We are one: (From left) Vung, Dayana Gilbert, Lady Thatany, Valencia Ann, Cheryllynn, Shirley and Rachel Alliun wearing the wristbands in Kota Kinabalu in support of the unity campaign AnakAnakMalaysia, jointly organised by Eco World Development Group Bhd (EcoWorld) and Star Media Group Bhd in conjunction with the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.
KOTA KINABALU: They are beauties with an even more beautiful message – that being Malaysian is to be part of an extended family of mixed ethnicities.
Seven past contestants of Unduk Ngadau or Harvest Queen pageant got together to make known Malaysia’s diversity.
Kimberly Vung, 21, a contestant of the May 31 Unduk Ngadau held during the Kaamatan or Harvest Festival, said she grew up with Indian, Bajau, Chinese, Malay, Pakistani and Filipino relatives.
“Somehow, I never thought of them as being different.
“They are my uncles, aunties and cousins. So they are family.
“This is the great thing about being Malaysian,” said Vung who grew up in Penampang, but represented Likas at the pageant.
Lady Thatany Tony, who represented Kinabatangan, recalled how she spent two years growing up with her mother’s sister who was married to an Indian.
“I learnt about vegetarian food. It is still my preference,” said Lady Thatany, 25, who along with Vung and five other Unduk Ngadau contestants visited the Sabah Museum on Friday for the opening of its “Women in History” exhibition.
As for Valencia Ann Primus, who represented Kota Kinabalu in the contest, being Malaysian was also being naturally multi-lingual.
With her mother being an Iban and father a Kadazandusun, the 21-year-old administrative assistant grew up speaking both ethnic languages apart from Bahasa Malaysia and English.
“I also have Murut relatives.
“So I grew up with all these different languages being spoken around me. It’s great,” said Valencia Ann.
Similarly, Shirley Anthony, who took the first runner-up title in this year’s pageant when representing Tambunan, said being a Malaysian was to have the opportunity to learn other languages other than Kadazandusun and Bahasa Malaysia that were spoken at home.
“My parents sent me to a Chinese school. As a result, I can converse in Mandarin and write in Chinese.
“This helps me in my work,” said Shirley, who has ventured into the health and beauty business.
Cheryllynn Pinsius, 22, who won last year’s Unduk Ngadau title, said the different ethnic food in the country reflected Malaysia’s diversity.
“The choice is seemingly endless. That is among the reasons to celebrate being a Malaysian,” said Cheryllynn of Kampung Bantayan at Inanam near here.
Cheryllynn said that it was a pleasure to introduce her friends to her favourite food such as bambangan or wild mango pickles as well as hinava (raw fish cooked in lime juice).