Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
GADING SIALLAGAN is an old man, probably in his 70s or even 80s, who sports silver hair that is neatly parted sideways. His facial features are refined but what strikes are his eyes, deep set with wisdom as a Batak of Northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
In his prime years, Siallagan was an aerospace flight control engineer, which made him see the world from Asia to America to Europe. He also became an educator in a top Indonesian university.
Today, the well-traveled Batak is settled in his hometown, particularly in Huta Siallagan in Samosir Island at the heart of Lake Toba. At 1,145-square kilometer and 450-meter deep, it is the largest volcanic lake in Southeast Asia, as well as one of the deepest in the world.
In his namesake settlement--huta literally translates to village—Siallagan now heads a tour guide association. Such a humble job he accepted after his retirement but with it came a bigger responsibility.
is a former dyarista,