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A Novelist and Actor Who Grew Up in the Netherlands Discusses the Common Past Shared by Indonesia and His Country

By Rob Hammink

History. It's never coming back. Sometimes that's a good thing, though often it is a shame.

Old times carry nostalgia, making it clear that time often goes by too fast. Every now and then, man wants to go backwards instead of always marching forward. The old, the familiar, that is safe.

Actor and novelist Rob Hammink and BaroQco Couture Founder Imelday Liem

Until independence was attained, when the Republic of Indonesia was recognized in 1949, the Netherlands and Indonesia were linked for 350 years in a cultural, political and economic sense. That lengthy time resulted in a common past between the two countries. But old times pass, or. as expressed in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia: Tempo Doeloe. Those were “times of yore.” A testament to a time that stood for comfort for some-- a private chef, a babysitter, a gardener and a driver.

We didn't learn much about this in school in the Netherlands. I encountered remnants of these nostalgic times during my many travels through the Emerald Belt, where my father shaped his adulthood. His diary from the late 1940s, written in Padang, Sumatra, continues to be the family beacon.

Over the years I have spoken to elderly people who recalled the Tempo Doeloe fondly, and younger people who despised it. When I got a role in an important film, Bumi Manusia (The Earth of Mankind), based on the famous novel by Pramoedja Ananta Toer which was translated into 36 languages,Tempo Doeloe took on an even deeper meaning, so deep that I even was able to relate to it. It was those colonial feelings that I drew on for a photoshoot with BaroQco, a jewelry design house with roots in the Netherlands and Indonesia. In a Dutch church in 2020, a year after the release of the box office hit Bumi Manusia, Tempo Doeloe came to life again and proved that the past can be revived. That journey is honored by a mutual respect and the deep understanding that every point in time has its own meaning and aura. An aura that is timeless.


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I am currently working on a film script, Timeless, based on my father's diary, which describes the transition from the Dutch East Indies colony to an independent republic. The jewelry from BaroQco precisely captures the intricacy and grandness of that bygone era.

BaroQco Couture Founder Imelday Liem and Actor and novelist Rob Hammink



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