Indonesia boasts more than 17,000 islands, a number greater than the Philippines' own 7,107 islands, and though diverse in so many ways, the vibrant cultures of both nations bridge the gap between the two.
First time visitors to Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, may somehow find the place very similar to Manila. Take some time to explore the city and you will come to realize the things that seem different are actually quite familiar—from its streets, foods, lifestyle, and people.
1. An emerging business hub
Jakarta, just like the Philippines, is known to be a destination for leisure. The city has grand shopping malls where you can score great deals of your fave brands at a very affordable price.
But there's more to Indonesia than skyscrapers and grand malls: the country's economy is booming as more start-ups are targeting the local market before going international. With the establishment of numerous coworking spaces, one of which is the GoWork Coworking Space and Office, it became a great opportunity for independent startups to venture into different lines of businesses in a more conducive work place.
2. Cultural adaptation
The Philippines and Indonesia are among the original founding states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and both share the same vision of "forging a common identity" among its members through cultural development.
If you go on a tour especially in Wayang Museum, you'll find cultural connections between the Philippines and Indonesia: Ondel-ondel, an icon in the Indonesian folk performances, is a large puppet used to welcome guests; its appearance and size will definitely remind you of Angono's very own paper-maches called Higantes or the "giants".
Cultural adaptation in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia is very evident, and one proof of it is the creation of bartik wear which underwent the intricate embroidery of barong weaving and the art of wax-resistant dyeing called batik.
Language, as complex as it may seem, can be a point of reference for intercultural connections. In fact, some words in Bahasa Indonesia and Filipino have the same usage such as buka (open) and kanan (right), to name a few.
4. Rice as staple
Filipino and Indonesian cuisines are all about spices and, not to mention, meals consist of steamed rice as the staple. What makes Indonesian dishes distinct? It is the taste of spice called turmeric which is also added in curry dishes.
5. Traffic, traffic, traffic
If you think the humid weather will instantly remind you of Manila, then you haven't experienced traffic in Jakarta. You'll find the same scenario on the busy roads of the city. Though there are pedestrian lanes, one has to be very cautious when crossing the streets as there are no pedestrian lights to guide you.
However, despite that, the well-designed footbridges connecting to different bus stops actually make the city ideal to be traveled on foot.
6. Craze over durian
Durian is considered as the "King of Fruits" in Davao and the same thing can be said about Indonesia where the fruit can be seen almost everywhere. Though it may not be as popular as mangoes in the Philippines, durian proves to be an icon not only in Davao city but in Asia.
7. Passionate people
The heart of Jakarta is actually its passionate people. Ibu Helianti, a lawyer by profession before becoming an entrepreneur, has changed the lives of many indigenous Indonesian farmers through her artisanal food company Javara. Ibu helped a community of farmers in turning their harvests into products that can be marketed outside Indonesia. Through Ibu's perseverance, Javara products have been recognized internationally.
8. Once a colony
The Philippines and Indonesia were once colonized by the Spanish and Dutch, respectively. The influence of the colonizers are still evident and visible, mostly in the architectural structures such as old houses and the city's museums.
At the present time-- and this may be unknown to many-- the Indonesian government came up with a policy to promote nationalism by limiting the Dutch influence: speaking their language, and going so far as to ban Dutch films in cinemas. Netherlanders—the Dutch—are only allowed to stay in the country for a number of days.
9. A digitally connected world
Indonesians have benefited a lot from the advent of technology. Go-Jek, another startup which offers services through its ride-hailing app, has become essential part of the every day life of the locals. The app has provided assistance to Indonesians such as paying bills, buying medicines, doing groceries, etc, all in just a click away.
How To Get There:
AirAsia offers direct and affordable flights from Manila to Jakarta, Indonesia. The leading low-cost carrier flies to over 120 destinations which also include ASEAN countries. Book now your tickets here.