Blinking lights illuminated the stage. White flashes followed the music’s rhythm. Each introduced its own sound, different melodies together in beautiful harmony. Against the backdrop of tall trees and the smell of wet soil on the Kaili’s hallowed ground, that night the stars bear witness, the silent came alive with sound.
Palu, the capital of the Central Sulawesi Province, prepared itself for the Gaung Sintuvu culture festivals. Palu Salonde Percussion, one of the festivals, is held in Kaombona Urban Forest, once called “tanah runtuh” (“collapsed ground”) by locals. There local and international musicians would perform: OCAS orchestra from Spain, collaborating with Palu percussion group Pedati; Sangu Patuju group featuring famous drummer Gilang Ramadhan; percussion performers from Lombok, Bali, and Medan; intercontinental percussion acts Vancouver Gamelan and Yogya Gamelan; collaboration of I Wayan Balawan and Balinese percussion; Central Sulawesi traditional dances; and the colossal percussion performance “Pakaroso Ada” by Palu junior high school students.
Palu Salonde Percussion was opened on Friday, 10 August 2018. On the same date the Kaombona Urban Forest was opened to the public. The city government had built a footpath through the dense forest to a clearing in the middle, where tents were set up. Some were open for small businesses, a large one for the festival stage, others at the back were for performers and organizers. The forest was turned into an open air concert stage with a dramatic view of trees and hills.
Palu mayor Hidayat said that the city government needed about two months to prepare the location. “It used to be scrubs and bushes,” said Hidayat, formerly head of Central Sulawesi Regional Training and Development Agency.
He explained that the “collapsed ground” moniker came from the fact that the forest had experienced collapses. Kaombona is on the Palu Koro tectonic fault line. “So actually earthquakes happen daily here, even until now,” Hidayat said.
The active fault is named Palu Koro because it runs from Palu to Pipikoro town at Sigi Regency. Although he knew the location is unfit for permanent settlement, Hidayat was determined to develop the forest into a new tourist attraction in Palu. “Yes, it used to collapse. I don’t know for sure about the natural condition, but recent research suggested that the tectonic fault has slowly stabilized,” he explained. He claimed that the city government had worked together with experts from Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB) to develop the Kaombona Urban Forest. “ITB civil engineering experts know about the Palu Koro fault, they will prepare the safest construction.” Hidayat hoped that before the end of his term, he can initiate a new cultural event called the Palu Koro Festival to introduce the beauty of nature and environment there.
Palu Salonde Percussion is intended to be a stepping stone in a long term development plan. The development is done in a 65-hectare area of land, with a budget of Rp 300 billion. “So far, we’ve invested Rp 25 billion here. The Ministry of Public Works has also allocated Rp 10 billion,” Hidayat revealed. In the future, Kaombona Urban Forest would feature a 32x18 metre amphitheatre, sports facilities, viewing decks, nature school zones, forest cottage zones, natural conservation zones, a mini zoo, art market as well as an art and culture zone, and recreational zones.
Palu Salonde Percussion is an event in the Indonesiana program for Palu, based on the implementation of culture-based tolerance, family, and collaboration values. The event includes art performances, visits to traditional villages, workshops, seminars, carnavals, and cultural exhibitions, involving local societies and cultural groups in Palu.