Record highlanders’ rich cultural heritage and folklores

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem (left) and Jamilah (third right) with Formadat patron Dato’ Isaac Lugun,  Formadat leaders and representatives from Forest Department Sarawak and WWF-Malaysia after the launch of ‘Highland Tales in the Heart of Borneo’. — Photo by © WWF-Malaysia/ Zora Chan.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem (left) and Jamilah (third right) with Formadat patron Dato’ Isaac Lugun,
Formadat leaders and representatives from Forest Department Sarawak and WWF-Malaysia after the launch of ‘Highland Tales in the Heart of Borneo’. — Photo by © WWF-Malaysia/ Zora Chan.

BARIO: Communities living in the Kelabit and Maligan highlands in Sarawak and Sabah have something to be proud of – a book that documents their rich cultural heritage and folklores.

Entitled ‘Highland Tales in the Heart of Borneo’, the 92-page tome written in English and Bahasa Malaysia is a colourful showcase of the community’s past, present and future intertwined with their surroundings in the picturesque highlands of Ba’ Kelalan, Bario, Long Semadoh in Sarawak and Long Pa’ Sia, Sabah.

The book, launched by the Chief Minister’s wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu during the Bario Food and Cultural Festival yesterday, is published by the highland’s grassroots and transboundary alliance Forum Masyarakat Adat Dataran Tinggi (Formadat) supported by Sarawak Forest Department, Ministry of Tourism Sarawak, Sarawak Museum Department and WWF-Malaysia.

Formadat Malaysia leader Penghulu George Sigar Sultan said the highlands of Sarawak and Sabah are home to the
Orang Ulu comprising the Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh in the northeastern of Heart of Borneo.

“Each has its own distinct dialect and cultural nuances rooted at the core with parallel mythology and oral history. We are the guardians of a rich array of tribal stories and legends,” he said in a press release.

He said the book documented the stories of old and showcased some of the most distinctive sites and stories known to these communities in Sarawak and Sabah.

“This publication will serve as promotional material for ecotourism at natural and cultural sites of the Kelabit and Maligan highlands, a reference for nature guides to use and share with visitors and tourists, and a way to document the history of the Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh people in the Heart of Borneo,” he said.

George added that the book meets Formadat’s objectives to raise understanding about the communities in the highlands, maintain cultural traditions, build local capacity and encourage sustainable development in the Heart of Borneo without
degrading the quality of social and natural environment.

He thanked all supporters for their assistance in making the book a reality and promoting it to their stakeholders.

“I thank village elders and villagers who shared their knowledge of cultural and heritage sites and folklores, and WWF-Malaysia senior community engagement and education officer Alicia Ng for helping document these stories, and facilitating in publishing the book,” he said.

Congratulating Formadat for another milestone achievement, WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer Dato’ Dr Dionysius
Sharma said the organisation is privileged to work with Formadat since 2004.

“I’m happy to see that our long-term relationship with Formadat is starting to show results as demonstrated by sustainable income generation through activities in the highlands, and more locals championing the cause for conservation,” he said.

He added that the book would contribute to knowledge on how people can live in harmony with nature.

The books are sold at RM40 per soft cover version and RM55 for hardcover available at WWF-Malaysia Kuching Office, 7th floor Bangunan Binamas, Padungan Road, Kuching; and through Formadat committee in Ba’ Kelalan, Bario, Long Semadoh and Long Pa’ Sia’.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to Formadat.

For more information, visit www.formadat.com or email sarawak@formadat.com and sabah@formadat.com.

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