KOTA KINABALU: Newly crowned Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) Francisca Ester Nain is hoping to become an educator teaching the native Kadazandusun language.
The 25-year-old representing Karambunai who beat 63 other contestants for the 2019 Kaamatan Festival beauty pageant wowed judges with her wonderful grasp of the native Dusun Tindal language and her overall performance throughout the competition.
She was among the few finalists who spoke in her mother tongue during the question and answer session on Friday (May 31).
"I want to teach our native tongue to the community because if we do not appreciate and use our mother tongue, who will?" she said.
Francisca, the sixth child of eight siblings, who hails from Kota Belud district, said she felt lucky to be able to win the Unduk Ngadau title this year.
"I have actually participated in this pageant several years ago and only got to the top 15, but I learnt from there and improved myself," she said.
Francisca said she does not think that she is the best among the contestants but feels that luck was on her side this time around.
"I hope to share Sabah's culture to the world and like what I answered during the question and answer session, I hope to see our many cultures shared and documented," Francisca said.
Currently self-employed, the daughter of farmers said she will use the scholarships from Sidma College and Unirazak to pursue her studies in education.
She bagged RM100,000 worth of prizes including RM18,000 cash, return flight tickets to Japan and Seoul, Korea as well as other goodies.
Pantai Manis's (Papar) Annette Rabecca Januin @ Abdon came in second while Penampang's Leticia Casianus Bansin won third place.
The second and third place winners bring home prizes worth RM70,000 and RM50, 000 respectively.
Annette also brings home RM13,000 in cash while Leticia bagged RM10,000.
Both will also receive scholarships from Sidma College and Unirazak, flight tickets to different destinations, and other goodies.
Contestants were judged based on their beauty, grasp of their mother tongue, understanding of their ethnic background and how they answered questions and dealt with the public among other factors.
The Unduk Ngadau will represent the state in various tourism and cultural related programmes as well as numerous community events.