|BORNEO DAYAK FORUM was launched in 2010 with the tagline|
"SATU PULAU,SATU RUMPUN ,SATU SUARA"
Group looking to unite Borneo’s indigenous people via tourism projects
KUCHING: A non-political and nonprofit organisation, the Borneo Dayak Forum, is embarking on inter-cultural and tourism projects between Sarawak and West Kalimantan.
The forum, aimed at promoting bilateral ties and uniting all indigenous people in the island, hopes the projects will help elevate the livelihood of Dayaks, particularly those living in the rural areas.
One of the forum’s promoters Alim Miden said although Dayaks in Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan were divided by political boundaries, they shared the same ancestral roots and unique cultural and natural heritage.
“It is only right and natural for the indigenous people in Borneo to work together in harvesting inter-cultural and tourism projects.
“As Dayaks, we share a sense of solidarity in wanting to help Dayaks outside the state,” he told The Star on Sunday during a recce to the legendary Gua Thang Raya in Dusun Pemodis, Desa Thang-Raya, Beduwai District, West Kalimantan, about three hours’ drive from here.
The cave, which was a Bidayuh longhouse of the Golik sub-group, turned into stone ages ago after a curse befell the settlement and its people for serving rubber crumbs to a boy during the traditional Pesta Panen Padi ceremony.
The cave, about 30 to 45 minutes by foot from the Golik village in Dusun Pemodis, was an ideal eco-tourism product for locals, said Alim, who is also a liaison officer in Sarawak for West Kalimantan Governor Drs Cornelis M.H.
He said he was sad to learn that most of the villagers comprised poor farmers and hoped to jump start the project with them soon so that they could have additional income as tour guides and homestay operators.
“As a start, I’ll be organising a rosary retreat to the cave next month because October is the month of The Rosary in the Catholic Church.
“The villagers are devoted Catholics, and a few weeks ago, the Beduwai parish priest blessed the cave and placed Mother Mary’s statue at the entrance, which serves as grotto. So, we’ll be going at the right time,” he said. He believed the retreat would help foster goodwill among Dayaks and Catholics from Sarawak and Kalimantan and promote the cave and village as an eco-tourism destination.
Another Borneo Dayak Forum promoter Salam Chimie said, since 2008, a group of Dayaks from Sarawak initiated Gawai visits to Pontianak, Sanggau and Sebujit Seluas in Kalimantan to reciprocate goodwill visits from their counterparts in Kalimantan.
The Borneo Dayak Forum would organise a raft safari from Entikong to Sanggau in Kapuas some time early next year as on-going efforts to promote bilateral ties among the indigenous people, he added.
Both Beduwai District community leader Geratus Bobi and Dusun Pemodis village head Filipus Lugim welcomed the Borneo Dayak Forum’s ideas to help the people.
They said the people were ready to provide basic services such as local guides, accommodation and food for visitors to the cave.
Filipus said the villagers were mainly subsistence farmers who earned about RM200 a month from selling rubber, cocoa, padi and vegetables in the district.