ATTRACTION: It may sound silly, wacky, or perhaps even fabricated to the untrained ear, but the quiet village of Kampung Bongek, near Rembau here, is drawing fame for its unusual name and its hot spring, writes Maizatul Ranai
FIRST-TIME visitors might laugh when they see the name Kampung Bongek as the name it brings to mind a colloquial term the Malays normally use to tease people.
For the layperson, bongek is sarcastically used, especially by teenagers, when referring to a senseless but funny act by a person.
However, locals here have always pronounced it with a straight face, without the slightest hint of it being any thing to laugh about.
The village, which is located about 6km from Rembau, Negri Sembilan, has been the talk of the town because of its name.
Villager Basri Hasan, 71, said many people did not know that the word ‘Bongek’ was derived from historic historical chronicles dating back to the 1770s.
The former head master of Sekolah Kebangsaan Bongek who is also a native of the village, said the origin of the name originated was from a combination of two words — Boncah and Jangek.
Boncah, he said, refers to a swamp while Jangek is a food produced from cowhide.
How ‘Boncah’ and ‘Jangek’ turned into Bongek is a tale worth digging into.
Kampung Bongek had existed since 1773, when Raja Melewar from Pagar Ruyong in Sumatra was invited by the fourth Undang to head Negri Sembilan.
Pagar Ruyong was then the administrative centre for the Kings of Minangkabau. It is now a village in a sub-region in West Sumatra.
According to Basri, during the arrival of Raja Melewar to the state, his followers (the Minangkabau people or also known as the Minang) set up settlements in the village, as it was located near Astana Raja and Kampung Penajis, where the installation of Raja Melewar as the first Yang Dipertuan Besar Negri Sembilan was going to be conducted.
He said in the village back then, there was a swamp with hot water, or hot spring as it is now known.
“The Minang, who emigrated to the state at that time, called the swamp ‘Boncah’ while the hot water was referred to as ‘Angek’, which was a Sanskrit term,” Basri added.
He said at that time, the Minang were also popular well known for a type of food made from cowhide. cow hide.
“In order to prepare the food, one had to clean and wash the hide using the ‘Angek’ from the ‘Boncah’ (hot spring). And the food pro duced was called ‘Jangek’.
“Everytime“Every time the villagers wanted to make the food, they would need to go to the ‘Boncah’. They would say ‘Nak ke Boncah untuk cuci Jangek’ (I want to go to the Boncah (hot spring) to wash the food (Jangek)),” he said.
As the phrase was frequently re peated, Basri said the villagers eventually shortened it to ‘Bo- Ngek’.
And that was how the name of Kampung Bongek came about.
“I was told that during that time, the village did not have a name yet,” he said.
The hot spring can still be seen today, right by the riv er bank and with shrubs growing around it.
Basri said there were sug gestions and ef forts to develop the hot spring to attract more tourists to the village, in view of its history.
“However, the land belongs to someone who is not willing to give it up yet so we have no right to develop it.”
Basri, who is now a lecturer at the Islamic Teaching Educational Institution ‘Diniyyah Puteri Padang Panjang in West Sumatera, said the Kampung Bongek villagers had encountered a lot of many people who made fun of the village name.
“But it doesn’t bother us much as we are used to such sarcastic re marks and smirks. Most people do not know the history behind the name, so we don’t blame them,” he added.
Kampung Bongek village head Abu Hashim Omar, 70, said the village had also produced many successful sons who had contribut ed to the country.
“It is so ironic since a lot people have been making fun about the name of our village. In fact, there are also some who are ashamed to admit they are from here for fear of people cracking silly jokes about the name,” he said.
Among those who hail from Kampung Bongek are High Court judge Datuk Azmir Maamor and Kolej Universiti Islam Malaysia deputy rector Prof Dr Mohammad Alias.
Hashim, who had been residing living in the village since 1985, said they also had an active association called ‘Sireh Pu lang ke Gagang’, which was set up to conduct activities for the benefit of the vil lagers.
“Among the programmes was a charity golf tournament to raise money to set up a tuition centre for the students in the village, especially those who are sitting for the major examinations,” he added.
Maizatul Ranai New Straits Times General 21 October 2012