Malaysia through the lenses of a Mat Salleh
By Philippe A.Durant
Day 17: Papan – The forgotten village
This is a very special episode for me. 18km from my house in Meru is the village of Papan. I have been there over a hundred times since I first heard about it 2 years ago. I did 3 talks about it and took over a thousand photos. The village was part of my exhibition. I’ve brought diplomats, tourists, businessmen, friends, photographers, even my dogs there with me.
We did a video that was seen over 60,000 times and I had even planned a book about Papan. Every single inhabitant there knows me, I think. “The mad Gweiloh coming all the time on scooter.” I have the script for the narration to accompany a photography book on Papan. I’ve made research, met lots of people and visited most places around there so many times. Some of the villagers are descendants of Raja Bilah, the Mandailing founder of Papan, and they’re also now my friends. Four potential sponsors had expressed interest for a book to be published but it was just words after all.
Actually, I don’t think many people seriously care about the village. It is just heritage and heritage does not pay. It is much better to destroy and rebuild the “mansions for swallows and their nest”. It is not my country nor is it my heritage, but it is just sad to witness.
For more details about my photography in Papan, check out the FB page I have created: Papan Moods.
P.S.: All the photos can be purchased and printed (in all sizes and format) with a simple request via WhatsApp/Signal at 0172409722.
I also continue shooting almost daily. To see my latest photography check and follow: https://www.facebook.com/moments131419