Unduk Ngadau 2016: Is she the next Huminodun or a Beauty Queen for 365 days?

(Credit to Adiputera)

The Unduk Ngadau winner is supposed to be able to exude a high degree of moral because they are representing the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut women. We are also looking at a winner who can be the role model to the younger generation and has a spirit of voluntarism in being willing to sacrifice her time for the community, besides being intelligent to ably present our country, culture and tourism to the world”-Joanna Kitingan

In the previous entry, I shared about the legend of Unduk Ngadau that I read from valid sources. In the past, it was all about willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of the entire community. Ponompuan sacrificed her life in order to ensure that her community gets what they need, food. In today’s world, how many of us will do the same? (well, I am not suggesting you people to be sacrificed in the middle of the paddy field). There are certain jobs in the world that might need some ‘sacrifice’ such as being a soldier, yup soldiers might get killed in the battle, that way, they ensure the safety of their people.

Nowadays, Unduk Ngadau is not about selecting the winner and sacrifice her. It is about respecting the Huminodun’s Rusod. The winner of this traditional beauty pageant is a symbol of that Huminodun. The winner will receive cool prizes and will be in for some interesting activities that have been arranged for her earlier. She will give her seat a.k.a crown to another winner after 365 days. The process will be repeating each year and there are times when people do forget the name of the winner (except for her true fans and relatives).

I wonder if in that 365 days being the reigning queen, is she doing something that actually touch people heart and mind? Did she sacrifice her time to do anything noble for her community or at least to a group of people? After 10 years, do people actually remember her name? Probably never (except her family and relatives). Why? The answer is simple. She is a queen for one year only and might  not do anything significant for her community. She might not do anything BIG in a way that people will never ever forget her name.

I don’t expect the Unduk Ngadau to be Mother Teresa wannabe or Princess Diana look alike. The world will never forget these 2 great people. Why? Because they did something BIG in their life. Something good that people remember them. I don’t expect the Unduk Ngadau winners to do something BIG in the international arena (she is welcome to if that is her wish) but at least do something BIG for the the people in her community. Question is, how? Every time, the chosen Unduk Ngadau have things to do that being arranged by the pageant organizer. She has to do this and she has to do that, bit of charity work, meeting the important people and so on. Most of the time, the winner will be married soon after a new winner is chosen. Game over. Oh, she might be invited to be the judge after 5 years..perhaps.

A short term celebrity, oucch!! I have to say that, pardon me. I am looking forward for one Unduk Ngadau who realize who she is and where she came from. She came from her community. She received something, cash prizes and so on. Have you heard one winner that contributes half of her winning to her society? Has any winner use her influence to get grant from the government and build one Resource Center for her village? Or maybe give half of her cash prize to the Chief in her community for charity reason?

Yes, she got tickets to London and Melbourne. Cool and awesome! I want that too. But is the winner readily available to surrender her tickets to the sponsor and bluntly say, Mr Organizer, do you mind flying this unfortunate child and the parents to somewhere somewhere so that the child can undergo some medical treatment. Plus, use her influence and talk to her Parliament member (in her constituency) to sponsor this and that for the betterment of another person. Unduk Ngadau is about sacrifice. The sacrifice in order to enable part or at least one individual in her community to get something meaningful.

Miss Unduk Ngadau, you got your fame so why not let go some of your privileges to other who need it most? Do that and you are the true Huminodun. The modern version of Huminodun. Ask your friends if they can name 5 Unduk Ngadau winners in a row. See some funny guessing faces and perhaps some remarks too! I can’t even tell you the last 5 years winner in correct order. Why? Because there were just ordinary Miss Kaamatan or Miss Harvest Festival. Nothing they did match the qualities of Huminodun. I am so sorry for being harsh but that is the reality.

In 2015, the KDCA wanted to patent the ‘Unduk Ngadau’ Title (Daily Express,May 16,2015).  According to the State-level Unduk Ngadau organising chairperson Joanna Kitingan ‘Unduk Ngadau’ is a sacred word to the Kadazan Dusun community because it is related to the Huminodun legend about the only child of Kinoingan or God, who sacrificed herself to save her people from famine. Huminodun carries a very strong representation of the KDM tradition and culture. Therefore, her honour should not be misused by anyone for the wrong reasons. She is not a symbol to promote any product, she is the source of life. The statement were meant for certain irresponsible organizers but the soon to be Unduk Ngadau must digest this bitter sweet statement. Again, the main word is sacrifice. So, do your part.

The soon to be Unduk Ngadau for 2016 must also know that the scope of Pesta Kaamatan celebration is more than just about the beauty of Unduk Ngadau(s) (beauty queens). This message was highlighted by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan in 2011 (Daily Express, April 26,2011). He said that Pesta Kaamatan is a meaningful occasion to foster unity and goodwill among all communities who partake of the celebration. I wonder how many Unduk Ngadau(s) did their actual part to promote this message. I can’t recall any of them. All their activities were determined by the organizer and none they did that actually came from their heart.

The question that needed to be asked by Unduk Ngadau to the organizer is, “Look, this is what I want to do to my community. I want to use some of my winnings and privileges to promote better life in my community, may I?”. She must try to minimize the question like ” Okay, what is the next thing to do? A charity visit?” I bet some of the past winners did not even know what to do next. Why? Perhaps they think of the commercial side. Oh here is the point where some people will get mad at me. One past winner, Mandy Nandu (2005 winner) agreed that some night spots and trade associations that runs Unduk Ngadau competition created the unnecessary commercialized environment for the hopeful winners and to the title itself (Daily Express, June 2, 2012). More and more Unduk Ngadau wannabes are actually after fame because they themselves are attracted to that environment, the commercial reason.

It is interesting to read one statement from May Salitah Naru Kiob, who was Miss Earth Sabah 2010 (Daily Express, June 3 2012). She said that being an Unduk Ngadau these days is not entirely necessary because even the competition is not a search for the next Huminodun anymore.She said that if we compare the winners these days to those of yesteryear, we will find that the girls are quite commercialized. This is due to the fact that girls who can be marketed as ‘models’ are usually the winners, therefore generating extra income from commissions through jobs for the organizers should they win, thus putting the main Unduk Ngadau organizers in the same position as pubs. Well that was her saying, not me. However, there is truth to that statement, don’t you think? Read more of her statement in the link given or click HERE.

Come May 31, 2016 and we get one more Unduk Ngadau for 2016. Hopefully we get a winner who knows what is the real meaning of Sacrifice as shown by Huminodun herself. Let us see if the winner understand the Pesta Kaamatan theme for 2016, which is “Keamanan dan Persahabatan” or “Pibabasan Om Piombolutan”or “Peace and Friendship”. Let us also see if she can relate her winning to the Theme and how she is able change ‘the destiny’ of at least one person in her own community. The organizer, KDCA is being noble enough to promote the spirit of Huminodun. However, as they said before, they must protect the title of ‘Unduk Ngadau’ from being too commercialized. Those lining up with numbers later, ask yourself, are you the next Huminodun or are you hoping to be the beauty queen for only 365 days? If you choose the 2nd, hope you are not the phantom beauty queen!!

Fingers crossed, curiostraveller.com

Important Note: We have no intention to insult any of the winners be it recently or in the past. The opinion in this article is of curiostraveller.com and  we are not underestimating any of the winners. Our main idea in this article is, so far we have not read or hear any of the winners said to be resembling the Huminodun in terms of quality/characteristic, doing any BIG sacrifice for the community, after winning the title. Yes, some of them have big names now (or previously) but we at curiostraveller.com is actually hoping and looking for one Unduk Ngadau who’s so great in the eyes of Sabah people. Great because she might have done something really big, noble and from her heart without any interference from organizer or sponsors. Great, that most people having difficulty in forgetting her name/legacy. If there is actually one, do tell us and we will write good things about her, in detail. Do contact us if you think there is one Unduk Ngadau that you think fit the characteristic of Huminodun, sacrificing for her people (Donating her winnings to the some people/group/charity, or anything that is BIG enough). 



The image being used for this entry is of Adiputera creative photo shoot. Follow him and his amazing work at http://www.pbase.com/adiputera/profile


Daily Express (April 26, 2011). Kaamaatan More than just Unduk Ngadau. Retrieved on 19 April 2016 from http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=77802

Daily Express (June 3, 2012) . Unduk Ngadau gone too commercial? Retrieved on April 20, 2016 from http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/read.cfm?NewsID=910

Daily Express (May 16,2015). KDCA Wants to patent ‘Unduk Ngadau. Retrieved on April 19 from http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=99794

Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA).December 7, 2004. Who Is Huminodun?  Retrieved on April 19, 2016 from http://kdca.org.my/archives/138

Low Kok On and Lee Yok Fee (July 2012). Investigating the relationship between Kadazandusun beliefs about Paddy Spirits, Riddling in Harvest Time and Paddy Related Sundait. Retrieved on April 20, 2016 from   http://journalarticle.ukm.my/5963/1/e.pdf

Palikat, Nicholas. 1988. The Legend of Hay and Rice. In Ignatia Olim Marsh (ed.). Tales and Traditions from Sabah: 67-68. Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Society

Pesta Kaamatan. Retrieved on 20 April 2016 from http://go2travelmalaysia.com/tour_malaysia/psta_kamatan.htm

Reid, Anthony. 1997. Endangered Identity: Kadazan or Dusun in Sabah. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies Vol. 28, Mac: 120-136. National University of Singapore.

Sabah Museum. 1993. Rice Power and Its Magic: A Brief Introduction to the Culture of Rice in Sabah. Kota Kinabalu: Department of Sabah Museum.

The Star Online (June 4,2015). Aspiring Teacher is Harvest Queen. Read on 20 April 2016 from http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/community/2015/06/04/aspiring-teacher-is-harvest-queen-yong-wants-to-promote-sabahs-diverse-cultures-to-the-world/

Topin, Benedict. 1996. Sharing on Kadazandusun Culture. Penampang: Sabah State Library, Penampang Branch.


9 thoughts on “Unduk Ngadau 2016: Is she the next Huminodun or a Beauty Queen for 365 days?

  1. Joanna Datuk Kitingan

    Thank you for all the articles regarding the Unduk Ngadau over the years . As the chairman for the Unduk Ngadau in the last few years and having part of the organising Team many years ago when I was still green, my team and I have and will continue to bring the Unduk Ngadau to the next level but not forgetting the foundation of our culture, hence back to basic embrace your culture. This thought or theme was something I thought over the years observing where Unduk Ngadau started and where it is going and reading and listening from netizens comments as well.
    Each have their own opinions and are entitie to it. For I don’t just move with the tide of times but with it we first must learned about our History, our oral traditions and Cultural Heritage . What legacy are we leaving behind ? I have always reminded my committee that we are not just an organiser for the every year Unduk Ngadau but also imparting our cultural Heritage knowledge to the young women of our generations. That’ why of the basic thing for the Unduk Ngadau preparation is learn and speak your mother tongue, , learned your history by asking your elders especially your traditional costume. Your identity as a Kadazandusun. We have a very rich cultural Heritage. If you as an Unduk Ngadau just wear your costume as asked by your district organiser of ‘ manager ‘ then all they can say about their traditional costume is ; Di Pakai Semasa perayaaan seperti blah blah…what answer is that . That’s why if you’d want to vie for the UN title then you have to fully understand yourself and in the context of your culture .
    Regarding the UN charity works/ events / program , the organiser in the last few years have laid out the whole year plan. Unfortunately it does not always fall or fit into the UN or top 7 ( as the more the merrier like building a HFH home is better with more hands as was done by the UN 2015) schedules as she may go back to full time study in the case of UN 2016. But I am all for what they can do from their own hearts (some of them when they just win they said they would do but most of the time we have to organise charity works for them). I myself would be very happy to see an UN who is passionate about her community and culture using her title to help others as Huminodun did.

    1. We feel honored to have you Joanna Datuk Kitingan, thank you for commenting, we appreciate that..and yes we agree to what you have said here. I do respect you and I am proud to say that you are my idol in championing our KadazanDusun heritage. My hope is that one day we will have one UN that has all the qualities you have mentioned in the recent years. Let’s hope that the new UN 2017 will have that qualities of Huminodun. I wrote the article in a sarcastic way meant for those who keep questioning the final result of UN…result is result but at the same time we want to see the winner seriously promoting the heritage in her own ways, actively. Thank you again Joanna for your time. We appreciate that. God bless all of us.

  2. noorawati

    one of the beauty UN was already do the job that you mean before joining this UNK 2016.. you all must trace that girl

    1. Thank you for the information noorawati, do you mind sharing her name so that we can trace her, if you want to share it privately, you may whatsapp or sms me at 016 8114054 (Lan). We will cross check with all sources available after that. If she managed to touch at least curiostraveller.com heart, we will find her and interview her followed by post in the blog to highlight her contribution(s).

  3. I will follow the work by the new queen, observing her activities through press and see if she is just the same as the past winners. Lets hope she think of something new to approach the unfortunate and help them in a way that she is capable of. She can always use her position to talk to important people to get some assistance for the unfortunate. She can also attend charity work by herself and not being heavily escorted by the KDCA people, the press, security and so on, that is already ‘Rombongan Cik Kiah’. Stand up for those who need help the most, do something big for your community or at least to one person, then you may get the press do the coverage for you, use the press to tell what your objectives are. You can do that!

  4. Lorna

    Spot on. Completely agree though I would not expect the winners to give away all her prizes money. I’m sure hundreds have been spent on the outfits, make-up, etc and I believe a few, the so called ” advisers and supporters” would expect to get a share of the winning prizes as well. But, prizes asides, there are other “sacrifices” that the Unduk Ngadau can do. Simple example. Why not taking an initiative in fundraising project for the recent flood victims?. There are still plentiful of projects that can be done. It just a matter of making efforts to realize the noble goals.

    1. Yup I agree Lorna. I am hoping that she get herself in bigger projects for example AIDS foundation, Cancer Society or things like that. Helping flood victims and so so many more projects that can be think of. For the past years its all about visiting for charity purpose, shaking hands with all the people, doing this and that a bit, press photo shoot, interview with the press after the charity work and then went home. I never heard one queen did that for long run. The visit being arranged by the organizers and not by her own willing. And we never heard a long term project by the queen after a new queen selected. She’s ‘gone’ back to her normal life. Thats not Huminodun. Huminodun ‘left’ after doing something big and her name is now a legend. Unfortunately for the past winners, they ain’t resembling this characteristics.

Comments are closed.