Residents miss longhouse life

National 3 minutes, 6 seconds


ALL 15 families whose longhouse home in Temburong was razed to the ground in a midnight fire in July this year, are yearning for the place they used to call their own.

They are temporarily being housed at a flat provided by the government.

The families, consisting 102 people, were left homeless that fateful Friday when the fire swept through Rumah Panjang Kg Sumbiling Baru, 14km away from Pekan Bangar in the Temburong District.

“Although the flats are comfortable, we are not used to living separately like this. It is lonely. Furthermore, this is not our permanent home,” said 76-year-old Igat anak Karang.

Igat who used to weave nyiru (a traditional tray-shaped container) to fill his time, said they lost most of their belongings in the fire and aside from necessities, they have not bought anything to replace what is missing.

“Look at this house, it is empty and we prefer it that way for the time being. We don’t want to buy any furniture because then we have to bring them to the longhouse once it is rebuilt and completed,” he said.

Igat said he is still hoping that the longhouse can be built immediately because he doesn’t have a sense of belonging staying at the flats.

“We were used to the longhouse living. It is our home and it is our culture. Although we are very thankful for the authority for providing us temporary shelter for the past four months, we are eager to move back to our longhouse,” he said.

His daughter, Melati shared the same sentiment.

“Yes we are neighbours here too at the flats but the feelings are just different. We missed our longhouse and if possible we want to go back to Kampung Sumbiling Baru.

Another resident, Florence Christina Ayat, 30, said they have yet to receive any update from the Temburong District Office and other relevant ministry on the fate of the new longhouse.

“Most of us are slowly getting back on our feet but we restrain from buying any household items as we don’t want to send bulky items to the longhouse,” she said.

Head of the longhouse Osman Anak Linggi said they are still waiting for the relevant authority to discuss with them on rebuilding the longhouse.

“We understand that it will take some time but most of the residents are eager to return to their village and hope that the new longhouse can be rebuilt,” he said.

He added that they have forwarded a few suggestions on the matter and among them are for a modern brick and mortar longhouse and not the traditional wooden one.

Another suggestion is for the authority to level the hill at new site of the longhouse.

“Presently there are 15 families temporarily staying at the government flat here, another one family is living elsewhere while another are staying with her relatives,” he said.

Osman said they hoped to get the updates from the Temburong District Office so they can start plans to build the longhouse.

The longhouse was home to 117 people but some of them were students studying in Bandar (Brunei-Muara District) and some were out working when the fire razed their home around midnight on July 5. Only 76 people were in the house when the incident happened.

The wooden longhouse was built in 1983 and took just minutes for the fire to completely raze it to the ground.

It was reported that the victims received more than $100,000 donations from the public, companies and government through the Community Development Department (JAPEM).

It was also reported that Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will be assisting in the rebuilding of the longhouse which will be coordinated by the Temburong District Office.

The Brunei Times