Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nyobeng Day - Welcoming ceremony

As per an edict by the komang to pingubak gawia, gawai chief, Nyobeng would be held on 15 June annually.

For pinomi, visitors, the day started with a heavy breakfast. For us from Sarawak, at about 9 am, we went to the other end of the village, an exit from where Dr Patau and his 68 strong entourage entered the village, the previous day.

Dr Patau and some of his men were already at the rendezvous, when our Kuching entourage arrived. When enquired, he answered that most of his followers were too drunk, tired or overslept, to make it to the welcoming ceremony.

Most of our DBNA members from Kuching, being yet to be initiated, were very anxious of what to expect. I just briefly told them where to wait and what to do, otherwise they would not be able to enjoy themselves, should they have known the ending.

After having waited for over an hour, some members became restless, worried that we might be waiting for nobody or at the wrong place. Despite my assurances, Charlie, especially, was quite disturbed. A volunteer from Gumbang returned to the village to check. He returned half an hour later, telling us that the all-red BiSebujit were already ready to move in any minute.

Not long later, we heard the usual weired and hair-raising, war cry, getting louder and louder. There were gun shots from their home-made shot guns. Indeed Pak Amin and his fellow BiSebujit, our hosts, were on their way to welcome us.

( I penned this post on 20June2010. Apologies for taking another four days to continue)

We were then at the welcoming point, where a welcoming banner was hung across the road. We moved back to the other hill.

When our hosts neared the welcoming point, Dr Patau Rubis, our leader, gave a signal that we moved, so that we would meet at the welcoming point.

Our group, which consisted of BiGumbang, began to emulate the war cries.

Our hosts were behind schedule. The way they welcomed us this time was different from how they did it in 2008.

While in 2008, they welcomed us in an 'ambush' scenario, this time they walked and shouted right towards us.

We met right under the welcoming arch of palm leaves. Pak Amin, the Kipala Adat, murmured the prayers. He sprinkled the yellow rice behind his back and infront.

Meanwhile our group waited, anxiously and curiously. Many amongst us turned photographers and videographers.

Pak Amin then signaled to Dr Patau that the sacrifice was about to begin. Dr Patau turned to his two assistants to be ready. I was ready too, standing third from Dr Patau'r right.

We all raised our bukuo (long knives). Pak Amin threw a puppy into the air. His assistants slashed her. I did my part, piercing the puppy, which by then was already on the ground, wriggling and twitching, though sliced. "Kakoh simongi nyek toru", I remembered my dad told me when I was a child.

Pak Amin threw a black chick ( it was a black chicken in 2008) into the air. Dr Patau's assistant on my left sliced it. The chick was killed too, without mercy. Unlike the puppy which struggled for her life, the chick did not. So I merely witnessed this time.

We all put back our bukuo into the sheaths. Several girls stepped infront, each holding an egg. Selectively they threw the eggs on us. I saw that Dr Patau, his two assistants and myself were amongst the targets.

Refreshment followed. Tuak, kauh doot, kauh ikian and pogang were served, standing. Initially I thought of declining the tuak, which was served in the same small glass, which had gone through countless lips and mouths. Being polite, I simply pressed it against my lips, without drinking the tuak.

Later we all merrily moved together to the Baruk, located in the middle of the village.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nyobeng Eve

14June2010, about 5 pm, finally all of us have been allocated accomodation.

All the members of the Kampung Suba Buan Cultural Troupe, including Ketua Kampung Jimbei and Pak John and all our lady members put up at my relative's house, bori Ibu Nyolim.

Feeling overcrowded with only one water closet at Ibu Nyolim's house, Ani Solep, Puan Kendy, Jawai, Antoinette, and Jomas decided to put up in a chalet. They were welcome back for dinner at bori Nyolim, or any other houses. It was Open House on 14 - 15 June 2010.

The simple chalet can easily accommodate several visitors. It is equipped with a water closet, a rottan mattress without pillow...kasihan our ladies. Well that is part of the tradition of nomi gawia. Since it is at the edge of a forest, together they must have donated a pint of blood.

Dr Patau's entourage had arrived too. I could see that Dr Patau was limping, and he walked aided by a walking stick.

Pak Abui, my other relative from his wife, was waiting for me. Together we left for his house. In 2008, myself and a group of SDNU members also stayed at his house. BiSebujit (people of Sebujit) always feel honoured to have pinomi (visitors) from Sarawak.

Arriving at Pak Abui's house, Nyolim was already waiting for me. She insisted that I put up at her house since last time I already put up at Pak Abui's house. I had to apologise and explained that it was not that I did not appreciate our blood relationship, but her house was already crowded with our cultural performers.

After dinner of kauh doot, panggang bojig tipiyu, kauh ikian and of course oyuo kupuo, Peh and I visited Pak Petrus at his chalet. We dressed up in traditional Dayak warrior costume. We went to the arena to see cultural and singing performances. Later we went to Pak Gunawan's house. Along the way, the three of us suddenly became instant celebrities. The bystanders, people from the varendah and some we met along the way, stopped us for photo session.

I am not used to being photographed at. I am more used to photograph other people. I began to dislike it as it was not me whom the 'fan' wanted, but the costume.

Muller, the Sarawak Tribune reporter was with us at Gunawan's house. He interviewed Pak Petrus and Pak Gunawan.

At about 11 pm, I left the group for Pak Abui's house to retire.

It was perhaps only at about 5 am before I could sleep: aching body, the noise, strange bed, tummy too full because of too much rice ( it is normal that we tend to eat lots of rice when we eat kauh doot) and the footsteps of other guests going in and out of the house.

My Tricajus did give me lots of energy for the journey, but it was not able to retard the muscle pain.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When the going gets tougher, the tough gets going

That was indeed the spirit shown by 71 strong entourage of Dayak Bidayuh National Association, which comprised of a Chinese family of three, plus a Philipino couple.

After about one an a half hour drive from Serikin to Seluas town, accompanied by two police escort vehicles and a VIP car, we had a simple lunch in Seluas town. The lunch for our cultural troup of 10, including Pak John and myself cost RM295,000. Oooop! I miss-spelt, the prefix should be 'Rp'. Hehe.. kidding...

Pak Iskandar, the immigration officer was great. He undertook most of the formalities. He even accompanied us right up to Sebujit.

We boarded 11 longboats an hour later. It took 45 minutes to reach the furthest point upriver the boat could go, as the water level was low. Two boats, supervised by Pak John, my coordinating partner, continued the journey up to bikalan (bathing spot) at the village, ferrying our bulky goods.

After paddling using long poles, pushed and at times pulled by an assistant, for about another two hour, the boat reached the bikalan one hour later than us who continued the journey on land by foot.

All the rest continued the journey on shore on foot. As a coordinator, I had to be the last to leave Seluas, together with Pak Gunawan, the local people's representative, who is also the organisng chairman of the festival. When alighting from the boat, I had to walk faster than the rest, as I had to reach Sebujit earlier than them, to coordinate the accomodation. I slipped three times as the jungle trek was slippery. By the time I reached Sebujit village, I had finished my 1.5 litre mineral water that my wife packed for me from Kuching.

Along the way, I could see that most of our members, who are mostly elderly and office workers complained about the trek, fatigue and aching ankles.

One retired school teacher even challenged me that the information that I put in my earlier posts are incorrect: no walking. I explained to him that during my last ngabang in 2008, the boat indeed reached bikalan. There was therefore no walking. I was not in a position to determine when the water level is high or low, as the water level is not affected by tide.

Surprisingly in the evening, many of them, including my cousin Jennifer, thanked me for the trip. They had proven that they had overcome a slippery over one-hour jungle trek walk. To them it was, though tiring and painful, a victory, a success. It was an achievement that they never dreamt of.

Yes. The tough got going. We were tough.

However, I raise my hat to the 68-strong Gumbang-Tringgus group, led by Dr Patau Rubis, The Dayak Jagoi Gawai Chief, who walked for over eight hours.

Many others thought that it was a 'back to basic' journey. For the next 24 hours they were in Sebujit,the handphones 'rest in peace': so were their ears, no stress, no hectic schedule. There were no cars. There was no formalities, though in our group we had two practising lawyers, two professors, two lecturers, many teachers and several high ranking government officers.

My hope of loosing 1 kg was devastated, as delicious and appetizing food was served all the time. Kampung pork, kampung chicken, pig intestine fried with young pineapple, preserved wild boar, preserved river fish, smoked monkey, snake meat.. you name it ... you will have it, so long as it is authentic Dayak culinary.

Hospitality was beyond comparision.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Checklist for the journey

I woke up at 5.30 am this morning. I checked my incoming sms in my blackberry, none. No emails too. after answering a few Facebook notifications, here I am, blogging.

Since we would only spend a night in Sebujit, I packed my knapsack with three underwear, a towel, one pant, one short pant, one sarong, two shirts, one sleeping t-shirt and 1 t-shirt. The long boat does not have roof, so I am bringing a cap and a wind breaker. As I had advised my friends, I will put on a rubber-soled shoes since we will walk down and up ladders in order to board or alight from the boat. We will have to climb the belian trunk-ladder up to the Baruk during the ceremony. It can be quite slippery.

Pak John will drive to Serikin early, as we have to liaise with the Malaysian army at the Serikin border. Although we have written a letter to them notifying them of this trip, I thought that we still need to see them just in case they over look the letter.

Robin is supposed to call everybody as a final reminder. I will do that too, in random.

Pak Gunawan's team should be at the border to accompany us to Seluas. A bus for our cultural troup will be at the border too.

It is 6.45 am now. I have to shower, and drive to Serikin. There is no internet service in Sebujit, being a remote village. I will be back for update on 16th June 2010.

With lots of pictures.

The Nyobeng Welcoming Ceremony

Getting ready for the welcoming ceremony.

It is authentic.

This was what transpired in 2008 when I ngabang to Sebujit.

The scene: We were all going to towards Kpg Sebujit. The 'Orang Gunung' warriors, as they are called, or 'Bidorod' in Dayak Bidayuh term, were then already ready to ambush us. We could not see them. They were hiding in the bushes.

Suddenly we could hear the sound of birds. The sound became louder and louder. Then followed by battle cries from many voices. All of a sudden we were confronted by these warriors who suddenly appeared from the bushes. All dressed in red and black loincloth, holding parang doing an act to "bi-so'o" or massacre. Yes, they seemed wanted to slaughter us.

Our group leader, did likewise. Our army of BiGumbang and Tringgus were all behind us, holding their parangs and screaming 'similar' battle cries.

The 'enemy' leader shouted to us certain questions. Our leader answered that we came in peace, that we were friends from far away. More enemy warriors appeared from the bushes, after being signaled by the enemy leader. Echoes of louder shouts.

To test our sincerity of friendship, the enemy leader, Pak Amin, threw a puppy into the air. We sliced the puppy in the air with our parang. Our anak biak continued cutting the fallen puppy on the ground, into pieces. Blood oozing out and sprayed everywhere.

We had to be very careful as we might cut our friends. Most participants from Gumbang and Tringgus numbering 75, could have got carried away with all the shouting of the eerie battle cries. Furthermore earlier on they had had a few rounds of tuak and tamang. Every body seemed eager to cut the sacrifice-puppy.

When the puppy was done with, Pak Amin threw a black kitten into the air. We had to kill the kitten, in the air as well. Without mercy, the kitten faced the fate of the puppy.

Again Pak Amin threw a black chicken into the air. We have to kill the chicken too, airborne.

After the three sacrifices were done with, Pak Amin threw an egg on the chest of Dr Patau, our entourage leader. Pak Amin threw another egg on the chest of Pak Keelim, the Ketua Kampung of Kampung Gumbang, our deputy leader.

They were loud shout and claps from both our side and their side, after every 'throw'.

More shouts and laughter followed. While dancing, the parangs were then held high in the air, and not aiming at us anymore.The ladies came out from the bushes. The ladies offered us pogang, tikasuom, kauh and tumang. Pak Amin and Dr Patau hugged each other. Shaking hands followed amongst the followers.

Together we went to the baruk for refreshment, followed by Nyobeng rituals: dancing to the beat of the gong around the baruk for 7 times and later climbed up the belian-trunk-ladder to the high baruk.

The washing of the skulls was performed in the evening.

Those not interested in the rituals of the evening, opted for live concert of dangdut.

This year's event could be more merrier as more visitors are expected to come.

Our group will depart Kampung Jagoi Serikin at 9.00 am tomorrow.

The Gumbang-Tringgus pilgrimage group is gathering at Gumbang tonight for ritual. They will depart Gumbang early in the morning for an 8-hour walk to Sebujit.

Lets party at Sebujit!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New addition

Ketua Gawia, sacrificing a black cockeral to appease the spirit of the skulls.

My good friend, Ferry of Pontianak is now the blog's follower. He is an avid photographer. He is a muscle man too. Watch out ladies!

He..he..he.. Thanks Ferry. I still keep the 'Dayak motif' T-shirt your presented to me one year ago. you are indeed a friend.

Ooop! As at 4.30 pm today, DBNA had registered 57 participants.

The Krokong group has registered some guys with bikes plus some 4WD machines.

The Gumbang-Tringgus group remains at about 30 walkers. I am quite worried about Ketua Kampung Keelim of Gumbang- he seems to be too old for an eight-hour walk through primary rainforest, ascending and descending the hills and crossing many streams. Dr Patau Rubis is looking towards the long pilgrimage walk.

President Ik Pahon is constantly in touch with us all the way from Manila. So is President William Nyigor from Sibu. These committed leaders just want to make sure that the organising is smooth.

I just received a SMS from Tuan Rogers, registering another four participants.

Ooops! I can hardly concentrate. South Africa-Mexico is about to start.

Have to say bye for now....

Hope South Africa can make it through.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who are coming for Nyobeng in Dusun Sebujit?

In this event of 2008, The welcoming ceremony ritual was about to begin.

Kampung Suba Buan, under Ketua Kaum Jimbei, is sending a cultural troupe of 10 performers: 6 ladies and 4 gentlemen.

Due to transportation inconveniences, they decided to bring only the CDs and CD Player and not the traditional musical instruments. Pak DPR Gunawan assured me that they are getting ready the amplifiers and speakers.

Cikgu Samjun from Krokong is organising a convoy of 15 motorbikes, with some having pillion riders. They opt to challenge the jungle trek which is passable by bikes and 4WD vehicles.

Another group consisting of about 30 men and women from Gumbang, will walk the komang-traditional route for 8 hours. This pilgrimage group chooses the noltalgic trek.

The DBNA group as at today registers 35 members. Many of them will drive their 4WD vehicles to Seluas. Aroma Cafe towkay and Tuan Jack Oduin are amongst them.

DBNA Serapi Branch, captained by Tuan Harry, is sending a team of 5 in a 4WD.

Sibuluh Recreation Club, under Tuan Rogers, is sending a team consisting of as many as his Pajero can accomodate.

Edwin Limban is gathering another 7 from Daun Singghai.

Several Ketua Kaum will join Pak Pung Jiheng Mideh's Toyota Hilux.

From Singkawang Bikers' Club will come 150 riders, some with pillion riders.

Tuan Blade of SAKTA had indicated that his members would join. Tuan Charles Locklin called, though I am not sure if he comes in under the DBNA umbrella or under SAKTA.

Sad news. Gerald Rentap is still overseas and will not be able to make it home in time. He had indicated to go to Sebujit by land, and to leave on 15 June by helicopter.

Buck up! It is going to be a big party in Sebujit.