Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 4th Borneo International Kite Festival 2008

The field crew helping to float this big “Blue Bear” kite.

FRIENDSHIP: Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Michael Manyin presenting a plaque to a kite enthusiast from China.

RARING TO GO: Local and international participants waiting for the kite-flying display to get underway.

ALMOST DONE: Participants adding final touches to the designs of their wau (kite) at the kite workshop booth.

WHAT’S UP: French kite enthusiast, Pouil-laude Fred talking to thesundaypost. At right is his son, Leo.

PLENTY OF INTEREST: A busy scene at the kite booth.

KIWI STYLE: A stunt kite performer from New Zealand.

THE JOKER: Participants from peninsular Malaysia flying their “The Joker” kite.

ORIGINAL: Azman with his custom-made kite.

ONE OF A KIND: The magnificent “Keris Kite” from Johor.

TRYING HARD: An international participant trying to get his “Blue Bear” kite air-borne.

BIG KITES: Some of the gigantic kites be-longing to the international participants.

Kite Buffs Set Record at Bintulu Festival

WONDEROUS SIGHT: Thousands of colourful kites dotting the sky of Bintulu.

THE sky was dotted with the glistening colours of over a thousand kites -- 1,655 to be exact -- yawing gracefully in the wind.

This aerial spectacle which drew a huge crowd of spectators was the highlight of the week-long Fourth Borneo International Kite Festival in Bintulu on Aug 17.

It was the first time in the country that so many kites had been flown together at the same time.

Although not the first festival of its kind in Bintulu, the ingenuity of event this year was special. And not surprisingly, it easily met its target of entering the Malaysia Book of Records.

The rule was that all the kites had to take the sky within 20 minutes and thanks to friendly winds, the record bid went as planned.

“Originally, the target was 1,500 kites but on the day of the attempt, the entries were more than expected,” revealed Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) public relations section (publication) manager Halim Mathew.

The response was simply fabulous, he said, adding that the aim was not just to set a record but also hold the grandest kite-flying festival.

The idea was mooted by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and it took off in 2005.

Since then, it has been held every year, attracting participants both locally and abroad and Bintulu has been chosen as the venue because its old airport is an ideal site -- being located not far from the seaside with a constant breeze.

About 240 kite-flyers from 14 countries took part this year – slightly fewer than the previous year possibly due to the global economic slowdown.

The peninsular regulars came from Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Perlis and Penang while regional neighbour Indonesia sent the largest team with 35 participants. The other foreign countries taking part were Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, China, France, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and India.

According to BDA general manager and co-organising chairman Mohidin Ishak, the festival was organised this year with a special theme -- to celebrate BDA’s 30th anniversary and the state’s 45th anniversary of independence within Malaysia.

“It was held in an atmosphere of fun and excitement highlighted by a spectacular display of creativity in kite-making by local and international participants,” he said.

The festival has also acted as catalyst to rekindle interests in promoting traditional kite-making to the world -- how skilful hands adroitly transform bamboo and paper into various types of colourful flying devices and guide them across the sky with nothing more than a thread.

A week-long trade expo was also held next to the site of the festival and local traders seized the opportunity to sell their products ... as what Mohidin had been ho-ping they would do to earn extra income.

A Bintulu supermarket manageress noted that each time the festival was held, the local business community benefited from the spinoffs.

“We have been selling various types of kites at every festival since it began in 2005. We haven’t missed a single event
- this is our fourth successive one.”

She said apart from benefiting the business community, the festival also allowed families to go out together and enjoy themselves

Apart from the main daytime activities, nightly cultural performances also formed part of the programme.

What makes the annual Bintulu Kite Festi-val special goes beyond the convergence of local and international kite experts. More important is the government’s recognition of the cultural significance in preserving the country’s wau (kite) heritage by encouraging students and adults to carry on the tradition.

This culture is the focus of the festival, and international kite enthusiasts are invited to share celebrate their wau (kite) craft with the locals.

The festival which started last Saturday attracted thousands of spectators and vi-sitors.

French kite enthusiast, Pouillaude Fred, on his first visit to Bintulu and second to Malaysia, said it was good to be part of a festival that gave foreigners the opportunity to share their interests in kites with other foreigners and locals.

“I make kites and hold kite exhibitions in France and I know all the things in the world of kites because I have travelled the world to learn them,” he added.

Fred said he was happy to be in Bintulu with his son, Leo. “The people are friendly. It’s really a nice place although the weather is quite hot.”

He applauded the move to promote interna-tional friendship through the festival, adding that in this way, knowledge on the art of making kites could also be exchan-ged.

He believed cultural interaction made life more beautiful, saying he took part in kite-making competition because it was in-teresting and he appreciated the uniqueness and elegance of the art itself.

Meanwhile, Zulkifli, a kite enthusiast from Singapore, said the festival was not only for kite fans because people from walks of life also enjoyed it.

“The festival has an international flavour and should be preserved as such. Many different kites most of us haven’t seen before are here. It is a refreshing eye-opener,” he added.

When thesundaypost approached Bintulu Kite Flyer Club vice chairman Azman Drahman for his comments, he was reeling in his custom-made kite

“Well, this is a once-a-year event where we can meet old friends and make new ones, especially those with similar interests as us,” he said.

“We get to learn and swap various kite-making techniques as well as understand each other’s culture better.”

He said initially, not many local kite enthusiasts showed any interest to take part in the festival.

“But it is picking up. Our association now has over 20 members.”

Even though the number is still small, over time, he is confident that over time, more people will join.

He agreed with Pouillaude Fred that kites were more affordable than things like re-mote control car and easier to carry around.

While launching the festival on August 20, BDA deputy chairman Dato Sri Celestine Ujang Jilan hinted that more categories might be introduced in the festival next year.

He said a kite-making competition for the longhouse folks, the village community and students in Bintulu would certainly make the next festival more interesting.

The 2008 festival was jointly organised by BDA, the Malaysian Kite Council, the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, the state Urban Development and Tourism Ministry, the federal Ministry of Tourism, the Sarawak Tourism Board, the Culture, Art and Heritage Ministry, the Sarawak Kite Association, Kuching, the Bintulu Resident’s Office and the District Office.

The programme included a traditional kite-making competition, a children’s colouring contest, nightly cultural performances, a “Rokaku” challenge, a kite workshop for the public, stunt kite performances, a display of kites by international participants and a local trade and food fair.

For more excitement, we just have to wait for the festival next year, which promises to be different and more challenging.

Natural Resources, Friendly Community Invaluable Assets to Tourism Industry

INTERNATIONAL EVENT: Manyin (second left) accompanied by (from third left) Ujang, Razali Hussin and Mohidin try their hand at handling a line strung with Japanese kites.

The Borneo International Kite Festival held in Bintulu from August 16 to 24 should be viewed as a good foundation to promote the state and particularly Bintulu itself, as an ideal tourist hotspot.

Minister of Urban Development and Tourism Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong said this when officiating at the launch of the festival held at the old airport compound here on August 20.

In his brief address, he said such events-specifically those involving international participants-should be given more emphasis.

The state and Malaysia in general are especially endowed with an abundance of rich natural resources which are invaluable in terms of bolstering the national tourism industry, said Manyin, adding that sufficient efforts must be made to capitalise on these assets.

“Everyone has a role to play in terms of showcasing the country and promoting its appeal among both local and international tourists,” said Manyin.

“It is crucial that everyone is courteous, polite and friendly because their attitude and personality will reflect on the country’s image and affect the tourism industry as a whole.

“Many people who are not working within tourism-related sectors might wonder and think that they have nothing to benefit from tourism but in actuality, it indirectly affects their life,” he said adding that tourism was a vast and influential sector as its success also impacted other industries.

“The state government emphasises that the tourism industry brings in the second highest revenue-next to manufacturing industries-by contributing RM4.3 billion to the state’s coffer,” said Manyin.

Manyin also proposed that organisers assign a specific date for the festival in order to make it a regular annual event in the state’s tourism calendar.

“Now with the help of technology such as the Internet it is easier than ever for tourists to check out what is happening around the world as far as festivals and big events are concerned.

“So in order to attract more visitors, the date of the festival or other potential event must be kept consistent and not be subject to change,” said Manyin.

Kite Festival Adds New Dimension

OVERALL CHAMP: Talib (second left) presents the challenge trophy to the overall champion from Kelantan for winning in the national level Wau competition while Ujang (left) and Razali look on.

DIVERSITY: The Japanese kite flyers played their local musical instrument while the women who are wearing a Malay traditional attire of baju kurung and tudung shows their local dance rythm.

Just-concluded event will make Bintulu one of the best tourist destinations in Malaysia.

The just-concluded Borneo International Kite Festival (BIKF) will take Bintulu into the world tourist map as one of the best destinations to visit in Malaysia, said Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip.

He said the festival, which attracted international participants, had added another new dimension to the state’s tourism industry.

Bintulu was not only known as an oil and gas industry town, it was also recognised as a happy melting pot for its people and also for tourists, said Talib during a dinner reception for BIKF participants at Parkcity Everly Hotel last Sunday night.

He said Bintulu would continue to organise events and festivals, which could gather all people together, especially amongst international tourists.

The success of this festival also showed that the collaboration and teamwork among the organising committee members, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and corporate sectors were vital, he said.

He said the festival would not only benefit the spectators or participants but could foster good relationship among the organising committee in terms of the importance in the fellowship spirit in organising an event.

Talib stressed that the success of the festival was based on good planning and execution, as well as support from sponsors, participants and residents of Bintulu.
Meanwhile, the coordination committee for BIKF co-chairman Resident Dr Razali Abon said Bintulu had been very lucky to have been chosen to organise the event as it could boost Bintulu’s tourism industry and contributed to the development of the town and its people.

“Through this festival the people here can have a social interaction not only among the town dwellers but also have mix-and-interaction among the tourists,” he said.

“The interaction he said will unite the people as the main reason of gathering in the festival is to share common values and interests,” said Razali.

The international tourists, who had an opportunity to witness the kite festival this year would hopefully, take home ‘beautiful memories of Bintulu’, said Razali, adding that the organising committee also hoped that they would come back for the 2009 festival.

Ethnic Harmony in Sounds and Steps

LET THE SHOW BEGIN: Zaiedy Nor Abu Nasir (centre) opening the programme on behalf of Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. He was flanked by Bintulu Resident Dr Razali Abon (left) and Bintulu District Officer Bujang Budin.

TRADITIONAL DANCERS: Tubau Belaga performers dancing to music of the sape and other Orang Ulu musical instruments.

UNITY DANCE: Orang Ulu Kayan-Kenyah ethnic group from Sungai Asap Belaga presenting a unity dance.

TRADITIONAL DANCE: An Iban dancer performing the Ngajat.

IMPRESSIVE: The gamelan group from SMK Bandar putting on an enthralling performance.

SABAH SPECIAL: Performance by musicians from Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

FABULOUS: Dancers from Bintulu thrilled the audience with this colourful performance.

EVERGREEN: The Sayu Ateng duo performing with their guitars.

WARM APPLAUSE: This small boy was warmly applauded for his dancing performance.

IN TUNE: Dancers from Perguruan Kijang Berantai Sanggar Gita Esha impress with their group dance.

EYE-CATCHING: Attractive dance number by dancers from Bintulu.

THE Sound of Borneo -- a musical concert held in Bintulu recently -- featured a variety of ethnic dances and an array of musical instruments played by the people of Borneo.

Themed Sharing Differences, it was was opened by Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing on June 29 as part of the statewide programme to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of Sarawak’s Independence in Malaysia.

The concert showed not only older timers have an inclination towards traditional musical instruments but also the younger generation lured to learn more about such instruments by their exceptional characteristics embodying the cultures of the ethnic groups that have remained largely unaffected by modernisation.

According to organising chairman Bujang Budin, the aim was to showcase traditional Borneo music from Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan, representing ethnic groups like Malay, Melanau, Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Kadazan Dusun and others.

It was also to bring them together through diversity in traditional music, he said.

Bujang, the Bintulu District Officer, hoped that in consonance with its theme Sharing Differences, the concert would be able to encourage ethnic groups in Borneo to live in peace and harmony through music-sharing and appreciating ethnic diversity.

The show should imbue a sense of pride among the ethnic groups because it emphasised ethnic diversity to keep traditional music alive now and in the future, he stressed.

The Sound of Borneo attracted nine groups from Sarawak and one from Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, while two, comprising 57 members, were specially brought in from Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia, with names like Perguruan Kijang Berantai Sanggar Gita Esha Khatulistiwa and Sanggar Tari Spectrum Pontianak.

Rain threatened to spoil the show on the first night for local performers but miraculously, when the first group came on stage, the weather cleared up. Among the entertainers were the Orang Ulu Kayan-Kenyah group from Sungai Asap Belaga, the Kayan Tubau Belaga group and the Punan Kesut group from Punan Rumah Nyipa Tingang Kuala Pandan. Their repertoire covered bergendang Iban, betaboh, ngajat Iban, Malay classical music, bermukun and Bidayuh music.

The following night for international performers drew an unexpected large crowd. A small boy from Kalimantan Barat captured the hearts of the audience with his natural aptitude for solo dancing.

A well-known musical group, Sayu Ateng from Kuching, was also featured on “international night” together with 17 musicians from Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu, and a predominantly non-Malay teen-age gamelan group from SMK Bandar which enthralled the audience with traditional Malay instrumentals.

According to Ismunandar, choreographer of Perguruan Kijang Berantai Sanggar Gita Esha Khatulistiwa, all his musicians and dancers are teenagers who performed items like Tari Lenggok Dara, Tari Belampas and Tari Rentak Kapuas on the final night.

He said encouraging youths to learn traditional music was not only good for development of the music itself but their participation would also give them confidence to face the challenges of life.
Ismunandar pointed out that if not the young generation, who else would preserve traditional music to ensure it would not disappear with the old generation someday.

“The Sound of Borneo is suitable for preserving and promoting our priceless ethnic music. At the same time, we can learn other ethnic cultures through their music and dances apart from promoting our own,” he said during a rehearsal with his group at their Kampung Assyakirin homestay.

The homestay programme was part of the Sound of Borneo initiative to expose local cultures to visitors who would, in turn, have the opportunity to promote their own during their stay.