By Serina Rahman
Photos by Gary Phong, KL Kwang and Serina Rahman
As the volunteers gathered at Mersing jetty early on the Friday before the Pesta (May 27, 2006), we were greeted by the less than elegant croaks of a family of hornbills. To my untrained eye they looked like oriental pied hornbills but I’m no birder and no-one could confirm it, but any kind of hornbill had to signal an auspicious start to the weekend.
Of course getting to the island was not without its hiccups. Just as we’d all settled into our speedboat and drifted off to sleep – the engine spluttered to a stop. We had stalled. Our boatmen tried valiantly to fix it and push onÖ but it wouldn’t work. We were stranded. Luckily, after a bit of a wait and some increasingly green faces, our replacement vessel arrived and we were again on our way.
We all finally disembarked safely at the Marine Park jetty, Pulau Tioman and began the manual process of moving and putting up canopies and tents. Happily, a good lunch was provided for in Kg Tekek and there was time to duty-free shop before the group split up. Most of us spent the afternoon with the children of SRK Tekek’s Kelab Pencinta Alam (KPA) to prepare them for them for the next day and the rest of us checked out the trails around the grounds of the Marine Park.
Saturday dawned bright and clear. It was a beautiful day and everyone was refreshed and raring to go. The children were at the grounds well before time and stall set up was quick and painless. Visitors to the Pesta were queuing for tickets long before we were ready to sell them!
Thankfully, all went well. The children had a grand time both running and playing games – those ‘working’ had a roster so that they too could enjoy the festivities. Our poor emcee was frequently mobbed by the children as they rushed to win prizes and lucky KPA kids took time off from their duties to enjoy the free Discover Scuba experience generously provided by Tioman Dive Centre.
Even adults got into the act. Some of them took the games extremely seriously, continuously returning to the stalls in a bid to see if they could win the top prize, and if not, buying more tickets to play again. The sand art, face-painting and henna stalls were inundated with throngs of people waiting their turn. Reinforcements had to be sent in to alleviate demand and sand art materials ran out by 4pm.
Of course the highlight of the day was the arrival of celebrities Khai, Rosma, Vince and Adi of Academy Fantasia fame as well as ShaD and EsDCo. They joined a learn-how-to snorkel session from our recently trained local guides, and caused a sensation as everyone gathered to watch them don life jackets and fin out to a nearby pontoon. When they returned to dry land they were surrounded by fans but obligingly stopped to sign autographs, take photos and even play games. They also willingly signed our Save Belum-Temengor postcards!
As the clock rolled round to 6pm, the stalls packed up and we all took a short break. It was finally time for the Impian Tioman finals. Fifteen contestants were vying for the top prize and the winner would also be awarded the role of Environmental Ambassador of Tioman.
The celebrities returned to judge the finalists and ask each of them a question about Tioman’s environment. While many were adept at performing, some struggled to answer questions so it wasn’t surprising that Glen Santos from Kg Tekek won the judges’ praise hands down.
Rosma later explained, “I selected Glen because his answer was very good and he can sing. The little girl sang very well but her answer was quite weak”.
The little girl in question was 11-year-old Siti Noor Farah Diba, the last finalist to perform. She transformed from a giggly child into a seasoned veteran as soon as the microphone was put into her hands – she had a voice of liquid crystal and a huge presence on stage. This little star in the making won 2nd prize.
It was a great night at the end of a fantastic day. It didn’t rain, no-one got drunk or rowdy, the crowds were there but they treated the celebrities very well and everyone enjoyed themselves. What more could we have asked for?
I love this blog! 🙂
Has anyone complimented the Marine Group on the TIFF’06 logo? It’s vibrant and attractive. Not messy at all!
Thanks r2d2isfree on the nice comment on our logo – I love it too. It was done by Gerard, a star volunteer designer. It really added to the festive mood of TIF06.