Situ Ciburuy is a man-made lake at the village of Ciburuy at Padalarang District in West Bandung Regency. It is located some 22 kilometers to the west of Bandung’s city center on the side of the road that connects Bandung and Cianjur.
The lake is said to have come into existence when the confluence of two small rivers was dammed in 1918. It’s a beautiful place — or used to be. The lyrics of this popular Sundanese folk song bears witness to it:
Situ Ciburuy laukna hese dipancing.
Nyeredet hate ningali herang caina.
Duh eta saha nu ngalangkung unggal enjing.
Nyeredet hate ningali sorot socana.
The fish of Situ Ciburuy is difficult to fish.
My heart is touched by its clear water.
Oh who is it that walks by every morning.
My heart is touched by her gleaming eyes.
The beauty is still there — the green of the contoured landscape on the horizon; but the ‘beasts’ are closing in on it.
Overpopulation, unsanitary slums, and garbage are strangling its banks and water, shrinking its size and depleting it of its life source.
In 1997, it was 67 hectares wide. Last year, only 41.5 hectares remained. In 1997, 4 million cubic meters of water made up its body. In 2005, only half of it was left.
If it were a human being, Situ Ciburuy would have been screaming for help. But who is to listen to its outcry of misery when all it could do is silence?
Perhaps it’s us who should speak for it. We, the talking homo loquens, the wise homo sapients — the same agents who have made it suffer.
Many of its siblings have died and disappeared forever in Parahiyangan — this land of gods. Are we going to let it happen to it too?
If it’s gone, we’re going too — slowly, and perhaps painfully. And the song that we have so proudly sung for so long will fade away into the background, and with it, our identity.