It is important to preserve culture, especially in where we live in. It keeps our integrity as a people. In these modern times, it is easier for deep-rooted cultures to be swept away with time and because of this, there have been some effort by local communities in Brunei Darussalam to preserve their ancestor’s cultures for the younger generation.
In the previous instalment of the Pahlawan Brunei series, we interviewed Ustaz Khairul Nazif who is a well-known lecturer that gives inspirational talks about Islam in the country. Today, we shift the focus from religion to culture, where we met up with Eyon Ukoi, who is the co-founder of Eco Phonies Garden in Lamunin, Tutong District. She is well known for her passion to promote Brunei culture through food and community related activities.
Eyon Ukoi’s story started in 2015 where her sister came out with the idea to create a cottage at the back yard of her house.
“We did not have a plan to grow the cottage to what it is at the moment – there was a family from Australia who practiced a raw and organic lifestyle – they wanted to experience the taste of the wild durian, they were introduced to us and stayed at the garden for four days and eventually people started coming and experience the food and community lifestyle here” said Eyon on the start of Eco phonies Garden.
Eventually, the cottage grew after three years and Eyon had more opportunity to introduce the culture of Brunei such as Dusun, Kedayan and Tutong to foreigners who came to her garden and try out different types of food and community lifestyle from Bruneian diverse culture in the village.
“In Lamunin, there are the three gong which is Dusun, Kedayan and Tutong – we slowly approach the communities that are willing to share their culture to the foreigners that came to the garden. We would show them simple things such as the food – Farms to table – where they bring local ingredients from the farm and cook depending on the culture, bringing them to the jungle to experience some of the Dusun and Kedayan lifestyle, and also went to the community stalls and markets. Some of the foreigners spend time with the community volunteers who showed the Brunei culture and lifestyle through their actions” mentioned Eyon.
Her motivation to keep doing and continue the projects is by looking for another way and coming up with a new approach to support the communities, such as bringing in the farmers together to share the knowledge to the younger generation.
“We wanted to bring more agriculture, ecotourism and bring communities from different culture to work together. Different people, culture and approach can bring positive feedback towards the country” highlighted Eyon.
As a final remark, she wanted to introduce more of these local cultures to the youth such as how we respect and greet the elderly so that these practise will not disappear in the modern era and people will continue to promote native products to the masses.