KOTA KINABALU: There have been cases of people turning up at vaccination centres dressed as a superhero, or even a banshee.In the interiors of Sabah, there is a different “attraction”.
Elderly folk would bring with them a slice of life while they await their turn to be jabbed.
They could be seen munching on areca nuts and betel leaves. This get-together activity known as moginggat (eating areca nuts and betel leaves is called tinggaton in native Dusun language) is seen at most gatherings especially among Sabah’s older folk.
A government official, who had the opportunity to monitor the vaccination exercise in Kota Marudu district recently, shared her observation of the activity which she described as captivating.
“When I saw a group of elderly men and women taking out their plastic bags and starting to chop, cut and munch, I couldn’t help asking what they were doing,” said Asmidar Zainol, who is from Perak.
The aunties and uncles promptly filled her in that they were preparing their tinggaton.
Some kept them in nice purses, others used drink cartons and small plastic or copper containers.
They would also get some dried tobacco leaves, roll them into smaller pieces before inserting them between their lips and gums.
Such a practice might be a common sight for those in Sabah, Asmidar said, but not for “outsiders like me”.
Yipit Ega, 76, who is fond of the practice, said: “This prevents us from getting sleepy and feeling bored.”
Her son Jamil Malarun, 59, said most people he knew have been taking tinggaton since they were in their teens.
“It is like an ice-breaker... something that brings strangers and families together,” he said.
Ega and Jamil were among 190 villagers from Kg Bombong, Kg Saparita, the AFC Estate and Isian Jaya Estate in Kota Marudu who received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine recently.
Vaccination is being conducted more aggressively with outreach programmes held daily to reach people in interior and rural parts of Sabah.