Friday, July 31, 2009

Passionate, Lovely & Best Blog Awards

I've received multiple awards from Borneo Falcon recently. Thank you as the awards are the best recognition of your appreciation on my blog ;)

awardsawardsawards

I don't wish to pass on the rules created by the awards creator but I will not stop you to follow those rules should you wish :P What most important for me is I want to let you know I appreciate your passionate effort in making your blog so lovely and best that I really enjoy reading and learning from you ;)

I hereby announced the five recipients of the Passionate, Lovely and Best Blog Awards from the discerning hands of Ben .... come clap your hands guys & gals :P are

1. My Trips by Robo
2. Phil's Stuff by Bohausiaw
3. An Asian Traveler by June
4. Malaysia Asia by Junior Hogan
5. Foodie & Travel Bug by Mei Teng

For those not on the awards list don't be disappointed yet. You already have my respect and appreciation the moment you start blogging and I eagerly look forward to learn more from your blog ;)

For the awards recipients, let me know if you want the html code for the awards and I'll be very glad to assist you upload to your blog. Just drop me the message k ;)

Cheers!
Ben

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

It is hectic times for me last week due to several work commitments that rushing in all at once. If not for my buddy flying all the way from Kota Kinabalu to dragged me out to the field on the weekend, I could be the next victim of karoshi :P Well, I literally gone into incommunicado by shutting dead my laptops and mobile phones for the whole Saturday :D Yes, your eyesight is correct that I used “s”. I use two laptops and mobile phones much like a cowboy holding two smoky guns in his hands :P

I’ve a awesome de-stress day last Saturday as we headed to Suntec City for the Heritage Fest Singapore in the daytime and later to Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay and Merlion in the evening. It is also the first time I enjoy myself to the fullest at the concourse of Esplanade for a marvelous live musical performance and the night photography around Marina Bay. It is also the longest time in my lifetime that I had walked or stand within a single day, approximately 11 hours. Thus, if you think guy don’t have endurance for marathon shopping and photography... you can count me and my buddy as the rare species then :P All right, let get back to the Durian :D

Nicknamed the Durian by local folks after the spiky foul smelling but immensely popular tropical fruit, the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay is probably the most daring piece of architecture in the tropical city state of Singapore. Why the Durian? Because its twin domes which are clad in glass and metallic sunshades looks very similar to it.

Officially opened on the 12th October 2002, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay is the national performing arts center of Singapore. Esplanade’s crown jewel is its world class 1600-seat Concert Hall designed by world-renowned acoustician, the late Russell Johnson. The Concert Hall boasts superb acoustic features, which include reverberation chambers and an acoustic canopy that allows the hall to easily adapt to various music styles without a drop in sound quality. The Concert Hall is one of only five such halls in the world with similar state-of-the-art acoustic features.

The Esplanade also has a 2000-seat Theater which covers four levels of traditional European opera houses whereby its unique horseshoe shape allows a more intimate setting between the audiences and the stage. There are also two main studios namely the Recital Studio and Theater Studio, and other smaller performing venues, which provide flexible space for small-scale performances, rehearsals and other arts related activities. More on the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay can be found in the Wikipedia.

I felt the Durian somehow mutated into an alien spaceship at night :P The best place to catch a commanding view of the twin domes with its full splendor of Durian spikes is at the Singapore Flyer. The walking distance from the Esplanade to Singapore Flyer is approximately 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I don’t have any energy to walk there that night after a 11 hours marathon walked and stand :D

There is also the Esplanade Outdoor Theater within 5 minutes walking distance from the Durian, which is illuminates with glowing indigo lights at night.

Fronting the 300m long scenic waterfront along Marina Bay and against the marvelous backdrop of Singapore Flyer at night, the Esplanade Outdoor Theater hosts a range of free performances to the public from music to dance and theater. Yes, it is free! Do check out the performing schedule before you landed both feet there :P

The panoramic night view of the Durian and the Esplanade Outdoor Theater illuminates in glowing indigo light with Marina Mandarin, Pan Pacific, Mandarin Oriental, Millennia Tower and Suntec as backdrop. Taking this photo from the Merlion Park, which is located across the Marina Bay waterfront, is really a challenge due to strong wind that night and I couldn’t deploy a tripod here due to large crowd of peoples at the waterfront platform of the Merlion Park to watch the Singapore National Day Parade rehearsal.

I also pampered myself to the fullest that night with an amazing jazz performance by Fusion FM at the Concourse and to top it up, it is FREE! Fusion FM was created to explore the fusion music form. Yes, “fusion music”. I have never heard this type of music before :P

The amazing team, comprising Xian Yang who plays the erhu;

Naidu who plays the cajon; and

Tony Shen who plays the piano.

Erhu is a Chinese traditional musical instrument that can be traced back more than a thousand years ago. It has a long neck and a hexagonal body made of wood and covered with the skin of a python. Historically, the strings were made of twisted silk, but are now more often made of metal. The bow used to play the erhu is made of horsehair strung on a stick of bamboo. In performance, the erhu is held in the player's left hand and supported on the left thigh while the right hand moves the bow. More about erhu can be found in the Wikipedia.

Cajon have a history that can be traced back to central and West African slaves from Peru, as well certain regions in Cuba; it is believed that cajon was created in the 1800s on the coast of Peru. The type of cajon that was first used in Peru was actually a wooden box or crate that was commonly utilized for harvesting fruit. Slaves in Africa relied on the crates as a drumming tool and later developed the cajon from the simplest fruit harvesting wood crate design.

Cajon is now popularly identified with Afro - Cuban music such as the famous rumba, as well as Afro - Peruvian style music. More about cajon can be found in the Wikipedia.

Piano, one of the widely recognised musical instrument in the world, need not introduction lol However how many of you know the origin of piano? Don’t know? Then head to Wikipedia for answer but don’t forget to come back :P

Now you see why I called it amazing. An erhu, a cajon and a piano that each originated from totally different culture, were melding together that night to delivered the inimitable sound as they perform a selection of jazz standards including the Summertime, La Vie En Rose, Besame Mucho, Casablanca and Moon River.

Prior to that night, I have never thought about the differences between a live musical performance and listening or watching from a recording.

First of all, I realized that live performance offers a three-dimensional form of human expression, one that cannot be replicated in the same exact form in a recording.

I can feel strongly the passion of music in the air coming from the musicians.

Looking close at their unique face expressions is an art in itself :P

Needless to say, the venue at Concourse provides a laissez faire environment (no stage and no barrier), whereby ones can stay as close as he / she likes to the performance. That explains why I enjoy myself to fullest at the Concourse that night, to the performance itself and photography as I stand less than 2 m from the musicians.

All right that is all for now about the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay and the superb performance by Fusion FM. Video recording will be uploaded later. Yes, again your eyes are not playing the trick. I recorded their performance that night and it is legal and free! :D

The Singapore National Day is coming soon on 9 August 2009 and as a permanent resident of the Little Red Dot, I wish all my Singaporean and SPR friends a Happy National Day!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Angalang & Magunatip

Lo and behold, Angalang, the dance of Murut warrior arrived!!!

The Angalang dance was performed by a solo male dancer in full Murut’s warrior regalia. The male dancer is wearing a loincloth embroidered with colourful threads called aba puputul, which is wound around the waist and passed between the legs. The jacket made of puputul tree bark with red and black motif is called babaru puputul. The headdress decorated with the beautiful long feathers of the Argus pheasant called tupi sinulatan complete the warrior regalia. Not to be missed are bones tied to the red strings hanging on the neck that clearly proclaimed “don’t play play with me” :D

In the olden days, Angalang was performed to celebrate victorious battles and successful headhunting party! Yes, you read correctly “headhunting party” :D

The Murut people were warrior headhunters and their reputation struck fear in the hearts of their enemies. Collecting heads of enemies as trophies, or for buried in paddy field as token for bountiful harvest, or beneath a bridge to ensure it last forever and most important as dowry for the newly betrothed bride to proved his manhood were part of the Murut’s customs and spiritual beliefs. Of course the practice of head hunting has stopped, but the celebration to the Murut’s brave spirit has not.

Nowadays the Angalang is performed during social occasion such as wedding and festival likes the Pesta Kalimaran (Murut’s harvest festival).

The Angalang dance start on very serious steps with the dancer eyes looking stern, without a single smile, holding firmly on his shield with his right hand and wielding a spear cum blowpipe with his left hand that can be a deadly weapon when use with poisonous dart.

First, look down the earth for enemy hiding among the bushes.

Next, look up the sky for enemy hiding above the trees.

Now look straight and he spotted your head :P

A loud and eerie battle cry of “Yiiiii” was sound out and he gonna delivered a deadly dart lol :D

Binggo!!! A trophy head for his sweetheart :P

Another Murut warrior jumped out and scout around for head :O

Oh NOOoo! He spotted and aimed the deadly dart at my cutie head *( Hey cut the head but don’t mess my hair :P

Now see their bloody smile for they collected trophy head each and time to head home to redeem their beloved sweetheart.

Wow, what a beautiful and lovely smile of a Murut maiden seeing the bridegroom returned with the trophy head as dowry for the wedding.

Another beautiful and lovely Murut maiden, smiling for the triumphant returned of her bridegroom. No wonder the Murut warrior die die also want to cut-off my cutie head :D

But my bride is lamenting at home lol :P

Now let celebrate the triumphant headhunting party with Magunatip !!! The "Magunatip" word is derived from the "apit" word, which means "trapped".

In this dance, the dancers show their agility and dexterity in jumping and putting their feet between the clapping bamboo poles without being trapped!!! It is a dance of happiness that was performs after the powerful Angalang.

This dance does not accompanied by any instrumental music because the rhythmic clapping and stamping of the bamboo poles produce a loud, harmonized, beat and interesting sound or rhythm. Thus it is also called the bamboo dance.

Later all the guests were invited on stage for the torturous but exciting Magunatip dance. They start on the slow tempo to lure everyone in.

Then the clapping speed of the bamboo will become faster and faster and FASTER until everyone keep jumping frenziedly with loud groaning of Oohs and Ouchs. It is aka to catch-my-legs game :D

You’re curious about their lovely costume? The female dancers wear costumes known as pinongkolo which is elaborately embroidered with colorful tiny beads. On their heads is an ornate headpiece called salupai, which is made of long beads in front, strands of smaller beads, flowers and two beautiful long feathers of Argus pheasant at the back. A beautiful necklace consist of colorful tiny beads called rarangkol completed the costume.

I’m extremely awed with the simple yet graceful traditional costumes and dances of the Kadazandusun, Bajau and Murut peoples. The dancers not only delivered marvelous performance but taught me an important lesson “if only peoples of different religions and skin colors willing to understand and steadfastly uphold the unity in diversity, then we will be able to appreciate and cherish each other unique differences truly”. What about you?

All right this marked the end of my posting for Monsopiad Cultural Village ;) Coming Next .... Oop let you make the wild guess first :D

Monday, July 13, 2009

Limbai Dance of Bajau

After the Sumazau and Sazau of Kadazandusun tribe, we were mesmerized with another simple yet elegant dance called Limbai. It is a traditional dance of the Bajau people from Kota Belud area on the west coast of Sabah and is often performed during social occasion, particularly wedding to welcome the bridegroom as he arrives at the bride’s house.

A beautiful sumandak with the traditional Bajau’s gold ornate headdress in the shape of a ship called sarempak.

The Limbai is dance in pair with the handsome man put on a headdress called tanjak, a brilliant indigo high collared satiny shirt called badu with Betawi buttons decorating the front and the white satiny trouser called suar. An embroidered scarf called selendang is tied around his waist.

The graceful lady wear the brilliant yellow satiny blouse called badu sipak, which has flared and slashed sleeves, with contrasting green colour fitted sleeves inside. A flat cloth-covered collar-ornament decorated with stylized gold leaves called mandapun accentuates the neckline. Her brilliant red full-length skirt called olos berangkit is adorned by beautiful woven panel of bunga kapas (cotton flower).

Another lovely couple dancing the Limbai.

The graceful rotating wrist movement is a trademark of the Limbai with the music accompanying the Limbai is called the Bertitik. The instruments usually consist of a Kulintangan which is a set of nine small kettle gongs and three hanging gongs and two double headed drums called Gandang.
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