AS the festive moods of Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya fizzled out, Kuching city is getting ready for an exciting buzz of recreational festivity that conscientiously promotes elements of environmental awareness and conservation.
It’s none other than the Rainforest World Music Festival’s (RWMF) to be held at the Sarawak Cultural Village in Damai near the city from July 14 to 16, 2017.
This annual event promises to be memorable. Indeed, it has earned a bright spot in the calendar of tourism activities as the most international cultural event in Sarawak.
The name, the venue and the theme of the Festival are very much in line with Sarawak Tourism Board (STB)’s promotional messages of positioning Sarawak as a culture rich destination with caring attitude towards its rainforest.
And the fact that the upcoming Festival is already the 20th RWMF should be a testimony of its increasing success. The carnival atmosphere it creates has been becoming hotter, more spirited and more zestful.
The musical component will be an all-day event, beginning with daytime mini-sessions and health and wellness programmes, ending with grand nightly performances.
The Festival’s branding is in presenting music with roots and identity in the traditional and cultural content and the vastness of the world’s cultural and ethnic diversity in the art of music and dance.
The Festival holds evenings of concert performances on two outdoor stages — the Jungle and Tree Stages which will alternate without any breaks with around 20 bands, each distinctly unique from each other, yet playing seamlessly after another like a quilt stitched together, or a string of beads on a line, creating an incredible experience for the audience.
The indoor Theatre Stage is used in the afternoon for smaller chamber-style performers, giving a more intimate and classical feel for a seated audience.
Many dedicated Rainforest Festival fans come back year after year for the mini sessions held throughout the Festival grounds in the traditional houses and halls of the Sarawak tribes.
Expect the unexpected when it comes to the variety of performances at the RWMF, promising to dazzle you with the music and art of the night performances.
There is something for everyone. Musical band performers come from all over the world. Already on the list are Achanak (India-UK), Abavuki (South Africa), At Adau (Sarawak), Ba Cissoko (Guinea), Belem (Belgium), Bitori (Cape Verde), Calan (Wales), Cimarron (Colombia), Dom Flemons (Usa), Hanggai (China), Huw Williams (Wales), Kelele (South Africa), Okra Playground (Finland), Pareaso (Korea), Radio Cos (Spain), Romengo (Hungary), Spiro (UK), Svara Samsara (Indonesia), Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe (Taiwan), The Chipolatas (UK-Australia), Ilu Leto (Sarawak), Sarawak Cultural Village (Sarawak), 1511 O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe (Malaysia), Lan E Tuyang (Sarawak), O Tahiti E (Tahiti), Saing Waing Orchestra (Myanmar), The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band (Thailand) and One Drum.org (Malaysia).
There are over 30 mini-sessions over the three afternoons of the Festival, featuring a mix of lecture-demonstrations, interactive dance tutorials, and thematic sessions — all to inform, enlighten, enthral and entertain. These will be held at Dewan Lagenda or ‘Hall of Legends’, Iban Longhouse, Bidayuh Longhouse and Malay House.
RWMF 2017 will once again be hosting other activities, providing an experience steeped in the rich arts, cultures and traditions of mysterious Borneo.
Among the activities this year are History and Exhibition of the Sape, Cultural Talks, Exhibition by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, Brazilian Samba Workshop, Pustaka Bookaroo Children’s workshops, a Doodle Wall and a Wellness Programme.
Warisan Sape Telang Usan is a CSR Culture and Heritage Project, sponsored by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) in collaboration with the Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) of Kampung Long San, Baram.
They are young musicians, learning the skills of making and playing the sape of Sarawak, and keeping alive the stories and social awareness of the music and the dance.
They will be holding daily sessions on the art of sape-making, tuning, the history of the sape, the significance of the instrument in the daily lives of Sarawak’s indigenous communities.
To promote the local traditional heritage and culture, the Friends of Sarawak Museum (FoSM) will be conducting talks on music and arts and how they are intricately woven in the lives of the local communities. Registered as an NGO in 2013, FoSM has made it its mission to promote Sarawak’s heritage through its museums.
The Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) works to document traditional knowledge and practices, get scientific results published, help the indigenous communities produce and market the end results of their knowledge and products.
It also works to help channel benefits back to the communities concerned.
SBC will be holding talks, exhibition of plants and personal care products that use the LitSara® essential oil, taken from a plant utilised by the indigenous communities.
There will also be a working distillation unit to demonstrate the extraction oils for use in aromatherapy and soaps. Soap-making sessions will also be organised.
The rainforests of Borneo hold a great wealth of resources and potential useful applications, a lot which is still untapped and unknown.
Brazilian Samba Workshop
Interactive dance workshops are always a big favourite at the RWMF. One of the instructors from the Singapore School of Samba will be conducting a class on the very popular Samba.
Pustaka Bookaroo will be carrying out its specialised arts, crafts and music workshops for children aged seven to 12. These are specially curated to marry the two elements which Pustaka Bookaroo, together with the RWMF, support — story-telling and music.
It will also be continuing with the Doodle Wall where festival goers are invited to add their music and music appreciative messages on a vast mural in the Dewan Lagenda. Last year’s theme was the Tree of Life and it was well received.
Mental, spiritual and physical wellness programmes will be held throughout the Festival grounds. Among the invigilators are:
Vibrational meditation and home therapy
As vice president of the Federation of Complementary and Natural Medical Associations, Malaysia, Dr Lennie Soo is an international trainer, coach and speaker with a background in psychology, counselling, and clinical hypnotherapy.
This segment is led by a veteran practitioner of Vipassana meditation, Wong Ah Shui, who studied under his master Ven.Sujivo, a foremost Malaysian monk in the Mahasi method of Vipassana meditation. Wong currently teaches meditation every Thursday evening at the Kuching Buddhist Society (KBS)
Yoga instructors Alvin Heng, Alice Chieng and Daniel Geller will be conducting Yoga classes during the Festival. Alvin has been practising and teaching yoga for 10 years, and is a co-owner of Yoga Region Studio, Kuching, with various styles of yoga under his belt such as Vinyasa Yoga/Flow Yoga and Yin Yoga, focusing on one’s breathing, endurance, flexibility and balance.
Alice completed her training as a certified yoga instructor from School of Sacred Arts, Bali, and has been teaching Hatha, Vinyasa and other forms of therapeutic yoga for the past five years.
Daniel Geller from Germany, is a trained instructor in the fusion of yoga and martial arts called Budokon.
Lai Cho Sin is a Tai Chi instructor with the Sarawak Shenlong Tai-Chi Chuan Society and a passionate supporter of reducing stress using this ancient Chinese art.
This very popular workout based on Latin music will be run by Shake It Studio and Exhilarate Fitness Studio, both based in Kuching. They will do two sessions on two different days.
BODYCOMBAT is a high energy martial arts-inspired workout that is totally non-contact. Their moves are a fusion taken from Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kung Fu. This will be run by instructors from Level Up Fitness in Kuching.
The ancient art of Malay self-defense will be conducted by Rumpunan Silat Sarawak.
Brazilian mix of martial arts and dance will be conducted by Movimento Simples de Capoeira, based in Kuching with some Brazilian instructors coming in from Kuala Lumpur.
Since 2011, the Festival has held its Tree Planting event where the organisers, performing artistes, volunteers and main sponsors will get their hands dirty by traversing the nearby National Parks and planting hundreds of tree seedlings under the supervision of the Sarawak Forest Department.
The Festival has recycling bins throughout the grounds as well as a strict biodegradable-only policy for its vendors. Compost bins were used entrance at 2016 Festival and will be making a return this year.
Food and Village Mart
Apart from the action and music, there will also be festival memorabilia to take home and also food to satisfy the apetite. Look out for:
Asian Food Kitchen (AFK)
A gastronomic adventure like no other, Asia Food Kitchen delivers authentic Asian food without having to buy those plane tickets!
Cooking its way into RWMF 2017, AFK promises a wide selection of local and international Asian cuisines and make the party something to remember.
There will be Grab-n-Go festival snacks to take to the stage or spark the epicurean in you at EATOF Park.
At EATOF Park, you will meet executive chefs and restaurant owners from participating EATOF member countries, carefully preparing and serving their nation’s greatest cuisines. Enjoy live cooking sessions with the chefs, learn how each dish is prepared and made to the authentic flavour that it is!
Sarawak Culinary Heritage
From international to local, taste the food of the people of Sarawak, the Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and Chinese community here at the 20th edition of the RWMF.
Drinkhaus is the official beverage vendor at RWMF 2017, offering mineral water, soft drinks and cold beers and stout straight from the tap, plus a luxurious selection of wines, cocktails and fruit soju.
A great festival is always paired with a cold drink — visit the Lakeside Cabana the comfort of Lay Bags with a chilled drink in your hand, or get your perfect brew at Dewan Lagenda with a balcony view of the festival.
Asides from these locations, there are other Drinkhaus stalls situated around the festival for your convenience and enjoyment.
A true festival experience is about taking the festival vibes home — either on your body or in your bag!
Treat your body to a traditional massage by Maoh and be part of the tribe with temporary ink from Borneo Airbrush Tattoos.
DHYANAA is back with Mandala garments and souvenirs, from pants to tapestries, and take home a truly Sarawakian memento — a beautiful sape from M&M Heritage Sape handcrafted by the master himself, Matthew Ngau.
The new Bidayuh Baruk will be hosting The Tribal Borneo Tattoo Expo 2017, organised by Skrang Tattoo Studio, featuring artists from various regions of Sarawak, Thailand and as far as Italy to promote the tattoo culture. Traditional hand-tapped tattoos are part of the
Borneo tattooing culture and until today, it remains a sought-after way of inking one’s skin. Visit the expo and see for yourself how it’s done.
Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar Appreciate the traditional tribal tattoos of Borneo on display and witness the traditional hand-tap tattoos, then admire the traditional arts and crafts from various tribes throughout Borneo and even from around the world at the Rainforest World Crafts Bazaar at the venue. Aside from that, one can find areas with traditional games throughout the festival grounds.
Tickets are still available at http://rwmf.net/tickets/ or any ticket resellers mentioned in the link.
Brief background RWMF has its humble beginning in 1998 with an audience of only 300. It is now an event that anticipates a crowd of some 20,000 from both within the country and overseas. It also incorporates family-friendly activities especially the afternoon mini sessions.
While it is a recreational festivity, elements of environmental awareness is being conscientiously promoted. Among the activities carried out to this effect are campaigns on tree-planting, recycling, composting as well as encouraging the use of shuttle buses to and from the venue, aimed at reducing carbon emission into the atmosphere.