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Y. B. Mangunwijaya

YB Mangunwijaya, born May 6, 1929, spent his early years in Ambarawa, a small city located near the slopes of Mount Ungaran in northern central Java, and saw action there after joining the Republican Army in 1945 during the struggle for independence from the Dutch colonial empire. He reports being strongly affected by witnessing his fellow recruits mistreating villagers, and by a speech by a Major Isman when the Republican Army was decommissioned, making the decision to enter the Institut Sancti Pauli in Yogyakarta and to study for the priesthood. In the years following his ordination in 1959 he studied architecture in Aachen, Germany and Aspen, Colorado. Known as Romo Mangun to his many friends and admirers, he is noted for both his achievements as an architect and novelist, and for his deep humanism. In 1992 he won the Agha Khan award for his architectural work designing housing for rural migrants living on the banks of the Code River, while in 1996 he won the Ramon Magsaysay literary award. His defense of the communities displaced by the World Bank dam project in Kedung Ombo and his firm, but intelligent, opposition to the Suharto regime won him many friends and admirers among the younger generation. Known for his wit and easy-going nature Romo Mangun passed away on February 10, 1999 while enthusiastically participating in a seminar on increasing the role of literature as a guiding force in achieving a new Indonesian society.

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