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Finding my Manado roots

Making Friends and Discovering a Passion for Diving

As divers we all know that fellow members of the diving community come from all walks of life and from all over the world. At Murex we feel privileged to hear each and every one of our guests’ stories about how they got in to diving and why they decided to join us here in Sulawesi.

This Blog is about one of these stories. It is quite incredible. It is about one man who travelled 12,000 kilometres across the world to find out about his family history from Manado armed with little more than a street address, memories of clear blue water, the advice of a friend and the knowledge that he was born in a hospital here more than 60 years ago. He came to Murex to look at a dive center… little did he know that he would also uncover information about his past, his Manado roots, make friends for life and go on to become a Divemaster. This is the story of Huib Weiffenbach and a tribute to Dr. Hanny Batuna.

Huib Weiffenbach’s Manado Roots Story and Dr Hanny Batuna.

Huib’s parents were both born in Java and after they married they moved to Kotamobagu Manado in 1940-1950’s, which is where Huib was born. After 5 months they moved to Manado. In 1955 due to political and civil unrest they moved to Holland, at that time Huib was 5 years old. Huib’s parents adapted to life in Holland and sadly never had the opportunity to return to Indonesia. Huib only has some specific memories of his first 5 years in Manado, one of which was swimming in the sea in clear blue water. This memory stayed with him for more 60 years.

Manado roots - Huib and his mother and brother

Huib with his mother and brother in Manado 1954

In 2011 Huib decided that he wanted to make the trip of a lifetime and see what he could find out about his past, his heritage and his birth place. This was the start of an incredible journey that no-one could have ever predicted.

Huib planned his trip based on a street address which he had obtained for the house he grew up in for 5 years; he knew he was born in a hospital; he knew his father had been a teacher in a school in Manado; he also had the advice of a friend that if he wanted to dive he should look up Murex – he had no more details than that. Huib says “I had low expectations, it was more than 56 years ago and there are no records to search, no online database, no official Indonesian lists of births, deaths and addresses. I just decided that the only way to find out about my past was to go to Manado myself. I didn’t expect to find anything but just to swim in blue waters and maybe find my old house would have been enough. I booked a stay on Bunaken Island to snorkel and it was amazing – just as I remembered. I liked it so much I did a Discover Scuba Dive and I knew then that I wanted to be a diver. I couldn’t stay and take a full course though as I needed to go to Manado for the second part of my trip to try and find out about my past. I didn’t expect much and I didn’t remember any Bahasa language so I knew it was a long shot and would be difficult”.

Manado Roots - Diving Bunaken Island

Huib filming capturing critters during a dive at Bunaken Island

Amazingly enough, Huib did find his old address, sadly though his childhood home no longer existed, a new house had been built in its place. Knowing that his father had been a teacher and that there was a school nearby Huib visited it to ask if this was the school his father taught in – it was not, but a man at the side of the road took him to another school nearby and Huib discovered that this school was attended by the older sister daughter of his old neighbour in Manado – quite an incredible connection, but by far but not the most surprising.

Huib and his mother in Manado 1954

Manado roots – Huib and his mother in front of their Manado home 1954

Huib also tried to find the hospital where he was born – this was a relatively easy feat as he discovered that there was only one hospital in Kotamobagu Manado at that time but their records going back to Huib’s birth date had been destroyed in floods.
So far, without internet, without Indonesian language and purely through the help of the local people in Kotamobagu Manado, Huib had found his old street, his place of birth and some family history, all bits of his Manado roots. He decided to go to Murex as recommended by friends as he was now also bitten by the bug for diving and satisfied that he had uncovered more than he had ever anticipated.

Huib remembers the warm welcome that was extended to him by Dr Hanny Batuna. He arrived with a driver that dropped him off and Dr Hanny welcomed him to Murex. Huib explained he maybe wanted to dive the next year and would get certified beforehand. As Huib explained his story and that his father was a teacher Dr Hanny realised that he had information to complete Huibs quest for information. Dr Hanny Batuna himself was in fact a student of Huib’s father and Dr Hanny’s father had been Huibs’ family general practitioner.

Dr. Hanny Batuna in 2011

Dr Hanny Batuna in 2011 when Huib first visited Murex Dive Resort

It wasn’t just this 50 year old connection that united Huib and Dr Hanny Batuna. Huib says that it was Dr Hanny’s open welcome, easy friendship and outstanding kindness that has brought him back to Murex again and again. “Dr Hanny always had time for people, he always looked after people and he was just a genuine and loving man who cared for people and for the diving in North Sulawesi”.

Dr Hanny Batuna was a gentlemen and a pioneer of diving in North Sulawesi and because of his warm heartedness and generosity with his time and knowledge Huib returned to Murex the following year in 2012, having taken his Open Water and Advanced Open Water with Dive Post in Zoetermeer (The Netherlands), he returned again in 2013 and 2014 (by then a Rescue Diver) and again this year in 2016 after continuing through his PADI courses with Dive Post and becoming a PADI Divemaster.

Huib after a dive at Bunaken Island.

Huib after a dive at Bunaken Island.

Huib says that Sadly, “Dr Batuna passed away in 2014 but his legacy lives on at Murex Dive resorts through the Batuna Family and the staff at Murex – he set a precedent that continues today. The resort is like family to me and to other divers who stay there. You are never a guest, you are a part of Murex, whoever you are and wherever you come from”.

Huibs story is one that is almost unbelievable. To travel so far with so little information and to make such discoveries is nothing short of amazing and without a doubt “being in the right place at the right time” must have formed part of it. For Huib though the returning factor was Dr Hanny Batuna, a gentlemen, an incredible diver and a friend.

Huib exploring his Manado roots in North Sulawesi

Huib exploring his Manado roots in North Sulawesi in 2011

Huib’s love for North Sulawesi continues and he has explored with us Manado, Bunaken, Bangka and Lembeh. His reason for coming back year after year? “Murex is like coming home, I feel like part of the family and I love every dive site and every critter and fish. A big thank you to my friends and instructors at Dive Post in Holland because I learn from them and enjoy my skills here”.

Huib – Thank you from all of us at Murex for sharing this incredible story – we are so proud to be part of it and of you and all of your accomplishments.

Murex Dive Resorts – Ineke, Angelique and Danny.

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Murex Dive Resorts, North Sulawesi, Indonesia
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