Pastoral visit to Long Teru lapok 2017

Pastoral visit to Ulu Teru, Lapok
12th-13th August 2017
Most Reverend Bishop Richard Ng

Photography : Jason Kho
Story compiled by Ben Chang

Sungai Teru is a stream within Sarawak and is nearby to Rimbas, Teru and Babu. It is the home of ethnic native groups of the orang ulu namely the Kayan, Kenyah and the Penans.

The Kenyah and Kayan are the main groups. There are numerous subgroups as well but these smaller groups are often assimilated into one or the other of the other two. The Kayan  Kenyah live in the central portions of major central Borneo rivers mostly around the Baram region.

Kenyah and Kayan people consider the head of the Kayan River their point of origin. The Kenyah seem to have inhabited central Borneo for a considerable length of time, whereas the Kayan, a mobile and conquering group, came relatively lately from the south and east. The Kayan enslaved and assimilated the Murut and other groups in the area. In the early twentieth century, the Brooke regime put an end to the headhunting and warfare practiced by these peoples.

Social structure, religious beliefs, custom ( adat ), and technology constitute variations on a common background. Within the Kayan-Kenyah-Bahau cultural complex, however, the Modang exhibit a particular differentiation. They distinguish themselves by their village organization: the existence of a men's house ( ewéang in Wehèa, petoèh in Long Way, etc.), and the institution of the chief's "great house" ( msow pwun in Wehèa). Generally they appear more conservative than the other populations of the region. They have retained cultural elements discarded by others, for instance the great number of taboos ( pli' ) observed during the rice cycle.

Kayan and Kenyah marry within their own classes. Marriage among commoners is often within the longhouse community, and first -cousin marriage is prohibited; bride-price is usually optional in lieu of bride-service. Residence is ambilocal. Among the aristocracy, marriage is usually outside the longhouse, and there is no bar to first-cousin marriage. An aristocrat male marries first an aristocrat female; after this he is free to marry polygynously a woman from any class. The children produced by such a marriage are of an intermediate class. Male offspring inherit gongs, weapons, and canoes; females inherit beads, though the value of shares is equal among all offspring.

Rice, raised in swiddens, is the staple; corn, yams, pumpkins, cucumbers, and tobacco are also raised. In some Kenyah groups, rice cultivation is controlled by women. Fishing, which is more important to the diet than is hunting, is accomplished primarily by poisoning with tuba root.

Hunting is mainly done with dogs and blowguns, and the most important game is the wild pig. Goats, dogs, pigs, and chickens are raised domestically, the latter two for sacrifice. The Kenyah and Kayan are skilled woodworkers, metalworkers, and canoe builders. They trade their knives and swords, which are famous throughout central Borneo. For the Kenyah, rubber has become the most important cash crop. A Kayan individual who clears primary forest land has undisputed ownership of it.

A central feature of the life of these peoples was the mamat, or head feast, which is now rare owing to Christian influence. The mamat required a new head; its purposes included ritual purification, marking the end of a period of mourning for a deceased kinsman, or the ritual completion of a new longhouse.

Most of the kanyan and kenyah had been converted to Christianity since the days of the late Bishop Gavin.

The area around Lapok area was originally  served by our very own local pioneer missionary leader, the late Reverend Fr Anthony Wan in the eighties and nineties and by all accounts a very austere and apostolic man. Father Wan was born in 1949 and ordained priest in 1978. He was stationed at St. Paul's church, Long San and Gereja Katolik yesus Tuhan, Lapok.

Father Wan helped spread Christianity to the far reaches of the remote jungles of northern Sarawak, living in isolated settlements among the native ethnic groups, especially among the Orang Ulus like the Kayans, Kenyahs and even the Penans

His last posting was in the remote settlement of Long San, seven hours by timber road from Miri. Father Wan was also proficient in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin and also the natives’ ethnic languages. Father Wan had served almost 40 years in the priesthood, together with Bishop Anthony Lee Kok Hin, Monsignor Francis Kulleh, Father Peter Mering and Father Philip Empalah.

These natives lived in geographically-difficult areas that sometimes required days of walking and boat rides along dangerous rivers to reach. He did this while suffering from bone problems, from his legs to his backbone, and diabetes.

Father Wan had always preferred to serve among the poor natives in rural Sarawak despite his physical sufferings and had been reluctant to be stationed in the cities and towns for long periods, his parishioners said.

He however, would willingly endure a tough journey and travel to the urban centres just to meet those who are sick and in need of him. He would readily gave up this own clothes for the needy in his parish.

Father Wan, 60, was hospitalised three days earlier before the died after suffering  with breathing problems while he was inBatu Niah town, some 120km south of Miri city. He passed away peacefully at about 8pm on Thursday night. He had just celebrated his 60th birthday about two months earlier.

During a grand 60th birthday celebration organised by parishioners for him, Monsignor Kulleh and Father Gabriel Cheong, Father Wan had spoken at length on the need for all people to forgive one another.

“Forgive readily from our hearts those who have hurt us,” he had said.

During the dinner, he also spoke about how he will face death with confidence and inner peace.

12th August 2017 - RH Kajan Sigeh, Long Teru
The Bishop celebrated Mass at St Mary's chapel, at 6.30pm

The next day on 13th August  Sunday
The Bishop celebrated a confirmation  Mass
at Saint Teresa,
Ulu Teru  for 101 Confirmants

New Sop Eff 01May2022 ... Watch here.

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