Cornelis Hill Park, Ngabang, West Kalimantan: The Enchantment of the Expansive Grounds of a Contemporary Dayak Official's Residence

Cornelis Hill Park. Let's take a trip there. Green fields spread out. Farms grow various vegetables.

Not far from Sanggau., a regency in the eastern region of West Kalimantan, which is 260 kilometers away. Just a few kilometers away. 

If you're driving a four-wheeler, it's only a two-hour journey at most. Once you reach the Sosok city intersection, head straight towards Ngabang. There you will encounter a hill that everyone in Ngabang knows about.

This isn't about Cornelis from the Netherlands 

This isn't about Cornelis from The Netherlands. A locus in East Jakarta, Jatinegara, immortalizing his name: Mester Cornelis.

But Cornelis, the Governor of West Kalimantan (2008-2018). A man of Kanayatn descent, born on July 27, 1953, in Sanggau, West Kalimantan. His father was a policeman. Thus, he was born where his father was stationed.

Starting from the bottom. Cornelis once worked as a mail carrier. "I started out as a messenger for a party," he said.

Google Maps.

Over time, through experience and self-learning, Cornelis entered SMA Kapuas, Pontianak. Then APDN. He graduated, became a low-level official in the district. His career continued to rise. Then he became the District Head of Menjalin (1989-1995) and later Menyuke (1998-1999).

Cornelis Hill Park. Let's take a trip there. Green fields spread out. Farms grow various vegetables. In the land of Landak, the first Gawai Dayak ceremony, Naik Dango, was held. Now, these two districts are in the Landak region. So, the hill with his name didn't just appear out of nowhere. It wasn't so sudden, especially when Cornelis took on the responsibility as the Regent of Landak (2006-2008).

Cornelis is now a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives from West Kalimantan's Electoral District I, a member of Commission II. He sailed to Senayan paddling the PDIP party's boat. The support he garnered was quite fantastic. His name ranked second most among the top 10 in the country (no. 1 is Puan Maharani). Cornelis garnered 285,797 votes in the 2019 General Election.

His speaking style and presence in Senayan attract attention.

Cornelis Hill Park

But there's something even more interesting than that. That is Cornelis Hill Park.

Let's go there. Green fields spread out. Farms grow various vegetables. In the land of Landak, the famous Gawai Dayak ceremony, Naik Dango, was first held. There, Cornelis teaches by example. He farms. He also cultivates land. Even gardens. He enjoys all of it with great joy.

Landak, formerly known as the land of the Dayak people indeed. About its master's tales, you can read in ancient references. For example, Schadee's work (1979) Contribution to the Knowledge of the Religion of the Dayaks of Landak and Tayan. During the colonial period, writers always extolled the land of Landak and Tayan.

M.C. Schadee was a Controller at the Interior Administration. It narrates the original beliefs of the indigenous peoples, who are the original inhabitants of the region divided by the Landak River.

Now Landak's face has changed. It has grown up, becoming an independent city. Magnificent offices, considered luxurious. Cafes and restaurants are everywhere. Marking the development of the creative economy in one of the districts, not far from the provincial capital of West Kalimantan, Pontianak.

The land is fertile. The land contour is up and down. There are many hills. From the direction of Pontianak along the Pinyuh River road, you will encounter a series of Sehak hills. Winding. In the past, many people felt carsick when passing through. Now it's good and smooth because not many heavy vehicles pass through. Wide road. Made not too steep. Many stalls and restaurants around. Very comfortable to pass through, to Landak (Ngabang).

In the heart of Ngabang city, there is a river dividing it. That's the Landak River. A few meters from the bridge, take a left towards Armed. About 0.5 km, turn right, look up. There's a road. That's the entrance to Cornelis Hill Park.

Why named so?

That's a vast, natural, serene area that became Cornelis's residence. He was the Governor of West Kalimantan for two terms. Now, he's a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

I then remembered Du Bus. Who is he? Du Bus, full name Leonard Pierre Joseph Dubus de Gisignies, a figure who must be mentioned in the history of missions and the Catholic Church of Batavia, especially Borneo. The General Commissioner of the Dutch East Indies (1826-1830), who was a devout Catholic, also built Fort Du Bus in Pontianak. Du Bus issued Government Regulation 97 on Religious Freedom in the Archipelago: The practice of all religions is protected by the Government.

In the land of Landak, Cornelis isn't building a monument. He's writing history. At the same time, building a civilization. Legacy. An extraordinary deed that will be remembered and commemorated for centuries to come, passing through, transcending various generations. So, in terms of civilization and artifacts, what's the difference from, for example, Borobudur?

"Who else will appreciate us, if not us? I named this area after myself because that's the reality. It's part of our identity. Not recognition. We don't need to be recognized; we're the owners, the heirs," explained Cornelis.

Indeed, there's a profound philosophy behind that local naming!

The names of mountains, hills, rivers, valleys, ravines, and roads in Kalimantan nowadays should use local names. Names of people, clans, tribes, or anything with local nuances.

It's no longer the time to name a place or thing after outsiders. As if we, the indigenous inhabitants and owners, are foreigners. It's also part of politics.

Cornelis isn't building a monument. He's carving history. At the same time, building a civilization. A legacy that will be remembered and commemorated for centuries to come, passing through, transcending various generations.

Cornelis, the President of the National Dayak Customary Council (Majelis Adat Dayak Nasional), began introducing and advocating for the use of local names for streets, airports, and bridges. This is certainly not easy. Especially in the midst of the hegemony of a particular culture, which still has strong remnants. Usually, street names and specific topographies are imported.

In Borneo, how many things are like that? The colonial powers have done it. Can you believe it? In Kapuas Hulu, West Kalimantan, a series of mountains are called Muller Mountains (Müller) and Schwaner Mountains. To refer to the consecutive mountain ranges from the northeast to the southwest and form about two-thirds of the southeastern boundary of the province.

-- Rangkaya Bada

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