Sabah International Folklore Festival 2014 (Part 1)

Culture , Malaysia / June 28, 2014

Sanggar Kesenian Aceh (SAKA) UGM was honored to represent Indonesia in the 9th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF). SIFF is an annual festival held by the Cultural Board of Sabah that consists of festival, folklore competition and a series of events. It is hosted in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Held from June 7-16th 2014, SIFF 2014 was attended by 11 countries, including Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Philippines, Egypt, Malaysia and Indonesia. The team from SAKA itself consists of 16 people from many faculties in UGM. After months of intense practice for SAKA’s performance in this International Scale competition, here I would like to tell a glimpse of story of our unforgettable journey in Sabah.

Day 1 – Arrival at Kota Kinabalu

June 7th 2014 

To get to Kota Kinabalu from Jakarta, we need to transit at KL Airport first. I was awed at how big the KL airport was since it was actually my first time going there. We went straight to Kota Kinabalu, which takes up about three hours. Even though we arrived at Kota Kinabalu late at night, I wasn’t expecting the SIFF committee still welcomed us very friendly! They also gave us some handmade necklace from Sabah.

The warm welcome from the committee of SIFF in Kota Kinabalu


Day 2 – City Tour, Welcoming Dinner

June 8th 2014 

Schedules were very much productive and tight. In this day, we were told not only for the technical program, but also introduced to the tourism of Sabah.

To start the day, every country are gathered to have a city tour around Kota Kinabalu. Traffic jam is still an issue in Kota Kinabalu, but the city is still not less crowded than it is in my hometown. That’s also caused by the fact that Sabah is surrounded by forest, they choose not to transform into another hectic city in order to treasure their nature. I like the part where there is a jogging track by the sea, think it would be such a way to spend your afternoons finding inspiration and stuff.


We are also taken to have a sightseeing at the 2nd largest Mosque in Sabah, Chocolate Boutique and Coffee Shop that are considered a famous attraction.

Day tour


The famous Cocoa Boutique and Coffee Shop in Sabah

2014 SIFF Official Welcoming Dinner


At night, all countries, committees, board from Sabah Government–especially the Sabah Cultural Board are gathered at the official Welcoming Dinner at Le Meridien Hotel. The event was hosted by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia, Governor of Sabah.

The dinner was delightful, but it even gets better after the formal part, participants are gathered to forget being formal and just enjoy the night. So most of them dances (randomly!) on stage, I call this the night where we celebrates diversity.


Day 3 – Cultural Parade “Parade Kebudayaan Sabah International Folklore Festival” & Pocket Show

June 9th 2014 

Today is the day for Folklore Parade, which also marks the day where Opening Ceremony of Sabah Traditional Food Fair and Folk Art Exhibition. All participants are gathered to this parade to walk in public space in the city, representing their country using their traditional clothes. We, Indonesians decided to use different types of costumes ranging from a lot of provinces in Indonesia to showcase the diversity of culture in our country. Ranging from Bali, Kalimantan, Java, Minang, etc.

At the venue, we’re surprised to see children that uses similar Aceh costumes as ours, turns out they were from Sekolah Indonesia di Malaysia. We’re both excited to see each other as Indonesians!

Kota Kinabalu’s temperature is considered high especially for us students that lives in sunny Yogyakarta. That day, I just hope that the heat doesn’t destroy my make up because my sweat’s continuously flowing!

SAKA UGM in the Cultural Parade

Wearing the Balinese costume

It was actually exciting to see the response of the people in Sabah anticipating the parade. While walking, we Indonesians decided to stop at some crowded point and walk while singing Cublak Cublak Suweng, Yamko Rambe Yamko and Rasa Sayange. The people also love to take pictures with us, whether it’s group or individually. I presume we became a top star for one day!

The parade was followed by a mini pocket show, where we performed Pasang Jabet dance.

Performing Pasang Jabet in the Mini Pocket Show


Day 4 – Pocket Show

June 10th 2014 

Today’s activities were quite unique. Participants gets to perform on pocket shows in two malls in Kota Kinabalu. The objective is to give a glimpse of teaser of our performance in SIFF and inviting people to attend the festival. We decided that the ones performing in the pocket show are the boys, performing Likok Pulo. While the girls are going to support them in the crowd wearing Batik.

Beautiful delegates from Kazakhstan :”)

Today also marks the day of the Local Folk Dance Competition Day 1, in which our friends from Sekolah Indonesia di Malaysia performed. 

Of course by the end of the day, we didn’t forgot to go sightseeing to the nearest place near us!


(To Be Continued in Part II)


“You have to taste a culture to understand it.” -Deborah Carter

“Your culture is your brand” –Uknown




Sabrina Anggraini