Jakarta, June (ANTARA News) – Indonesia`s easternmost province of Papua is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and unique culture and traditional arts.
Yet economically, the Papua people`s standards of living lag far behind those of their brothers and sisters in other parts of the country.
The central and regional governments have already made various efforts to improve the Papua people`s standards of living and preserve the province`s resources and cultural heritage, but so far without optimal results.
It is a non-governmental organization, the Asmat Progress and Development Foundation, that has shown a serious commitment to preserving the local cultural heritage and raising international awareness of and support for the progress of the Papuan people.
No wonder Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu once said the abundance of traditional art potential in the province needed serious attention and thea gentle touch of professional and skilled hands.
Suebu said skilled and professional people with a vision of the future were encouraged to explore, develop, and save the plenteous Papua traditions and cultural arts from extinction.
“Not only that, Papuan traditional arts really have precious market value, and they also support the future of the province`s tourism sector without the risk of losing their specific characteristics,” the governor said.
Suebu said from both written and electronic media he saw that various traditional arts from different ethnic communities such as Javanese and Balinese were developing well in comparison to those from Papua.
But he was of the opinion that the progress of traditional arts from other provinces was because they were part of education at elementary schools until universities.
For example, the Papua governor pointed out that in Java and Bali there are Higher Education of the Arts in Surakarta (STSI Surakarta), and Bali Arts Institute.
“In Papua we are actually rich in our traditional arts but unfortunately we lack human resources to develop them, in spite of the fact that Asmat traditional sculptures have crossed the mountains and oceans to hit international markets,” Governor Suebu said.
According to him, seminars on the Asmat culture accompanied with tribal dance performances and woodcarving exhibitions has been held in many countries.
The seminars on Asmat and its tribal dance performances were conducted in overseas countries with the aim of promoting interest and understanding for the Indonesian Unity-in-Diversity culture.
Various efforts of the government and non-government organizations aimed at the development, conservation and utilization of the Asmat territory`s natural and environmental resources were also discussed in the seminars for the purpose of improving he social welfare of the people in Papua.
“Therefore it should be our common consideration and awareness as Papuan ethnic community to save our own cultural heritage,” Governor Suebu said.
It was only last Friday that the governor installed the new administrators and supervisors of Bina Seni Budaya Papua foundation, namely Septer Manufandu as chairman, and Dominggus Rumadas, Habelino Sawaki, and James Mayor as members.
Governor Suebu then called on them to understand and to implement their respective tasks well, and make a good cooperation among them in a bid to save the local culture and traditional arts from extinction.
Preservation and promotion of Papua`s culture and traditional arts are also made through a so-called Lake Sentani Festival (FDS) which has been organized twice in the two consecutive years from 2008-2009, and the third of its kind will be staged from June 19-23 this year.
“Themed `Loving Culture for Our Future, Lake Sentani Festival (LSF) from June 19 to 23, 2010, will try to attract as many domestic and foreign tourists as possible,” Jayapura district head Habel Melkias Suwae has said.
He said various preparations had been made for this annual cultural festivity.
Habel said this year`s Lake Sentani Festival would serve as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in the Indonesian easternmost province, Papua.
In 2008, the Papua Tourism Office organized the first Lake Sentani Festival from July 16 to 19 that year to support the annual Lembah Baliem Festival in Jayawijaya district.
Since then, the LSF was held as an effort to protect the culture of Jayapura district, especially at the areas around Lake Sentani.
Located some 75 meters above sea level and surrounded by beautiful hills, the 3.63-hectare Lake Sentani is a perfect place for fishing, swimming, canoing, skiing, and other kinds of water sports.
“No wonder, Lake Sentani Festival will serve as a year-long gateway for the tourism industry in Jayapura district specifically and in Papua province in general,” Habel Melkias Suwae said.
It means, he said, that in this case tourism will strengthen the identity of the people of Papua, preserve their traditional and cultural values, step up their economy.
Therefore, Habel added that the Jayapura district administration would make every effort to develop the attractive villages around Lake Sentani to constantly attract as many tourists as possible.
“This year`s Lake Sentani Festival is themed `Loving Culture for Our Future` because whoever loves and preserves traditional and cultural values, will also prepare the future of the future generation,” Habel said.
Nehemia Yoku, a local resident of Sentani district said that although the festival was still about two weeks to go, foreign tourists had started arriving in the provincial city of Jayapura for the cultural event at Sentani lake side.
In Kalkote village where the festival will be held, some 20 foreign tourists in the past few days were seen enjoying the natural beauty of Lake Sentani.
“Some of them hire small boats of the local people to cross the lake and visit the surrounding villages,” said Nehemia.
He added that some 20 tourists from various countries had come to the lake at Kalkote village and enjoyed its natural beauty.
He said many pavilions had been set up at the festival arena to exhibit various art works and home industrial products during the cultural event