The weather was perfect and Indonesian people were well represented 15 March 2014 at the Mapalus Kawanua Florida, MKF, first anniversary picnic at Wickham Park Melbourne. Hundreds of people from as near as Fort Meyers, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach, and as far as California, Colorado, New York, and New Hampshire celebrated Indonesian Minahasa culture as they enjoyed food, music, and performances. It was day to make new friends, as well as to raise awareness and funds to help volcano and flood victims in North Sumatra, East Java, and North Sulawesi.
The event was sponsored by Mapalus Kawanua Florida which loosely translated means “Community of people from the hometown of Manado, Indonesia, living in Florida”. But there was also the desire to draw all people together to share in culture and friendship with Indonesians who can be diverse yet have much in common. “Unity in Diversity” is the official national motto of this island nation, the world’s fourth most populous country, and it was apparent in the friendship displayed by those who were there.
Activities opened with a prayer and singing of a traditional Manado song, Opo Wana Natas, by those gathered. After remarks by MKF Chairman Charles Tumetel, the entertainment
began with Wyn Praniti Mello performing a Balinese social dance, “Joged Bungbung”, with audience participation! Dwi Santoso next led an angklung group in playing some traditional and contemporary songs including America the Beautiful. During lunch guests ate spicy Manado cuisine and listened to Kolingtang music. There was also Potong Tumpeng, which is a rice dish shaped to resemble a volcano (which play a large part in the culture since Indonesia has 147 of them). Tumpeng dates back to ancient traditions related to giving thanks for an abundant harvest or other blessings. MKF board members ceremoniously cut the tip off the cone.
Vocalist Rey Graham smooth singing kept the crowd clapping. Fannie Kainde led partners to dance the Polonaise, a type of European influenced polka performed at weddings and other social events. There was the mandatory line dance “Poco-Poco” which originated in Indonesia but has also spread throughout Asia. Not everything was old school tradition as Jeany Sugito lead rousing Zumba dance routines to get everyone’s blood flowing after eating too much.
It shouldn’t be surprising to see the Asian influence in Central Florida considering that between 2000 and 2010 the Asian population has grown four times faster than the total U.S. population growth in the same period, and Florida is one of the ten states where nearly three-fourths of all Asians in the U.S. live. While Indonesia is only the 15th largest group of Asian Americans in the U.S., they are now well represented in central Florida with several organizations focused on serving their community such as Brevard Angklung and Dance group, City Blessings Ministry (CBM), Indonesian American Women Association Florida chapter, (IAWA), Mapalus Kawanua Florida, (MKF), and new groups forming.