DiGi builds pergola for The Storyteller of Perlis
End of project with 70 children sees revival in awang batil
Kangar, March 27, 2006 -For years, awang batil, a traditional style of storytelling from Perlis and Kedah, was dying. Only one man, Romli Mahmud, continued to keep the art form alive. Even then, he would perform in halls, not in the open as used to be the norm when storytellers kept whole villages entertained. Today, thanks to DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Romli will be able to perform the way his father and grandfather before him did - out in the open, on a small pergola next to his house.
The pergola was built by DiGi as a way of thanking Romli for leading its corporate social responsibility project, The Storyteller of Perlis, and also to help Romli keep the awang batil tradition going. DiGi's project, launched in November last year, saw 70 secondary 1 & 2 students learn to perform a traditional awang batil story, Awang Akar Larak. For one-and-a-half months from February 12, the students, from four schools in Kangar, would meet to practice for a performance.
Five of these students studied under Romli himself to perform Awang Akar Larak in traditional awang batil style. The others trained under performing artistes from Kuala Lumpur - from the Jumping Jellybeans, the Temple of Fine Arts and actor-director Namron - to perform the story in contemporary style, using dance, music and props. This evening, at the Showcase (official closing ceremony) of the project, all of them performed for an audience that included Perlis Chief Minister, Dato' Seri Shahidan bin Kassim.
"With the help of DiGi Telecommunications, the art of Awang Batil storytelling which is unique to Perlis, will come alive once more. I really am amazed at the passion, dedication and commitment of DiGi which is working together with the state in its endeavour to revive the rich cultural heritage of Perlis. Community initiatives from the corporate sector are most welcome and in line with the efforts of the state government to bring back the focus of heritage centred development", said Dato' Seri.
Addressing the students present, DiGi's Head of Human Resources Adzhar Ibrahim said: "As you grow older and start to play a role in what we call a globalising world, you will have no sense of identity if you have no idea of your past and of the traditions of your forefathers. This kind of identity gives you an inner strength which will help you overcome many challenges that life will throw into your way."
Each DiGi's Amazing Malaysians CSR project is adopted by a department in the telco, and The Storyteller of Perlis was led by Adzhar's Human Resources department.
Adzhar urged the children who trained under Romli to treasure the experience. "Hopefully, some of you will carry on learning with Romli and keep this tradition alive. But even if you don't, this whole experience will be recorded in your minds," he said.
During Implementation of the project, which began on February 12, 2006, the students - from Sekolah Menengah Derma, Sekolah Menengah Arau, Sekolah Menengah Syed Sirajuddin, Sekolah Menengah Perlis and Sekolah Menengah Syed Putra - would train every Sunday.
In the story that they learnt, a poor man who is bestowed magical curative powers believes he can avert his own death. But fate proves to be stronger. The story, according to Adzhar, makes one appreciate there are certain things in life one can, and should, control. The preservation of our heritage is one such element.
In addition to building a pergola to help Romli preserve the awang batil tradition, DiGi is also drawing the attention and interest of state tourism authorities to Romli's unique and powerful craft, in the hope that Romli will be placed on popular tourism itineraries in Kangar.
About DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
DiGi is a leading mobile communications company providing a comprehensive range of affordable, convenient and easy-to-use wireless services to simplify and enrich the lives of its customers. The company creates value by selecting the most appropriate cutting-edge technology so that customers benefit from products and services that give them choice, convenience and control.
About DiGi's Amazing Malaysians
DiGi's Amazing Malaysians is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme which identifies passionate individuals who, quietly but with dedication, work towards preserving Malaysia's natural, social, art, cultural or built heritage. DiGi provides resources for these ordinary people doing extraordinary things to share their knowledge and skills with groups of 50-100 children or youth. Most of the projects are centred in rural locations, and the children involved come from the surrounding areas. This way, DiGi is able both to support commendable heritage work, and to introduce children to the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that makes up Malaysia's unique heritage.
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