About SoCal Indo


Do you know what a SoCal Indo is? A SoCal Indo is a person of mixed Indo European/Eurasian and Indigenous Indonesian descent with his/her roots in The Dutch East Indies and  who lives in Southern California. My name is Michael Passage and I am a SoCal Indo.

Although I was born in Dordrecht, I lived in Witgoor Dessel and Antwerp, Belgium, Jakarta, Indonesia and Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In July 2002 I arrived at LAX, Los Angeles airport. Fifteen years later, I opted for American citizenship and still live in Sun Valley, Southern California (SoCal)

I would like to tell the story about my youth, about how I became a SoCal Indo.You know how it goes with us Indos, EVERYONE is an uncle and aunt or has one.

Like many Indo families, my parents were not warmly received by the Dutch (or should I just say *Belandas*) after the Second World War, in the same way that the current flow of refugees is received.

My parents were born and raised in a Dutch overseas colony called the Dutch East Indies, but upon arrival in their homeland they turned out not to be Dutch because their birth certificate said *European*. I want to refer to the boarding houses where my family had to live, the loans they had to pay back. They had to start from the bottom of the ladder while my parents had a good education in the Dutch East Indies.

Papa – with a Sundanese/Chinese mother – and an Indo-European father born in Tjirebon (Dutch East Indies, June 9, 1933) is to this day my Wikipedia about everything that concerns Tempo Doeloe (The past). Fortunately, he is still up to date and I can capture everything on film. He goes to the *kumpulans* in Poortugaal, South Holland, every week, and is a loyal visitor to the local Pasar Malams.

Mama’s life, on the other hand, was anything but roses. Born in Batavia on March 12, 1941, she was one of the many victims of Japanese violence during the Japanese Era between 1942 and 1945. Her entire life was a trauma. Unfortunately, she passed away on July 24th, 2019.

My Bahasa Indonesia is good because I started speaking it at a younger age and continued practicing it while living in Jakarta between 1986-1989 . Dad, who is Indo, taught me the most, while my Mandonese mom always raised me speaking Dutch.

In 1970, the three of us moved from Dordrecht, The Netherlands to Witgoor-Dessel, a village in the Belgian Northern Kempen, 30 minutes south of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Dad started his career there at Eurochemic, a company responsible for processing nuclear waste from the local nuclear power plant in Mol.

At the time we were one of the few Indos in this region, together with the Vervaet, Vateroth, Rhemrev, Joseph and Roscot families. We were welcomed with open arms by our new Belgian neighbors. I will never forget my first day as a 3 year old. I was also the only one with a different color.

We had a big house, with five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge back yard where you could have a real *kumpulan**.

While dad was doing well at work, mom was having a hard time at home. I was at school all day and at that time you couldn’t watch TV all day, that only started in the late afternoon. With the result; Mom became depressed, had anxiety attacks and all those bad memories from her childhood came flooding back.

Mama always looked forward to the weekend because all the Indo aunts and uncles came to visit, even if they weren’t really family… You know how it goes with us Indos, EVERYONE is an uncle and aunt. They all came “down” from Dordrecht, The Hague, Amsterdam, Zwolle, Veghel, Maastricht The Netherlands.

Those Belgian neighbors had no idea what was going on over the weekend, but they got used to it. There was partying, smoking, “pentollen”* and laughing until the early hours. All bedrooms were full, people slept in beds, on the floor, in the living room. We had a lot of fun, but on Sunday evening at 6 o’clock it was time to go home, so that dad could watch Studio Sport at 7 o’clock just in time.

Now that I live in Southern California I still remember that time well. And with SoCal Indo I’ll try to affirm the feeling of solidarity between everyone with an Indo background.

* Belandas = Dutch in Indonesian

* Pentollen = Domino

Kumpulan = Gathering