25 May 2017

Remembering grandma

Too much of culture-related content in the conference today made me miss grandma so much. We called her 'ina' (mother, in Dusun), following our mom, aunties and uncles. She passed on in 2007, and yet it feels like just yesterday I was talking to her, listening to all her stories.

Grandma wasn't the most open person when it came to personal matters. She was kind of private and the only time she actually talked about her past in length was when I met her last before she had a stroke, which led to her passing on.

So the thing I wanted to know the most was her first husband. The fact that Dusun people of her generation married a few times before settling with their final spouse is quite well-known. The reason why they divorced have to be coaxed out of them though.

And so I asked her quite bluntly...why did you divorce your first husband? At first she refused to tell...but my persistence got to her and she told me her story in an unusually gentle voice, untypical of my military-like grandma.

She, like most girls of her generation was match-made. And funnily enough, she thought at around 13 she married late. People in those days got married but didn't sleep together...until...until...they discovered what conjugal love meant. Grandma was married-off but still lived in her relatives' household (having had lost her parents early).

A few month after the wedding, an elder relative told her she was to be divorced. The reason was, her husband who stayed in his family farm had his eyes set on another girl. In those days, openly liking a person was a taboo...much less liking a person when you were already somebody's spouse.

I asked grandma "aa ko ddi tinumogod?" (Didn't you get angry?). She simply answered in the softest voice, "nunu gia katagadan?" (What was there to be angry about?)

At that moment, my respect for grandma increased a hundredfold. She accepted her destiny and moved on. Perhaps that was because she never did discover a wife's feeling for a husband. But she could still have had her pride bruised and got angry. Yet she didn't.

She lived up to the saying "If you love someone, let him/her go. If s/he is yours s/he will come back to you. If s/he doesn't, it is never meant to be..."

Grandma, a wise woman long gone. Still our inspiration.

05 January 2017

Back to Blogging (2017): rambling on New Year resolution and theme

Happy New Year 2017! My self-imposed blogging-exile is over. I've missed my blog and because life is short, am determined to write stuffs because writing is one of my passions.

We, the Dusun, generally aren't very good with resolutions. Either we don't make them at all, or we just don't achieve them, like yours truly. "And why is that?", you would wonder. Some years ago I blogged on the culture of not making plans for fear of evil spirit's interference. I supposed we the modern Dusun people must have subconsciously absorbed the cultural belief; hence, the not-so-good with resolution (just my assumption, not proven by any empirical research).

I imagine that in those days secret resolutions might have been in the form of aiming to harvest more crops than the year before. Or perhaps during the head-hunting era, it could have been, aiming to "harvest" more heads of the enemies...(and the purpose wasn't to display the skulls as trophies, but some other deeper significant which is a blog topic for another day)...

Anyway, I do have my own personal theme for each year. That, might qualify as a form of resolution. As I wrote in my FB post recently, this year my personal theme is "Kindness and Compassion, good-samaritan-style". It was inspired by the kindness I experienced when my car horn malfunctioned and kept on blaring on 2.1.2017. Hopeless, as my automobile knowledge is practically null, strangers around me stopped by to help disable the sound, showed me the parts related to the horn and advised me on what to do. That was enough to remind me that there are still many kind good Samaritans in the world. So I am convinced that if others let themselves be my angels, then I can let myself be others' angel too. That's how life works anyway.

Of course I cannot help the whole world. But doing my part for people I can reach out to should help the world. After all, it's the work of many small hands that create wonders. (BUT.., we should be wise in giving help. Besides the good people, there is a fair share of vultures out there).



Being fully aware of this, I am reminding myself that "it is in giving that  we receive".

17 December 2014

Christmas gifts for my young ladies!

How time flies! It's going to be Christmas next week and I'm not even halfway done with my Christmas shopping. Every year I will try to get the perfect gifts for my kids: now 2 young ladies and a pre-teen boy. Imagine, just a few years ago they were these small and would be content to get toys or books for their Christmas gifts!


 Not anymore! "Mom" has more headache trying to get them the right gifts. Then mom come across this link christmas gifts online items, and voila! problem solved! (Shhhh...the girls can't know about this or their surprise will be ruined!)

These gifts are really exciting for the feminine ladies-the girly girl type which loves everything related to fashion and cute stuffs. Are my girls the girly types? Hmm...at times yes. The girl in blue, Arielle has grown to be a 14 year old who loves dresses. She is quite choosy though. As they say, a dress-girl dresses in a way that portrays their elegant yet adorable character. Oh, that's so my Arielle. 


As for Sandra, she does love dresses but since she is a big-sized girl, it's not always easy to get her sizes (well, she takes after her mom. We plus sizes are sometimes not so lucky). But hey, this site has our sizes! Hallelujah :)

And make-ups too! Sandra and I love make ups. Being the new era teen, she has some tricks that her mom doesn't know...so mom has resorted to learning to put on make-up from her. Especially mascara and eye-liner. Oh well, every woman will always need makeup. Whether the basic essentials or a complete set consisting of lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow or palettes, a woman will always never say no to a makeup gift set received on Christmas. The vain me needs make up for work to help cover up a few spots on my tired morning face. The need doubles up for dinner events, and weddings. Haha I am not that feminine but I will never be caught out without at least having a slight hint of makeup on. Vain vain vain. I guess I'll get some make-ups for my own Christmas gifts as well...

Oh, and the bags are just awesome! For a bag person like me, this is perfect! There's only one small problem though. I get so blinded by the vast array of choices they offer. At times like this, this tip is useful "Choose a handbag which closely represents the  character of the person, and let them show it off in front of others. The tip to select a perfect handbag is to purchase a handbag with sleek detailing with an expensive appearance. For a safe choice, opt for colours such as black, cream, white or brown..." I've always thought that you can never go wrong with black anyway :D

Gifts taken care of for my young ladies. Still left with the headache of getting one for the boy and the Dad. In fact there're also others to get for other family members in kampung, as the big extended family will gather again at my mom's place this Christmas. (My mom has had a total-knee-replacement operation on 24.11.2014. As it is she is still not very mobile, so everyone kindly offered to come over to her house for our family Christmas (another typical Dusun gathering with lots of foods, drinks (moderate hopefully!) and musics. Oh gosh, I think I'm starting to get into the mood. Yay!)

Merry Christmas all. Here's wishing you joy, peace and love!
 
 

10 June 2014

Another wedding story

Part I
Last year through to this year, a lot of weddings happened in my extended family. My 6th brother’s wedding (that’s the wedding of Nathanael to my beautiful sister-in-law, Jennifer), took place in February 2013, during which, I got the chance to organize a traditional Bundu wedding  ceremony  for the first time.  Not without hassles. My mom wasn’t very supportive because being a staunch Catholic, she would rather just stick to the church’s sacrament of holy matrimony tradition. But she didn’t discourage me either, so I got my wish anyway.
I had to find elderly folks to research how the traditional Bundu weddings were conducted in those days. There were a few versions but since there were going to be weddings in the family after my brother’s, I set to experiment with two versions: the panau ceremony (literally means ‘walk’), and the papasalakoi do pinorikot ceremony (welcoming home the bride). So my 6th brother went through the panau ceremony which turned out to be imperfect but meaningful. Why imperfect? Because I, myself, had to be one of the party singing the traditional poetic songs ‘tondiadi’ for the wedding! With my lame karaoke voice, it was a struggle to hit high and low notes with deep emotion. And the lady I was singing the song to (bless you aunty Rusiah), had a stage fright so bad that she forgot her lyrics while singing J. We were saved by the collective spirit of the community in the end…every lady my mom's age ended up backing us up in a harmonious choir!
In August 2013, I got to conduct another panau ceremony for my dear cousin, Tata and her husband Kay. This time around, the experiment took a different turn. Many people were starting to support my ‘fancy activity’ (as they termed it). I convinced my aunty Mairin to sing one part of the tondiadi while one of my late grandmother’s best friend, Mdm Kusoi sang the response part. Turned out to be a bit mismatched because Mdm Kusoi (who we fondly call Ganakau, as it was a name she and my late grandma called each other) is Penampang born and her rites are based on the place she is from. But it went well anyway. We had a bit of an innovation here…instead of walking the bride and groom back to the reception place, they were ceremoniously driven in a car. It’s modern day after all!

Part II
Other cousins got married, Andy to Vera, Jack to Iris, Ireneus to Kelvity. The clan is growing bigger, a blessing indeed. And so on 24.05.2014, my 5th brother Jewin married the love of his life, Marion Elyy. The church wedding at the bride’s was followed by a Chinese traditional ceremony, as Elyy’s dad is Chinese. Beautiful…beautiful ceremony it was. Sense of humour defines the bride and groom, and the ceremony was also humorous in many ways. Why, Jewin had to sing his feelings on that day as one of the obstacles he had to go through before getting to Elyy’s bedroom. Imagine how hilarious it was to see the groom, donned in an apron and oversized boxing gloves, singing a church song “hari ini ku rasa bahagia” (Today I feel happy) eagerly so that he could claim his bride! On top of that his 12 male  companions had to dance to the song, some of them in ladies dresses as required by the ‘demanding’ and ‘firm’  female protectors of Elyy who were actually only teenagers. Ini kali lah! (This is it- a Sabahan expression to show the intensity of an event, among others). I supposed he must have felt a great relief when he was finally given the most coveted pass to claim his bride.

At the reception night I finally got to meet all my brother’s best friends from the time he was in the university till the time he worked in Penang.  Some, I have met before like Fabian William, the celebrated singer and his wife,  Nelly. But others, I have only heard of or see virtually like Walter, Johnny, Guns, Aguk,  and Brandon. The saying “birds of the same feathers flock together” must be really true. I got the impression that all of Jewin’s friends are just like him! Good singers, loyal, fun, active/dynamic, and a little bit crazy (in a good way). (Well, Brandon did admit that yours truly the big sister has that ‘crazy’ side too ;). Crazy runs in the family apparently.
I conducted my third Bundu traditional wedding ceremony on 31.05.2014. This time around, I followed version two, papasalakoi do pinorikot  (Welcoming the bride home). Instead of the groom going over to the bride’s place to get her, the bride was taken to the groom’s home. Since my aunty Dumie of Dad’s side couldn’t make it, I forced my youngest aunty Collesta to sing the tondiadi. This time around, I got aunty Dumie who is in her 70s to check and  correct the lyrics that I got from earlier informants. (I thank my cousin Helena for being our instrument via FB correspondence).  Aunty Mairin was still doing the other part. On the day of the ceremony, aunts Mairin and Collesta were joined by another aunty, aunt Majulinah (mama Bundu Tuhan) and a dear neighbor Mdm Gundiba to do the singing. Everything was perfect during the preparation…they practiced for about an hour, and I wasn’t worried at all about them not being able to pull it off.
The moment came. Elyy’s family members from Keningau arrived. From my aunty’s place about 200m away, we sent Elyy off to my Dad’s house. The gong beating was beautiful, the four decoys were beautifully made up. We walked over to my Dad’s house, to the waiting guests who were family members and friends, including my Dad’s ex-colleagues while he was a teacher years ago. While Elyy’s family members were served the lihing (traditional rice wine) in suki (bamboo glass), my cousins and I worked fast to cover Elyy and the decoys with sarongs for Jewin to identify after the tondiadi. (At this point, I think my brother was at his wits end waiting for the ceremony to start. Who could blame the cranky groom anyway, after being locked up in his room for two hours throughout lunch time? (On my instruction because I didn’t want him to cheat so that he could choose his bride easily. Didn’t expect us to be too long that the lunch was delayed!).

The aunts took their places and started the tondiadi. The worst thing that could ever happen to a performer unexpectedly happened! One of them forgot the tune, and the rest just lost their confidence! At that point I did something that I shouldn’t have done…I joined in the singing! Then my uncle Paladin (Peter Sanie) got impatient and joined in the singing as well. Then my mum, who can actually do the singing better than everyone else but was just too shy to do it, joined in too! (I am laughing now as I remember it). It wasn’t the perfect singing I envisioned but it was so entertaining I know I can still use it for teaching materials. Well, there are positive sides to everything, aren’t they?

Jewin finally was allowed to go out of his room to identify his bride from the 5 covered ‘ladies’ sitting on the sofa outside of the house. He was about to identify the correct one, but we convinced him that that was not her! (Yes, I cheated there. Why? Because I promised my aunt Magdalena that she could have her little revenge by making the Keningau family drink a lot. They had to drink lihing each time Jewin chose wrongly. Aunt Magdalena said in Keningau during the Chinese Wedding ceremony, the 12 companions had to drink a lot as part of the obstacles so it was only fair that we made them drink too! Point taken…that was an innovation though, not part of the original Bundu ceremony). Jewin chose all the wrong ones before he got to Elyy in the end. The only real surprises for him were to discover that one of the decoys was my 14 year old daughter Arielle, and another was our 18 year old nephew Rob. Rob played along with us just to see his uncle’s reaction. As expected, in reflex Jewin lifted his hand to threaten to slap Rob! (Again, this is an innovation. My ancestors must have turned in their graves to see us include a male decoy in the ceremony. Siou oi komolohingan ‘sorry ancestors’.) Finally, Elyy was found, and the traditional ceremony was concluded by the bride and groom’s sharing a meal. (It was another hilarious moment. I forgot to tell them that they were supposed to eat symbolically only. But because it was past lunch time, both were so hungry they ate heartily!)

It started to rain right after the traditional ceremony was over. Despite that, we had a lot of fun, as befitted a typical Dusun wedding reception- eating, drinking and  merry-making. I wish my dear brother Jewin and my new sister Marion Elyy a lifetime of happiness. No marriage is at all time sweet…but the not-so-sweet moments are meant for the couple to learn the meaning of life, to hang on to the love that brought them together in the first place. Let’s believe that love overcomes every difficulty.

As for the video, it was done by Kay Kastum, our bro-in-law, of kastumized creation. He is a pro, evidenced by him winning the My Air Asia X challenge  recently.  Every one of his videos tells a story that you will definitely appreciate. Well done talented bro-in-law (the Dusun people love bragging about their family and friends, so bear with me!) Also credits to the photographer, my cousin Crys J.P. Her passion in photography is so great she can capture moments very well!

*and so I have to stop writing because I have piles of exam papers to mark…till next time.