In the early 90’s, the island of Banggi accepted substantial changes to the basic amenities such as policlinic, police stations and a small district office in Pekan Karakat while schools built in strategic areas. Penghulu Gaun did mention that Bonggi in Kampong Kalangkaman and Kabatangan still lack of many basic amenities compares to the other races. He tried his best effort to help improve the Bonggi people equivalent to those of any races on the island through modern agriculture. I praised him a lot for his determination to help his own people including other races in Banggi. He is such an extraordinary leader, and I adored him so much. The rain has stopped, and the time almost 10 pm. Pengerusi Guan excused himself to go back to his house. When he had arrived at his house, we resumed our conversation. I commended the Pengerusi for his efforts to carry out his duties properly and adequately to all inhabitants on Banggi Island. Freddie and Patrick just nodded their heads agreeing.
Friday, October 29, 2010
The Bonggi people in Banggi Island
Trip to Banggi Island from July 19 to 24, 2010:
It was the third night in Kampung Kalangkaman, Banggi. I was writing in my field journal while Freddie was cooking dinner. My other assistant, Patrick was fixing the two zinc roofs that would be used to collect rainwater in a brawny blue basin. When the dinner time came, all of us hovered over two dishes that lay on the cooking table. The menus for that night were chicken meats with soy ketchup and fried eggs with cabbage. In addition, each of us cooked Maggi curry noodle. In the States, it is not easy to find Maggi noodle at any grocery shops or even in supermarkets. The only choices I have are Ramen noodles from Korea, packed noodles from Thailand, rice vermicelli from China and Indomee from Indonesia. Hence, during my summer break in Malaysia, I would treat myself with all Malaysian foods including “kolok mee”, Sarawak laksa and my favourite Maggi noodles. I supposed to decrease my body weight, but I could not resist the temptation to eat any Malaysia foods. I have to make a promise to myself that I will reduce my weight once I go back to the USA.
The leader of Bonggi people
We sat down and talk to each other after dinner. The wind was blowing so hard, and the moon was already engulfed by thick black clouds. We were expecting heavy downpour less than an hour. From afar, we saw a middle aged man approached the Kampong Kalangkaman Hall where we used it as a camping site. He was from the Pengerusi’s house that locates opposite of the hall. The man must be the Pengerusi Gaun Maun. He did not wear a shirt or anything else on his upper body other than a black trouser. He carried a long notebook and waved his right hand to us.
We greeted him, and Freddie carried a chair for him. Patrick gave a cigarette to him. He lighted the cigarette and started asking about my works.
“Dency, how is your work?”
“It's not too bad Pengerusi. We managed to catch murai batu (shama) and other beautiful birds, but we did not find any murai kampong (magpie robin). Even, we did not hear any songs of this bird from the first day until today.”
“I see. I’m not sure whether the bird is here or already moves to other places. Oh ya! I need you all to sign my guest book. This is a way for me to check how many visitors and their purposes to come here. You can start first Dency.”
I wrote down my name, University address, purposes, time we would stay in the kampong and lastly my signature. Freddie and Patrick did ask me to write their names and address on behalf of them, and they would sign after I have done. While I filled intended information in the notebook, the rain started to fall. Pengerusi could not go home, so he stayed with us till the rain stopped.
History of Banggi Island
I took this opportunity to ask him about Banggi Island, Bonggi people, Kampong Kalangkaman and political situation in Sabah especially in Kudat Division. From his story, we knew that Pengerusi is a Wakil Ketua Anak Negeri Banggi or Vice Chairman of the Banggi Native. He began by telling the early history of Banggi Island, which first inhibited by Bonggi and Bajau Laut (Sea Bugis) tribe during the Sultanate of Sulu. At that time, the original name of the island was Panglima Island. The Bonggi people stayed in deep jungle and hills while Bajau Laut (Sea Bajau) preferred to stay near the mangrove forest and small islands around the island. When the North Borneo Company took over Panglima Island from Sultan Sulu, its name changed to Banggi Island after the Bonggi people. Even, the company grouped the Bonggi people together with other Dusun in mainland. The island demographic changed a lot under the company with the addition of other races such as Kedayan, Benambak and Ubian. These tribes migrated from Philippines, and they set up many settlements in the island. In terms of development, Pulau Banggi is still far behind compared to other places, since Sabah joined the Federation of Malaysia.