USU Community Service, Raja Bius and Si Hali Aek in Tipang

DetailsThursday, 02 February 2023
DetailsFildzah Zata Amani Nst

""For those of us who work in the field of social humanities, this is an interesting subject to investigate and explore further. Particularly with the existence of two complementary village governments in Tipang Village, where they complement each other, the Village Head and the Raja Bius ("Traditional Customary King"), each with their own officials," said Prof. Dr. Robert Sibarani, M.S."

Tipang Tourism Village, located on the shores of Lake Toba in Baktiraja District, Humbang Hasundutan Regency, is one of the areas that offer many choices of tourist attractions, especially objects of cultural tourism, both tangible cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage. This village has become one of the favourite tourist villages of the Government of Humbang Hasundutan Regency.

Tipang Village has a beautiful natural panorama and cultural and historical tourism that is very interesting to explore. Some of the interesting tourism potentials are the Sigota-gota waterfall and Sampuran Sipultak Hoda, which are traditional sources of irrigation and the inspiration for the Sibara-bara Terracing system; the presence of Raja Bius, who is a traditional king with influence and power in Tipang Village, and the community of Si Hali Aek (Irrigation Workers).

These three things are the main factors considered by a team of lecturers from Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU) to carry out community service and establish Tipang Village as a USU-assisted village.

"For those of us who work in the field of social humanities, this is an interesting subject to investigate and explore further. Particularly with the existence of two complementary village governments in Tipang Village, where they complement each other, the Village Head and the Raja Bius ("Traditional Customary King"), each with their own officials," said Prof. Dr. Robert Sibarani, M.S., USU lecturer who is also the Head of the USU Community Service Team in Tipang Village.

There is great potential in the tourism sector, which encourages USU lecturer team to increase the independence of the Tipang Village community, which is focused on improving the participation and role of the community in developing tourist destinations in Tipang Village. Tipang Village is projected to become a tourist village based on local wisdom, so it requires the role of the local community as the one carrying out the cultural tradition.

Located on the shores of Lake Toba, covering an area of 512.33 hectares, Tipang Village has a stunning topography of hills and mountains with an altitude of 900 to 1,200 m above sea level and beautiful valleys. The population of Tipang Village is around 450 families with 1,800 inhabitants who still practice cultural traditions, including rituals in the livelihood cycle and life cycle ceremonies.

"This village is appealing for eco-tourism. It is called a cultural tourism village because its tourism potential is still related to cultural traditions. Customary law also still applies to the people of Tipang Village. There are still 29 villages," said Prof Robert.

Before the access to cross to Samosir Island was built, Tipang Village was often said to be the edge of the world, for after Tipang Village, there was no more area that could be travelled.

Tipang Village is known as the place of origin of 7 clans, so it is called Bius Si Pitu Marga (another name for Tipang Village). Si Pitu Marga is a descendant of the Raja Sumba, who had two sons, namely Toga Simamora as the first child and Toga Sihombing as the second child. Toga Simamora had three children, namely Purba, Manalu and Debata Raja. While Toga Sihombing had four children, namely Silaban, Lumbantoruan, Nababan, and Hutasoit. These seven clans are referred to as the Napitu Clan or Napitu Kings who inhabit Tipang Village and are believed to be the origin of the seven clans.

This area still retains the old system of government called Bius Village and has a king called Raja Bius. Raja Bius consists of two rulers, one representing Toga Simamora as Parsanggul Baringin and one representing Toga Sihombing as Pangulu Oloan. The King of Bius is accompanied by the Raja Jolo (a leader who is put forward), three people each from each clan.

"They come from two different clan groups living in Tipang Village. Their roles are side by side, like the King and his deputy. As far as I know, it is the only village on the shores of Lake Toba that still has a traditional government system, and this is very interesting," added Prof. Robert.

It is the village head and his staff's duty for public purposes related to development, taxes and governance, while those related to the humanities and customs, including traditional agriculture, are managed by Raja Bius and his officials.

Prof. Robert also explained that the existence of two irrigations from Sigota-gota waterfall and Sipultak hoda waterfall, which are used to water the rice fields, is also a special attraction of the village. One irrigation is 4.5 km long, and the other is 2.5 km, which is managed with local wisdom.

“This is the only area where water can rise to the top to irrigate rice fields without the help of machines, but with the help of local wisdom instead. I also think this is one of the things that is interesting for tourism objects, as it is in Subak, Bali. Because it is very rare to apply this system in agriculture around the world. In addition, the people in Tipang Village are also relatively more friendly and polite, so it can make tourists who visit feel more comfortable,” said the man who also serves as Chair of USU Research Institute.

According to Prof. Robert, there are six changes made throughout the community service program conducted by USU. First, there are tourist attractions. A culture-based attraction called the Si Hale Aek (Irrigation Worker) attraction has been successfully created. The attraction has been performed twice in public and received enthusiastic responses from tourists. The cultural attraction was created through artistic research conducted previously by USU lecturers involving the local community.

The second is amenities, which is more focused on something to buy and something to do, such as local souvenirs, restaurants, homestays, toilets, parking, and such.

“We succeeded in encouraging the government and community to create homestays in Tipang Village, which can be utilised by both Community Service students and tourists. Currently, many homestays have been established, in addition to small inns. Tipang Village's original souvenirs must also be made more, of course also with expert assistance,” said Prof. Robert.

The third change is in accessibility, where USU has facilitated 4,500 metres of footpaths for ecotourism, providing access for tourists to get to the top of the waterfall, which used to be non-existent. Only irrigation workers used the path from the rice fields to the waterfall.

The fourth is changes in ancillary, by improving the service sector through tourism activists, awareness groups, traditional leaders, community leaders, mothers, young people and children. They are educated on how to serve, help tourists and provide hospitality to tourists. The last is comfort and safety, about how to maintain security and comfort so as not to disturb tourists and provide a sense of security for their presence and belongings. The medium used is socialisation and training.

These changes in Tipang Village have brought its own fortune as the village was selected for the Top 50 Anugerah Desa Wisata Indonesia (ADWI) in 2021, which was also the result of a collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy and the Tourism and Creative Economy Agency of the Republic of Indonesia. This has gradually increased the number of tourists visiting the village, as expressed by the local community and village head. Tipang Village has been greatly helped by the collaboration with Universitas Sumatera Utara. This community service has increased the income and welfare of the community, as well as improving the supporting infrastructure of the tourist village. It has also increased community awareness to be more environmentally conscious and visitor-friendly.

“To date, we have successfully implemented the 4ASC (Attraction, Accessibility, Amenity, Ancilliary, Safety and Comfort) as a component of tourism and the development of Tipang Village tourist destinations. Of course, it cannot be done only once but continuously, hence why it is called a mentored village. We hope that through cooperation with many parties, whether the government, private sector and organisations that have mutual interest. In the future, Tipang Tourism Village can (hopefully) be better and more advanced, so that the number of visiting tourists will also be increasing,” hoped Prof. Robert.

The livelihood of the people of Tipang Village is predominantly based on farming and agriculture. They have never had problems with seasons. The collaboration with the Team of Lake Toba Ecosystem formed by the governor, which also involved the USU Rector, USU Vice Rector III and five other USU lecturers as members, successfully lobbied for assistance for Tipang Village farmers. They received 4,000 Macademia seedlings, which were handed over through the village head. Later the plants will produce nuts with very high selling value.

“Even though we have been provided with plant seeds, we must also be accompanied by a team of agricultural experts, both from academics and the government, to advocate and guide these farmers so that the fruit yields can also be satisfactory and become a featured commodity from Tipang Village,” said the USU lecturer who has been conducting research and community service in Tipang Village for the past eight years, apart from the assisted village team.

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