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Empowering the community in Kiulu
Published on: Friday, January 10, 2020
By: Lorena Binisol
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Empowering the community in Kiulu
KIULU: Rasa Ria Resort, through its corporate social responsibility programmes has been instrumental in assisting and promoting community activities in Kiulu to empower the community there to be economically independent.

The fruition of such collaboration programmes has resulted in turning the mindset of the community to be more creative and enterprising.

The resort has successfully imparted knowledge and awareness on maintaining sustainability and preservation of the environment.

In Kg Pinagon Baru, the residents were appreciative of the efforts made by the resort manager Fiona Hagan who encouraged them to utilise natural resources such as bamboo to make decorative items.

“With just words of encouragement and reassurance from the resort, the community were awakened with positive vibes. And coupled with support, they witnessed positive changes taking place within the community,” said Saidin Tupas, a resident, who is the liaison officer with Mukest community, an NGO formed by the villagers.

Bamboo is a plant that found in abundance grown in the area. Today, villagers have been made aware of its value and they have started conserving and replanting them for future use.

“Bamboo is a wild plant and have been growing naturally in Kiulu since time immemorial but the villagers have not given serious thought about its potential commercial usage until the resort revealed its usefulness and value,” said Saidin.

The CSR programme has benefited both the resort and the community in that the cultures in the locality and the resort are promoted as a viable tourist destination.

The recent lighting of Christmas lights at the resort saw exhibition of various lamps (lanterns) made of bamboo by the community in Kiulu who called themselves as Mukest community.

Japi Modukil, who is known for his skills in creating lanterns as decoration, was grateful that his achievement was acknowledged by Minister of Youth and Sports, Phoong Jin Zhe last year during Christmas.

Regina Sulit, the resort communication director said that as a result of the collaborative partnership with the residents in Kiulu, many outsiders and tourists from overseas have acknowledged Kiulu as a potential tourism destination.

“We are utterly grateful that apart from producing decorative items using bamboo, we are also blessed with fertile land for paddy farming.

“Thanks to Rasa Ria Resort, now we know how precious bamboo is in our lives. Since then, our livelihood had been much better,” said Saidin gratefully.

On other products, with 12 acres of land to the family name being used for paddy farming, the family of Daimeh Bagu and her sister Rohana continue their family legacy in planting paddy the traditional way.

Although her profession is a teacher, Daimeh often comes back to her village in Kg Pinagon Baru to help her family during paddy harvesting.

She expressed her gratitude to her parents, Longguin Gimpat (mother) and father Bagu Kampadong, who have since passed on, for their insistence in preserving the family legacy and keeping the culture and tradition alive, hence, why they continue to maintain the family paddy field.

“The 12 acres of land is an inheritance from our parents who insisted that the land must be guarded well and the tradition to plant paddy must go on, regardless of any circumstances,” said Daimeh.

It is also an opportunity for outsiders to witness the traditional way of paddy farming where the Bagu family still carry out until today. 

On the way to the paddy field, there is a suspension bridge where visitors need to cross in order to reach the other side of the river - this also becomes another attraction for outsiders.

Right after crossing the suspension bridge, one must go over a small brook and for those who are not adventurous enough would find it a little challenging to go through the path.

Ellen Gusin of Kg Polod together with her husband, Andrew Kabu, built a small hut, a homestay near Tudol river where the sight is often described as a one-million-dollar-view by visitors, who visited and experienced the calmness and the serene of the surrounding area.

She also started organic farming within the proximity of her homestay where it become an activity for tourists to experience planting and harvesting of edible plants for their meal.

She said waking up to a spectacular view with such soothing sound of nature could heal and mend a broken soul.

“The only noise you could hear is the gushing water coming from the upper stream and chirping of the birds at dawn and it gives such comforting sound and pleasing to the ears,” she said.

With 150 villagers residing sporadically across the village, Ellen described her humble abode as one of a kind where villagers have always lived harmoniously with nature.

Kiharo Bamboo Hut, the name of their homestay, was created in collaboration with Borneo Eco Tours (BET).

Srchwantz Yasun @Wan of Borneo Eco Tours who frequently visit the villages in Kiulu has established a good relationship with the community there.

An active involvement in the tourism industry had enabled Wan to gain experience and priceless knowledge about the value of the cultures and traditions of the respective villages.

He said that with the natural attraction such as waterfall and scenic jungle beauty, the sub-district has gained attention among the tourism fraternity.

Wan commended the hard work of Ellen and Andrew who took the lead in starting their homestay that are filled with nature-based activities.

“In fact, they already have natural products within their settlement, so, the only thing that we need to impart to them is how to sustain it and maintain it for a long time.

“We need to share to them knowledge about keeping our treasure while, at the same time sharing it to outsiders who appreciate nature,” she said.

Apart from scenic views, Kg Polod is also known for its authentic delicacies, as there are plenty of edible plants that are available in the jungle.

Ellen shared that her parents taught her about wild plants and until today they still consume such these plants as part of their sustenance.

“We do not buy vegetable as we have plenty of them in our backyard, we just need to identify them, pluck them and there you go, that’s part of our daily meal,” she said.

Among the edible plants she shared was polod (soft stem of the palm tree) (this is probably how the village got its name Kg Polod).

There were others such as lombiding (fern), keladi hutan (wild yam),  kantan (a type of ginger), kakatung (wild vegetable) and many more are easily available there. Ellen usually plucks a few types and cooked them to let her visitors sample them during meal times.

Others edible vegetation were poposon, buntui, toguli, tiwak lamba, lopuk, bambangan, togilai, tiwak rombisan, dukaruk palu, tiwak polod, tiwak botu, garing gipun and runtu runtu, she said.

She said that although her homestay was only opened last year in June, her establishment has received many tourists to experience the tranquillity of the place.

“We’ve had visitors from Holland, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and France and they were mesmerised with the nature here.  Thank you to BET for coordinating and organising the visits by tourists,” she said.

Ellen said nature is an asset that must be preserved for future generations.

Another potential tourism spot not to be missed is the Kiulu Farmstay which BET took the initiative to build in 2015 using mostly bamboo plants.

It is frequently utilised for team-building events and corporate gatherings. The forest surrounding the farmstay is part of its attraction while the Kiulu rapids are more for the adventurous visitors.

Wan is confident that Kiulu would be among of the most frequented destinations in the near future especially by those tourists who enjoy nature.  


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