Taking Beauty to New Heights: Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2024

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Kota Kinabalu Hosts Historic National Title Pageant

Taking Beauty to New Heights Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2024
Taking Beauty to New Heights Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2024

KOTA KINABALU: This year’s Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan pageant is making history, as the winner will be the first to hold a national title. The annual pageant, now in its 64th iteration, has traditionally been held at the state level. This milestone event will feature a diverse group of contestants, according to Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan chairman Joanna Kitingan.

Diverse Representation from Across Sabah

The 51 finalists will showcase their elegance in the final catwalk today, representing the 43 districts and sub-districts of Sabah, along with eight Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association branches from outside the state, including Labuan, Sarawak, Perak, Melaka, Johor, Penang, Klang Valley, and Putrajaya.

Sisters in the Spotlight

For sisters Queency Isabella Ladzrus, 23, and Qheesthyna Issandra, 19, the pageant is a family affair. “We traded notes on how to improve our walks, the way we wave and respond to the questions from the judges,” said Queency, reflecting the close bond and mutual support between the siblings.

Embracing Heritage and Confidence

The Unduk Ngadau is open to Kadazandusun, Murut, and Rungus women aged 18 to 27. Eighteen-year-old Richella Kan joined the competition to enhance her command of Murut, her mother tongue. “We speak Bahasa Malaysia at home with a mix of English and thought that I should also learn Murut. I signed up for an online class a couple of months ago and now consider myself a level two out of five, an achievement from zero,” said Kan, who represents Kemabong.

Celebrating Milestones

For Sandakan’s Joanne Elodea Jonis, who turns 27 next month, the competition marks a significant life milestone. “I never dreamt of joining, but since I am at the maximum age limit, I thought, ‘What’s the harm?’ Plus, it would be a good story to tell my children,” said Jonis, an English teacher at a primary school in Sandakan.

Height as an Advantage

Tanjung Aru’s Jovita Claire Joseph, standing at 180cm, has found new purpose in her height through the pageant. She may also be the tallest participant ever to grace the Unduk Ngadau stage. “I was always the tallest in class and among my family. I play netball and never felt pretty enough. I joined the pageant to build my confidence and now know that being tall is not a curse,” said the 19-year-old clinic assistant.

Prizes and Cultural Immersion

The crowned beauty of the 2024 National Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan will receive prizes valued at RM100,000, including RM12,000 in cash. The first and second runners-up will receive RM10,000 and RM8,000 in cash, respectively, plus other prizes. Additionally, the top seven contestants will participate in a three-day intensive course at the Customary School in Tuaran to deepen their understanding of Sabah’s cultural heritage and traditions.

Culmination of the Kaamatan Festival

The highlight of the month-long Kaamatan Festival, regarded as the largest cultural and traditional event in Malaysia, will be the crowning of the fairest of them all. The festival will be officially closed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

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