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Joanna shows she has what it takes
Published on: Sunday, July 07, 2024
By: Lorena Binisol
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Joanna shows she has what it takes
Joanna adorning her Murut attire won subsidiary title “The Most Popular Award”.
KUCHING: She’s pushing 66, a mother of six and long retired. 

But that didn’t stop Joanna Kitingan from wanting to know how she would fare if she took to the stage instead of just helping beauties do so in the yearly Kaamatan Unduk Ngadau pageant.

As it turned out, she was adjudged Most Popular while the only other Sabahan Ani Mustapa won Mrs Elite Stellar World Malaysia Borneo at the Miss Stellar World Borneo International in Kuching, recently, besides the subsidairy titles of “Best in Interview” and “Best in Evening Gown”.

Joanna involved in the longest-running beauty pageant in Malaysia (Unduk Ngadau Ka’amatan that started in 1960), decided to participate in the Mrs Elite category. She also emerged second runner-up in the “Miss Elite” category.

“I am sixty-six, have climbed Mount Kinabalu six times and have six grown-up children. 

“I thought it was time to show my other ability, which is to parade my precious indigenous costumes not only locally but internationally,” said Joanna.

Borneo Director Kimi Tomas said all five winners from each category would compete at the national level in Kuala Lumpur on Aug. 3. The national winner would represent Malaysia in the international pageant in the United States next year.

Kimi, an Iban, who won Mrs Global Asian 2023, is currently the ambassador of Empowerment for Ms Stellar World Malaysia.

According to her, Bornean women particularly from Sabah and Sarawak possess unique beauty and strength. 

“This beauty is not only reflected in their appearance but also in their ability to handle various challenges in life. 

“As mothers raising their children, as entrepreneurs in their own right and through many other exemplary deeds, they demonstrate remarkable resilience and capability,” she said.

The winners from three categories who would be competing at the national level in August.

The event at Grand Riverine Hotel emphasised culture, advocacy and women’s empowerment saw a good turnout. Director of Tourism Malaysia Sarawak, Nurul Ain Mohammed represented the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Malaysia, Khairul Firdaus Akbar Khan. 

National Director Sherlyn Chan Seet Leng from Kuala Lumpur, who was also 2022 Miss Plus World pageant winner, said beauty is not confined to just looks and surface attributes but includes the attitude and advocacy that a woman represents to make positive changes in the community.

“We will continue to work diligently towards our mission of promoting sustainability and empowerment,” she said.

Ani from Kota Belud wore a traditional costume called Badu Senisip Sinipak from the Bajau Samah tribe in Kota Belud. 

Her accessories included “Serimpak” (top head), “Mandapun” (chest accessory) and “Ingot Pangkat” (belt).

Joanna from Tambunan was noted for her approachable and accommodating nature. She wore a contemporary dress named “Fiery Maiden in Red”, inspired by ‘Simba’, a traditional red Murut attire. 

Her accessories were those typically worn by Murut maidens and represented the colours of Borneo. The designer, Murnie Mangun, is a Murut.

In the “Miss” category, Adline Teo wore a traditional costume named “The Majestic Borneo Hornbill.” 

Designed by her mother, Sofia Tubong, the costume symbolised royal elegance and cultural significance, representing leadership, honour, and the natural world and encapsulated strength, beauty, tradition and nature, capturing the crowd’s attention.

In the Mrs category, Mardianah Dickson portrayed Selinang Benua, the radiant goddess of the sea and earth. 

She wore a turquoise blue dress representing the vastness and calm of the sea, adorned with a mystical beaded collar symbolising status and wealth among Iban maidens. 

Her black beads connected her to the spiritual realm, while the white elements of her attire signified purity, peace and spirituality.

Linsa Anak Michael, a Sarawakian who owns a batik factory in Johor, was one of the sponsors for the batik attire.

Miss Stellar World Malaysia, the first of its kind in the country, chose Kuching as its inaugural platform, the licence franchise (from USA) was bought by Sherlyn Chan, National Director.

The first round of catwalk involved parading traditional wear, followed by showcase of Borneo Batik wear and final catwalk was evening gowns.

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