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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tapai Session with David Kitingan

I have been outstation a lot lately, due to the happenings and preparation of kaamatan (Harvest Festival) next month. so many events been happening, so many ideas in mind, so many photos to shoot and so much "Tapai" to taste ! I write for Breeze, Borneo Travel Blog as well as BEST Society. In my blog, i would love to write about something behind the scene, something i don't have to care so much if it is relevant, but something came from the back of my mind.
The most relaxing assignment i came across was having a session with David Kitingan. The Operator of the Tapai Factory Tambunan Village Recreational centre (TVRC). Knowing its a TAPAI ( rice wine) factory.. all my family members couldn't help but offer all sorts of assistance they can give. Juli ( my sister) offer to gather input so she can follow,Alut (my dad) couldn't be more happier then being my driver to Tambunan, you see.. this is how a kadazan gin in us.. as the saying in us " With Wine and Hope; Everything is Possible ! " ...LOL


"The wooden Tapai Factory, humbly located at the end of Tambunan Village Recreational Centre, we went in through the back door, and found David quietly reading newspaper in his Tapai kingdom. "


"David , preparing his humble table for our little Interview"



Well, i do not want to describe so much on the factory as you will be able to access various information about TVRC Tapai factory through google search, all i endure is my "Lihing" session and deep chat with David- a retired sergeant and currently an operator of this Tapai factory.


Me: " David, this Tapai jar looks old, are they still usable?"
David: " Yes, we custom ordered from Tuaran, ceramic factory, all of them are capital investment and all of them are kept for future use.

Me: " But they look so old.. so ermm.. "
David : " No before we use we have to boil them, soak them in a big stainless steel pot and boil them, this not only eliminate germs and it also helps to preserve the rice wine in order not to turn sour.. "

Me :" So, can you tell me a little about process of making Tapai?"
David : " Today we do not have production, its pretty simple. Rice grain is smashed in this smasher called "lesung padi" to separate the husk from the grain..the rice is put in the centre and smashed using the 'wooden smasher'..i don't know whether to call it smash or squeezed or what - or even if it is the correct word to use..but whatever it is ..the usage is almost like in the mortar used in labs the other almost-oval-shaped 'thing' is called the tampi...which is woven from thinned bamboo sticks..the function is to let the husk fall while retains the rice grain in it..the mechanism is simply by moving the 'sifter' up and down..preferably in windy condition.."

Me: " Hmm... too bad you don't have production today ( it was Sunday when i met him), i really would love to see some action in this factory.

David :" No.. no.. no.. no.. today i just want to drink, with your dad .. and you.. and we talk, we tell story.

Me: " OK... :) OK.. i like that..
"Tan Sri Joseph pairin Kitingan- Huguan Siu of kadazanDusun community in Sabah"


Me: " So, tell me.. you are the elder brother of our "Huguan Siu", Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.. tell me more ..
David: " Yes i am.. i am the elder brother, but i don't like to be a public figure. This TVRC is founded by my other brother Jeffrey and i am in charge specifically on this wine factory." i tell you what.. take some of this Lihing.. and you try and see you can taste the different...

Me: " OK, OK.. ( i sipped on the Lihing ) .. wow.. it taste sweet and smooth.. i think its good to cook my favorite Chinese dish "The Drunken Chicken" , Do you have more? i want to buy...

David: " No Mel, i can't produce too much as the demand is not there, and this wine cannot be kept too long, it will turn sour and it will waste all my time and ingredient." Some one need to market, some one need to do a lot of publicity about this wine production. We are under utilize and we can produce up to 50 Tajau in a production. Just to bad the demand is not there, we have compete with the individual home maker.."

Me : " Well, i understand that, marketing alone is not enough, we need to also involve a lot of operational cost, maintenance, even inculcate the cultural element in this Rice wine making.. It has to be not just about the wine, it has to be about the culture, the visitors who endure the history and such veneration on the Rice Wine making.

David :" Yes.. exactly, come "aramaiti"... next two week Monday you can come, i have production.

Mel : " Production? oh.. how many people are working ? "

David :" Two, plus me.. three .."

Mel :" ohh ok, how does the job function goes....?"

David : " well... there are three of us.. 2 of my staffs will be complete the Tapai preparation untill the end. One time production we produce around 30-50 jar.. so .. my job is to taste them."



Mel : " To taste?! Wow, thats pretty interesting and cool job function.. by the end of the wine tasting, you are gone.. hahahaha"

David : " Yes, sometimes i have to make sure the rice is not over cook, its not too sour or its at the right temperature for fermentation; my tolerance is high.. it taste even better with the Guinness in it."

Mel: " Hahahah, obviously that not wine tasting already... thats Monginum :) !"

David :" Well, you know our culture, our people and our weaknesses... we can refuse, but we can resist." He said it with a calm smile. OK, ok, let's come to the back kitchen, i have some good old wine and Lihing.. thats my secret drinks.. only for you guys...

and so the day went dozing off with continuous pouring of wine...


"Dad, counting his Lihing... happily displaying on the table..."

The district kaamatan celebration in Kg.Teranaan, Tambunan is on the 21st and 28th May 2011.Do feel free to come visit the Tamu market and you will be served with various local native delicacies and cultural exposure...

Friday, April 08, 2011

The RUNGUS Tribe in North Borneo


The Rungus, is one of the most ancient indigenous tribe in Borneo. The are mostly concentrate in the North Borneo, Kudat. By right they are actually a sub group of the kadazan-Dusun, however due to the pride and modernization of the indigenous mindset, Rungus are known to have their own uniqueness in terms of their traditional accustom as well as distinctive attitude ( which is their pride, dignity and..... ignorant at times.) During my community project reached out last month, i discovered that Rungus lasses are simply unique, they have small, fine chinese looking eyes ( in malay we actually call SEPET), thick lips, broad shoulder, and high forehead.


" The Rungus girls proudly presenting their traditional costume"

The event that led me here was actually a community development programme being done by the foundation i am attached to ;BEST Society. A" Living Water Project" that benefits more then 80 household in a village named Terongkongan Laut & Darat... ( well i have difficulty pronouncing this village name before, it absolutely feels like a tongue twister, ain't it :)? )

The Rungus dance performance came in during the prime of the event. We were all sitting in the multi purpose hall which was made of traditional raw material. The thatched roof was made from tidy weaved of dried nipah palm, and the solid house frame were the best quality timber called"Berlian" and the flooring was elevated platform of split bamboos giving the hall a great ventilation and ample of sitting area. Oh, and the wall were partition by a kind of tree skin, which eventually helps to absorb moisture that cause fungus to the building structure. No wonder Rungus are so proud of their talent and arts, I salute !

" The Rungus Dance, smooth and charming"

When the soothing gong orchestra starts playing, a row of charming young dancers led by a male lead dancer,stepping out in raw with their feet in sequel ( pretty much different from Sumazau) each with the bell anklet on their feet. Wrapping around them were colourful handmade beads, and criss cross through their shoulders were the long bead bands. Now i know why Rungus were reckon as the best handicraft maker among the Sabah Indigenous people.

"Simple and inspiring chat with Samoil"

While enduring the breeze and cheerful crowd, i took the time to meet Samoil, whom is the wisest and most respected village headman, also the owner of this piece of land we are sitting on, Samoil told me" Our lives are simple, we have experience in many fields but limited income,” his sparkling charm peeking through in a glance and seriousness, “we like to be self– employed , and have our freedom from “disturbance” ; however to capitalize our strength as a RUNGUS, we have to accept CHANGES. Because of PRIDE, many of us are resistant to change the mindset and carry the attitude of arrogant and preserve, we have to open up and CHANGE , or else we will be leftt behind modernization.” Judging from his words, i now know why he has serves the village as a headman for five series.



"A good caption with my team mates before leaving the local community"


I feel lucky to be here today. To endure the joy of young kids being splashed by clean water after the launching of Living Water Project, years of clean water supply shortage has given an alarming health hazard to them.I am enlightened by Samoil, a simple down to earth man but created significant impact not only to his community but also to me... People who are resistant to change, is always left behind the evolution ......so to my indigenous friends ; come out from your comfort zone, and accept the challenge to come, no one can help you beside yourself.



P/S: Some pictures courtesy by Joebonaventure. Thanks Joe... :)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Bid farewell to Mounia

If you happened to browse through my blog about a Dutch girl named Mounia, on the title "Her first attempt to Sabah, Asia Indeed..." regretted to say that she left Sabah and only be able to stay put for two months here in KK.

Well, i am not quite sure the main reason she left. Somehow her tears during our farewell session to her shows that " she does love us, SABAHAN :) " Here are some pictures of her ....


Mounia, crying her way out when asked to express herself during the farewell session...

Mounia,the wonderful people Of BET would like to say

"May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand. "

~Ciao Mounia~