Last Sunday, 9th July, 2012 marked another important historical event for the KDM's legend of Nunuk Ragang and Huguan Siou.
It was the annual event to commemorate the Nunuk Ragang saga - the beginning of the Kadazandusun Murut and also for the inauguration of the KDM's fourth institution, namely the Huguan Siou, the brave leader.
For this latter commemoration, it is Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the second modern day Huguan Siou's, 28th anniversary of becoming a Huguan Siou of the KDM community.
And it was the 17th year of celebrating and commemorating the Nunuk Ragang legend held annually near the banks of the river Liwogu in Tampios, Ranau. It was in this spot where it is believed the first two beings, Kinoingan and Suminundu, first appeared and lived amongst the people in the area.
It is also here that they begot children and who later spread out to inhabit what is Sabah today.
The legend of Nunuk Ragang is told and retold many times.
Each suku or tribe has its own version of the origin of Nunuk Ragang, but what is common amongst their stories is that their ancestors came from Nunuk Ragang.
One version is that two semi divine beings came out from a split rock, named Kinoingan and suminundu, married and begot children - , 7 boys and two girls. The eldest was a female whose name was Huminodun who was later sacrificed so that the hungry people could be spared from a devastating famine.
There are now many renditions of the story of Huminodun, but today she is remembered by the Kadazandusun Murut communities in a beauty pageant at every Moginakan or harvest festival.
and that her spirit became the spirit of the padi known as Bambaazon.
But where did the rock or boulder come from? The assumption is that there was a huge eruption of what is now known as Mt Kinabalu a few thousand years ago, causing rocks and boulders spewing out from an erupting volcano and the evidence of this are the many huge boulders dotting the township of Ranau today. We are told, after all by the scientists that Mt Kinabalu has a dormant volcano.
One of the boulders from Mt Kinablu landed in Tompios by the river Liwogu and from this rock emerged two semi divine beings.
Nunuk Ragang is the name of the village because the Nunuk tree's leaves were red colour.
There is a connection, in my opinion, between the belief that our first forebears came out from a rock - a stone that had come out from Mt Kinabalu and the belief that our ancestors spirits live on top of the mountain. In time past, the summit of the mountain was so forbidding that no man dared to climb over to see what is on the summit.
It was a forbidden land.
The origin of Nunuk Ragang then is commemorated every year by the leaders running the Kadazandusun cultural association (KDCA) so that the communities would remember where they came from and why they belonged to the same stock of people.
This year's organisers - Datuk Othman Menudin and YB Dr Joachem Gunsalam amongst the leaders - included a competition to tell stories about Nunuk Ragang amongst the students. The eventual winner of the competition presented a very eloquent story of Nunuk Ragang.
I only wish that some of the elders had corrected her of her knowledge of the various suku or tribe.
That Dusun is not a race but a name to call a community - consisting of many tribes, amongst the major seven are the Liwan, the Tangaah, the Lotud, the Rungus and more. I think it is about time that the leaders of the KDCA start making this important tribal distinction amongst the various suku so that our younger generation is aware of the presence of these suku.
And talking of the younger generation, this year's organisers emphasised the presence of many of the school children. The one from the constituency of Kundasang, whose elected representative is Dr Joachem Gunsalam.
He had these young boys and girls, all dressed up in black to present us three songs depicting the story of Nunuk Ragang. The song writer was, to me, an example of what is good amongst us, our people, that we have talented people capable of writing songs and singing them.
There was noticeably less KDM political leaders this year.
But two Chinese leaders of the PBS, Datuk Yee Moh Chai and Datuk Yong were present and indeed acknowledged by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan in his speech. He thanked them for their attendance.
But if some other KDM political leaders were not present, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin must have been nevertheless heartened to see the large number of villagers who came from the surrounding villages and representatives from many places - as far as Tawau, Sandakan, Papar-Penampang, Keningau and Tempasuk, to mention a few.
The normal welcoming ceremony - a blessing ritual - for the Huguan Siou and his wife, Genevieve, was conducted by two sets of bobohizans, one from Tempasuk and other from Ranau.
In his annual speech for the occasion, Pairin mentioned the importance of reminding ourselves of our cultural heritage. He also expressed the hopes of the communities - KDM - to have a university set up in their midst.
The KDM college ground breaking ceremony at Tambunan by the Prime Minister, he said, was an important event in the historical progress of the communities. He said he hoped that the college would indeed be a university.
There was some confusion over the terms Pengulu and Huguan Siou.
Apparently a Federal Minister mentioned that these two terms are the same, that is to say both means head or chief of a village.
This is obviously an error, for in the Kadazandusun form of hierarchical village governance, four institutions have evolved - namely, the Orang Tua insititution (village chief) the village elders, the Bobohizan group and the Huguan Siou.
Unlike the KDM counterparts who came out from southern China at the same time a thousand years ago, the Torajah of the Celebes, the Bataks of Sumatra, both of whom had a kingship system in the governance of the communities, the KDM did not have a kingship system.
What evolved in the governance of the villages and villagers were the four institutions and one of these was the Huguan Siou system.
His role in the society was for the defense of the community and villages.
He was nearest to a kingship system. But the other institutions were equally important: the Orang Tua was chosen as head of the village for his deep knowledge of Adat, the universal laws of the community.
These sets of laws or Adat governed the communities then and now.
And it was the Orang Tua who interprets whether these Adat have been flouted or abused.
In such a situation, he was the judge, the jury and the prosecutor. The village elders were there to help him when interpreting Adat and the penalty that should be given.
The Bobohizan, meanwhile were there to help to make peace with the spirit world who might have been angered because of the flouting of Adat.
Each and every institution was an important part of the governing system of the villages in those early days. So, Pengulu (a term used by our fellow travelers across the border - the Dayak or Iban and Orang Tua for the KDM) is not the same as the Huguan Siou.
The latter is slightly higher than the OT in the estimation of the community.The Huguan Siou was also the chief diplomat and it was him who went to war or sue for peace with the neighbours.
He was possessed with "koboh" or "kabal" and this made him a rung above the others in his community.
There was a question asked of me as who and what is the origin of the KDM fairies. Why do they exist and for what is their role in our cultural heritage or custom?
The Kadazandusun fairy or "Tompuvan" in the Tangaah dialect is a female person who has been cast away or who has become an outcast of the community or society in which she belonged. She has been cast away because of jealousy and hatred towards her - many believe because she was beautiful - by a vengeful person or witch.
The vengeful witch, using the power of the occult put a curse on the poor beautiful person and reduced her to become a "stray", a zombie-like person who by day, became hideous in looks and by night, beautiful.
But she is made to wander in the jungle or forests and lived in the Nunuk tree or bayan tree or fig trees, whose fruits are the favourites of Orang Utan, birds and other forest dwellers.
The Tompuvan - meaning cursed outcast beings - also prefer to live under the canopy of the Nunuk tree.
The Kadazandusun opinion of the Tompuvan is that she is not evil, but cursed, but that this curse could one day be erased and she could return to her original being again. But she is seen as a person with long hair, down to her waist, flowing behind her as she runs in the forest to avoid the humans.
The "Tompuvan" was either dressed in long black gown or white, and never wore any veil to cover the head.
By: Tan Sri Panglima Herman Luping