Joshua in this file photo performing the Kayan Warrior Dance, which won him the title Keling Belawan Gawai 2012.
MIRI: The international community’s understanding on the rich cultural heritage of Sarawak and Sabah is expected to be further enhanced with the staging of the final of the 8th Borneo Hornbill Festival 2016 in London, UK end of this year.
Advisor of the Sarawak/Sabah Heritage Association Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Dr Laurence John said the choice of London would complement efforts to promote Malaysia especially the ethnic heritage of the two states.
He said London was chosen following encouraging response from Londoners towards two earlier events showcasing Borneo – the Cultural Showcase and Tuak Festival. Many British teachers came to the events.
“This time we are bringing 10 finalists (vying for Miss Sabah Open, Miss Kadazandusun, Miss Iban, Miss Bidayuh, Miss Orang Ulu, Mister Sabah and Mister Sarawak) of the ‘Road to London Borneo Hornbill Festival 2016’ where they are expected to be ambassadors for their respective ethnic cultures,” he said when met by thesundaypost during an audition for the contestants in Miri on Friday.
Dr Laurence said as part of the event, there would be free sampling of local Sarawak and Sabah food such as ayam pansuh (chicken cooked in bamboo), local wine like Tuak and Lehing, Tenom Coffee and Tuhau
(herbal drink). Local handicraft dealers are also encouraged to promote their products during the event.
He said the 10-day trip to London would also take the finalists and entourage to various places of interest in London and also Paris, to provide them with opportunities to see for themselves the cultures and traditions of the westerners.
Meanwhile on the festival’s audition he said it was to enable the younger generation to know and appreciate their own cultures and promote them to others.
The Sarawak leg which started in Miri ends in Kuching today at the Youth and Sports Complex at Jln Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce. A total of 21 participants came for the audition in Miri while 12 came in Bintulu.
There will be similar auditions in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
Two aspirants, Joshua Lennet, 24,a Kayan dancing enthusiast from Long Panai and an Iban actress and model Sara Amelia Bernard, 23 from Roban who came for the audition in Miri, commended the organiser for the commitment to promote the heritage of Sarawak and Sabah.
“I love dancing and through the graceful dances of the Kayan I hope to convey the rich cultures of the Kayan and the Orang Ulu in particular. Among other messages in the warrior dance for example are courage, gallantry, and team work,” said Joshua, an operation technician with Petronas.
Joshua is pursuing his dream of winning the title, which he missed last year – although one of the finalists, he couldn’t come due to work commitment. Joshua is the reigning “Jejaka Idola Berkarisma 2015” Sarawak where he also won three subtitles, Mr Talent, Mr Popular and Mr Super White.
He also won the Keling Belawan Gawai Miri in 2012.
Sara, a Eurasian (British Malay-Iban parentage) who resides in Ipoh won the Clean & Clear Beauty Pageant 2012 and was a finalist in Miss Malaysia 2013.
“Festival like this provides an ideal platform for us to showcase our culture to the other communities. The Ibans like other ethnic communities in Sarawak are a very closely knitted community and living harmoniously,” said Sara.
Dr Laurence, when asked on other strategies to consolidate efforts to promote the festival and the cultures of Sarawak and Sabah, said a Borneo Cultural Village or resort has been proposed in Bentong Pahang.
Works on the project is to start soon and expected to be completed next year.
The resort will also be a training centre for hospitality industry for the people from Sarawak and Sabah, besides a cultural research centre.
Meanwhile those wanting to know more about the Festival can contact Dr Laurence at 013-3920870, Agustus Sapen (016-2811631), or Munica Liwan (016-6221760).
Squatting centre – Joshua and some of the participants of the Borneo Hornbill Festival.