreciation and complete ignorance of own history became more and more apparent as Indonesian traits. As soon as I was out of the gate, I text a friend in Jakarta could not help myself gushing the tearful experience.
The fact that I was powerless to do anything frustrated me. It was the sole reason why I wrote this down. I could only hope that there would be something or someone out there who would lend a helping hand and recognize Lokananta’s assets as this nation’s valuable heritage.