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Joniston presenting Moginakan donation to Kampung Tiong Tomburung chief Sipin Bin Sikui.

Promote small-scale celebration in rural villages through immersive Kaamatan calendar

KIULU: Districts in Sabah should consider looking into creating an immersive and comprehensive Kaamatan calendar to showcase the rich tapestry of Sabah's Kaamatan Festival.

Making the suggestion, Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Assist Minister Datuk Joniston Bangkuai said such initiative would unlock the hidden gems of small-scale celebrations in picturesque rural villages, allowing tourists to have the opportunity to experience the vibrant festivities if they happen to travel to rural destinations.

He said the collaborative effort should involve representatives from each district working closely with local communities and village leaders to gather accurate information about the Kaamatan celebrations, like the dates, locations, specific cultural activities and performances taking place in each village.

“The calendar should be made available to tourists and tour agencies so they can plan itineraries during the month-long Kaamatan celebration in May accordingly, choosing to visit villages that align with their interests and desired experiences.

“Having such a designated calendar will make it easy for the Sabah Tourism Board (STB) to assist with promotional efforts,” he said at the opening of the Kaamatan Celebration at Kampung Ponohuon here on Monday (May 29).

Joniston, who is STB chairman, said this Kaamatan Festival calendar would contribute to the equitable distribution of tourism opportunities across Sabah's districts.

He explained larger towns and cities often receive more attention while smaller villages and rural areas are overlooked.

“By showcasing the Kaamatan celebrations in different villages, the calendar aims to promote a more inclusive and balanced tourism landscape, encouraging visitors to explore lesser-known areas and supporting local economies.

“This initiative also aligns with the state's sustainable tourism goals, ensuring that the economic benefits of tourism reach all corners of Sabah,” he added.

Meanwhile, Joniston also attended the Moginakan - a Reunion Festival for the Kadazandusun family - at several different homes in Kampung Tiong Tomburung.

According to Tiong Tomburung village chief Sipin Bin Sikui, the Moginakan is usually celebrated for two days starting May 30 in conjunction with the Kaamatan celebration but can extend up to a week.

“It is the moment for distant relatives to make a trip back home to renew the bonds that have kept the family together all these years and to ensure it may never be severed.

“We will take turns visiting houses during this reunion, and Tiong Tomburung has over 20 homes,” he said, adding that they would have to wait another seven years before it could host a Moginakan to clear the way for the other six villages that fall under the Tiong umbrella to have their own.