The sky is clear blue. A gust of wind hit your face, pushing away the hot sun on the northern tip of Halmahera. That afternoon, October 8, 2017.
Along the coast of Kao Bay towards Tobelo, some views are soothing to the eye. As well as eliminating body fatigue.
As soon as they arrived at Sosol Village, Malifut, they saw the wreck of a Japanese warship that had triumphed, then was sunk by the Allies at its base, Kao Bay. Toshimaru’s ship, this warship, witnessed the world war, which touched this region.
According to residents, this shipwreck dates back to 1944 after the bombing of World War II American planes. They suspected that the ship was a logistics carrier for the Japanese Empire, which at that time occupied Kao Bay.
This location is now often a diving spot for several local clubs, even though the threat of sea mines is still looming because, during the war, this area was strewn with various mines to block allied (American) warships and submarines.
I traced the historical, cultural, and socio-economic traces of this district that faces directly the Pacific Ocean. North Halmahera, with Tobelo as its capital, is one of the districts with the most vibrant economy. History is only stored in the recesses of the memory of the elders.
The 2016 Central Statistics Agency noted that North Halmahera is a maritime district, located in eastern Indonesia, bordering the Pacific Ocean, and has 216 islands. The total area reaches 22,507.32 km2 (22%) and the sea is 17,555.71 km2 (78%).
Driving for two takes four to six hours to reach the center of Tobelo City, without traffic jams. When traveling, green trees occasionally have wide weeds on either side of the road visible.
Along the way, several historical tourist sites can be visited with easy access. On the way, about 25 kilometers before entering the center of Tobelo City, you can see a sign marking the location of Telaga Paca Village.
Here, there is a lake or lake so wide and the water is calm. People call, Telaga Paca, or Paca Lake.
This lake holds a legendary story. Residents told that in the past, a girl at that location met a man from Galela, formed a close relationship, and finally decided to get married.
Before getting married, men ask permission to return to their village in Galela. The girl left a request message. If you return from Galela, don’t forget to bring lake water from there, because it’s hard to get water here. The girl’s request was granted by the boy. He brought water that was put in a bamboo segment. Some of the water in the bamboo goes into the cauldron, the rest is in the shell in the ground hole.
Apart from Telaga Paca, there is one lake in the interior of North Halmahera which according to some historical records states, before migrating to the Tobelo Coastal areas to the islands in Halmahera, the Tobelo people originally settled there. Her name is Telaga Lina.
The story of Telaga Lina, the hometown of the Tobelo, Modole, Boeing, and several other clans, can be enjoyed in the novel History, Ido Homa’s Shark Fish, by YB Mangunwijaya.
Before entering Tobelo City, we will meet one of the beach resorts in Kupakupa Village, which has a calm, clear sea, and white sand. Along the edge of the beach, you can see banyan trees and ketapang lined up. The tour here is quite complete because there are six huts with walls made of bamboo and roofs made of sago leaves (Katu, the local language of Halmahera).
Ona, a tourism manager for Kupakupa Beach, said that in 2002, she only sold fried bananas on the beach. At that time, he started saving. From selling fried bananas, he saves 50% every day. Until 2006, he was able to buy land around the coast. Visitors can also rent a boat and be dropped off at snorkeling locations along Kupakupa Beach.
Ona never forgot that struggle. The first location where he was selling fried bananas, was not dismantled. He even invited residents to use this location to sell fried bananas.
Pacific ring of fire
Several islands can be easily reached, such as Pawole Island, Rarangane, Tulang Island, Toronto, Kakara, and even Morotai Island. Island with a history of World War II.
Almost all tourism potential in North Halmahera, especially Tobelo is promoted by young people. Some of them are photography lovers and enjoy mountain climbing.
Nahrawi Usman, since 2015, together with his colleagues, began to make an agenda, to visit white sand islands in Tobelo, namely Pawole, Kakara, and Rarangane Islands. They chose these three islands because according to them they have good tourism potential.
At first, they only documented the underwater world and the beauty of white sand and calm blue seas on the islands, then uploaded them on social media.
Over time, their acquaintances from outside the area visited Tobelo. Nahrawai and colleagues also became guides.
The young man started preparing a borrowed canoe belonging to the people around the Popilo Village Coast, North Tobelo District, North Halmahera. His sister, Asmidar, prepared equipment in the form of a glass, spoon, and pot.
“Wait a minute, I’ll look for paddles first,” said Fahrul. The owner of the canoe was out of the house, and Fahrul borrowed the oar from the neighbor of the canoe owner.
Popilo’s people don’t mind having their boat borrowed without rent. Even to people they just met.
Less than an hour around the small island on foot. From folklore, this island used to be the place where the Tobelo-Galela Tribe looked for shells (yia, Tobelo language) during the full moon. Because of that, they named mede which means moon in the local language.
Asmidar, a woman who studied at IAIN Ternate, said there were several rumors that a Japanese wanted to buy Mede Island, but the community refused. The reason, the island is their garden.
Human Life & Natural Wonders combine long
Maruscha’s eyes, 30 years old, can’t blink when she stares at a cluster of limestone or karst mountains in the Rammang-Rammang tourist area in Maros Regency, South Sulawesi Province, Monday (7/8/2017) afternoon. The woman from Slovenia looks amazed to enjoy the beauty of the scenery around the tourist area located in Salenrang Village, Bontoa District.
Together with her husband and two children, the woman said the word ‘spectacular’ in unison, which is the right word to describe the natural beauty of Rammang-Rammang. It didn’t stop there, Maruscha again expressed her admiration for Rammang-ramang.
The brief conversation that took place in the middle of a cluster of limestone mountains and stone forests emphasized that the Rammang-Rammang tourist spot is not just an ordinary tourist spot. More than that, Rammang-Rammang keeps a long history of human life on the earth of Sulawesi, and in general in the world.
Deputy IV for Human Resources, Science and Technology and Maritime Affairs of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Safri Burhanuddin who is also a geologist from Hasanuddin University, Makassar, explained that Rammang-Rammang had been formed a long time, around 30 million years ago.
In the same place, the Assistant Deputy for Culture, Arts, and Sports of the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs Kosmas Harefa also asked the Maros Regency Government to be able to organize the Rammang-Rammang area to be even better. Especially, the arrangement in terms of cleanliness, health, and comfort.
Head of the Culture and Tourism Office of Maros Regency, Rahmat Burhanuddin, who was present at the Rammang-Rammang, admitted that the tourist spot still needed further arrangements. Not because to attract tourists, he said, arrangements must be made to protect historic sites in the area.
Apart from structuring, Rahmat admitted, until now the problem of waste is still the main obstacle in the development of the Rammang-Rammang area. This is because the area operates 24 hours a day.
Rammang-R was first developed in 2014 by the people of Salenrang Village. To attract tourists, the area was then opened to the public that year. Since then, the development of Rammang-Rammang has continued to occur and has taken place quickly, especially after the convenience of citizens accessing information via the Internet occurred throughout Indonesia.
The Head of the Tourism Awareness Group, Rammang Rammang Muhammad Ikhwan, explained that the continued development of the tourist area began to occur after people could access social media very easily.
When the weekend comes, the man who is usually called Iwan Dento said that tourists would come in droves and the number could reach 600 to 700 people. With this amount, it’s no wonder that the Rammang-Rammang area becomes very crowded and waste production has increased many times over normal days.
Iwan said, there are several interesting points that can be visited by tourists, namely the limestone forest park, Bidadari Lake, Bulu’ Barakka’ cave, Telapak Tangan cave, Pasaung cave, Pute River, and Berua village.
The term Rammang-Rammang itself, according to Iwan, is a term that comes from the Makassar language which means cloud or fog. The mention of the term allegedly refers to natural conditions, where usually in the morning the area is always covered in clouds and sometimes thick fog.
Furthermore, Iwan revealed, before it was opened as a tourist spot, Rammang-Rammang was a limestone mining area. This activity occurred in 2008. At that time, he said, three companies from China obtained permits to mine.
“Because we realized that mining would destroy nature, at that time we fought to revoke the permits, and even one of them was already operating. Our struggle finally succeeded after all permits were revoked in 2013,” he explained.
After the three companies failed to operate, Iwan said, residents finally agreed to make the area a tourist spot. Not long after, in 2015, the residents succeeded in pushing for the birth of a Village Regulation and a Decree (SK) of the Head of the Department of Culture and Tourism of the Maros Regency concerning the management of the Rammang-ramming area.
Since it was officially opened to the public as a tourist spot, Iwan revealed, since then the village has been getting income through fees collected from visitors. Of all income, 25 percent is handed over to the village treasury and the rest will be given to the operation of tourism awareness groups and to improve supporting infrastructure.