Batik Goes To School

This is Apa Kabar Bram special post because most of Apa Kabar Bram’s articles are posted during weekend.


Today, Singapore celebrates Racial Harmony Day (RHD). And my school ,MacPherson Secondary, encourages its students to wear ethnic clothes.

Although it has been announced that the three main races ethnic clothes are the best to wear, there are some ‘pembangkang’ still. Some wear their outdoor clothes (for shopping, strolling etc), Shakespearean clothes, Korean, Japanese, Seragam SMA and many more.

I’m one of the ‘pembangkang’ actually. Batik has been used as school uniform in many parts of Indonesia for years. But, how about elsewhere? In Malaysia, civil servants must use batik every Thursday. In Indonesia, some local companies have enforced their employees to wear batik.

How about school overseas? With the exception of Indonesia international schools.

I wore batik shirt to school today. In fact, I was the only one wearing. When I stepped into the school, a teacher complimented my shirt. I wanted to say thanks but only managed to grin. Things were not going really well inside the classroom.

Some whispered in another language about the batik I wore. It ended with “Anyway, he doesn’t understand what we’re talking about.” Other, I don’t know whether it’s true or not, says that I looked like a hotel manager. Last, a person says that I looked like a bellboy. I don’t know whether he was trying to be critical, jealous or what. But if any of them reads this article, some probable responses are, “I didn’t say that” or “Why did I put such a trivial matter online?”

If only they know and understand what batik has been up to, such comments might become ridiculous. Batik has been claimed by many countries especially in Southeast Asia. You can find some of the problems online but I suggest you not to go to provocative sites or blogs as their discussions are subjective.

Back in my ‘tempat kost’, I heard some chit-chatting during the dinner about batik. One makes a remark that batik is not suitable to wear to school. That person studied in an international school when he was in Indonesia. I know most of them would laugh and undermine batik.

The only word that I could use for now is ‘miris’. When batik is a trend in Indonesia, some Indonesians are still looking down on it. It is also looked down here in Singapore when a young person wears it. It is no wonder why Blackberry is unpopular among students and housewives in Singapore. We simply have different thinkings and lifestyles.

What if I wore blangkon, sarung, safari and keris to school? Expect worse comments on it. My fellow Indonesians who are still loyal to ‘Ibu Pertiwi’, ignore their comments. Who else would preserve our heritage if it is not us?


The batik shirt I wore today was bought during Enchanting Indonesia 2009 exhibition on Batik Keris stall. There is other traditional textile on sale, songket. I wish they had tenun ikat because in Bali, my lovely hometown, tenun ikat is more widely used than batik.

Batik Keris has brighter days in the ’70s and ’80s. I hope they will do well in the next decade. Report on Enchanting Indonesia 2009 will be available this weekend, hopefully.

Apa Kabar Bram and myself are committed in preserving Indonesian heritage. We are not trying to be like people who only can laugh but do nothing.


This article is posted from my Nokia N95. For now, good day.


2 thoughts on “Batik Goes To School

  1. Hey Bram… Bravo that you didn’t listen to their silly comments! I didn’t know that there are still people who look down on batik. Batik is cool! And lately, many companies have used more fashionable designs of Batik. Try checking out Allure (in Singapore, they sell it as Alleira, in Bali they have a boutique in Seminyak square). It’s expensive but a good investment to promote Indonesia abroad!

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