Filipinos in the City: Jakarta




Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is also known as the big durian. Not only is the fruit abundantly found in the city but it is also a good analogy for how it’s like to live here — possibly not for everyone, an acquired taste with a lingering sensation that is uniquely its own. Among its loyal fans, nothing compares to the durian. 

While I'm far from being a durian fanatic, I am definitely a fan of Jakarta. My husband and I were lucky to have tasted a slice of the big durian since we moved here in 2012 due to my work. Since then we've grown to love coffee, discovered new cafes, hole in the wall sate places, antique roadside shops, hipster haunts and the convenience of VVIP mall parking as well as having everything delivered to your home. 

Now that we have a 1 year old daughter, weekend activities and toddler friendly places are important to add to our list. For anyone thinking of looking for a city getaway with their little ones, you need not look further than Jakarta. Best part is if you're coming from any neighbouring southeast Asian countries, it's a quick flight with lots of budget airlines to choose from. And when we miss home it is easy to make a quick weekend visit to Lolo and Lola in Manila.


As Filipino parents we do think about how to get our daughter acquainted better with our culture. Luckily when it comes to language, Bahasa Indonesia and Filipino are both of Malay origin and some words are similar. Like our daughter last week started saying 'basa' when something is wet because our Indonesian nanny uses the word often. For now this will have to do and we'll think of a more structured approach as she gets older. Since we live in Indo we're taking a conscious choice of prioritising local language and English. 


Apart from that we're lucky that there are Filipino communities we can also connect with and celebrate important dates in Filipino history. Once some friends organised an EDSA day get together where (those who were old enough to remember) shared their memories and experience. It's these stories that make up who we are and we hope to continue this tradition as our daughter grows up regardless if where we live. 


Last but not the least is making sure she appreciates Filipino food and share it with others too. We have a go to Filipino food caterer who can make everything from lechon to lumpia. For our daughter's first birthday we made sure there was pansit served for the guests to represent (as we have been taught) long life. It's important for us as parents to include simple Filipino traditions like this in how we live. She may not understand it now but it's also a good way to celebrate not just our daughter's birthday but Filipino culture too.

So it may not be exactly like home but for as long as we have Filipino food, friends and stories about home we can continue celebrating our culture with our daughter and the rest of the people we meet. 



So if you've read this far and are convinced to get to know Indonesia a little bit better, here's a starter kit for a weekend getaway with your toddler in tow:

  1. Play time - What Jakarta lacks in parks, it makes up for in indoor play areas. Apart from the global franchises of kidzoona and kodzania, our daughter loves Buumi playscape and Color Playground by ZooMoov in Pacific Place mall. There are giant ball pits lots of climbing areas, pretend play sections that will keep your kids entertained for hours. While there, moms can make a quick visit to Galleries Lafayette, the French department store with a good mix of international designer brands as well as local designers. There are other choices but as a Pinoy mom obsessed with cleanliness (Pass the rubbing alcohol please!) I always go for the newly opened play areas.

  2. Retail therapy - Shopping for children's clothes and accessories is a breeze with independent brands setting up shop on Instagram. But if you want to check them out yourself Lino Luna in Kemang Village is your one-stop shop. If you're looking for batik prints for your little one the best place to go is Alun Alun in Grand Indonesia or if you took my advice earlier and went to Galleries La Fayette you would have stumbled upon the children's floor chocful of batik clothes for kids. 

  3. Pack light - Rental of baby equipment is a breeze with online sites like EcoMama and Babyloania. You can rent for a week or a month from strollers to toys and bottle warmers. So if you're a minimalist mama like me this means you don't have to pack your whole house when you travel with your child. 

  4. Skip the traffic and the queues - Between GoJek and Grab these two applications can help you order food and transportation. GoJek can also clean your house, do your hair and nails and shop at Sephora for you! The only thing missing is a nanny service for when you need mommy me time or your nanny is out sick.

  5. Get out of the city - You can visit the Safari in Bogor or Feed farm animals in Bandung all within driving distance from Jakarta. If you're child is in the choo choo train phase you can opt to ride a train going to both places. Make sure to book the executive class so you get enough legroom and a relaxing trip. The train ride to Bandung is quite scenic with the tracks passing mountains and rice fields.

There you have it! Life in the big durian with a toddler has a lot to offer. Raising my daughter continues to be one great adventure. Jakarta with its unique flavour has made it all the more memorable with an after taste that will longer on for a long time.




Originally posted on our partner site Finding Filipino

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