Tabi basa balarantek! Today is Friday, and I would like to share a story about Bidayuh Beauty, which is part of the my passion project.
What is Bidayuh Beauty?
I defined Bidayuh Beauty Project as a long term project that captures the beauty of Bidayuh peoples, particularly the ladies. I also not limit them in wearing traditional dress, but for the sake of portraying the beauty of Bidayuh peoples, I asked them to wear their traditional clothes.
Bidayuh Beauty: Dayung Bi-Reteh
This time, I would like to share about Bidayuh Beauty from Kampung Reteh. For your information, Kampung Reteh is one of the many Bidayuh villages at Serian area, and it is divided into Kpg Reteh Karas, Kpg Reteh Plaman & Kpg Reteh Mawang. The concept is similar to Iban’s “Rumah” concept, except for this, the settlement is scattered around the village. Also, there is no need for a combined houses as there were no enemies to fend off. It is good for people’s privacy as well.
For this post, I am showcasing Heliana Erny Brody from Kpg Reteh. Nicknamed Lily, she was born at Sarawak Government Hospital and lived 9 years in Sibu before returns back to Serian. She is taking Science-stream and wished to become a successful veterinary physician or a teacher, as her secondoption. She really love pets, especially cats.
Cats is one of the most common household pets in Bidayuh community, and it is safe to say almost every Bidayuh house has cats. This come from the past mutual relationship between cats and Bidayuhs where cats are required to hunt down the mice that ravages the “bari” or paddy house.
She likes to do make-over and playing guitar. She also does fishing sometimes. Being the youngest of the 6 siblings, she is the only one that is still studying. All her four brothers and a sister have worked. Since their father passed away 7 years ago, they lived with their mother who came from Kpg Prangkan Mawang.
Kpg Reteh is famous for its river, Sungai Batang Kayan. Perhaps one day, there would be another photoshoot there? Who knows?
Tukang Rantek, Claudius
Note: Claudius is a PORTRAIT & BOUDOIR “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, with passion for writing.
Today I would like to write about our frontliner’s love story – Dr Gilbert and his wife, Dr Sonia, who both are part of the bigger group under Ministry of Health, where both of them are serving at Miri. Despite their busy schedule, they still find time to immortalise their love story in the form of pictures. Both of them came from Kpg Sungi Duuh, Siburan, just right beside my father’s village of Kpg Masaan. Their love story started long time ago at Sungi Duuh, and Molly Christopher, Gilbert’s neighour & cousin, is partly the mastermind behind it. The details are not permitted to be disclosed, but suffice to say, it is another reason why Gilbert is motivated to pursue excellence until both received their doctor-ship. Being Eastern peoples, Bidayuh peoples are not generally expressive, especially when it comes to love. I can see that in my father, where it took considerable effort to hold my mother’s hand in public. Gilbert and Sonia is no exception, but they are very supporting in expressing their love towards one another before the lens. No matter how busy you are, if you love one another, you can make time for one another and to express your love to them. Love is a choice – where you override logic and rationale, where you choose to stay with your loved one, in good times and the bad, in joy and sorrow and only death can part the two of you. May God bless Dr Gilbert and Dr Sonia.
Tabi basa dan selamat sejahtera, keluarga Tukang Rantek!
Pada hari ini, saya ingin menulis berkenaan cinta “frontiner”, iaitu berkenaan Dr Gilbert dan isteri beliau, Dr Sonia, yang mana keduanya adalah merupakan ahli Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia yang berkhidmat di Miri. Disebalik kesibukan mereka, mereka masih lagi mencari masa untuk mengabadikan kenangan bersama di dalam bentuk gambar. Kedua mereka berasal dari Kampung Sungi Duuh, Siburan, yang bersebelahan dengan kampung bapa saya, Kpg Masaan. Cinta mereka bermula sejak lama dahulu di Sungi Duuh dan Molly Christopher mempunyai kaitan dengan cinta mereka. Informasi selanjutnya tidak boleh dikongsikan di sini, namun memadai untuk saya berkata, Sonia merupakan antara pemangkin kecemerlangan beliau sehingga kedua-dua mereka berjaya bergelar seorang doktor. Sepertimana orang Timur yang lainnya, orang Bidayuh juga tidak begitu lantang untuk menyuarakan isi hati, terutama sekali berkenaan hal cinta. Ini boleh dilihat melalui bapa saya, yang mana ia memerlukan kuasa yang luar biasa bagi beliau untuk memegang tangan ibu saya di tempat awam. Gilbert dan Sonia pun tidak terkecuali, namun mereka sungguh bersemangat untuk meluahkan rasa cinta mereka di dalam bentuk „posing“ di hadapan kamera. Sesibuk manapun anda, jika anda cinta satu sama lain, anda akan mencari masa untuk diluangkan bersama yang tersayang. Cinta adalah pilihan, di mana anda melangkaui batas logika dan rasional, dimana kamu memilih untuk bersama yang tersayang di dalam kesusahan dan kesenangan, baik kaya mahupun miskin dan hanya maut memisahkan anda dan orang yang anda sayangi. Semoga Tuhan merahmati Dr Gilbert dan Dr Sonia.
I am Del, a boy from Kpg Pichin, Serian. About my village, Bidayuh peoples, we no longer practice headhunting since the early of 1900s, and now we are strong devoted Catholics. Every now and then, we invite priests to come to our village to do blessings, longhouse blessing, life blessing and so on. In short, all of the things that we have there are done in accordance to Catholic faith. Most of the villagers are Catholics, or so we thought. During Christmas, we usually do carolling from one house to another, and I am the guitar player for my mother’s team. It was such a joy and I am looking forward to go carolling again. Sometimes I heard about the headhunter’s stories from my grandfather, or “Babai”, in Bidayuh Biatah-Padawan dialect. He told me about the might of Pichin headhunters, who can teleport from one place to another, invincible to any sort of physical attack and can always seems to recover, no matter how fatal the injury is. That includes even when a flesh is bitten-off from his body, he can regenerate the flesh without any problem despite being exposed to any kinds of germs, bacteria or viruses. He also told me that there was once a great battle happens in the past, where this great warrior called Panglima Kuyoi led a group of small army against a ten thousand armies from the north, trying to invade our village. The details of the battle was not known, but it was believed due to the leader of the North warriors, an equally strong headhunting tribe, and backed by a virgin powerful sorceress. These sorceress has to be virgin because that is where their spiritual energy is at max. Once they harnesses their energy in marital business and procreation, it is no longer as strong as it once was, merely a shell of her former glory. Kuyoi and his warriors won the fight, but not without a great price. The defeated foe vow to revenge, but few centuries passed without any news of them. Perhaps they have settled down and forget about the feud? Babai doesn’t know what happens to that tribe as well, but now he said their descendants are scattered all around Borneo island. Babai was now bed-ridden, but every now and then, my grandma found him waking up at night, around 3.07am, talking to himself in an old ancient language while in trance, performing some ancient martial arts whilst being covered by darkness – moving without shadows, before going back to sleep.
I always go back to my village for holidays. Sometimes I spent around few days there while I am not working. Spending my time there gave me a peace of mind, though sometimes small humans in the form of Leled bereng and Cicisa, my nephew and niece gave me some challenges to continue my afternoon nap. Since they are cute and adorable, I forgive them. I should train them to be my successor in photography, so that I can continue on with what I love most – travelling while photographing peoples all around the world and capture their stories. June is coming, which means, Gawai is coming near as well. I didn’t know the incident during Gawai will change my life and how I see my relationship with my girlfriend, Bel after this. It all began with a Gawai celebration at my village.
Early May, I kept on receiving notification from this unknown number, who does not disclose what her name is. She kept mentioning about promise, promise and promise. All I know about my past relationships did not work out. I had a lot of experiences before, failed relationships I would call it it, before I met Bel. Back then I had nothing – no money, no cars, no house, and not good looking. Most of my money was channelled to my school fee, so there is no chance I am attracting gold diggers. My charm was mainly from guitar since I am not a good singer back then. My current level is presentable, not professional yet. Martial art is not my cup of tea although I love to dance, which is inspired by our ancient people’s martial art. I often heard people dance until they are in trance, and sometimes they can talk about the things in the future, or things in the past. Kind of scary, you know. That unknown number then introduced herself as Bindang, and she said she knows me. That name doesn’t ring a bell. I only know someone by the name of Inda. I check with Bel, does she know her? She doesn’t know either. That is strange. So, I continue on with my life. Life is too precious to be wasted. Don’t waste your time, or time will waste you.
Two weeks to Gawai, preparation is already made. People starts to slowly flocking in at Pasar Serian. There was no COVID-19 to worry about. I already took my three weeks off because I have so much days in my leave bank. My boss is also kind enough to release me until second week of June. That means I am able to go around and do some photography around Serian. Then, 10 days before Gawai, I received a last minute invitation to this wedding. The pay was good as well, I can buy a good old EX-5 with the price. As usual, I am donning my favourite all black attire for the event. The event went on as usual. I noticed someone was kept on staring at me, but I don’t give an attention to it. The person was a lady, short height of about 1.5m roughly, with a bob hairstyle. Judging from her cheongsam-like red dress and a fair white skin, I am guessing she’s a Chinese, but her star-like round brown eyes disagree with me. Filled with curiousity, I pretend to take photo at her table, to which she gladly smile, as if a cat that finally gets its long awaited fish. Normally I am glad when someone smile at me when I point the camera at them, but for her, my gut feeling tells me otherwise. I passed my card to her and she called my name – Del. That means she knows me, or probably someone told her. She introduced herself as Bindang, or in short, Inda. That strikes a bell. I do know Inda. But I never realised she will become a model-like lady. I am always curious, why she looks so familiar. Yes, her face looks exactly like Bel. But why? Bel didn’t tell me she has a twin. Even her sister doesn’t look like her.
After the dinner ends, I was about to leave when Bindang was standing at the exit, right in front of me, asking whether we can go somewhere. My mind went auto-pilot, I reject her invitation because I would need to deliver my client’s picture by the next day, as part of my promise to my client. She did not give up, and invited me again, this time with her hand on my chest. Without losing a beat, I apologise to her and told her again that I can’t go. At the back of my mind, I have no intention to go out one-on-one with someone, especially a beautiful lady like that since I already have my other half, and I need to take care of her feeling as well. I also would not want her to go out with a handsome man late at night, go to who-knows-where doing God-knows-what. She utter no words, but it is clear as day that she is deeply disappointed, but I find that baseless. My gut tells me that there must be something else that drives this, but I just can’t get a finger around it. I drove into the late of night and head back home. Sleeping was the first thing I do when I arrive back home. I was so tired.
At one of the back alley of Serian town, Bindang walks alone. She was being cat-called by naughty boys around the area, but she doesn’t pay attention to them because she knows that they are no threat. Suddenly, one of the boys, drunken, gets up and chase her. She quickly took notice and with one glance, she brought him down, crashed backwards, as if he was shot down with a powerful revolver. But she barely move her arms. They other guys saw what happened and ran away. Their motorcycle, that was in tip top condition, modified to be race worthy, suddenly refused to start. Out of nowhere, there are few strange creature coming out of the exhaust, probably of supernatural origin, that might caused that failure. The creature few off and surround Bindang, where she pets them whilst looking at the boys and gave them a devilish pretty smile. Terrified, and left with no choice, the boys ran off.
Slowly, from a distance, a tall figure approached her with a strong steady gait. She immediately recognised him as her uncle, who she called Amba Jurud, “amba” since he was her mother’s older brother. Amba Jurud noticed that she was not in the good mood, in contrast with him who was in a euphoria, and managed to have some fun with the ladies at Ibiza, before he teleported to Serian for their rendezvous, talking about the plan when stars are aligned. She told him that she did not managed to get me out that night. He didn’t say anything except wishing her luck next time. Without explaining why, he told her to complete her mission before 3rd day of Gawai, because otherwise, someone has to pay the price. That is about 13 days to go. She thanked him for the second chance, and he left, teleported back to where he came from. Anyway, for them, distance is not a matter because they can always connect using “kamang” or spirit, where they can talk in real-time, using only their thoughts after synchronising their energy pattern. A long lost technology, modern man would say.
Tension Builds: The Rejected Love
Back to my life, as a normal Bidayuh boy, I am quite occupied with my pre-Gawai life. Gawai is like a celebration for us Dayaks, be it Iban or Bidayuh. Serian town was busy as usual. I will arrive to Serian town before 6.30am because if I go later, I will not be able to pick the best portion of pork. 9 days to Gawai, while I was washing my car, I suddenly felt like someone is watching me. I looked around, but there was no one. That is strange. Usually my senses never failed me. In fact, it helped me numerous times, and saved me from danger, especially at the jungle. Be it wild animal attack, or car accident, or at work, it is as if I have a third eye behind me. In combat, that would be a huge tactical advantage. Actually, my sense is did not fail me. I sense a strange energy, for the first time, as if the sixth sense was activated by someone for no particular reason. The vibe I am feeling, is the same one that I get when Bindang was around – a charming but deadly vibe, total opposite of Bel’s energy. They might be similar in look, but oh boy, the energy. That is why I am not feeling good when she invited me out last night. I suddenly remembered about my grandfather. My mother told me to go and visit him every now and then. Our house is next to one another. Since I already completd my photography tasks, not much editing is required, I visited him. Strangely, I found him standing on the floor, in a fighting stance. I thought he was bed-ridden? The blue-ish hue enveloping him was faint, but I can sense it. That’s the first time. He was chanting some unnatural mantra when I called him. Startled, he fell back to the floor, as if he doesn’t want me to see him and continue on to his ill-state. I shouted for help, and quickly, my tayok (grandmother in Bidayuh) arrives. She gave him an earful, and that is the time every men would be grateful that they are deaf. Yes, my babai is deaf. Not sure because of the earful or of injury.
I went back home, and look who did I found there – Bindang, or Inda who was sitting on the floor like the best bride-to-be. My mother was charmed by her look and her polite manner. But I am no fool. I can sense a killing intent behind that smile – the one that is willing to do anything to get what she wants. Yes, Inda that I know is like that. Perhaps after 10 years missing, she managed to put her life into perfect pieces and now looking stunning. Perhaps learning lots of trick. After lots of talking, she then reveals her intent to come. She wants me to go with her somewhere, leaving all of this behind, including Bel. She told me we can build a new life at Spain, where her uncle is staying at Ibiza, and I can learn about flamenco and become street photographer there. Wait, I never told her about this? All we did was talking about our past life. Yes, we were close once, but after finished uni, we did not talk to each other. Also, that was the time I met Bel. My life goes on after that. She claimed that she travels a lot after Uni, meeting all the unique personnel oversea. I am pretty sure she went more than just knowing them, thus making me happier to know that we did not pursue our friendship back then to the next level.
Her invitation, while it is exciting, I cannot just leave my current life like this. And therefore, I, once again, rejected her. She did not give up, and she apologies for her wrongdoing in the past and promised to begin anew. I did not understand why there is the sudden interest in me once again, but I cannot accept it. Both of us can move on with our lives and forget we ever meet. She was not happy, and stormed through the doors. My mom who came in with the lunch was puzzled, and asked where she goes. I told her, I have no idea and I am not interested to chase after her because that would gave her false hope. I am not happy because she disrespects the fact that I have a girlfriend already.
She cried in the car, and knowing that her time is running out for that plan, she had no choice. She had to resort to the next method, by force because she knows how stubborn I can be. Before long, my grandma came to us, asking whether that did anyone came around just now because my babai was chanting something. He only does that when there is great danger around. I didn’t know what is the relation of that to Inda’s visit, but I will learn about it soon. I received a text from Inda, this time I know it’s her because she told me it was her number. She told me to get ready, because storm is coming. I thought that was a joke, but I have a bad feeling about it. For the next few days, I receive few texts from her, all with the same message, how she wanted to meet me and talk to me, but I am not sure whether it is genuine or not. So I ignore it until finally two days before Gawai, she sent a smiley with two words – be careful. I thought it was an empty message and then I move on.
Gawai and Prelude to Showtime
It was Gawai time and everyone was so happy. People visiting family and friends all around the state and no one was left behind. I was visiting my uncle’s house one day when he asked me about what happened to my babai. They also heard about babai doing those ancient thingy God-knows-what. He even mentioned about the ancient battle that took place at our village long time ago. I told him that I also heard about that story. He then shown to me an dusty old sword, that he claims belonged to the warrior that ends that battle. I laugh at it because it must be another tall tale of my uncle. He also laughs at it before switching to serious mode, and shown me the hair-strands that was used to decorate the sword. Those were the hair of the fallen warriors, he said. Astonished, I took the picture of the sword. I touched it and in that instant, I had a flashback – where I was surrounded by battle-clad warriors, which I recognised as the ancient Bidayuh warriors costume, the one that not many youngsters want to wear because of the loincloth- for them it is embarrassing. The warriors over there gave me the warrior salute and then shouting our warcry – “tara tara tara”, which was now knowns as beer-cry, shouted before drinking alcoholic beverage. Since when we were downgraded from tough warrior to pot-bellied beer-drinker? I have no idea. As I hold the sword, I felt an immense energy surging in, as if it’s waking up something in me. But out of shock, instinct-based move, I immediately released it. My uncle’s eye was smiling as he observe the incident, knowing what’s coming next, but out of courtesy, he asked me, what happened? I told him that it was nothing and I continue on with my visiting program that day. The incident felt like forever, but it was just an instant. As I drive my white Viva, I kept on getting flash back on the vision that I saw. There was one lady kept on calling me Kuyoi. Why would she call me that?
I casually WhatsApp-ed my father of that name, and he immediateley called me, asking me where did I heard that name? I told him it was from a vision that I encounter just now, though I know my babai always tell me about that story. He then typed a long story about it, which ends with – “be careful”. I just don’t get why a tall tale would end with “be careful?”. Is there something I need to know?
Without me knowing, on hill faraway, on top of a 20-storey high durian tree, there was a girl in an ancient Bidayuh cloth, smiling while holding an energy-based crystal ball, looking at me, who was clueless on what is going to happen next. Obviously she is Inda, who was then speak in a loud voice, “it’s show time”. Four invisible figures scrambles away from the tree, as if they are her four horsemen, except they are adept at jumping from trees to trees, sticking their limbs at the tree by using internal energy as the glue. She teleports away, and drones mid-air, observing the stage of the night, 5km above Pichin for a minute before vanishing out in the thin air. Her time is running out.
At Pichin’s long house, people were gathering to celebrate the first day of Gawai. Usually, 1st June is reserved for family, but for some reason, it was celebrated on 1st June this year. The merry-making goes on until morning, around 7 am if the youths are still able to go on and energetic. Otherwise, the band will stop playing music around 2am. That is why a lot of Bidayuhs like to organise their wedding ceremony at village due to low cost and there is no time limit. All you need to provide is food, drinks and band will keep on playing, with DJ playing music or karaoke whilst the band boys take their rest.
9pm that night, it was the time for YB to speak and address the Gawai-goers, and thanking them for another beautiful year, and the blessing received from God. Inda was among the crowd, looking for an opportunity to start the “show”. There is a lot of peoples there that night. The potion that Amba Jurud gave earlier during their final meeting is glowing in a blue light, just like Cherenkov radiation, except this one does not emit any gamma radiation at all. Inda learned from Amba Jurud that potion was not of this time, so that could only mean he obtained it from another plane of reality. Our five senses can only respond to physical stimuli relative to our reality, but some are gifted with the sixth sense that can detect the unknowns. During that time, I was busy taking photo of peoples at the long house. I don’t want to miss any of those moments. Too beautiful to be missed. Not to forget, the life we have are fleeting. One lost moment, forever it will gone. Time can only flow forward, or so I thought. Inda saw a group of men, drinking outside the longhouse. The longhouse was built 2m above ground. Outside of it is the place where people usually stands since they are quite shy to enter, and the “awah” or “ruai” is usually meant for people to sit and to dance. With a sleight of hand, Inda managed to drop few droplets of the blue potion into the unsuspecting, unlucky guy who was drinking tuak from his cup. Probably aided by her semi-invisibility skills, nobody noticed Inda. She quickly left and head to rendezvous with her four horsemen, which turns out to be her headhunters, or her nickname to them, Pingayu Bihis, or simply “black headhunter”. One of the Pingayu was told to go to the nearby ancient cemetery at Pingeren (old burial ground, full of old, nasty spirits) and wake them up from their long slumber. The second Pingayu was told to dive into the river, to shake the bottom, because there are some of the fallen warriors. The final two was told to barricade the village using energy so that no communication in and out can come, including there was no entry of people because she want the show to be smooth without any interruption. With the help from Amba Jurud’s, all three entry into Pichin was blocked, the road at Parun Binong (Binong Hill) suddenly had an landslide, thus cutting the connection from the south. The other two paths was flooded. Water was slowly rising, and by the time it rose around 11pm, the Gawai goers were already quite drunken and too happy to bother. The guy who drank the potion was not showing any signs, yet, as if it was waiting for the signal from Inda. I was too busy to notice, then I had a headache. As I close my eyes, I had a vision in my mind, the signal is getting stronger, and in my ears someone shouted “wake up, they are coming”. I slowly opened my eyes and looked around me, no one was around me, everyone was busy with their own business, be it joget or dancing, eating or drinking. There are some lonely girls, but it can’t be them. Far in the distance, at my uncle’s house, the ancient sword is shaking, which my uncle noticed and unsheathes while saying, “it is about time”.
The guy who drink the potion, slowly showing signs of craziness. His hand was shaking, while his eye is rolling up. In his mind, there was a clash between the evil spirit and his soul, which his soul is fighting a losing battle as his soul’s control over his body was hijacked by the evil spirit. His body’s energy was getting lower and lower, until finally when the hijack was over, he stops shaking. It is similar to the ancient technique of body control, to create a mindless soldier that will fight according to the bid of the owner. Inda saw all of this from above, for her eyesight is sharp as an eagle. She immediately took control of her first puppet, or she calls it Bujin, for he was possessed by evil spirit. It is not zombie either because he is not dead. The more sinister the Bujin’s handler are, the more evil they will become. They are no doubt the best killing machine. His friends laugh at him. Then he gave them a deadlystare – his eyes turned red – before Inda gave the command to him, “Bujin, engage”. Bujin #1 then starts to rage around the area, shouting and shouting while calling for Del. That time I was not aware, I thought it was another crazy drunken guy making some trouble, which is quite normal. RELA on-duty tried to calm him down, but since he was mind-controlled, there is no way he is going to stop. Telephatically, Inda spoke to me these words, “since you rejected me, now I am going to make you pay”. I immediately recognise that voice and the dark vibe that it emits, and to my horror, I saw it – I saw Bujin #1 that was soaked in blood, he managed to bite off the RELA guards flesh while they were trying to console him down. To make things worse, his saliva contains the blue potions, that I can see dripping from his shirt. The RELA guard, infected by blue potion, was slowly mind controlled as well, turning him into Bujin. Before the outburst of the Bujins, I immediately had this vision, “go get that sword”. I noticed it was a warm, calming voice and relaxing vibe, it was from my babai. However, before I managed to go there, there was already few Bujins around, who was stopped temporarily as they walk in front of the cross. I get the idea that those Bujins might be some possessed peoples, so I grab that cross and make my way to the nearest microphone. The band boy was no longer playing music because they were panicked as well. In a loud voice, I told them to take out any cross and probably holy water to ward of the Bujins. They crowd froze for a while, and I have to repeat myself again. Only then they took action. It was so fortunate that the night was the night of “Nantang Jule”, so the cross can be found on the “awah” (berandah). Those Bujins took notice of this, then they retreat outside for a while before they were joined together by a dark figure emerging from the river. That dark figure, with his long dark arms, hold each of the Bujin’s head, and yell some ancient, unknown words. Some of the really old people at the village heard this and she exlaimed, “mera tamang neh, bala Bujin mandug”, which translated to oh my goodness, the Bujins army are coming. The upgraded Bujins were no longer appear humanlike, because their body is emitting a black smoke from their now pale, muscular skin, and no longer has shirt, but has loincloth, their hairs are long, sharp teeth like a piranha’s teeth, and now has their fingernails are replaced with sharp claws. These Bujins look like a creature out of horror movie. They are standing outside, waiting for something.
It was 5 minutes to midnight. Inda contacted me once again, “still don’t want to give-up?” I looked up to the sky, and noticed that she was floating up high in the sky, with blood-red moon as it background, looking at me with her red eyes, pale-skinned face and long black hair. Still lovely, but now she’s the mistress of evil. There was nothing sweet about that. I realisd my heart was glowing, a bright yellow light. I was shocked to see it, I had lots of vision after that. Time moves slowly, as if the time stops. Within that moment, I saw what happened at the battle of Kuyoi – how that battle was so much similar with the Bujins before my eyes. I learned that Kuyoi was actually fighting an army of the dark warriors, the untold truth of the legend. It was then I had a vision that I was speaking to Kuyoi, to which he explained about the rival tribe have made us, the descendants of Kuyoi his sworn enemy, and not even death can end it. It can only be going on and on until the end of time, or until someone broke the chain of terror. He said only love can break the chain. He holds my hand and immediately I can feel an energy surging inside me, and that instance also I learned about the past love life of Kuyoi, where he had a girlfriend, Kumang that looks exactly like Inda, and my Bel. Kumang also have a twin sister, Kara, but Kuyoi chose Kumang over her because she is more caring than her, more of a wife material. Kumang and Kara is like Yin and Yang, the other one is angelic, while Kara is devilish. Kara went to Bukit Sematan, Pulau Sumatera and the mountain behind old Java city, to learn the ways of the ancient shaman. She rejected worldly pleasure and concentrate her inner energy to learn dark arts, one of it is body possessions through contact with the genies, which was called Bujin. Bujin’s method makes a perfect killing machine. She just have to capture peoples, then brainwash them using the Bujin technique and voila, she has an army. She then collaborated with Kuyoi’s archnemesis, Kodoi, to take down Kuyoi. The attempted few series of battle around Pichin area, but because Pichin had an elite pingayu “headhunters” that can teleport, invincible, and has strong spirit sword, they can deal with Bujin’s threat easily. Because of this, Kodoi was not happy. He gathers his elite warriors, he called Kodoi Pingayuh, the best of the best from his warriors, 10,000 strong army, to storm Kuyoi’s longhouse. However, Kuyoi has a battle plan, for the Oracle, Tayung Kolok gave him a vision in the future and he will prevail if he does the thing she advised. Kuyoi was not alone, he was supported by two wise shaman, Babuk Kolok and Babuk Botak, to deal with the spiritual warfare. Both Babuk Kolok and Babuk Botak forged an enchanted sword, called Buran Bereng to deal with the dark arts. On the day itself, Kuyoi and his team of 50 elite warriors managed to deal with the 10,000 Bujins in an all-out warfare at the place called Padang Damba, where there lies the old grave – a haunted place. However, the Bujins are still there despite the flesh decaying, waiting to be risen again by the descendents of Kara and Kodoi. Inda is the direct reincarnation of Kara, and due to that, she has the strongest spiritual force that allows her to use the Bujin spells, to create more Bujins.
In my spiritual conversation with Kuyoi, I learned that the yellow glow of energy from my heart was due to the energy of Kuyoi resonates well with me, and that in return gave me an extra energy, thus unlocking the inner energy within me, allowing me to teleport myself, using his invincibility, superhuman strength and even energy blast. But all of this can be unlocked if I have Buran Bereng sword. I told him, I know where it is, and he wished me luck. Before departing, he told me that once I unlocked his power, I can also spiritually enhance few other persons to be my warriors, four at a time. But most of it depends on my skill in playing the light-arts, the only counter to the dark arts used by Kara’s descendents. Then, slowly time moves until it went back to present speed. I learned so much in that short amount of time. But my body is still cold, the energy is yet to be unlocked. I am doomed.
Back to present time, Inda then yelled, attack! Her Bujins rushed to the longhouse, and without mercy, they slash around and attacked the people at the longhouse whilst making their way to me. Horrified, I ran away to the direction my gut feeling tells me. It tells me to run to my uncle’s house at the middle of the village, near the old hall or “Balu Damba”. I saw him there, and then I ran at my top speed. The Bujins are still terrorising the longhouse, where people are having merry making. Armed by guns, some of the people shot the Bujins. This of course only inflict minor damage to Bujin, and without mercy, Bujin stabs those innocent peoples and tossed them aside, only to be risen again as Lesser Bujins in less than a minute. Majority of the peoples ran away from Awah Gawai. The festival turns into a bloody feast, where those Bujins terrorising the town. It was only the beginning.
Bujin Strikes The Village
Seeing the people fleeing, and currently numbered 3000, the Bujins wanted to pursue the fleeing peoples, but they were stopped by Inda. Without saying anything, she instructed the Pingayu Bihis to upgrade the new Bujins into battle-ready attire because they want to wage a war. From the distance, the earth was shaking as if there was a huge army coming. Indeed, an army came, army of darkness, where Pingayu Bihis leads the army of the undead, numbering in 5000. From the look of it, those are the general infantry of the ancient warriors, wielding long swords and a shield, made from “tahas” a thick wood of Borneo rainforest. There from the river, another group of undead rose from the depths of the river. These group are properly armored, with their body made from thick calcium material, enough to nullify a direct sword attack from a normal infantry. Their other hands is their dangerous claws, their secret weapon, inspired by the crabs of the depths. The eyes of these Bujins are red. In total, there are 10000 in total.
Once gathered, Inda gave them an instruction to find Del and bring him to her – dead or alive. The Bujin shouts loudly before they marched slowly to the village, killing anyone on their paths. Their first victims were the peoples at the longhouse, no one was spared. It was a terrifying sight. The night of merry-making turns into a massacre, all due to rejected love. But there are more story to it, more than just being rejected.
Back to my story, I was about to grab the sword when someone dashed in panic and knocks the sword from my uncle’s hand. I struggled to get it back without being trampled by the oncoming peoples rushing away from the Bujins. Bujin did no move fast, but there are cruel and brutal. They are beyond redemption, and there is no way to defeat without killing them, to cut their head like how headhunters do. Pingayu Bihis noticed that I was trying to wield Buran Bereng, then he shot me from afar with his blowpipe. I fell down and I screamed in pain. It was a terrible pain, but I am still alive, except the injury at my right leg. I was unable to stand-up, then he jumped up high in the sky and land his left leg directly on top of my chest. I was supposed to be dead due to that injury, but thanks to the glow that was activated before it hits me, I survived. I am no longer in control of my body, my vision is getting blur and finally it fades to white.
The peoples around me saw the sword Buran Bereng flies to my hand, as if is being attracted to my hand in near-death experience. In that split second that seems to last forever, I transformed into a warrior, closely resembling Kuyoi, the one that I met in my vision. Moonlight that night turns into white, and it beams upon me. I was enveloped in blue aura, weilding a sword and a shield at my back. I saw Pingayu Bihis right in front of me, looking puzzled at my transformation. Probably he was wondering, from where did I get such strength. I am also not sure myself. Once the transformation completed, I hovers in place for a while, as if I had the ability to float in the sky. I looked straight into the eye of Pingayu Bihis, I only saw darkness. But he can’t stand my sight and stepped back. Before he even moved, I punched him in the face, cracking his mask, and it was revealed that he was only bones, moved by the spirit of hatred. But the damage he inflicted was real. Again, time stops as I receive another transmission from my babai. He was awake the whole time, observing us through his force field. He told me to quickly dispatch the undead using my sword. With a swing of my sword, I managed to down around 50 Bujins. It was a powerful sword indeed, and I am yet to master my movements.
I noticed that some of the spears came flying to me, to which I dodged easily. With an energy blast, I managed to create a big hole that swallows the Bujin, thus buying me sometime to reinforce my force.
I quickly gathers a group of 50 able bodied men, and told them my plan to strike back. They were hesitant at first, but since time is running out, I asked them to form a circle while holding hands. I then transferred some of my spiritual energy to them, empowering them with my energy and in that instance, transforming them to become my warriors to fend off the Bujin. I told them to hold the ground and help to protect the peoples while I teleport to the longhouse. When I arrived there, I noticed that almost all of the peoples there fell victim to the Bujins tyranny and brutality. It was such a sad sight. These Bujins are not also brutal, but they are hungry as well, and they feast on human flesh. I can’t imagine the horror that I saw for it only angers me. I am sad, and I cried profusely because I know they only came there to have some fun, not to become the food of Bujin. I saw one familiar tiny little shoe, and I know to it belongs to. I didn’t expect him, so young and so little, with life full of hope but ended up becoming food of the Bujin. Out of anger and sadness, I shout my lungs out and dashed back to the village in a speed of light. I slashed Bujins that I encounter along the way.
My body is full of energy, and I am angry, that I know I can take down anyone there. Quickly, I counted the Bujins in front of us, they are only numbered 3000. That means there are some more around the village, terrorising the village. I told 10 of my warriors to scout around while we hold of the majority of the Bujins. The 3000 made some noise in front, that we forgot the Bujins are also coming from the back, stealthily, We lose sight of them, but then we have to fight even though we are outnumbered. The surviving peoples, numbered by around 3000 are severely injured as well, and unable to fight. They were guided to the nearest hall by my warriors, where my warriors tried to defend them from the outside. The hall was surrounded by trees and a field, thus making it easy for us to dispatch off the Bujins using guerrilla method. The first wave lasted until 2am. It was only few hours to daylight.
The Battle of Pichin:
The Bujins came slowly and surround the hall. My warriors found some of them sneaking at other peoples houses, but I can easily kill them off thanks to my teleport ability and I am able to sense my remaining team. However, suddenly, there was a huge tremor at the land. I looked in the distance and I saw one huge creature emerging from the river. I am pretty sure it was large. Telephatically, Babai told me it was Kidumbak, the ancient creature of terror, the one that causes the flood when it pees into the river. Seems like Inda is bringing all of the ancient creatures of terror into life. Or perhaps she was out of idea. I brought four of my warriors to fight it off. The first round was easy because it has soft thick skin. But then it was revived by Inda, and this time, with some upgrade, thicker armour-like skin. It took us some time to figure out the weak connections between the armour. We used that weak connection to kill it off and before it was even resurrected, we destroys its head using an energy blast from our hands.
Far in the distance, I heard one scary sound, it was the sound of death, the sound that was being made by the graveyard owl, the one that signifies death in Bidayuh culture. Then, I noticed there was a dark, huge figure flying at the sky. It was Sikuang, the bird of death. It rained death upon us, for those who touched it will immediately die. The Bujin was impacted, but as long as the magic is still active, Bujin will not die. I unleashed my inner levitation ability, and fights off Sikuang. The battle was complicated because Sikuang is agile and I am not used to fight in the sky, but I noticed, with every battle, I am getting better with my combat skills. Sikuang was finally defeated by my energy blast, that I shot in surprise because it did not expect someone would teleport beneath its soft belly. Poor bird. It came crashing down to the pool of Mang Iri.
Suddenly, there was a strong light shining from a distance and the shining figure flies toward me, before stopping. It was Inda. She asked me whether I like the game or not. Angrily, I told her, killing innocent people is not a game. It is a massacre. She just laugh it off, a response befitting a queen of terror. She told me, that is how the battle between Kara and Kuyoi was. I am not surprised when she told me that. I want to end it immediately, so I dashed towards her. Her Pingayu Bihis jumps in front of me, trying to stop me from my tracks. The it began the battle of Pingayu Bihis and Reincarnated Kuyoi.
Initially it was a sword duel between four to one, but in the end, it was just mixed martial art combat. It was not easy to fight the undead, especially when every now and then Bujin will come and interrupt our duel, which I can dispatch easily with my energy blast. So far, the Bujins did not make any move to the hall because of my warriors are guarding it. My other warriors managed to kill off the Bujins that are terrorising the village.
Exhausted, I muster all of my energy to finish off the last Pingayu Bihis. It worked! However, the spirits of Pingayu Bihis combined and formed an even stronger Pingayu. I am shocked to see it. They are even scarier than before. They spoke in four tones, as if they are four-in-one warrior. I am not scared of you, I told them. We fought, but then we interrupted by Inda telling me to give up and join her. In that moment she told me why all of this happens, telepathically to my mind. It was because she wants to obtain the spirit of Kuyoi that resides in me, which is the key to unlock the strongest power mortal can ever achieve. She has the dark side of the energy, thanks to Kara, while I have the light side of the energy. Together, they are undefeated. She then continue on that Amba Jurud, is a direct descendant to Kodoi, thus making them the perfect duo to collaborate for their desired goal. While were are it, she then confessed that she is actually the biological twin to Bel, which is surprising because Bel doesn’t know either. It was later revealed that they were separated at birth, even without Bel’s parents knowing. That explains why they look so similar. Because of the white aura that Bel emits, that actually makes me attracted to her more than to Inda, the emitter of dark aura. No wonder feel disgusted when I sense the killing intent earlier on.
I cut the chatter and told her I want to end this, once and for all. She agrees, and she told me to meet at the old war ground, where Kuyoi fought Kodoi’s warrior long time ago. Then, they vanished. I looked at my warrior, now numbering only 39, because the other 11 was killed in action, thanks to those Bujins. I look at the survivors, and I noticed my cousins are there: Didoi, Rangew, Togi, Pau, Cibam, Angap, Jobian, Baby. I did not feel KP just now, but I can sense her energy in a distant away, along with Leled and Cicisa. I was relieved. I told my cousins to hold my arm because I want to share my energy. Probably in response to the Kuyoi’s DNA in us, each of them has their own unique ability. The most useful one is Rangew with his high-speed move, Didoi with superhuman strength and the rest has some mix in between speed and strength. Togi, Pau and Cibam has healing ability.
Once we are ready, all healed up, we head to the final battle field. When I passed by the longouse, now painted in blood red, I took some of the blood and use it to write some ancient script on the ground. I summoned the Death Angel, hoping to revive them back. But it was too late. None of them are able to be revived, but they are at a better place now, far from the pains of the earth.
At the final battle ground, I bring my team of 48 including myself to the team of 7000, where the other 3000 was killed prior to that. Among the 7000, there are 100 elite warriors that we need to be careful with. I share my energy with my team, but it seems that is the last time I can share it with them. I have to end this battle quickly. My team of 48 was not the best fighter, but because they are going to avenge their fallen loved ones, they are willing to die. Among them I saw some familiar faces such as Gugik, Alen, Oni, Pusik, Teten, Adum, Tata, Kubil, Utui, Ricoi, Ijon, Pakeng, Braud, Calis and the sumo Bidayuh, Abang. We don’t care what will happen, but we will prevail. With the warcry of Tara, Tara, Tara, returning our fighting spirit instead of beer-drinking chant, we charge towards the 7000. The 7000 marched slowly towards us. They might be fast, but we have on upper hand because we have Buran Bereng, the magical sword. Inda noticed that and she summons the magical creature called Mirahak to steal the sword from me. I fought valiantly, but her minions managed to snatched it away from me. She broke it into two. Our morale dropped, but we still fight ferociously. I was disheartened, but realising what is at stake, I do not want to give up easily. I am bruised, I am scarred, I am hurt, but I will not give up. Subconsiously, knowing what is at stake, it awoke the final form of Kuyoi in me, the one that trancends the power given by Buran Bereng to me. With that new-found energy, we managed to reduce the force from 7000 to 1000. Form that 1000, it was not an easy fight because they are the elites of Inda. It took us a long while to battle, until the cock crows, signifying daylight. That is when we are leading. But Inda, being a smart lady, she reversed the time and returns the time to 4am. We were not so lucky. With one last push, we managed to kill them off until finally only Inda left. But there was a huge price to pay. Out of 48, only 9 survives including me, the one that carries the blood of Kuyoi.
Epilogue: Gawai Resumes
When cornered, Inda told me she loves me and the usual stuff. I put an energy sword at her neck and asked her to reverse the time to earlier that night, restores back the life of the people that was lost, erase their memories of all this, when none of this happens. She refused initially because it is too hard to her to do. But I forced her. Then, with her last remaining energy, she used it to redeem herself. She fells to the ground and out of the blue, Bel appears, caught her before she touches the ground. I looked in the distance, the village was restored. The red barrier that covers the village was removed. Inda looks so tired, because the ritual took a lot of her energy. Bel gave her something to eat, thus restoring her energy, but not her power. She lost her power, and now she is a normal person. It seems like the one that was not affected by the time reversal was only me, Bel and Inda. We were left on an empty field, the place where the final battle took place, but now is an empty land, untouched. Bel told me that she suddenly has a power surge probably due to her connection with Inda, which she learns that she is her twin sister. Inda told Bel that she likes me, to which Bel mentioned, don’t be ridiculous, he’s mine. I cannot help but to laught hearing that. However, our joy was cut short when I was caught by surprise by Amba Jurud, who was devastated to know his plan did not work. It was his plan all along. Amba Jurud then came from the sky like a rocket-powered bird, his falcon-like winds, and stab my chest with his dagger. Due to the impact, I fell to the ground but I managed to rise up and pull his dager. Luckily, it did not hit the vital spot. Armed with the newly activated power, I am ready to fight Amba Jurud as the Gawai song was playing in the background by band Paluh Japon, Pichin’s popular band.
Bring it on, Jurud!
To be continued…
Note: Claudius Weson is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All of the images and story on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Story and images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.
Today is Saturday, an opportunity to rest and to have a fun with family and friends, as well as to pursue your passion, whatever it might be. Sarawak is a land of beautiful places and peoples, consisting of many ethnics, especially Dayaks – Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulus. For this edition, I have the opportunity to work with three beautiful ladies from my village, Kampung Pichin of Serian Division.
Dayung means girl/woman in Bidayuh language, shared between Bukar-Sadong (Serian), Padawan and even Bau area. “Bi-” prefix means “belongs” or “of the”. In this case, Bi-Pichin means “from Pichin”, just like how Bidayuh obtain its name, meaning “People of the Land”, which is why James Brooke and friends called Bidayuh “Land Dayak”.
As a disclaimer, featured in this post is only three out of many beautiful ladies of Pichin. On July previously, I collaborated with ladies from Kpg Riih Daso for a similar photoshoot, except this time we are not using traditional garments. That one is reserved for another edition.
Venue: Pichin “Utak Pait” Waterfall
Pichin area is blessed with a lot of natural resources, which includes complex of limestone caves at the foot of Lenge Kiburan or even the Karu river. The venue of choice today is the old water reservoir for Pichin, used to supply fresh upriver water to the villages until it was decommissioned, following the proper water supply by Sarawak government. Utak Pait is now a popular venue for BBQ because it is a place where you can some fun with family and friends.
I remember when I was in Primary School, we love to go here with the Soo Bahk Do team, where we will have a lot of fun time playing tag at the slippery area, including the waterfall area since our tag has no rules. You can literally run around the area. It is tough for the one chasing though.
In terms of photographer’s point of view, Utak Pait is a it is a well-shaded area, and it has plenty of good soft light, which is good for portraiture if you wish to do so. That is what I am doing in this post.
Also, I have a strong preferences to do photoshoot outdoor, to showcase the beauty of the surroundings, especially of Sarawak, our Motherland. Just like how the land of four seasons photographer is proud of their natural landscape, so am I proud of the rainforest and its monsoon or dry season (I don’t like haze, it is not part of the script).
In this photoshoot, I am using my favourite gears for mobile outdoor photography, my Leica M10-P black and APO-Summicron 50mm and my lighting of choice is as usual the Profoto B10 and octa-light modifier, because it is portable and easy to handle.
50mm angle has been my favourite because it creates the look that I have grew to like and love. However, not just any 50mm. APO-50 is not called the best 50mm for nothing. The colour that it created is unique, and it is the look that I really look forward to have. Having tried few Leica 50mm before, the only one that can challenge the colour of APO-50 is Noctilux 50. Out-of-camera, Summicron and Summilux 50’s colour is lacking of that “ummph”. APO-50 and Noctilux 50 is just nice. I love it.
If you ask any photographer, when given the chance, what would you upgrade? Camera body or lens? Mostly will go for lens upgrade, because body will be upgraded every year. Lens, are not. For Leica, it will take a decade to upgrade a new lens, while the camera is much more frequent than that. Leica SL2 is out, and Monochrom M10 is coming next year. Let’s see how it goes.
As mentioned earlier, in the venue section, it is at the waterfall area, where its surrounding is quite wet and caution has to be exercised, because it has a lot of slippery surfaces, thanks the growth of moss patches (lumut) on the rock, especially after rain falls, turning the fun-looking area into one big hazardous zone.
Apart from the already wet area, the weather is also not very supportive due to the monsoon season. It rains multiple time throughout the photoshoot. Luckily we are well-prepared with out rain protection, though the unexpected downpour caught us by surprise while we are in the zen mode of the photoshoot.
The photoshoot which was initially planned to be dry, turns to be wet. Therefore, we improvise. I quickly remembered the image that Priscilla, founder of Divabiz Ambassadorz, sent to me. So, I tried it out. Luckily, the ladies are also supporting.
After the photoshoot session, it is time to call it a day.
This section is for Tania, who has a quite a number of experience doing photoshoot, feels at ease in front of the lens. I do not have to tell her what to do, she instinctively does her pose. All I need to is to ensure the composition and the lighting is correct.
Shania doesn’t have any experience with photoshoot like this. However, her fair complexion and tall figure makes her a good candidate for a photoshoot.
Just like Shania, Samilla also has no experience with photoshoot. However, that doesn’t stop her from joining the fun.
I always hear from lots of my female friends that they are not good in front of camera. However, it is not true. I believe that disbelief and lack of confidence came from social conditioning, where they always compared themselves with a better-looking personnel, physically; or even in their own family where they have a better looking siblings. With the right angle and lighting, as well as timing, you can look your best. That is the trick that many selfie-lovers knows really well. Sometimes, when you arrive at a certain place, you felt that the lighting is truly good. You can literally feel like you can take the aura. That means you will be able to create great selfie using your camera.
You can look your best in your camera. All you need to do is to trust the photographer.
I do acknowledge that I am also still learning to improve my techniques especially in playing with light and bring out the best in my subjects. However, the thing that I really appreciate and love is the satisfaction that I get when I see the final images, and my client also shares the same appreciation. It is a good feeling indeed, and I would say, one way to make life more interesting aside from taking care of mental health.
Thank you for ladies, Tania, Shania and Samilla as well as Tukang Lampo, Fifi for making today’s photoshoot a success. Kudos to all of you for staying cheerful and bright despite the moody and gloomy sky. Let’s work again next time.
Your Tukang Rantek, Claudius Weson Instagram: claudiuswesonphotography (for B&W works)
Note: Claudius Weson is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.
All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.
Previously I have written about the ladies working offshore, in my Dayung Laut-related postings. This time, I want to write about a profession so close to our heart, teachers. Featured in this session are five teachers from Serian’s area, all from Bidayuh ethnics, same like mine. Therefore, to make the photoshoot today special, these ladies wore Bidayuh traditional attire.
Venue: Ranchan Waterfall
But first, let’s talk about the venue. Back at Miri, I my venue of choice is Miri Public Park or Tanjung Lobang because those are the place that I think is beautiful at Miri, unless my client requests for a different venue, perhaps at Tusan cliff or even Canada Hill. Those are among the inconic places at Miri peoples.
Since this time I am at Serian, the photoshoot is done at the famous Serian Ranchan waterfall, a place where many families come to wind down during the weekend, or even young lovers from Serian to have their first date. Usually it is quiet, especially during weekdays because not many people are available. That means it is a good time for photoshoot, especially when all I need is as little interruption as possible.
In this photoshoot, I am using my favourite gears, my Leica M10-P black and APO-Summicron 50mm and my lighting of choice is as usual the Profoto B10 and octa-light modifier, because it is portable and easy to handle. I have a Summilux 21, but it ended up in my bag most of the time because I just love 50mm focal length.
My advise is, if you want to buy these kind of items, be it Profoto or Leica, don’t talk about it to someone else and just go buy it. Otherwise, if you delay it, you will not be buying because 1) you will talk yourself out of it, or 2) someone else will, or 3) you will use that capital for something else. Either way, just don’t be a victim of G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome). Just buy the thing that can last a long time. In that way, you will buy that item and will not waste long hours reading reviews, which is an even greater loss because unlike money, time cannot be gained back.
There is something about Leica that I am always passionate to tell about to others. For me, I just love to be part of the history of Leica. Period. Of course, there is a lot of camera gears out there that comes with its own bells and whistles, that can do ultra-fast frame rate, that has blazing speed auto-focus, but none can give the experience that my Leica M gave. Only Leica can fill the vacuum in every Leica M shooters. That probably is another reason why I never bought any SL because all I want is an M. For me, M9 is good. I love the colour. However, after 10 years, it requires an upgrade. Having skipped M240, I opt for M10 instead. I never regretted it. It is like an M9 on steroid, with a permanent effect. M cameras are small too. It is dicreet enough to be carried here and there. Some might argue point and shoot like Ricoh GRIII is the best, but for me, M gave the best experience. To each their reasons, I do love my M.
The thing about using a manual camera, or any other camera, we need to teach our camera how do we see the final images. Our perception has an auto-correction that is done real time, such as auto-colour temperature adjustment, auto aperture control or even auto-ISO control, which makes our eye as the best photography tool ever existed, and inspired the birth of many cameras. That is why we do final touch-up in our post-processing, because, for various reasons, the camera did not managed to produce the image that we see in our mind. Hence, need to tweak it a little bit. But not too much though, otherwise it will look fake.
The photoshoot today is challenging because none of these teachers are professional or have an awareness in modelling. Nevertheless, I used my experiences thanks to my previous collaborations with Divabiz Ambassadorz led by Priscilla, Christy and friends, and Trisha. One thing to note is to warm up the environment first, which is why ice breaking is a must and a necessary part to do. It may look trivial, but it is important. Otherwise, the session would be a long one, and none of you guys are comfortable with the session. It is called Relativity Theory. You can ask Mr Einstein about it. Thankfully, the session went smoothly and no mishap occurs.
Interviews with the Teachers
Throughout the photoshoot also I managed to interview these teachers. This is to enable me to understand more about these teachers. In case you are wondering, I choose teacher’s today because I felt like I want to write something fresh from the working level. All this while, there are a lot of opinions voiced from the teachers, but one thing I notice, it is from the teachers from the urban area, since it is the most accessible to lots of mass media. Of course, for mass media, I would want to find something that is relevant for me and will fetch a high market due to its popularity. However, that means the teachers from rural area are being left out. As a product of rural areas, I felt like these teachers teaching at rural areas also should be heard.
For me, teacher has been a profession that is close to my heart because there is a lot of stories that can be related to it. Out of many teachers, the one that I can really call a great teacher is Cikgu Julia, a Sabahan lady, teaching at SMK Tebakang. I always wonder, why her accent sounds different. Back then, I had no exposure at all to Sabahans, and therefore I had no idea. All my life, I am surrounded by Bidayuhs. It was only when I left my village to got to Labuan I do realise, that is how Sabahan sounds like. It is a unique accent indeed. I also realised, my ways of pronunciation is somewhat similar to theirs, albeit strong Bidayuh accent (aga kai boh).
Probably next time I pay a visit to SMKT to meet Cikgu Julia once again. Her name is also the main character in Nineteen Eighty-four: Julia and Winston – two lovers that was doomed to be separated due to the military state led by the ever-watching, ever-observing Big Brother.
First Teacher: Beppy
The first teacher to be interviewed is Beppy Stella anak Girim from Kpg Paon Gahat. She is a Bachelor’s Degree holder with Honours in Education (Counselling). She has 9 years teaching experiences. According to her, the biggest challenge that she faces thoughout her career is when dealing with students, colleagues and the community around the school. It requires her to be adaptable as each has their own package of attitudes. Also, another challenge that she thing is worth to highlight is the additional tasks and surprise assignments given unto her. No speciifc name was mentioned but it is worth to note that being a teacher doesn’t mean everything that is written in the job description will get to be done.
Her advise for those who wants to take up the teaching profession is to be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally. It demands the best from each individuals to be an educator nowadays, so unlike the yesteryear teachers. Also, there is a need to draw a line between personal and working life, which can be blended due to unavoidable reasons. Those who want to be a teacher also should have a high curiosity, always learn and don’t be shy when facing difficulties in completing an assignment. A teacher-to-be also has to be jack of all trades, and can do various tasks, apart from the one mentioned in the job description.
True to her look, she is a passionate make-up artis. Do check out her Instagram account, @muasbg, which is her passion.
Her life’s motto is everything is a choice. Be grateful and never give-up because great thing takes time.
Second Teacher: Malisa
The second teacher to be interviewed is Malisa Catriona anak Asan, holder of Bachelor’s Degree. In Education (Literature) from USM, majoring in Malay language. Coming from Kpg Slabi (and her father from Kpg Bengoh, Padawan, that makes her a Biatah), she has 12 years’s experience, and currently teaching at SMK Gedong.
According to her, among the key challenges faced are the requirement for teacher to master a lot of field and not to lose track of the development in education issue or policy, brought upon by the 21st Century educational wave. She also pointed that teacher are still doing clerk’s job that takes up a lot of valuable times until it disrupts the teaching process. Apart from that, teachers nowadays are faced with social and discipline issues that originates from the explosion of limitless world of information, where everything, be it good or bad, are simply a click away, thanks to smartphone or gadgets. Lastly, she mentioned that there is a borderless on-duty timing, where teachers has to teach, and at the same time be part of the commitee members when there is a program at school, since the key thing is to save cost.
Her advise to person who is taking up teaching profession is to prepare physically and mentally, with the assignment that was not even being taught in university classroom. The person also has to be highly adaptable with the community that consists of students, parents, and people that lives around the school.
Malisa is a Freelance (ZIN) Zumba Instructor. You can find her at Zumba.Com and follow her IG , mellyscat.
Her life motto is “you can’t stop the wave, but you can learn to surf”.
Third Teacher: Ginny
The third teacher to be interviewed is Virginy anak John Burung, holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Technology, from UTM Skudai, whom has been teaching for 8 years, with current school of SMK Gedong, just like Malisa. She is from Kpg Temong Mura, Tebedu.
Among the challenges that she faced at school are the ever-increasing workload other than base-load, e.g. school shop teacher, dormitory warden, society advisor teacher, and doing all of the clerk works. She also mentioned that teacher also has to be able to adapt to the globalisation-related waves, including the usage of all new gadgets in teaching process, aside from the ever-changing education system. Apart from those, she points out about the Student Development Processes that each teacher has to take care of, which includes doing post-mortem everytime there is an internal examination of public examination. Teachers are often being blamed if the student did not achieve school target. Also, she mentioned that teachers has to face more and more students that has gradually lose respect to teachers, unlike the good ol’ yesteryears.
Because of these issues, she advised that teachers’ to be must be prepared mentally and physicallly and has to be multi-tasking as well has a high patience level.
She is a mother and a wife of a beautiful family. For her, family is everything. Her life’s motto is to stay positive. The things you are praying and hoping for tends to arrive at the most unexpected moments.
Fourth Teacher: Mobory
The fourth teacher to be interviewed is Mobory, or simply Bory from Kpg Munggu Kupi, Serian. She is a graduate from IPG Tun Abdul Razak Campus and has 6 years teaching experiences. Currently she is teaching at SK Sg Rimu.
Behind the ever-cheerful face, there lies a story about the challenges that she faced, including ever-increasing and changing workload, changing education systems, society viewpoint on teachers and lastly, diminishing respect to teachers, especially from the younger generations.
Because of this, she advised that whoever is taking up the teaching profession to be always love their career, sincere in giving knowledge to the students, prepare to face various challenges and always be patient.
She believed that God will not test us beyond our limit. Therefore, learn to appreciate and be thankful becasue we only live once.
Fifth Teacher: Patricia
The last teacher to be interviewed here is Patricia, or simply Pat, a teacher at SMK Tebakang, teaching Chemistry, who is a holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Education (Chemistry) from UTM Skudai. Coming from Kpg Riih Mawang, she has been teaching for 8 years.
Thoughout those years, she has been facing a lot of challenges, namely the various attitudes of the community. Not everyone is angel, or demons. Aside from teacher’s baseload, teacher has to do miscellaneous work such as special tasks, sports and clerk works. To form a student is another challenge of its own. She also pointed out that sometimes she work beyond 8 hours, especially during examination times.
Therefore, for the teacher’s-to-be, she told them to be prepared mentally, physically and spiritually. There is always a need to be an excellent multi-tasker and a jack-of-all-trades. They also need to be able to adapt quickly to the surrounding, including students and colleagues. A teacher in the future also has to have a good general knowledge, while at the same time good in own major subject, e.g. Chemistry. Most importantly, love your job. Love is the best motivator.
Taking off teacher’s mantle, she is a Zumba Instructor, and you can find her IG: patricia_pete. She believed that we should always be grateful and embrace the bad and good things that happen in life. Do your best and let God do the rest. Be humble and kind always.
With the interview from Cikgu Pat, that marks the end of the interview session. The rest of the session was only photoshoot that takes place around Ranchan area. The photoshoot, as usual, draws attention from Ranchan-goers, but it is to be expected because there is only a few occasion you will see ladies wearing Bidayuh traditional dress. ALl of the teachers that I have intereviewed are Bidayuh, but that doesn’t mean that the theme are not applicable. In fact, the things that they have said are real, and every teachers across the nation shares the same challenges and dilemma. However, that should not be stopping us from trying to do our best to contribute to the betterment of the nation. We can do our part, no matter what our profession is. But I think all of us can agree that teacher’s of various education level played a big role in our knowledge-gathering processes. With that, let’s give them a virtual three cheers for these teachers. Tara Tara Tara!!!
Special Thanks: Lady Starlight
Thank you to my cousin, Tania for becoming my lighting lady for today. Without your help, the photoshoot will not be a success.
Your Tukang Rantek, Claudius Weson
Note: Claudius Weson is a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.
All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.