We have just witnessed the handover of Bongkud community Centre in December and what a celebration we had with folks out there. We are still buzzing from that great occasion!

Over a week ago, we had yet another special occasion and this time it was the official opening of Tinangol Community Learning Centre (CLC)!

The following is a press release issued for the official opening of the CLC on 30th January 2015.  It was a very memorable event, celebrated in colourful Rungus costumes and an ancient blessing ceremony  performed which has not been done in over a 100 years in the village. We are very proud of the completed building and we would like to thank thousands from the bottom of our hearts, who has been part of the completion to this beautiful learning centre from the start!!

After four long years, a new community hall in Kg. Tinangol was completed and is now available for the Rungus rural folk of Kudat – thanks to the untiring efforts of an altruistic tourism company’s vision to help the local community in Sabah. Camps International is an award-winning volunteer tourism organization that organizes altruistic excursions for young people to assist rural communities worldwide and provides its participant volunteers, the opportunity to learn more about the local community’s culture and way of life. Its subsidiary company, Camp Borneo is based in Kota Kinabalu and was instrumental in overseeing the construction of the new community building up until its recent completion. The new community centre was officiated on 30th January 2015 in a festive ceremony attended by the locals, staff and volunteers at Camp Tinangol, the base of operation for Camp Borneo in Kudat.

The new community hall was designed by KK-based design firm Arkitrek, with PACOS Trust, a local NGO acting as a liasion between the local community and Camp Borneo’s activities. Combining both traditional elements from native Rungus longhouse architecture and modern building design, the new community hall is a unique building in its own right; its structure incorporates sustainable design technology – using Biocrete, a mixture of coconut fibre, aggregate and concrete, as building construction material.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rory Hall, Camps International Asia Director, was invited to mark the official opening and handover of the new Tinangol Community Hall by striking a traditional gong and presenting a plaque to Kg. Tinangol’s Village Chief Soniton Omizoi. Among the attendees to the officiating ceremony were Camp Borneo General Manager Melanie Chu, Sarah Greenless of Arkitrek, staff of Camps International, Anne Lasimbang of PACOS Trust, Mr. Samuel Magatau (Representative for Parlimen P.168 Kota Marudu) as well as village chiefs and committee heads from several nearby villages including Kg. Bavanggazo and Kg. Mantison.


The highlight of the officiating ceremony however, was a rarely performed traditional Rungus ceremony called Manavaru, in which the village chiefs of Kg. Tinangol, Bavanggazo and Mantisan respectively were called to recite ancient prayers, to bless the building and to ward off any undesirable elements.

Rory Hall commented, I think this is a wonderful building; practical and fit for purpose, yet still holding on to the traditional Rungus longhouse style of construction upstairs.  It strikes me as a fun and bright space for the young children of the community to start on their important journey through education. The space upstairs will enable various groups within the village to come together, meet, talk, celebrate, collaborate and maintain their sense of community and identity.  It was only fitting that the community came together to open this new addition to their village, and in particular to conduct the old tradition of a Manavaru.  I hope the building is well used and enables the young children of the village to grow, yet realizing how important their ancient roots and traditions are.‰

‰Over the years we have been building this facility, many people have contributed from far and wide, and of course from within the community itself.  I am very proud of the finished building and would like to thank everyone involved in its construction‰, he said.

During the officiating ceremony, Sarah Greenless representing Arkitrek explained that the effective use of coconut fibres and aggregate component for the new Tinangol Community Building’s construction was a successful case study on how biodegradable materials can be recycled for use in construction to minimize building material costs and lessen the financial burden for the rural communities.

“The building design stays true to the essence of Rungus architecture and its interior spaces are also easily adaptable for any social activities that the villagers aspire to conduct in the future”, she said. The new community hall consisted of two levels – the ground level to be used as a state-registered kindergarten premises, while the upper floor was designed as a multipurpose area for community gatherings. Toilets and a kitchen were also provided on the ground floor.

Melanie Chu, General Manager of Camp Borneo recalls the challenges of building the new community centre, “When we first started our project, it was not easy as we had to communicate to the local people that our intentions in their village was purely a mission of goodwill and at the same time, to provide our young volunteers coming on to our expedition programme from all over the world, a platform to be involved in a hands-on worthwhile community project, to live and work side by side with the local people and understand their way of life, and learn about our unique culture and tradition”.

It would seem like the experience of living in a traditional Rungus environment certainly rubbed off well on the participants of Camp Borneo; several of our Gap Year volunteers surprised the local crowd during the officiating ceremony when they took centre stage in traditional Rungus costumes and performed the Mongigol traditional dance, which they had learnt and practiced diligently from the local villagers.

Anne Lasimbang of PACOS Trust said she was very happy to see the progress of the local community in Kudat and hopes that they will utilize the new community building as a platform to share their unique culture and lifestyle with the world.

“This centre is very important, not only for the Rungus community but for the other indigenous communities in Sabah as well, because it serves as a prototype centre for Lifelong Learning. This new building can be potentially, a centre where non-formal learning of Traditional knowledge can be shared and passed down through the new generations of Sabah’s indigenous people.”

Villagers and children and guests of Kg. Tinangol were then invited to enter the new building and experience its new facilities.