Ethnics, Cultures & Religions

People of the tip of Borneo

Bonggi People

There is one small ethnic resided on the very tip of Borneo Island, not exactly, but rather on top of Kudat. To be precise is on the island, north of Kudat called Banggi or Banghi. An island lies between Borneo Island and Philippines on the North.

Some local don’t like the sound of Banggi, because it means corpse in their dialect. Who wants to name after their place corpse? Thus modify the sound slightly into Bongi or Bonggi. Coincidently these people are also called  as Bongi or Bonggi.

They are also found in Balambangan Island just next to it.

The Bonggi people aren’t that many by any account, they are no more than 2,000 people living here at the moment.

They are one of those who resist religious beliefs to the very day and they are still into animism-superstition, for example, they don’t eat anything red in colour (crab when cooked is red). They may be a few of them now converted to Christian.

They go about their life either as farmers or fishermen.

They like chewing betel nut.

Some years ago, I remember seeing a write up in our local media. They were listed among the poorest group of people in Malaysia. Not surprisingly having Sabah categorized as second poorest state of Malaysia, Kelantan being the first. But if you ask me to make an evaluation, after visting Kelantan and also know Sabah fairly well, I would consider here is the poorest place in the boleh land of ours

As an example, it is normal to see their houses, have only rooftop made of nipah leaves and floor made of bamboo and no walls. Forget about any other amenities.

Nonetheless, I hope to see this group of people keeping up with the rest of Sabahans as soon as possible.

Out of the doldrums though, come the beauty of their culture, language, dance, and attire. Can’t belief my eyes they are fascinating people. Wonder if these are the acclimatized ones? See photos on the top.


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