Kuntau ‘jam’, 59-pigeon liberation among entertaining events at Sarawak’s 59th birthday celebration

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By Ling Hui

BAU, July 22: Spreading their wings and flying high, the 59 pigeons that were set free at Bung Orod here today commemorates the 59th year since 1963 when Sarawak achieved independence from being a British colony.

Pigeon liberation was one of the highlights at the 10th 722 Sarawak Day celebration this morning, which was co-organised by 13 local organisations in Sarawak.

Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi), Sarawak Association for Peoples’ Aspiration (Sapa), Bulang Birieh, Bulang Dayak Bukit Kelingkang, Bikoto & Land Ngindang, Kuntau, RDDL & SDGG, Gondang Oguong Jagoi Serikin, Gendang Besai (Iban), Skiat Cultural Troupe, Simpok Cultural Troupe, Kuching Cyclists, Francis & Donnie Big Bikers, and Bisayah Gong Traditional Association were among those involved.

The 722 celebration began at about 10am, with the welcoming lion dance and gondang oguong performance. After saying grace, two flags that symbolise Sarawak were hoisted.

The Old Raj flag was first raised in accompaniment with the former Sarawak anthem ‘Fairland Sarawak’, followed by the raising of Sarawak Flag while the current Sarawak anthem ‘Ibu Pertiwiku’ was played.

Sarawak flags raised to the anthems ‘Fairland Sarawak’ and ‘Ibu Pertiwiku’.

The attention was then diverted to the stage where organising chairman Anthony David, Mas Gading MP Mordi Bimol representative Freedy Misid, Sapa president Domonique Ng, and Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffery Kitingan representative Jalumin Bayogoh delivered their speeches that promoted Sarawak unity.

Together with the crowd, they roared and cheered at the top of their voices, shouting slogans and mottos like ‘agi igup agi ngelaban’ and ‘ooha’.

With everybody’s spirit lifted, the next event began immediately with a demonstration of ‘kuntau’, an Iban self-defence art. A simple performance soon turned into a kuntau ‘jam’ with ‘contenders’ showing off each of their different ‘dance’ styles.

Like a street dance battle, each performer took turns dropping their best moves within a minute’s time to impress the audience that had stood in a circle, with all of their recording gadgets ready in hand.

The photo-taking and video recording sessions just could not seem to end. After the kuntau demonstration, it was time to cut the cake.

The 722 cake that signifies Sarawak’s birthday today was pretty ordinary, but the knife they used was an absolutely down-to-earth machete or chopper we all know as ‘parang’.

The 722 cake cutting ceremony.

Now shifting the focus to the other side of the field, the pigeons’ cage was then cut open. The chubby little birds that were sitting comfortably in the cage the whole morning were finally set free.

As lazy as they looked, some of the pigeons decided to just stay behind for a bit – probably to watch more of the performances.

The celebration now took on the atmosphere of a festival. Hearing the commotion, more people flooded into Bung Orod. Led by a dancer on stage, performers amid the crowd began dancing ‘ngajat’ to the music.

Onlookers were also invited to join in the fun. Towards the end, about 200 of them were inching in two big circles while several others could be seen dancing the ‘ngajat’ professionally among them.

Sarawak unity and the need to celebrate Sarawak’s independence brought everyone to Bung Orod, Grogo today, despite the light rain in the morning.

To Sarawakians who are enjoying their time off from school and work, today is not just ‘another public holiday’, it is Sarawak’s 59th year of independence since July 22, 1963. — DayakDaily