What does it take to be Kumang Iban Borneo Hornbill Festival?
Personally, after being in the Borneo Hornbill Festival family for five years, I see that this event grew from a merely simple get together avenue among young Sarawakians to showcase their costumes and culture into something bigger in which to show to the vast public including the foreign viewers the in-depth showcase of culture sharing from both Sabah and Sarawak.
Eversince being crowned the Kumang Iban Borneo Hornbill Festival in 2011, I felt that I have the responsibility to give back to the community by sharing my knowledge in Iban costume though not that expert but I believe I can enhance that knowledge along the way. To me, being given the title is not merely having the glamourous limelight of being called a once “Kumang”, no, that title does not work that way. Kumang as most of the Iban would know as the legendary Mother Goddess of Iban who possessed the top most quality of a woman apart from her prowess skills in weaving pua kumbu. She was also depicted as having a good heart and of course of exceptional beauty.
However, in this modern day not many Iban women are able to weave pua kumbu or even weave mats because I too do not have such talents to be frank. So what is the relevance of Kumang in this era then? That is what the objective of Borneo Hornbill Festival is all about. This future Kumang must be able to embrace her culture in which through her research in any sect of the Iban culture, be it Iban costume, adat, tusun tunggu, food, ngajat etc. Her research will show that she is passionate about what she is, an Iban blood and heart.
Eversince the ngepan Rawai Tinggi emerged at the Borneo Hornbill Festival 2011, only then people become more interested in knowing the roots of the costume and lo and behold even more Iban ngepan from other Iban sects, Batang Ai, Batang Rajang, Julau, Kapit, Entulu just to name a few. Borneo Hornbill Festival became the platform for these Ngepan as not many of these “unknown” costumes were showcased in Sarawak. In this event contestants are given the opportunity to present their researches not forgetting their costumes, presentation skills, catwalk, beauty, congeniality and discipline.
What about beauty then? Well my dear contestants, I would say beauty is a bonus because a beautiful face with a rotten heart will lead you to nowhere as physical beauty will not last forever, beautiful face will only stay in photographs, but beautiful heart does bring you a long way. Beauty is subjective anyway and no one in this world should be judge whether a person is beautiful or not, chubby or thin, tall or short and if you do you are also questioning God’s creation of creating various range of race, colour, sizes etc.
I must say that when I was one of the contestants of the 2011 Borneo Hornbill Festival I was neither the prettiest nor a catwalk model (I don’t even know how to catwalk!). I was just a 28 year old who just want to try her luck in a pageant and not wanting to live in the “what if” moment. I just wanted to try and experience how it feels to be in a pageant. Apart from that I wanted to see how far I can go after participating in this competition.
Of course elaborate research was done for my costume hence I wore the ngepan Rawai Tinggi of the Saribas tribe as it was never been showcased before. I also brushed up my knowledge on tourism and culture as that was one of the segments that we were being tested at. Throughout my journey of extracting information about the ngepan as well as my culture I began to realize there is potential in this field, whereby the information on this ngepan Rawai Tinggi cannot just stop at BHF, it should go beyond that. Hence exist my blog Kumang Saribas, This is My Story blog page, surprisingly never could I have imagined that it would become source of reference for some viewers including by contestants of BHF and I thank you for such support and with that encouragement it gives me more inspiration to do more for my community.
In conclusion, not that I want to discourage you from entering this competition but if you are thinking of being glamourous after winning in Borneo Hornbill Festival, then you are confused. BHF is not Miss World or Miss Universe where looks play important part in winning other than your confidence. BHF requires you to research your culture and embrace it until it is within your blood. From there we can see your confidence will show through a confident presentation of your research, not merely memorizing the accessories on your ngepan.
Remember, catwalk can be taught and polished, appearance can be altered with make-up but humility and kindness towards others will make you the person whom people love and remember you by.
Kumang Iban Borneo Hornbill Festival 2011