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Places: Nothing Silly at Kg Bongek

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 
Tags: places
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