It is that time of year again, when Jakarta crowns a young man and a young woman to represent the city.
The 2011 Abang None Jakarta Competition is being held this Friday at the Jakarta Convention Center. The city’s tourism and culture office, which organizes the annual Mister and Miss Jakarta pageant, says the event is designed to identify the best young people who represent the culture and traditions of the capital.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the event, making it one of the longest-running pageants in the country.
According to Arie Budhiman, head of the city’s tourism and culture office, “the competition is proof of our consistent efforts and strong commitment to promoting the city. And its something we’ll continue to do in the future.”
A total of 1,769 men and women, aged between 18 and 25, entered this year’s pageant. That was a 27 percent increase over last year’s 1,403 contestants.
The competitors represent the six administrative regions of the city — South Jakarta, North Jakarta, West Jakarta, East Jakarta, Central Jakarta and Thousand Islands district.
Each administration region then winnowed down the contestants between Arpil and June. In the end, 18 Abang None couples made it through to Friday’s final.
One of the potential Nones is Lina Linda. The 20-year-old studies business management at the Paramadina University and is representing South Jakarta at the pageant.
Lina said despite being born and raised in the city, she knew nothing about its culture and traditions, though she hoped that wouldn’t stop her from winning.
“By participating in this competition, I hope to learn more about Jakarta and be able to contribute something positive to the city,” she said.
Since July 18, all the finalists have been removed from reality and taken to the Twin Plaza Hotel in Jakarta, where they have been preparing for the grand final.
During this time, the candidates have been given lessons in the traditions and culture of the Betawi — the indigenous people of Jakarta — and in tourism, fashion and public speaking.
Actress Maudy Koesnaedi, None Jakarta in 1993 and a judge at this year’s competition, said the pageant was a good opportunity for the competitors.
“The contestants can gain a lot of knowledge, experience and opportunities from this competition,” she said.
Angga Adhitya, head of publications and promotions at the Abang None Association, said the pageant was not just about being the face of Jakarta.
“Abang None Jakarta are not only representatives of the city,” Angga said, “they should also be intellectuals who will help to solve the problems faced by this city.”
In the past, Abang None Jakarta winners served as Jakarta tourism ambassadors, accompanying Jakarta’s governor to formal events.
In addition, this year’s winners will also serve as anti-drug and traffic ambassadors, actively participating in government campaigns throughout the entire year of their reign.
An Abang contestant from Central Jakarta, Haris Argareza, says he looks forward to the chance to get young people involved in solving Jakarta’s problems.
“Young people in Jakarta should not just complain and do nothing about their city,” he said. “There are still a lot of things that we can do for the city, if we don’t lose hope.”
The 23-year-old, who just graduated from geological studies at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, believes Jakarta has a lot of potential.
“The city has modern infrastructure, as well as a rich history and cultural attractions,” he said. “Of course, the city also has lots of issues. But as long as the government and the people work together to solve them, we can create a brighter future for the city and its inhabitants.”
If they win both Haris and Lina plan to encourage their friends and relatives to support government programs through social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s the age of social media,” Haris said. “Through it, we can create more of an impact on society.”
Haris has more than 2,000 followers on Twitter, while Lina has over 500.
Maudy said it was young people like these who represent Jakarta’s hope for the future. “They have a lot of potential to make a difference in the city,” she said.
Like Maudy, many previous winners of Abang None Jakarta have gone on to become prominent public figures.
Among these are TV presenters Andrie Nugroho Djarot and Vivi Aleyda Yahya, and the assistant regional secretary in Jakarta’s provincial government, Sylviana Murni.
This year’s grand final, which will see an appearance by Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo, has the theme “Kian Tertata, Kian Dicinta” (“More Organized, More Loved”). The gala event, which is expected to be attended by more than 4, 000 guests, will be opened by a parade of the finalists.
A number of well-known bands, including Wali, Bagindas and Elfas Big Band, are scheduled to perform during the event. Jazz singer Andini Aisyah Hariadi, known as Andien, will perform a medley of Betawi traditional songs.
The pageant final will include a question and answer session as well as a fashion show, highlighting traditional Betawi attire. The women will wear pieces from designer Raden Sirait, while the men will wear Betawi suits designed by Wong Hang.
In addition, the winners of Abang None Jakarta 2010, Agatha Pradana and Poetri Monalisa, will appear on stage to talk about everything they have done over the past year before handing off their crowns.
Contestants will also perform the nandak, a Betawi dance, accompanied by a traditional Betawi orchestra, Gambang Kromong, and a modern-day orchestra.
The pageant will conclude with the naming of this year’s Abang and None Jakarta. The winners will receive a trophy, prize money and a Honda car.
According to Arie, from the tourism office, “the winning pair will become Jakarta icons and appear at a number of prestigious events in Indonesia and abroad.”
The pageant will be aired live on ANTV on Friday beginning at 8 p.m.
Abang None Jakarta 2011
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