KOTA KINABALU: Half a million ringgit production cost, 500 performers, eight dances, one love story.
All will be showcased at the 22nd Sabah Fest cultural extravaganza in May this year.
Tourism minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the Sabah Fest would start off with a musical theatre style production entitled: ‘The Legend of Arung Salamiah’ at 8pm, May 1 and 2 at the Magellan Grand Ballroom at Sutera Harbour Resort.
The legend tells the story of Arung Salamiah, a beautiful lady from an aristocratic family who only had her eyes on Tanjung Kalang despite being surrounded by admirers.
However, her family did not approve of her love with Tanjung Kalang who was from a different social class, and planned to marry her off to someone of the same status.
Brokenhearted, Tanjung Kalang embarked on a journey across Sabah to search for his true love.
The performance would feature the culture and dances Tanjung Kalang had experienced in his journey.
This includes Panansang dance which originated from Semporna and Sazau Bobohizan staged by the Kadazan Papar community, he said.
Masidi explained that there was no love story from the West Coast feature in past Sabah Fest events, thus the legend of Arung Salamiah would be the starting point of a good storyline.
“It is once in a lifetime opportunity because the shows are not repeated,” he said, and urged the people to value the cultures in Sabah.
He added that preparation for Sabah Fest this year started a year ago, which involved developing storyboard and identifying dancers.
“First, we have to choose the cast who will then practise in their respective places; then we bring them here and connect them to one another,” he said in a press conference here yesterday. The event is an annual cultural extravaganza organised by a subsidiary of the Sabah Tourism Board, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd under the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
Masidi added that more than 70 per cent of the tickets had been sold out for the musical shows on May 1 and 2.
It was also said that around 50 Australian tourists are expected to fly in to take part in the Sabah Fest.
In addition, local artistes will also be making special appearances on both evenings.
They are Den Bisa, Clarice John Mata and 11-year-old Presley Petrus, the three-time winner of Sabah’s Bintang Sugandoi.
Masidi also said that cultural events would boost tourist arrivals and generate more revenue for those involved in the tourism industry, namely the airlines, hotels and travel agents.
Despite last year’s economic downturn and influenza A (H1N1) scare, Masidi is confident more tourists would visit Sabah, particularly the Sabah Fest this year.
“This year we have 24 chartered flights flying to Kota Kinabalu; this is a good indication that the number of people interested in Sabah is not waning, but on the rise.” Furthermore, Masidi said he also hoped to bring Sabah Fest to Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur if finance permitted or with the support of sponsors.
“Sabah has always been quoted by our Prime Minister as the living example of 1Malaysia, but we can only show people in Peninsular what Sabah is all about if we bring Sabah Fest to Istana Budaya.” Meanwhile, permanent secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Datuk Suzannah Liaw said the legend was chosen to provide a storyline behind the show, and at the same time showed the various dances and traditions in the show.
“The show will show the experience through the eyes of Arung Salamiah.” Visitors will also have the opportunity to view the art of producing local handicraft and indulging themselves with authentic flavours at the Handicraft and Food Showcase at the foyer of Magellan Grand Ballroom in the resort from 10am to 10pm during both days of the show.
On May 3-9, the public is welcomed to visit Heritage Village in Sabah Museum where they can gain insight on the diverse cultures in Sabah.
The activity includes daily cultural shows at Pentas Mat Salleh in the museum at 3pm from Monday to Friday, and 11.30am and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Masidi also thanked sponsors, namely Sabah Cultural and Art Department, Sutera Harbour Resort, Sabah Museum, Sabah Cultural Board, official newspaper for Sabah Fest Daily Express, Tourism Malaysia, Kraftangan Malaysia, Protocol Department, Sabah Sports Board, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Yayasan Sabah Group, Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, and DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd.
Tickets for the musical shows on May 1 and 2 are available now at the Sabah Tourism Board at 51, Jalan Gaya and Sri Pelancongan Sabah office at Sinsuran Complex.
Each ticket is sold at RM50 for the public and RM30 for students.
Entrance fee to the Heritage Village is priced at RM10, not including entrance to the main building.
For reservations, contact Jane Lai (Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd) at 088-232121 or Shirley Teo (Sabah Tourism Board) at 088-212121.
Also present at the press conference were assistant ministers Datuk Bolkiah Ismail, Datuk Ellron Angin, and the chairman of Sabah Tourism Board YM Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin Tengku Mahmood.