He had this one brilliant opportunity to take a photo of his brother Linggir who was making parang in the traditional style sometime in the 1960's..He wrote
Mr younger brother Linggir doing the "Ngambuh" (making parang, duku etc). Is "ngambuh" still practised in long houses? In my long house Lachau, the practise is gone. People buy their parang/duku at the nearby bazaar. The quality? Questionable!!
May be many people say that a picture is worth a thousand words (quoting from Confucius ). I would say this picture is worth a fortune to an archivist or a beloved sibling. I would like to thank my good friend for allowing me to use this in my blog. With a grateful heart Sir!
Just before Gawai I am sure one would become nostalgic and think of the past and how far the indigenous people have come. In 1958 my grandfather (TPK) carved out a little bit of Bukit Aup to manufacture the first machine made bricks in Sarawak and provided jobs for the Ibans in the vicinity. My Foochow clansmen and women lived alongside the Ibans in peace and harmony. When three of his sons passed away the brick factory went into disuse as no one wanted to take over. Only the land was left after a decade or two. It was only very recently that my large extended family sold off the property and as the saying goes our last roots have now been pulled out of Sibu. None of my immediate male relatives reside in Sibu now.
Today Aup has indeed produced Iban lawyers and engineers and several teachers and other professionals. The padi fields are still there. Many of the rubber trees are still standing. The Chinese used to rent the rubber land from the Ibans and tapped the trees. In less than one generation they made enough money to send their children overseas or move to Sibu or Miri. They perhaps also used their savings to buy a piece of mixed zone land. One of my cousins even rented a few acres of padi land from an Iban landowner in the 1950's. Now this family is in Kuching.
Today cars can reach the various longhouses right under the ruai. The community spirit is still intact. But needless to say progress is still not complete. A quantum leap must still be made.
In many ways many Linggirs of modern day Sarawak have a lot to catch up as good education and fair opportunities and even having a chance to become modern farmers might be still illusive. If it is survival of the fittest than many of our brethrens are not able to run to first base to a certain degree. The goal posts of modern days have been changed (or as I often say - they keep changing) and survival in the jungle and survival in the concrete jungle are totally two different things. But I am glad that several are now overseas earning a decent income to provide for their children's tertiary education.
There are so many challenges ahead of every one. The vicious cycle of poverty must be broken first.
I support "No Child Left Behind" campaign!!
My Gawai wishes to all my Iban friends who grew up with me in Aup and Sibu - Jugah - Yat - Bulla - Peter - Catherine and others...oh yes.. don't forget : Agi idup agi ngelaban!
Photo courtesy of Rtd Colonel Robert Rizal Abdullah