25 Aug 2022, Kg. Mantob KIULU – 24 contestants were in the running to compete for the title of Miss World 2022, Miss Grand International 2022 and Miss Supranational 2023 at the Hyperlive Festival Malaysia 2022 event, at the Sabah International Convention Centre last Saturday, 27th August 2022. Thanks to the official accommodation partner, Hilton Kota Kinabalu, the team and finalists got to take on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) with Hilton Kota Kinabalu’s ‘Travel with a Purpose’ team in collaboration with BEST Society, Borneo Eco Tours and the MUKEST community of Ulu Kiulu. On Day 4 of their week long pageant journey, the beauty queens got to explore Kiulu to engage in community work and experience the beautiful countryside!
The CSR programs were centered in the rural areas of Kiulu Valley, which aims to empower these communities that have been deeply affected by the pandemic. There were a total of 3 CSR programs that included a sponsorship from Hilton Kota Kinabalu to uplift several areas within the MUKEST community – beautifying the homestay interiors, a footpath upgrade and the planting of fruit trees and herbs at a local church. That is where these beauty queens paid a visit to the community on the 25th of August Thursday, to take on their social responsibility (CSR) and embrace true beauty with a purpose.
But how has the MUKEST community been affected by the pandemic? Well, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we know it caused a lot of distress and hopelessness, especially in the tourism sector. The MUKEST community is no exception, as a substantial source of their income comes from tourism. MUKEST stands for Mukim Ulu Kiulu Ecotourism Solutions and Technologies Society, and is made up of community members across 13 villages in the inner most areas of Kiulu. Together with the Hilton team, the contestants were spread out to different areas to get involved with on the ground work in these various areas.
CSR #1: Beautifying the homestays at Kg. Mantob
For the first CSR program, Hilton team members and contestants headed to several home stays at Kg. Mantob, where they’ll meet with the homestay owners and help beautify their homes. There are a total of 8 homestays that have been presented with a fresh new set of curtains, new material and hand sewn by talented seamstresses of the MUKEST community.
CSR #2: Install safety railings at Kg. Pinagon Footpath
For the second CSR program, another set of participants headed to a cemented footpath at Kg. Pinagon. This footpath is significant because this access way is one of only 2 ways for villagers to get to their homes in Kg. Pinagon. Oftentimes when the water levels of the rivers rises, road access isn’t possible and thus they rely a great deal on this pathway. For this program, the participants were involved with the installations of safety railings as it skirts a steep hill passing by paddy fields. On top of that, they were involved in painting yellow highlights on the edge of the steps to further emphasize the safety of this pathway.
CSR #3: Tree Planting at St. Philips Church at Kg. Mangkaladom
The third CSR program took place at Kg. Mangkaladom, the St. Phillip’s Catholic Church, where the last set of ladies and team from Hilton were involved in tree planting. An array of fruit trees and local herbs were brought to make way for a fruit orchard and herb garden so in the future it would be shared among the community.
Bring on the cultural activities and traditional feast!
Once they were done with their respective CSR programs, everyone headed to Kiulu Farmstay to experience an array of cultural demos and activities prepared and hosted by the MUKEST community. From traditional locally made handicraft to showcasing the beautiful traditional costume, the sinulamba, from the ethnic Dusun tribe of Kiulu, to demonstrating rice processing the traditional way.
The ladies of the Kiulu community are the heart and soul of MUKEST, as they prepare traditional meals with great love and care. The set up was also beautifully prepared by the MUKEST community, a picnic style lunch on bamboo tables and weaved mats.
Once again all of the CSR programs were sponsored courtesy of the Hilton Kota Kinabalu “Travel with Purpose” team and a big shoutout goes to the Hyperlive Festival organizing chair for the beauty pageant contestants to take part in the program with BEST Society as the organizing committee. Their contributions to the CSR initiatives in Ulu Kiulu go unnoticed as the community of MUKEST showed their appreciation by hosting and welcoming everyone with smiles and open arms all around. From opening up their homes to hosting a fun-filled cultural event at Kiulu Farmstay, we thank all collaborating partners for this joint effort. Not forgetting to mention – Borneo Eco Tours for sponsoring the transfers for this event.
This community-based tourism initiative was first initiated by Borneo Eco Tours (BET) through the launch of Kiulu Farmstay in 2015. Since then, through the NGO arm of BET, BEST Society, we have been working with the MUKEST community to organize capacity building programs for the local community. From hospitality to leadership and even venturing into business and social entrepreneurship. Since the launching of Kiulu Farmstay, homestays were set up, as well as various tours to promote the natural attractions and cultural activities significant to the area. Trekking and camping, quadbiking, waterfalls and interacting with the locals allow for visitors to soak in a truly authentic ‘ kampong experience.
News article by NST – https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/08/825627/beauty-pageant-finalists-enjoy-rural-hospitality-and-community-work-kiulu