Elida Tamalagi (1981–2011)

Elida Tamalagi at National Film Day commemoration in Yogyakarta, INDONESIA. 27 March 2008 © Budi N.D. Dharmawan

I lost a friend yesterday. A good, inspiring friend.

Patricia Elida Yuliarty Tamalagi, or Elida, was born somewhere in Morowali regency, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, sometime in 1981.

I first met her in late 2006 at Kinoki, a small audio-visual interaction platform she established in 2005 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia just next to Yustina Neni’s restaurant Kedai Kebun Forum. At that time, Kinoki had moved to Kotabaru area because the original place was damaged after the May 2006 earthquake. They stayed there for a few years, before moving to some other places, and finally had to be dismissed.

I was a bit amazed by the way she looked at that time: just got up from bed, in sleeveless shirt, smoking, and a bottle of beer in her hand. It was still early in the afternoon. I thought she was a cold person—you know, the unfriendly kind. But after I got to know her better, it turned out that she was actually a warm person. I also found out later that, that was her style. She drank beer. She smoked. She loved sleeveless shirt.

And she hated to get up in the morning. When Maria Tri Sulistyani, or Ria, founder and director of Papermoon Puppet Theatre, got married in one warm noon in June 2007, Elida was there at the church as one of the choir singers, contributing her wonderful voice to the couple. And when not singing, she slept during the whole ceremony. She swore afterward, “Why do you have to get married in the morning?” We laughed.

And yes, Elida was also known as a very good singer, which was why Ria asked her to sing at her wedding. She loved slow rock music. Sometimes we went to the karaoke. She rarely gave the microphone up. She just loved to sing. And all that are what we will miss from her. Her dedication to film. Her voice and singing. Her inspiration. Her friendship. Her.

Elida fell unconscious on Friday, 9 September 2011, in Salatiga, near Semarang in Central Java. She was then rushed to Bethesda Hospital in Yogyakarta. I heard the news only on Saturday, when a friend posted on Facebook, asking us to pray for her. I didn’t realize how bad her condition was until I knew she was in a coma on Sunday. Then on the next day, some said she was already in critical condition.

I decided to pay her a visit, but I didn’t know where she was taken care of. When I asked some friends, many replied with, “What? What happened?” You didn’t hear? “No.” Elida is in a coma, I told them. “What? Where?” That’s what I’m asking you, damn it….

Tuesday morning, 13 September 2011, I was told that Elida was treated in the intensive care unit of Bethesda Hospital. I made an appointment with Ria to visit her together. As I waited for her, I was still sharing stories about Elida with Aisyah Hilal, a friend who is also Elida’s senior in French Literature Studies at Gadjah Mada University. Then I checked my Twitter account’s timeline. And I was struck by what I read.

15.45 tahibabal St Daruaji Wicaksono
RT @bibitititeliti: RT @gracesamboh: Goodbye, Elida Tamalagi. ‘Till then!

Elida passed away that Tuesday at about 15.00. She never regained consciousness. Just as we were about to visit her. I called Ria, who was still on her way, to tell the news. After we finally met, we went to the hospital, and spent the rest of the day there.

Rest in peace, beloved friend. Never knew you would be gone too soon.
Your dedication to film is truly inspiring and greatly treasured. We will stay strong and keep your spirits in our hearts.
Ciao! See you on the other side!

Goodbye, Elida!


10 thoughts on “Elida Tamalagi (1981–2011)

  1. I knew here 10 years ago, we were sharing a cigarette cause we were a poor student back then… she will always remembered as joy and briliant partner in crime for me… much love for Elida….

  2. She will remain in our heart, Let’s pray that God mercy be upon her, May she rest in peace – from OUR MELTING POT Family

  3. I knew her while she visited Jakarta. That one night only and she owns our hearts. With her stories, style and also beautiful voice. Which she shared with our closest friend. That one night really memorable one for me. I really had a great laughed and meet another wonderful person, like her.

    Was kinda shocked to read the news from ppl facebook, but only the good die young. Thank you for that night!

    So long, dear friend rest in peace…

  4. Rest In Peace, Elida! Cheers and Rock! We will miss you. From your friends here in the Philippines.

  5. Pingback: Lady Sings the Blues No More – Elida Tamalagi (1981-2011) : film.culture360.org

  6. I had a fortune to meet Elida in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2009 and 2010, during the festival of documentary films she helped organize. She came across as an extraordinary, very vibrant, alive, talented person. Her hospitality introduced me to Indonesia and to the world of Indonesian film. I am very grateful to her for all her gifts. She will stay in my heart.

  7. As far as I can remember, every single visit Elida made to the Philippines was preceded by a storm. She used to laugh at it saying that she is “Elida, the wind that shakes the barley.” And I agreed because “Tamalagi” is a space bar away from the Filipino phrase “tama lagi” which roughly translates to “always right.” Perfect–if I do say so myself. Since I met her, storms became much easier to accept and I thank her for that since I was most certainly a victim of storms. Perhaps that is the best way to describe her: a version of tomorrow, the first dash of light to punch through bad weather, the reason why wet streets glitter in the morning, the girl behind a thick cloud of smoke. Yes, her death is a storm. But if Elida has taught me anything in the short but meaningful days we were together, it is this: storms pass. And Elida is “always right.”

  8. While participating an Arts Festival here in Baguio City, Philippines, we decided to take a break and hit the bar with karaoke. There and then, this skinny girl, bald, sleeveless, and a suspender entered the scene -smoking, drunk (like us), and the most surprising is she did not drink our local beer, instead she ordered a Tapuey, traditional wine of the Igorots. I felt like “woaw wattagirl” and the surprise is that she was with one of our artist friend. so we get to know her, sing with her (she is a what-a-heck performer, great voice and style), laughed, and danced the whole night until we drop-drunk. I thought of her as one of the singers in Manila but along the Arts Festival in between meets of hi’s and hello’s I found out from other friends she is from Indonesia. She blend in so much here in Baguio that everybody, artists and makers loved her presence.

    Now that she’s gone, All I want to say is thank you for that stick of Gudang Garang Cig you gave me after our videoke trip. Thank you for the short memory, the smile, the joy, and the music you shared to us. And thank you for the short short film you shared to us while you were here in the Philippines.

  9. Hello Elida wherever you are… i thought of you tonight and just found out you weren’t there anymore. What a shame: i often thought you were one of the strongest among us, lively and courageous, full of humour… and so your image will remain…

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