Sunday, May 9, 2010

A MEMORABLE TRIP TO KG. PRANGKAN MAWANG IN THE SERIAN DISTRICT, SARAWAK

I did promise to write something upon my return from a short break away from Kuala Lumpur. The place that I had gone to was Kuching, Sarawak, a place that I have not visited for more than a decade. While I was in the military, I never had the opportunity to be stationed in Kuching, and Sarawak in the 70’s was a communist terrorist hot-bed. The closet that I had served in Sarawak was Bekalalan in the 60’s, and Song, east of Kanowit along the Batang Rajang in the 70’s, and Kuching was never near these two places.

I had gone to Kuching to be part of my family party to visit the family of my grandson’s future in-laws. Despite the distance and the South China Sea that divides peninsular and Sarawak, this grandson of mine could manage to win the heart of a Sarawak lass of Bidayu ethnicity named Elize, and Christian by birth, and to force us to act as the ‘negotiator’ to woo the in-laws to be, to accept him as their future son in-law.

Being an elder in the family, I accepted to lead the negotiating party and the bidding. I know that the various ethnic groups in Sarawak are steep in tradition when it comes to wooing their daughters hand in marriage, and not knowing the Bidayu tradition, really scares me. I was particularly concern of the ‘ngirup’ session that can be torturous, and I was pleased that the family understood that the ‘ngirup’ session is ‘taboo’ to me, not at this age, and they too have Muslims among their family members.

The home of Elize is in Serian, a two hour drive SE of Kuching. Traveling further SE is the town of Balai Ringin that was the home of the army during the troubled period of the 70’s. I am told that Balai Ringin still retains a base for the army. The Serian-Balai Ringin road used to be a security road once, and there have been several incidences of terrorist ambushes along the road. Today, the road is a highway and it took us about an hour to get to Serian.

But Serian town wasn’t our final destination. The home of Elize is further inland and another 50 minutes drive along a narrow one lane path before we could reach our destination i.e. a Bidayu longhouse in Kg. Prangkan Mawang.

Our arrival at Kg. Prangkan Mawang was well received by the villagers, and in particular the village head who happens to be a retired soldier, the parents of Elize and the entire family members. It was quite a reception with several shots fired from the shot gun upon seeing our arrival, and the sound of gongs permeated the air. Upon getting into the longhouse, there was an announcement made over the loud speaker welcoming us, and I was so pleased to see that among the crowd gathered in the longhouse were several ex-soldiers, and some claimed to have met me before and even served me. Their presence gave me the added confidence that the villagers can accept me and my entourage, and surely they must have said some good things about me to the parents Elize; hence the elaborate and official-like welcoming party.

The session started with a short welcome speech given by a representative of our host. He too was an ex-soldier who had served in the Service Corps. Then I was invited to give a speech and I began by saying that getting into a longhouse is not a strange thing for me. I have visited many longhouses before and even lived in some of them. I expressed my appreciation and thanks to them for receiving us with such an elaborate welcoming ceremony and proceeded to announce our intention and purpose of this visit. I told them that we are here to seek the hand in marriage of Elize, the daughter of Kassim for my grandson Hanif. There were smiles and nod of approval when I made the announcement, especially from the parents of Elize and the village head. Sensing that they had approved of my request, I became even more confident and relax and started to hand over some gifts to the parents of Elize, her other siblings, the village head and the representative of the parents. We also gave away sweets and chocolates to the children.

With the end of the formalities, the representative announced that lunch is served and we were ushered by the parents into a room for lunch. We were told that the food was prepared by an ex-soldier who was a cook from the Service Corps, and with samplings of Bidayu cuisines.

After lunch, we thought that the ceremony was over and we could take leave from our host, but that wasn’t to be. We were once again invited to be seated in the hallway to be entertained with dances, games and songs, and for which we were expected to participate as well. Except for me, the rest of my entourage has never been into a longhouse and has never been treated to their dances and games. I therefore had to take the lead in joining the hosts to their dances, to give members of my entourage and including their spouses the encouragement to join in the dances as well. Wasn’t I pleased that every member of my entourage willingly joined in the dances to the joy of our hosts and the entire occupants of the longhouse. The entire entertainment lasted for about two hours and when it ended, we were all drench in sweat and exhausted. Had there been the ‘ngirup’ session, I think the whole entertainment session would have extended into the night.

The hosts must have sensed that we have had enough of the entertainment and announced our impending departure. The entire occupants of the longhouse were called to lineup along the hallway to shake our hands and to wish us goodbye. It was quite an emotional farewell and before we could leave, the parents of Elize presented our spouses with gifts, and even some food and a large bag of rice that they had harvested.

We left Kg. Prangkan Mawang in the Serian district with both a sense of joy and sadness; joy at having to be accepted to be part of the Bidayu family, and sad at having to know that life for them in the years ahead is a life of continued subsistence, of being deprived of the basic amenities, such as electricity and piped water, in this age and period of the 20th century. Unthinkable I should say.

Elize, my granddaughter is now officially named Nur Nazia Elizabeth, a Muslim convert and hopefully she be married to my grandson Hanif Alwi in a few weeks from now.

CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION

14 comments:

Mustang said...

Dato,

Congratulations!!

A Touching yet Honourable trip for you Dato. We have Malaysians from faraway, divided by the South China Sea with the Real Human Touch Welcoming with such a High Level of Respect!!

Least I would say with all your True Human Hard Work am sure you deserve this.

Please be noted to inform on the Big Day and the Venue. Rest assured if I am not overseas, I promise you Dato, I will be there with my wife!! Simple Invitation in this blog only,

Tahniah & Salams

komando said...

Dear Dato' Pak Chad & All Folks

Sabah & Sarawak sadly will remain a "Backward Country" as long as BN rules this nation.

The leadership sees no urgency in developing the states, for reasons best known to them!

As for me it remains a GOLDEN POND!
To fish for votes and get easy meat!

The politics are simple....lesser developed lesser influence and much more easier to manipulate.
Isolation from the real world and the real NEWS and the REAL TRUTH!

Elections are easy to play with, with its isolation all advantages is to the ruling party. Give a few goody and all is well, to simple people, a bag of rice, is heaven sent....BUT.

They ripped away by the billions the wealth of the States, big time!

OIL, TIMBER, LAND, MINERALS!
IN NO TIME ALL WILL RUN DRY !
SOON ALL THE CULPRITS WILL ALSO RUN OFF !

Helicopters and river boats are the best form of hide and seek, the best avenues available for fraud!

That is the end game !

How sad the truth of the matter.

Anyway, nice to hear your mission was accomplished Dato', congrats..

sudah nak jadi atuk atuk...cucu dapat anak jadi apo...MOYANG !

FMZam said...

Dato, Komando,

I see it the other way round. As long as the jungle of Sarawak is preserved and safe from the rape by Taib's dynasty, they can live as natural as they used to, without the needs for the donkey development and political manipulation of the BN government. The Sarawakians can't keep hanging on empty hopes on the government who made Rahman Yaakob and Taib Mahmud the kings of Sarawak and allowed their reigning the state of Sarawak as a family legacy. They have ruled Sarawak since the birth of Malaysia only to make themselves rich and powerful, they have neglected the people far too long that Muhyiddin Yassin now have to say out that there are still a hell lot more things to be done for Sarawak's development.

So, Sarawakians, if so Sarawak is still very much underdeveloped, then why should you have to develop the rich leaders only?

Capt's Longhouse said...

dear bessesdato,

,,,well done again !. You represented for all of us West M'sian to my S'wakian bro.& sis.
,,,am going back to Miri this weekend and its jazz times down there.

Akuromeo said...

Salam Sifu

nice to hear from u
and glad to hear ur
mission going well..
Tahniah from your anakmurid admirer

Sifu i take care your blog with
a fully hearted..

Welcome back Sifu

hahahaaa my sifu coming back and the retard crying

Legion™ said...

Congratulations Sir :)

FMZam said...

EngkoRomeo,

Your face is a constipated dog's and constipated dogs are not allowed in here. Your 7 years overseas study has not made you any good mumbling and grumbling here and there won't make you settle all your "hutang biasiswa kerajaan". You cannot even look after your own blog to have it closed down, now you have the guts to say you take care of Dato's blog? Why? Because a mongrel like you can never run a blog other than a blog only for DOGS! Hey that's a good idea man, why not open up a dog's blog and call it AKUROMEODOG?

samsaimon said...

Dato'

Tahniah !
Somoga your grand-son and partner
' dirahmati dan diberkati Allah swt dan dimurahkan rezeki ', amin.

Capt. Kamal Sanusi said...

Salam Dato'

CONGRATULATION!!!...

benadam said...

Congratulations Dato’. Insyaallah you are in line to be a great great grandfather. Not many of us can have that honour though.
I can share your feeling of initial discomfort because I too had the same experience when leading my nephew’s wedding last year at a longhouse in Kampung Tagumamal, in Kudat Sabah. Yes you are right about them living a life of continued subsistence. But sir, in the 21st C rather than “..in this age and period of the 20th century…” as you’ve written.

FMZam said...

Dear Dato',

You'll be surprised to learn just how many cross marriage in the Malay families nowadays, the numbers not only shot up in the urban but in the rural Malays as well. You see one mixed couple now and before long you realised your clan multiplied into a multiethnic grandchildren come one Hari Raya, and they are all Malays, speak Malay, live Malay and some with strange first, middle or last names.

But while we shout for one race called Malaysian, some loud mouth politicians who shouted for Malay First must have missed the point that the unMalay names of the cross marriage Malays and their cross bred siblings are the clear indicator of the people's aspiration for a race called Malaysian.

WIRA said...

In the 9 yrs that I served in Sabah and Sarawak, I have yet to meet finer and more hospitable people than the Bidayuh. Congratulations to you and Datin for your new granddaughter.
Tapi kalau ngirup sikit-sikit apa salahnya!!
Dulu masa muda tak complainpun!!!

Mej (B) Nor Ibrahim Bin Sulaiman said...

Dear Dato',

Congratulations.

Nochan said...

Dear Pak Chat

I once served in Serian being the first Malaysian Troops in Sarawak in 1963. The Tac Hq then was co-located with the Police Station. I remember visiting up to Tebedu with Kg Pichin along the way on a dirt track with the Malaysian Engineers busy improvig. Then to Balai Ringin where a company HQ was located in Pike Huts.
However, I never knew the village that you went for the pre marriage reception of your grandson.
As for marriage with the locals there, I feel my Battalion Mechanic (Javanese Origin) could claim to the first to get married there to a girl (of Javanese origin) just across the Serian river (along the main road beside the bridge). I attended the wedding reception just before the Battalion completed its tour of duty.
About 5 years ago, I paid a visit to Serian with my whole family. I could not recognize any prominent features at all except the Police Station. Development had destroyed any memory of the town that was my first tour of Sarawak. I visited the Police Station where the personnel there then were looking suspicious of me initially. I broke the ice when I introduced myself & explained the nature of my visit including telling them how the place looked like with the Military co located within the perimeter and overflowing outside.
The policemen & women who crowded around admitted that their parents did not even know each other yet at that time.
Any, congratulations on your cucu’s marriage. My eldest cucu is only 15. Still a long way to go.
Kind and warm regards to your whole family