`The Last Rings Ladies’ documentary: A proud Sarawakian production

Thian (right) shows Karim the accessories and gown designed with the inspiration from the Bi'emban tribe.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 29: A Sarawakian company has proudly produced a documentary entitled “The Last Rings Ladies”.

NG Picture line producer Evangeline Thian said the shooting of the documentary about the last five remaining ring ladies from Kampung Semban was completed last month.

“This documentary film was produced by Sarawakians and would be released and distributed to NHK Japan, KBS Korea and PTS Taiwan Broadcasting TV Channel.

“We are currently in post-production stage, and we are planning for the premier and release, hopefully on Sept 16, 2019, in conjunction with Malaysia Day,” she said.

Thian highlighted that the Semban ring ladies, who wore the traditional ‘Ruyang’ and ‘Rasung’, which are copper coiled rings, on the forearms and calves embodied the distinctive culture of the Bi’emban, a sub-ethnic group of the Bidayuh indigenous people of Borneo.

She shared the fact that this heritage was at risk of vanishing was what inspired her and the team to document their existence because this could be the last and only opportunity.

“The ring ladies have been declared as a living national treasure by the Sarawak government. We are proud to be able to produce a documentary and record this intangible heritage of Sarawak,” she said.

The documentary film was shot almost entirely at the Bengoh range, and the team had faced all kind of challenges, from weather to transporting bulky equipment into the village just to complete the filming process.

Director Nova Goh revealed that he found out about the ring ladies during a trekking trip to Kampung Semban four years ago and decided to produce the documentary film after meeting one of the ring ladies, Peluk Apeh, who then became the main character of this documentary.

“This documentary tells of the importance of co-existing with one another as well as preserving a tradition, culture, nature and the environment. We hope to inspire more people to preserve and protect their very own unique cultural heritage.

“At the same time, we hope to promote Sarawak tourism. Upper Bengoh has the potential to be developed into a tourism site. Currently, the community of Kampung Nyegol and Kampung Sting is running an eco-tourism project there,” he added.

Located about 42km from the city, Goh said visitors would be in awe when their eyes meet the majestic waterfall and breathtaking view of the mountain and sea of cloud across the Bengoh lake.

Meanwhile, the documentary follows Peluk Apeh from her ancestral home in the world’s oldest tropical rainforest to a modern settlement. Peluk struggled to adapt to her new environment and longs for the vanishing world she left behind.

But her new life also brings new opportunities, where a famous Malaysian fashion designer, Wong Lee Leng of Leng Lagenda, discovered Peluk and the ring ladies. She created a ring ladies fashion collection and together with the ring ladies, they embarked on an astonishing journey of personal discovery through fashion in a modern world. — DayakDaily