English: There, here and over there. Basically, in a sense, to mean restless. A collection of thoughts, musings and ramblings...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What beauty?

"Your hair is so dry!!" exclaimed the young man as he ran his fingers through my frizzy, curly hair. "Aiyah.... so many curls in your hair! You should do rebonding treatment."

He made it sound like it was an offence to have anything but long sleek straight hair. I scowled silently at him - guy with spiked, bleached blonde hair, hoping he'd get the message to shut up. Already I am regretting my choice to have my hair washed.

I hate hair salons. And that's the truth.

They make you feel so....... unpretty, at least for me. And that's putting it rather blandly.

Going to a hair salon is something that I don't do very often. I would rather prolong my next visit to a hair salon for a long as I possibly could, and would love to skip it altogether if I could. I'd rather buy hair colour treatments and do it myself.

"If I could cut my own hair and make it look decent, I'd probably skip seeing a hairdresser for the rest of my life", I mulled silently.

Because why in the world do I need to be insulted, or cajoled into being made up into someone I'm not? 

That is just me, the advocate of natural beauty and self-love. I'm proud to say that at 32, I still have the skin of a 25 year old, and a personality to match (I'm kidding!). I've never really subscribed to all the expensive beauty treatments - no toner, no mosturiser... and no make-up for most of the time! And you know what? Except for the crinkly laugh lines around my eyes (which I actually think is just cute), I believe I look reasonably good. So take that, MAC and Estee Lauder! Beauty products are a farce.

Recently I went to watch Snow White, starring Kristin Stewart. I hated her previous role as Bella, whom I thought of was completely weak and needy yet lusted over for no good reason, and neither was I too impressed with Walt Disney's Snow White whom I also thought was a dumb fair-skinned damsel in distress who couldn't do much to save her own life. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the storyline in this movie, which was a lot more realistic then the other two mentioned.

A few scenes in the movie stood out for me, and they were lines by the Evil Queen Ravenna played convincingly by the ever gorgeous Charlize Theron. As she robbed the King of his life while they lay in bed, fresh from their marital vows, she said:-

"I was ruined by a king like you once. I replaced his queen, an old woman. And in time, I too would have been replaced. Men use women, they ruin us and when they are finished with us they throw us to their dogs like scraps.

When a woman stays young and beautiful, the world is hers."


And skinny too, if I might add. 

Stories like Snow White may not really be written to be all about inner and overall beauty wining over physical beauty, but you can't help but stop and think about the significance of it. Not only is this movie version about beauty in all its glory is powerful, but it's also about youth being prized so highly above wisdom. Who wants an older, but perhaps wiser woman, when there is a leggy beauty tossing her long black hair, so easily swayed by promises because of her naivety?

Words as spoken by Ravenna sort of rings true in a patriarchal society that doesn't value the real contribution of a woman. Maybe I see things through the eye's of a feminist, but what I see is that society treats the value of a woman as only as much as her looks and her youth. Who cares about the voice of a woman who has done so much for society, but has aged. Unless you're beautiful, no one really gives you a second thought. No one really puts you on a pedestal and treats you like a queen.

Case in point: You can have the beautiful voice of an angel, but long-term fame eludes you because of your looks. Just look at Susan Boyle and where she is today.

Take also for example the range of beauty pageants galore. You can only participate if you're between the ages 18-25. The younger you are the better, even if you are yet to be the person you are meant to be. What does the age limit really mean? Does it mean that if you are above 25, you have no right to be beautiful anymore? Who has the right to tell us that we aren't beautiful or that we are worthless? That we don't have a voice to speak, and a real message to pass on to the world, just because we are not young and beautiful?

That just might be the main factor why women are so disposable. Beauty fades and there's nothing underneath all that layers of makeup and dazzling clothes. Younger women come to take away the place of the older women. It's a tale as old as time. Your time is up, so you must leave.

It also becomes a reason for some women to become vicious to one another, because they feel threatened. If only they could look inside themselves and find the beauty within. The positive things about themselves. 

We may not be physically attractive anymore, but why should that mean you are worth any less? Why don't we women invest more in other things that make us a spectacular - a woman of high value? Like a proper education, updated information, good health, great manners, style and grace among other things. What the world deems as beautiful is ever changing, but being a real lady will never go out of style. 

The world has a never-ending supply of beautiful women, more beautiful than yourself, but it is how you see yourself that counts.

When I first wrote this post, I wasn't really planning on going on a rant, but I guess it stems from my disappointment and frustration at a world that has become so superficial and fake. And that is why I am so keen on organising an awards ceremony that is completely non-discriminatory and recognises real contributions. If that is possible.

I end my blog post today with a quote 

The problem with beauty is that it's like being born rich and getting poorer ~ Joan Collins

Cheers to that! 


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Father's day for a fatherless child

I think I was pretty lucky as a child.

Growing up with a close-knit family, even though I am at least 7 years younger than my siblings, meant that I was ultimately the spoilt one in the family. My sister was married by the time I was 10, and my brothers went off for their further education when I was 11. I might as well have been the only child.

My earliest memory of my dad involved waiting for him to come from work every day, him driving in with his Caprice and strolling in through the front door with his big briefcase. When you are a child, you think the world of your dad.

Your dad is the smartest. Your dad knows best. Dad buys you stuff that you want (with a little whingeing). With dad, you are always safe. Dad will always bail you out in difficult situations.

My dad was the one who taught me to ride a bike. And took off the training wheels, which resulted in me sulking away in my room for hours. He was the one who introduced me to ten-pin bowling, and we used to play every single weekend until I was so into it that I joined in the National Sports Council youth group. He was also the one who gave me my first drink when I turned 18.

People always commented on how much I look like my dad. Especially when it comes to my large forehead. When I tried getting into the Science stream when I was Form 4, the vice principal asked me why I wanted to be in Science stream, and what do I want to be. I lied and said I wanted to be the Director of Agriculture, like my dad. She bought it.

Yes, my dad is my hero. I've had some hard, really hard times with him later on in life, but at the end of it all... he is still my dad.

In comparison, my daughter Ashley will never know how it feels like to have a real dad. Father's day is meaningless for her. It must be difficult for a child, especially in pre-school, where life is supposed to be all about rainbows and unicorns. And happy families. Imagine a child having being forced to produce a card for someone that they don't know or couldn't care less about.

I asked her about it. She said she had to pretend. For many years. And I have grown weary of again and again educating people that single mothers are totally capable of earning an income themselves in this largely patriarchal society that we live in. And there is no need to keep filling in the oh-so-important 'Father's Details' in whatever form they hand in to me to fill in.

Between the two of us, I think she is probably more bitter about the man who is supposed to be her father. Maybe not even bitter anymore, just as completely indifferent as she would to a complete stranger. She doesn't even care to know who he is. Especially not after what has happened.

Every mention of her dad seems to carry negative connotations. Even if it wasn't meant to be that way.

I was doing a clean-up of my photo albums when I found one of all her baby pictures, and some with her biological father on it. I have been dutifully removing his pictures wherever I could find them, and what a task it is. It's like ripping out memories - erasing it all, until it seems like he never existed. I think that is probably one of the hardest things about a break-up - erasing a memory, and trying to create a new one.

Looking at the pile of pictures I plan to discard, there are only so few of them with Ashley and her father. Most of them with her as a little baby. I wondered if I should store them away, in case one day she has questions, or if she ever has a desire to remember how he looked like. I even wondered if he would ever wish to keep photos to remember his daughter with.

But I seriously doubt it.

Because as a father, if he cared enough for his daughter, he would make more of an effort to be with her and get to know her. As what I believe any normal father would do. Buy her the things  that she needs, ensure she lives a comfortable life. None of that ever materialised. His words, like his threats thrown at me, are empty.

I wish she could have the childhood that I had. Where dad is the hero you look up to.

But what is a dad... really?


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Monday, June 18, 2012

A Flea-tastic event in June!

It's FUN, and it's BACK!!!


Do you have a whole lot of stuff that you want to get rid off? Old clothes, books, bags maybe?

How about donating them for a good cause?

JCI Intan is organising their 3rd charity bazaar a.k.a. Flea-tastic bazaar this 30th June starting 10a.m. at Buhavan Square! Profist from this event will go to SK. Pendidikan Khas (Pendaengaran), Kota Kinabalu. We hope to be able to sell your donated items as part of the fundraising.

FYI, Sekolah Kebangsaan Pendidikan Khas Kota Kinabalu is located at KM28, Jalan Tuaran. The school caters for children with special needs between the ages of 7 - 12 years. There are approximately 70 children studying at this school, all hearing impaired and are from all over Sabah. The children are from families with low income and are under the care of the Welfare Department.
Although the school is taken care of by the government and also the welfare department, it has been brought to the JCI Intan's knowledge that there are some needs of the school/students which are not covered. This includes t-shirts for the children for them to wear for school activities and excursions.Thus, the purpose of this fundraising event is to produce t-shirts for these students for easier identification when they are on their outings

The students stay in the school hostel during the weekdays and then they return home for the weekend. There are however, some students who stay at the hostel full-time during the semester and only go home to their families during the school semester holidays due to their homes being too far away (e.g Tawau) and also due to financial constraints.

This event promises to be a day full of FUN, so what are you waiting for? Time to do some closet spring cleaning! 

To donate your pre-loved items towards this event, or to take part as a vendor, please contact JCI Intan via email at jciintan2012@gmail.com or call Carrie B at 019-5386968

The MORE you GIVE, the MORE they SMILE ;-) <3




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Monday, June 11, 2012

Development and issues facing Sabah indigenous communities

 Imagine....

The places you used go to play as a child is gone. The home where you used to rest every single night, your own little space for solitude is now tens of feet under water. Gone is the landscape you know so well, and there is no return.

Imagine....

The life that you know is gone forever.

This is what will happen to a number of villages and historical sights if the plan to build Kaiduan dam materialises. Heritage lost forever. Livelihood of community destroyed. Lives completely turned upside down.

What if it happened to you?


Today I attended a talk on Ulu Papar Cultural Heritage Sites conducted by community researchers from Bundu Tuhan (a community located at the foot of Mount Kinabalu) and Ulu Papar (a community located in the lush forested region in Crocker Range).

Community researchers are locals within the target community that has been trained by Global Diversity Foundation (GDF), a UK based charitable organisation / NGO to collect information and do research in their respective communities.

It seems that the local communities have always been sidelined and treated unfairly, for as far back as the 1960's. Local communities have always relied on the surrounding jungles for food, medicine and other necessities, being able to live comfortably and independently. That is how they have lived since the time of their ancestors.

Then the lands around them were gazetted as a National Park or forest reserves, thus crippling their freedom to enter the jungles as they wished to satisfy their daily needs.

The first talk was about communities in Bundu Tuhan. In 1964, the local communities in Bundu Tuhan were no longer allowed to freely climb Mount Kinabalu, a sacred element in their beliefs and a great part of their traditions. Then in 2010, an event called Kakapan id Gayo Ngaran was held - one day reserved by the Sabah Parks just for the local communities to make a pilgrimage to the mountains in accordance to their traditions, complete with a pre-pilgrimage ritual called the monolob which involved the sacrifice of white chickens for the safe journey of the participants.



Since then, the event was held again successfully in 2011, and it is hoped by the local communities that this practice will continue as an annual event. In the words of the elders...

"... we do not want the mountain back. It is a heritage for the world, and for that, we are proud and happy to share this mountain with everyone."

"We would like to have one day to return to the mountain."

"Every year, each year, we want to have one day just for our communities to make a pilgrimage to the mountain. A day when no one else will be allowed to climb the mountain. A day just for our people."


The second session was about Ulu Papar. Actually until today, I had no idea such a place existed. And I for sure did not know about the issues regarding Kaiduan dam, though I've heard of it. Fleetingly.

I remember that in my innocence as a child following my dad on his numerous trips as into the interior districts of Sabah that I thought all villages and places must have roads leading to them. I carried that thought in my head all the way into my adulthood until this year, when I visited a school in Rungus Nahaba, Tamparuli that can only be accessed by 4WDs. And the kids that went to that school all came from surrounding villages that did not have roads at all, and they have to walk for hours to school every Monday morning, stay in for the whole school week, and walk home again for hours on Friday afternoon.

Try imagining that sort of life for your child. The one that is playing with an iPad and complaining that they are bored with the TV programmes.

Well, the point I am trying to make here is that there are plenty of such villages in the Crocker Range that may be overlooked. Invisible. Especially to those signing off papers agreeing for a dam to be built there. I do not need to again say that our leaders do not live on planet Earth, and especially not Sabah. They don't even know their own people.

The talk by the community researcher was basically an appeal to the Sabah Museum and NGOs to stop the dam from being built and to preserve the heritage treasures that lie within the area.





They talked about the historical sites, the cultural heritages that could be turned into tourism attractions. The close-knit community that could live off the land and still manage sufficiently.

What a different world from the world that I know. But to these people, this is their entire existence.

And a dam will take away all of this, rob them of their identity, bringing their beloved village to a watery death.
















They talked about having to deal with apathetic people on some occasions when they present these issues to the public. I am not surprised, people are generally unmoved by situations that do not affect them. All they know is that they have a comfortable house to live in, enough food to eat, and enough malls to roam around in. Its so far from their own perception of life. 

If only the shoe was on the other foot. Again I am going to say that life is like the lottery, some of us got lucky, but what if you are not?

We talk about human rights, and here is a human rights violation that is happening right in our own backyard.  http://www.malaysiakini.tv/video/19145/bantah-empangan-kaiduan-ulu-papar.html

Spread the word. Raise awareness on the issue. Let's save our own people and the distinct culture of Sabah.






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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Double Six - Honoring our fallen leaders


The sky had turned an indigo blue by the time I arrived at Grace Point. In the distance, diners were already enjoying their evening meals. It was just like any other day, but somehow, the atmosphere surrounding the Double Six monument seemed a little somber, at least that was how i felt.

Today was the 36th anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of 11 prominent leaders, including Sabah's fifth Chief Minister - Tun Fuad Stephens and four State Ministers. Their untimely death was a huge blow to Sabah - crippling a nation which had only gained independence and formed part of the federation of Malaysia a short 13 years prior.

His name is now immortalised as the name of the big highway cutting through Kota Kinabalu City. Parks and buildings were named after him, but who is he?

Tun Fuad Stephens was credited as being one of the key players in securing the independence of Sabah in 1963, and also for subsequently bringing Sabah into the formation of Malaysia. He was the first Chief Minister, as well as the fifth. He was also the governer of Sabah for 2 years. Read more here...

I was unable to come to the memorial service earlier, organised by a political party, due to work commitments. But I came later, after work anyway, in spite of the sun already setting.

The first sight that greeted my eyes were the bouquets of flowers that surrounded the monument. Most of them were from families of those who died in the plane crash.









The Grace Point Double Six memorial also has a gallery to commemorate the fallen heroes of Sabah. I had been there a couple of years earlier and thought it was really great.





But my question is this....

Why isn't a bigger deal made out of remembering these leaders?

It appears that we have become indifferent. Perhaps one day our children won't even know who these leaders are. It would have been as if they were wiped clean off the slate in our history. Like they never existed, or is just a name of a street.

Why is that some Western countries honor their fallen heroes, wherever they may be around the world? Remembrance Day is held in November every year in Labuan, and it is a grand affair. It is even in Labuan's  calendar of events. Australians come faithfully every year to honor their dearly departed. And we join in their solemn ceremony, because it's such a huge deal.

And we can't even honor those on our own land, literally just a stone's throw away from our doorstep.

Our Sabahan leaders may not be 'fallen heroes' as gallant as those soldiers who battled and died during the war, but they are our heroes, nevertheless.They are not 'just' ordinary people, but those who made a difference to our country, our state, and paved the way to the development of Sabah. Do we not understand  the significance?

It's just like how the importance of Malaysia Day is undermined to give way to a bigger 'National' celebration of Merdeka Day which happened on 31st August 1957...hey, wait a minute... Sabah wasn't independent then!! Boooooo!

It's time we honored OUR heroes, don't you think?





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