The conference gala dinner was held at EastWood Valley Golf and Country Club. The conference speakers and participants waited at the hotel lobby as shuttle services were provided. The golf club is situated approximately 4km from the hotel where we stayed.
Upon reaching the club’s ballroom, welcoming drinks were served on lounge tables’ located at the ballroom foyer area. We mingled around, commenting on our beads accessories and some even discussed about business opportunity. Here, I have the opportunity to talked to one of the Orang Ulu prominent figure; Datuk Stephen Wan Ullok (a lawyer, former politician, a freelance researcher and an entrepreneur-owner of the Telang Usan Hotels). Currently he’s working on Kenyah’s classic songs compilation. He was one of the VIP invited guest.
I regretted it for not taking picture with him as we get carried away discussing issues related to Orang Ulu heritage until Heidi (BIBCO Head Organiser) interrupted us and invite us to enter the ballroom. 🙂
I walked in the ballroom and search for my table. Our table number has been printed in our gala dinner card. I was impressed with the table setting where a bookmark with beads attached to it and placed on the plate. The menu were creatively impressive too especially when local version of names are being used.
The foods were delicious and we were been entertained with traditional costume fashion shows, traditional and contemporary dance performances and the highlight of the gala dinner was the fashion show by Von Jolly Couture. Von Jolly Couture is managed and owned by 2 uprising Sarawakian designers; Raymond (uncle) and Aaron (niece) who focus on contemporary batik designs. They had won numerous awards and had been parading their designs at high profile event locally and as far as London, New York and Milan.
For batik fashion fan out there, you can view great shots from Nainet Photomania.com on the fashion show taken during the gala dinner function. Thank you Naising. 🙂
I have to say the conference gala dinner was the grandest dinner I ever attended in my entire life. ;p
The next day, I was really excited as I was looking forward to Jamey Allen presentation entitled ‘The Heirloom Beads of Island South East Asia’. Jamey is the Founding Member of Bead Society of Northern California (1977), Co-Founder of The Society of Bead Researchers (1981) and also Consulting Curator of The Bead Museum in Glendale, Arizona. In other word, he’s a lifelong artist, collected and studied bead for over 40 years.
I see him as the ‘Beads Otai’. 😉
Heidi Munan is a private researcher, been studying Sarawak material culture for over 30 years and is the Honorary Curator of Beads at Sarawak Museum. She is also the responsible person behind the conference. In short, she’s the Chairperson on BIBCO 2010. Her paper was entitled ‘Borneo Bead Culture in the 21st Century’.
The 3rd conference paper was about ‘Making Ceramic and Glass Beads in Malaysia’ which was presented by Nor Azmah Abd Kadir. She’s the principal researcher of Advanced Polymer and Composites Program at SIRIM (Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia). I was happy to know that there are efforts done by the community in Lawas on producing beads from clay; not only it encourages cottage industry to bloom but also one way of beads conservation. With the assistance provided by SIRIM on introducing modern technology, it increases the productivity however the downside of it (my personal view) is when SIRIM introduces new beads design and pattern. I felt offended as in the future, ‘outsider’ might think the new design and pattern are beads from Borneo or even Lawas in specific therefore it defeat the purpose of material culture preservation. 🙁
Even Nor Azmah Kadir expressed her shocking finding on how beads are seen as a valuable piece among the indigenous especially to people of Borneo as prior to the conference; she thought beads were just a material culture that are admired for its aesthetic value. *sigh*
Yekti Kusmartono presentation entitled ‘Jatim Beads: From thrash to treasure’ is an eye opener for me. She is one of Indonesia foremost bead scholars. She amazed me on how today’s beadmakers of East Java uses broken glass, melting it, manipulate the material to produce a range of elegant new beads. I felt ‘ashamed’ on SIRIM effort using high technology machine to produce ceramic and glass beads at Lawas yet it is still not as successful as the beadmakers of East Java who only uses basic tools such as player, metal cutter and metal rod. The quality of beads from East Java is way better than the one that is produced at Lawas.
Dr. David Baradas was the last presenter and his presentation entitled ‘Beads in the Philippines’. He is a retired social anthropologist and currently a member of Executive Committee, Committee on Intangible Heritage, National Commission of Culture & Arts in Philippines. Here, his area of focus is on few ethnolinguistic groups located at Luzon and Mindanao where beads play a significant role in their lives.
The conference ended with ‘Meet the Speakers’ session. It provide informal discussion platform to the conference participant on respective area of expertise and specialization. We exchanged contact details with the participants and looking forward to meet again in next year BIBCO conference.
That evening, I checked out from my room and headed home. I brought back lotsa memories and lesson learnt. Life for me will be back to the normal pace where it used to be. I have classes to attend and some paperwork to settle in the office the following day. The whole thing was tiring but worthwhile as I learnt alot from it. 🙂