Flores Ecotourism » Berita

Waerebo - Manggarai Village

Preparation for Caci DanceUpon reaching a green plateau located 1,200 meters above sea level in Flores you will find yourself in an area called Satar Lenda. It is here, surrounded by misty mountains, that you will find a village still clinging to their traditional culture.

Waerebo is more than an ordinary village, with some experts suggesting that the history of Waerebo started as early as 1020, with 17 generations already being recorded. Waerebo is the place where the learning of these villagers began, and as such is an invaluable representation of the Manggarai’s cultural heritage in West Flores.

In the center of Waerebo are four conical stilt houses, the Mbaru Niang. This conical shape is important to represent togetherness and kinship. The framework of the houses also depicts that of a spider web, which represents the interconnection between the farmers and the soil that nourishes each of the villagers living in the house. This traditional architectural design was inspired by the natural surroundings and has been found to endure both strong wind and earthquakes.

There are 88 families in Waerebo, who are all descendants of the same ancestors. The largest house in the village is the main house called the Drum House, in which eight related families reside. In the centre of the house there is a kitchen with eight stoves to serve each family. These villagers all live in harmony and earn a living from growing sweet potatoes, yams, corn, coffee, cocoa, cloves and fruit.

Waerebo Traditional Village
Waerebo Traditional Village

Arriving visitors are greeted with traditional welcome ceremonies called Curu and Kapu to symbolise courtesy and familiarity between the villagers and the visitors. During the Curu the visitors are escorted to their house, and after entering the house the Kapu ceremony begins, in which a white rooster is presented as a symbol of sincerity and kinship.

After the ceremony the visitors are served local dishes, including vegetables, brown rice and fresh fruit. The local coffee of Waerebo is also an amazing dessert not to be missed. Visitors then stay overnight in one of the traditional houses, which is complete with mattresses and pillows made from woven cloth. Before going to bed, a traditional performance called the Mbata is also performed.

Another important tradition is the Penti ceremony, which is an annual event celebrated by the Manggarai to commemorate the coming planting season. This event generally takes place mid-November each year and consists of a series of ancient traditional rituals for three days and nights. It is compulsory for every member of the Waerebo community to attend the Penti.

The ceremony is led by the elderly village chairman and begins once all of the villagers are gathered at the main house. The ancient rituals are centered on three sacred places that are believed to be looked after by the good spirits: the spring, the village’s front gate and the village’s backyard. The villagers are dived into three groups and each group then marches to the three sites. Later, during the sacrificing ritual a chicken is slaughtered and checked for good signs or messages to indicate that their ancient rituals were accepted.

The Caci is then performed at noon the next day. The Caci is a dance of martial arts that is widely known by the Manggarai as it symbolises bravery and dignity. The Caci require skills in both attack and defense through the use of a whip and a shield. In Waerebo, this dance can only be performed during the Penti ceremony. The closing ceremony is then the Sanda Penti ceremony, which continues on through the night in the main house until dawn.

Getting there

The journey to Waerebo Village begins with a flight from Denpasar to Labuan Bajo. Once in Labuan Bajo visitors need to travel 158kms (approximately eight hours) by either public transport (Otto) or with a car rental service to Denge Village. It is then a four-hour walk from Denge to Waerebo.

The walk requires some effort, as the terrain is through winding hills and can get quite difficult, however, it can be completed by anyone with a moderate level of fitness. The first stop before reaching Waerebo Village is the Waelomba River with its crystal clear water and many chirping birds. It is all uphill from here, and between August and December mist becomes a constant companion along this part of the journey. The second stop is Poco Roco Post, where the lush Flores countryside and ocean views can be enjoyed. From here the trekking becomes much easier, taking only one hour to reach Waerebo. (Junaidi Arif)

Country side and ocean views from Poco Roco Post
Country side and ocean views from Poco Roco Post

Kapu Ceremony
Kapu Ceremony

Waerebo community gather in the drum house (Rumah Gendang)
Waerebo community gather in the drum house (Rumah Gendang)

Penti Ceremony
Penti Ceremony

Foto by: Burung Indonesia Docs & Langgeng Arief Utomo/BI

Source: Trans Nusa Inflight Magazine Edition Jan - Feb 2011

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