September 20, 2010

Disappearing Miri :Class Two Government Quarters

In my first year of teaching I lived in a Class Two Government Quarters in Limbang.

And this building along the Miri Medical Road always reminds me of that particular year - 1974.

Most of these class 2 government quarters have been built in good sites (probably with good feng shui).

Several remarkable things happened in 1974 in SMK Limbang.

+My first year of teaching was full of responsibilities and helping students especially to do well in their subjects like English and Geography. I must say it was not easy at all to get all the students to remember everything given the lack of facilities and the poor environment.

But I am glad that in that first year all the students made great effort and today they are really fine people who have done well in spite of the odds against them all those years long ago.

+ there were several remarkable American Peace Corps teachers (Jim Lehmann and Susan Paterson to name two)in the school. All of us had to make notes without books for the students. Lesson planning amongst the teachers was done in the school staff room until late at night.

+ My "Brother" typewriter -I had to type notes - pages and pages of them using a very small Brother typewriter until the early hours of the morning. Indeed we did not have time even to do spring cleaning or house cleaning. We were racing against time to help the students get good grades.

+ my quarters was used as a makan place for all the teachers who needed meals with us. I was fortunate to have an amah who could cook very well. So we had some very memorable meals together.

+school work parties were memorable. And our Principal Mr. Phang was a fantastic leader. The staff was a great team. It was really a good first year experience for me as a new teacher.

+ once in a while we went to town for freshly baked buns and good black coffee and sometimes we went over to Brunei for a "touch of civilisation" which meant icecream with chocolate coating.

+ I learned to cross cultural barriers to make really good friends with teachers from the other ethnic groups of Sarawak. Many students from other races were all very fond of their teachers and I found that very heart warming. It is something that I really treasure till today.

But that year two other things happened too: many ulu primary school students died from a tragic road accident which sent tremors through the veins of the people of Limbang. And I saw an Iban Warrior who was fully dressed in his war costume hanging on to a fire engine which was driving at full speed after having danced for the Agong. He had to hitch a ride from the firemen because no transport was made available for him.  His sirat was dancing in the wind and flapping vigorously.  It was such an anachronistic vision!! (Otherwise he would have to walk the three miles to town.) I cannot erase that image from my mind.

In fact this Class Two Government Quarters building which is already very strategically sited can be converted into a Living Museum to house artifacts from the EARLY MALAYSIA ERA. Artifacts like the twin burner kerosene stove and aluminium oven which Malay ladies used to bake their lovely cakes on top of the kerosene stove etc. could be shown to this new generation born after the 80's. The list can include kapok mattress - coconut rib brooms - gourd containers - sarong "nyut" or baby swing- local table wares - tikar bemban - and a few hundred other things from the kampong. I can even see a whole Pinang Eating set on the tikar bemban can be the centre piece of the Living Museum dedicated to the 1960's and 1970's Era!!

Anything that is more than 30 years old is already a cultural artifact and we must preserve them. Tourists would have a new place to visit in Miri.

This post is dedicated to all teachers and students of Limbang Govt. School of 1974.


Bengbeng said...

you have an excellent memory to remember so well.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng....I scheduled this blog for 20th but somehow it has appeared..and you are commenting on 19th that's a tech error...or time warp?

I do remember things quite clearly but sometimes I do make mistakes ...want to keep Alzheimer's at bay.thanks.

sintaicharles said...

Nice sharing, Sarawakiana.
I miss my practicuum in Limbang too.

Ann said...

What great memories. The place looks like unusued, the weeds are so tall.

For the Sunday still, our meme was to do flags. I had a whole long of flags, but I forgot all about the Kingdom of Sarawak flag, despite a flurry of discussion with my siblings after you posted it.

So I added it, the link.

How do you actually post the whole youtube?



p/s I asked my uncle D, yes, the mall is Mahkota.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Charles...thanks...I think many of your classmates are still teaching in Limbang? Limbang used to be such an out post years ago. It was like any one having some problems with boss get transferred to Limbang....but I did find it enchanting. May be I am the only one to say so?

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes Ann
The house is a derelict and full of weeds etc...and even on the roof. What a pity.

You go to You tube and see the little box "embed" click and copy it and paste on to your box on your blog. Link is fine but you need to "travel" a little further. Embedded You tube is there instantly...

I have yet to visit Merdeka Mall and get a post done - dedicated to you!

William said...

I saw a "prettier" version of these quarters in Limbang but they are now in ruin! Vandal took everything out!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi William
Yes vandalism is rife everywhere...but I am wondering what's the government policy now on these quarters....may be it has other plans...So many new government quarters of a different styles of course are sprouting up.
So an era has gone...and is buried. But these are part of our history...perhaps like fossils they will be buried in the sands of time...metaphorically.

Anonymous said...

Yes definitely a good idea to convert the building into a mini museum for Miri!! Thanks for the perceptive idea.
Your friend.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Anonymous...hope some people will initiate that...and make the vision a reality.

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