Miri Division Gawai 2023: Rehearsal Edition

Tabi basa & greetings everyone. Today I’d like to share the pictures that I’ve captured during Miri Division Gawai Rehearsal session at Meritz Hotel, Miri. I am glad that I am able to meet my friends as well as making new ones during this session. 

This rehearsal session was done in preparation for the upcoming Miri Division Gawai (MDG) Celebration, an annual event, that is planned this coming Saturday, 20 May 2023, which includes the three main groups: Iban, Bidayuh & Orang Ulu community. 

Just for information, Orang Ulu (a Sarawak-specific term) consists of Kenyah, Kayan, Kelabit, Kajang groups (including Kejaman, Sekapan & Lahanan), Saban, Punan, Ukit/Bukitan, Sebop, Penan etc, which is best reserved for another topic.

This rehearsal itself was the first time everyone involved with 17th Edition of MDG gather together for one big, complete, rehearsal session at Meritz.

Upon my arrival there, I met Lawrence Sinel & Jiner. I met Martin Dinil & Dr Mary Chalang (but didn’t managed to capture their image). There were involved with MDG too, as part of Iban community representatives. Then I met Allen, where we looking for the other dancers too. 

Lawrence Sinel, DBNA Miri Branch’s Treasurer

After a while, both of us met them sitting somewhere inside the venue. We met Trisha inside, including Dayung Sangon participants. I only know Tania, for she did quite a number of photoshoots with me before, but I was quickly acquainted with the other dayungs, including Cynthia, Barbara, Naomi (the last time I met her, she was still a small girl) and Daniella. 

Rachel, the other contestant, was probably elsewhere during this time. 

I met Venezia, Capt Bernard Idit aka Bai & Cikgu Belinda (Lawrence Sinel’s wife) too. Then came Nancy, the ever-happy-go lucky lady. She automatically pose for the camera. 

But Nancy cannot beat Jill’s energy. That lady is so funny. She’s one of the very few person who actually recognises the camera that I am using.

Since this year Bidayuh community leads the event, Capt Bai leads the rehearsal, by following the program.

Capt Bai commencing the rehearsal. Mr Richard Wonder, Master of Ceremony can be seen smiling widely.

We took the opportunity to rehearse our dance performance as we only will have one-shot during this evening. While we were dancing outside, the Bidayuh gong-beaters aka band boys also prepared their gears. Wilson Tigus, staring Bi-Jenan, also was present, seemingly happy & enjoying his offday. 

Wilson Tigus, Staring Bi-Jenan

Fedawin, another oil & gas Bidayuh, also can be spotted at the event venue. 

Fedawin, Harapan Nusa dan Bangsa.

The dancers were having a good time practiting. Allen and I had a random duel, dancing to the beat by gong-beaters whilst shouting tara-tara-tara, a Bidayuh’s cheer. 

Chestern, Davlyn & Darvyn were stretching up, but they still need to dance lower. Yes, get low as possible to emphasis the movement of an eagle for Rejang Beuh. Anyway, they are heading for the right direction as not many Bidayuh youths are interested in this kind of dancing activities nowadays.

For a while, the crowd was captivated by the Grand Entrance of Dayung Sangon / Keligit Orang Ulu / Kumang Iban & Keling-Belawan 2023 Finalists. I want to take more pictures, but we were being summoned to the backstage in preparation for our dance. 

And dance we did. 

It was a quick one. Before that, there was a confusion, who should enter from which side. Kinda funny, when you think about it.

After that dance, we were told to stay idle at the seat whilst waiting for further announcement. But that announcement never came. Instead, I took the opporunity to take more pictures.



I took a few pictures of those Dayung Sangons, creating our own mini photoshoot session at the hall, whilst everyone else were looking at us. But we had fun, therefore there were no regrets.


Some of the Orang Ulu community members can’t help but to ask me about my feeling regarding 2021 incident (for those who know, they know). I told them, it was a really big surprise. As if I was looking at a clear, blue, sky, expecting everything to be fine, when suddenly, the asteroid appears from nowhere & destroys everything. 

Almost-extinction level event.

Luckily, OUNA & Dato Abu Bakar Belarek came to the rescue, thanks to Dorothy as well. They helped to save the day. Not to forget Kak Dayang too.

Instead of it becoming a private Tukang Rantek’s event, it became OUNA’s event. I am okay with that because it was the best choice at that time. I was entrusted to organise not one, but two OUNA events, where the first one being PPPOU (Pertandingan Personaliti Popular Orang Ulu) and PBOU (Pertandingan Belian Orang Ulu). 

It was a great success.

All of the prizes were sponsored by OUNA. It was a good experience though. Helps to improve my communication skills too. I get to know lots of new, kind-hearted peoples. I am always passionate about public speaking & story-telling. Now, via my blog or sometime as an emcee, whenever my service are required.


After that chat also I had a mini photoshoot with Keligit finalists, including Counsellor Romulus Agan. It has been a long time since I last met this bro. 

Bro (Cr.) Romulus
With finalists of Keligit. Too bad didn’t manage to capture the Keling-Belawan & Kumang finalists due to their tight schedule.

I wish I had more time shooting these Keligits, but the emcee, Mr Richard Wonder calls for them to the stage to continue with the rehearsal. 

Since most of these contestants were being called to the stage & will be busy, I decided to head back home. 

As mentioned to these peoples, this would be the only picture that I took of them since the official event would have its own official photographer. From one photographer to another, I will honour this arrangement.

As I went home, I met these peoples, including Shoma Pitos.


When I look at these finalists, I realise one thing. It is not  easy to achieve whatever we wanted. It has to be accompanied with continuous, consistent effort. 

Amat Victoria Curam”

Amat Victoria Curam means “victory loves preparation” in Latin language.

You can’t have a good, body shape overnight. As far as our present dau technology is concerned, that’s not possible.

Also, in order to get a good voice, like Waynard & Sapphira, you have to train your vocal. You have to condition it such that it is able to hit those high notes effortlessly. It’s not easy to sing using head voice, mixed voice whilst maintaining your chest voice’s timbre.

It is going to be a tough, long journey. Most of the time, when you are just starting out, no one will bat an eye towards you. 

You will be on your own. As long as you are down there in the hierarchy, you cry, you weep, you drown in tears alone at night until you fell asleep – you won’t be seen save for the closest one to you. 

The journey upward is  not easy. Hence, I can’t emphasis how important it is for you to love the journey towards your desired destination. 

Enjoy the journey, for it is where the happiness lies. That is the most certain thing in life.

For example, I do B&W because I like it. If I were to impress anyone, I would shoot in colour and show the kind of images that the like. I might earn few likes. But does that makes me happy inside? No, it doesn’t.

I like slightly contrasty B&W images, just like what you are seeing here. I do actually do shoot in colour, but only if I am being commissioned to do so, on special occassion. Otherwise, B&W it is.

Why choose to ordinary when you have the option to be different?

I also like to share stories like this. I doubt people will read it though, but will it stop me? No. I find it to be a fulfilling practice. It won’t matter now. It won’t matter in a year or two. But in few decades’t time, it might matter.

If you generate happiness based on the number of social media acknowledgements that you have (or Followers / Subscribers / Likes), then you are actually jeopardising yourself. 

Do what you love most, with peoples that you do. 

When you feel not appreciated, always remember, find the right circle. Just because someone can’t see your worth doesn’t mean that you are worthless.

That’s all for now. Stay safe & take care.

Tukang Rantek,
Claudius (Del)


error: © Claudius Weson (2017 - 2023). All rights reserved.