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Tuesday February 1, 2011

Kadazan-Dusun group in Penampang show you the way

WHILE modern life has caught up with many ethnic groups in Sabah, those from the Kadazan-Dusun ethnic group of Penampang still maintain the traditions and customs of their elders.

Mathilda Baduk, who lives in Putaton Village in the Penampang district has inherited the art of making lihing or traditional rice wine.

As she poured rice into a tajau (ceramic pot used to ferment the rice wine) she placed some charcoal and a knife after covering the pot with a banana leaf.

Preserving tradition: Babagon villagers playing their traditional instruments.

“The charcoal and knife are said to ward off evil spirits from harming the lihing. We believe the wine will taste sour if we do not place these objects.

The Penampang district is a 40 minutes drive from Kota Kinabalu and Dongongon is its main town.

Apart from Mount Kinabalu, there are other tourist attractions in Kota Kinabalu.

Tourists who want to learn more or experience the culture or lifestyle of the locals can head to the Penampang Village Homestay.

The package deals include tours to villages in Penampang. There are four villages under the Penampang Village Homestay namely Pogunon, Babagon, Moyog and Putaton.

Hard at work: Babagon villager Batain Guntaba making a traditional basket for gathering purposes.

In Babagon, our first stop was the pineapple plantation located around 5km from the Penampang Village Homestay.

Plantation owner Monisginbon said the main source of income for the locals was farming.

“Usually we harvest crops such as pineapple, lemongrass and wild ginger. The village also practices traditional fish conservation called tagal in the Babagon River,” he said.

Monisginbon said people were allowed to harvest the fish only once a year through this practice.

Penampang Village Homestay co-ordinator Evelyn Masudal said the locals usually bring their goods down to the Dongongon town and sell it at the Dongongon Tamu (market).

Rock outcrops: James Dingon explaining the megalith structures which are historical findings in the area.

“Some of them also make traditional handicraft to be sold at the local market,” she said.

One of them is Babagon village chief and blacksmith John Mollinggun who makes parang for a living.

“I have been making this for generations. My father, who was also a blacksmith taught me,” said John as he demonstrated how to make a parang.

John said villagers in the area also make traditional Kadazan-Dusun instruments and other handicraft for a living.

Adina Kipasfrom Moyog grows her own herbs for traditional medicine.

“I usually gather my herbs to sell at the Dongogon Tamu,” she said.

Another tourist attraction in Penam-pang is the Pogunon Community Museum.

The museum features megalith structures built by the Kadazan-Dusun community, who lived there centuries ago.

Museum guide James Dingon said there were many uses for the stone structures built by the Kadazan-Dusun people.

“Most of them are commemorative stones or tomb stones. Some have different markings to indicate that they were warriors and show how many heads they gathered as head hunters. Others are boundary stones for different villages and some are oath stones,” he said.

There was also a traditional night at the homestay with the Babagon villagers presenting their traditional dance, Sumazau, as well as a presentation of their traditional musical instruments.

“Sumazau is inspired by the flight pattern of the eagle. It is usually performed during harvest season or for special occasions,” said Evelyn.

At Putaton some of the women in the village demonstrated how they prepared traditional Kadazan-Dusun food.

Hinaba, a local traditional dish is made from raw fish with lime juice, chilli, ginger and the grated seed of the bambangan which is a fruit from the mango family.

The villagers also prepared other dishes such as the Tuhau which is a pickled dish made from a plant which looks like lemongrass but tastes like ginger.

Besides the culture and lifestyle of the many ethnic groups in the city, tourists visiting Kota Kinabalu could look forward to visiting the beaches and islands located along the coast.

We headed off for the boat ride tour at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park located 3km off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.

The state marine park consists of five islands namely the Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug.

Pulau Gaya is the largest island with a population of around 7,500.

Among the five islands, only Mamutik provides accommodation for tourists.

To get there, tourists can take a ferry from Jesselton Point jetty, Kota Kinabalu main central jetty to the marine park with departures in the morning and afternoon.

The familiarisation trip was sponsored by Firefly, Golden Suria Tours & Travel and the Sabah Tourism Board.


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