Article & Photos by: Angelina Edited by: @joehairie Translated to English by: @curiostraveller
I have always wanted to write something about my birthplace which is Kampung Mandurian in Pitas, Sabah. I never got the time until recently I was invited by curiostraveller.com to contribute an article. I gladly accepted the invitation. I decided that I want to write about my beloved hometown and how it shaped me to be a much better person today. Somewhere in between, I will share how I was involved in the Kaamatan Festival at Kampung Mandurian.
Where is Pitas?
Pitas is a town and district in the Kudat Division of the Malaysian state of Sabah. In 2010, its population was estimated at 37,808. The local populace is made up predominantly of ethnic Rungus and Orang Sungai (including Tambanuo) people, with a small number of Chinese Malaysians and other ethnic minorities. Due to its geographical isolation and the general unsuitability of the land for agriculture, Pitas has one of the highest rates of poverty in Sabah.
What about Kampung Mandurian?
Kampung Mandurian is located somewhere in the inner parts of Pitas district. Right before reaching the Pitas Town, there is a small junction and road on the right hand side and that dusty and undeveloped road leads to several Villages before finally arriving at Kampung Mandurian. It takes more than an hour to reach Kampung Mandurian especially when it’s raining season.
Kampung Mandurian-My Story
Long time ago, there was a young man, Aman Otong. He was the first man to arrived at Mandurian and later made this village known to the outside world. At that time, Kampung Mandurian was just basically thick jungle.The name of Kampung Mandurian originated from the discovery of a Durian tree that floating in the river. The river was later named as Mondurian River which later gave the name to this village, Kampung Mandurian.
The basic road that leads to Kampung Mandurian was built by Hap Seng company in order to be able to collect timber. That was in 1971. However, the activity ceased in 1981. During that 10 years, the company decided to widen the road to enable large vehicles such as tractors, to go into Kampung Mandurian. Positively, it enabled the villagers to travel to the Local Market/Tamu and offices in Kota Marudu and Pitas. Besides that, villagers were able to shop for groceries.
Most importantly, the road enabled students an easy access to get to schools in larger towns. Today, the road still exist. That said road starts from Kampung Mampakad Laut passing through some schools, clinics (Sinanggip/Mandurian) and more villages such as Kampung Kinabuntung, Kampung Kibubuk, Kampung Bilangau Darat, Kampung Sinanggap, Kampung Mandurian, Kampung Mandurian Ulu, Kampung Pinapak and Kampung Nibang.
The population in Kampung Mandurian today is about 315 people and keep increasing (of course!). The distance from the junction of the main road where Kampung Mampakad Laut is located, to Kampung Mandurian is roughly about 35 Kilometers. The villagers in Kampung Mandurian still practicing the rice hill plantation. When it is time to harvest, villagers will help each other. Apart from rice planting, villagers do plant rubber trees and local fruit trees such as Langsat and Limau Gajah.
I had the opportunity to help around in harvesting for the rice by using a traditional equipment called Linggaman. I did help my mother and sister in collecting Ground Peanuts. The matured and suitable Ground Peanuts were sold at the local market as well as in Kota Marudu and Pitas. The Sungai Bengkoka is the place where locals go for picnic with families and friends.
The villagers at Kampung Mandurian gets clean water from the project that was initiated by the government. Initially, it was meant to provide clean water for SK Mandurian school. Health service especially for mothers and children started in 2005. The local clinic enable all villagers in the area to receive proper treatment and modern medicines. I used to be one of the patient at this clinic. All the staffs (Nurses and Doctors) are nice to the villagers.
Ka’amatan at Kampung Mandurian
There was one special year, which was 2008, where the Ka’amatan celebration was so meaningful to me. At that time I was 18 years old and just finished high school. I had the opportunity to participate in the Unduk Ngadau competition. The competition was held at Kampung Kibubuk as the Host for the Harvest Festival 2008 for the surrounding villages level. I participated because I wanted to experience being the finalist for this particular competition. I did not aim to win the competition. It was all about the experience actually. When my name was mentioned by the emcee and being introduced to the VIP and spectators, I felt extremely nervous especially when I had to briefly speak in my own mother tongue. This was my first time making the appearance in public dressing in the traditional costume of Dusun Kimaragang, specifically known as Kinaling Dress.
The Kinaling Dress is widely worn by the people of Dusun Kimarang in the Pitas and Kota Marudu area. It is normally black in color and the belt is more colorful made of silver and and some are made from rattan. I am still very much attracted to the uniqueness of the costume/dress and surely will have one in my collection soon. The process of installing the button to the dress is very unique as well as it needs thread to cover the front. The thread is arranged in zig zag pattern right to the last button of the dress. There are about 10 buttons in total. In my opinion, this tradition must be upheld especially among younger generation. Failing to do so might see the extinction of this unique Dusun Kimaragang traditional costume.
The traditional dance of the Dusun Kimaragang is Pinakang Dance and among the musical instruments being used in the performance are Kulintangan and Gong. Below is an example of the Pinakang Dance taken from YouTube.
In the Unduk Ngadau competition, I was not after fame or the title. I was interested in experiencing and learning the culture of Dusun Kimaragang ethnic especially the Pinakang Dance. I did perform the dance with other contestants and I didn’t feel awkward actually as I learnt the dance steps from my mother since I was 8 years old. We’re proud to present the traditional dance in front of thousand spectators. I did some rehearsals of my own in preparing for the Unduk Ngadau Competition. My family members helped me a lot on how to walk and dance properly. Most importantly, they increased my level of confidence in making the appearance as one of the Unduk Ngadau contestants.
My Wish, Hope and the present me…
Although it has been almost a month now since Pesta Ka’amatan/Harvest Festival 2016, I still want to take this opportunity to wish belated Happy Ka’amatan. On behalf of the Munis family and my family in Kampung Mandurian, I wish you did have a very good time during the recent Pesta Ka’amatan celebration held in May 2016. It is through such festival that we are able to upheld the Kadazan, Dusun, Murut and Rungus traditions.
I do hope that all of us keep conversing in our mother tongue whenever possible so that it won’t be forgotten especially by the younger generation. I did my best to start learning my mother tongue the proper way when I participated in the Unduk Ngadau. I am not that beautiful as many other Unduk Ngadau’s but I do know that I am beautiful inside. I learnt so many things about my culture and now beginning to appreciate others culture as well.
Kampung Mandurian shaped me to be a much better person. The Unduk Ngadau that I participated long time ago taught me how to be grateful of my own culture and tradition, grateful for all the help and guidance I received from my family members and village folks. I hope to ‘pass’ this valuable tradition to my daughter and hope she will continue being a true Dusun Kimaragang.
I am now in Kota Kinabalu. I am happily married with the man of my choice. We have a beautiful and smart daughter now and looking forward to have more kids. No matter how far I am from my own village, I will never ever forget my own tradition. Kampung Mandurian, thank you for shaping me as a true Dusun Kimaragang. I am still learning to be better actually.
We thanked Angelina for contributing this article-her own story of Kampung Mandurian and how that place shaped her to be a true Dusun Kimaragang. We wish you all the best and happiness. May you, your husband and daughter (and future kids!) remain as true Sabahan, appreciating all your traditional values. We welcome anyone to contribute any kind of article, be it about Food, Culture, Places, or Travel experience(s) as long as your story is about Sabah. Sharing is caring!