30 August 2011

Keningau, Tenom and the westcoast of Sabah: a weekend journey

Last weekend was my first trip to Tenom. Unbelievable but true. We attended a wedding in Keningau. Stayed overnight at this resort with the most beautiful view, called Hillview Garden Resort:


We went to the wedding at Kg.Senagang and experienced a Dusun culture that was slightly different from my own community's. For one thing, we do not have to drink tapai from large tajau(s) like these in weddings. And the people there can sing and actually enjoy(understand) Murut songs, while people in my place can only appreciate Dusun, English, Malay and occasionally Chinese songs in weddings.


We went back to KK via Tenom-Sipitang road. A stopover at Tenom was very refreshing. Had breakfast at one of the little old restaurants that serves the freshest Tenom stuffed taufu. And the freshly prepared chilli sauce was superb.

One's visit to Tenom isn't complete without including Tenom Botanical Garden. We were lucky as there were not many visitors on that Sunday, so we were shown around by a friendly guide in a buggy car. Among other things that I find really interesting is this little berry called the miracle fruit:


We were told that the seed hailed all the way from Africa. The guide gave us some sour citrus to suck, then gave us the berries. You peel off the skin, pop it in your mouth, and the miracle begins. Any sour thing you take after that will taste sweet, like butter candies. A cousin send me this link that explains about the miracle fruit.

We went pass Sipitang, Beaufort, Membakut, and Papar before we finally arrived at KK. It was a long journey, but one that I wish to repeat very soon. For some reason, I'd like to go back to Tenom and explore the little town that is so clean and fresh.


26 August 2011

Tanak Kampung

Remember the'carrot' and 'stick' thingy that people use to refer to motivation? Well, I learnt yesterday that 'the carrot' comes in many forms. One of them is this song Tanak kampung by Jimmy palikat:

The year 2 son refused to study for his test. I've tried bribing him with money the day before but it didn't work. Then I heard him trying really hard to sing this song- in Dusun. No doubt, to impress some friends in school. So I asked him whether he would like to revise his three subjects in exchanged of a printout of the song lyrics- in Dusun.

Wow, it worked like magic. He revised all three subjects excitedly, with hardly any complain (except for the sentence "Ayah membeli___ buah durian di pasar" to which he grudgingly said, "I knowlah the penjodoh bilangan is sebiji, but why do you need to put buah durian when you already know that durian is a fruit?).

So we got his lyrics printed out nicely...and we ended up the happy mom and son :)

11 August 2011

Ogulian- what goes around...


I finally realized the term for the Dusun's poetic justice concept. It's ogulian, in Sabah Malay kebalikan. I have my friend Trixie to thank for reminding me of this when we had one of our long chats last Friday.

This concept is basically synonym with what goes around comes around, or karma, or whatever one calls it. Except that in ogulian , you are only reminded not to do something bad upon others, while in what goes around it works both way- do something bad, you get something bad in return; do something good then good things happen to you.

My late grandfather used to say if you steal somebody's crops, you might get away with it. But the next generations might suffer because of that, because their blood would be tainted with the bad deed. (either from you eating the stolen food, or selling it and buying food with the money you get for that) That's ogulian.

In a way it is a never-ending punishment for something bad you or your family members do/did. I didn't think of asking my grandfather if there are any ways to stop the punishment :) But logically, I think the only antidote to that is doing something good. That way, it keeps the community in a good order.

05 August 2011

Ramadan Greetings

How fast time flies. It's Ramadan again. It seems only yesterday when I celebrated Hari Raya with family and friends...

Ramadan evokes a memory of childhood, one that I can never forget till now. We were living at a remote village in Ranau when my father was the headmaster in that village school, way back in the late 1970s/early 80s. Like most villages in Ranau, it was a mixed-faith village. A third of the population was Muslim, another 1/3 was Christian, and the rest continued with the traditional Dusun belief.

One day my friend told me that it was the Muslim's fasting month. Of course then I didn't know anything about fasting month. I didn't even know anything about Christianity save for the fact that we made the sign of the cross upon waking up, before meals, before leaving the house and before sleeping (such was my simple faith then), let alone about other religion. Anyway, the friend said that her father was tired working the farm during the day, so he replaced his fasting at night. Seriously, I thought it was normal.

Years later when I was in high school, I participated in Islamic religion lessons and began to understand that fasting for the Muslims involved a duration of before the break of dawn till the sun set, or something like that. I often thought of the childhood friend, her father and even the Muslim community in that village. I do not know for sure when did they convert to Islam, but if it was anything in the 60s or 70s, chances are, they didn't receive the right guidance then. (It is a well known fact that a lot of mass conversion happened in the Dusun community in those years, and that a lot of the new Muslims did not really understand their new faith. Just like a lot of Christians did not understand their faith).

I guess those times were history. I'm glad to think that the Muslim Dusuns are more knowledgeable about their faith now, just as those who claim to be Christians are also making an effort to understand their faith. Most importantly, we still live together in harmony, and we acknowledge that despite the religious differences, we descend from the same source. I guess this quote applies to the Dusun people in general, that "All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth"(Thich Nhat Hanh). May the Dusun people continue to live together in peace.