MHCF 2014: A grand finale to remember
EVERY YEAR, the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) organises the World Harvest Festival (WHF), an ethnic-themed festival established by the Ministry of Tourism Sarawak (MOT) which has always been a local highlight prior to the Gawai Dayak celebration typically held in June.
Into its 10th edition this year, the WHF held from May 2 to 4 has not only become synonymous with Dayak festivals like Gawai Dayak, but has also become a real tourist draw here, where both locals and foreigners can experience Sarawak culture together and witness the brightness of our local community in its full costumes and glamour.
One of the highlights of the World Harvest Festival was Miss Cultural Harvest Festival (MCHF), an ethnic beauty pageant open to all single women of any race and nationality between 18 and 27 years old.
This year’s competition had a Bidayuh theme and received more than 120 applications throughout Sarawak. After screening, only 50 participants were selected to attend the finalist selection round on February 8 this year.
The 12 finalists for this year’s MHCF were Dee Dee A’iene Peter, 19, from Kuching; Valerina Aren Alfred, 18, of mixed Bidayuh and Kayan parentage from Marudi; Diana Sim Siew Ling, 24, of mixed Chinese, Iban and Bidayuh parentage from Kuching; Atika Eli, 18, of mixed Iban and Kayan parentage from Serian, Sapphira Elisha Jerry, 20, an Iban woman from Miri; Josephine Jelawat James Jimmy, 23, an Iban from Sibu; Angelia Lois, 19, an Iban from Kuching; Carmilla Ivy Daniel Manja, 20, a Bidayuh from Kuching; Joanna Cynthia Tom Hem, 20, of mixed parentage Bidayuh and Iban parentage from Bau; Stepheni Johari, 23, an Iban from Kapit; Miselle Octovie Thomas, 24, a Bidayuh from Padawan, and Caroline Meza Munan, 23, an Iban from Kuching.
On May 2, the 12 finalists competed for the subsidiary title of ‘Miss Talent’ (sponsored by Keringkam Jingga Bridal) which was held at SCV. They all put out their best performances to win the heart of the audience and the judges Zakaria Hassan, renowned Sarawak theatre activist, and Norafizah Busman, World Championship of Performing Art (WCOPA) 2011 gold medalist.
Judged on showmanship, originality, creativity and costume, the winner of this subsidiary title went to Carmilla Ivy Daniel Manja who performed a charming classical Indian dance.
Winners of other subsidiary title were as follows: Angelia Louise (Best Traditional Costumes), Joanna Cynthia (Miss Beautiful Smile), Miss Beautiful Eyesight (Joanna Cynthia), and Miss Congeniality (Carmilla Ivy).
Held on May 3 at Sarawak Cultural Village, everybody at the Grand Finale seemed excited to discover who would replace Rosalind Sajah, the winner of MCHF 2013.
Joanna Cynthia Tom Hem won third place and Miselle Octovie Thomas won second place, and finally, with beats of drums, the winner was finally announced: Stepheni Johari.
As the newly crowned MHCF, Stepheni, 23, received the crown, RM3000 in cash and a Diploma in Tourism Management sponsored by Segi College Sarawak.
Meanwhile Miselle in second place received RM2000 in cash, and Joanna at third place received RM1000 in cash. The three of them also received a trophy, sash, bouquet of flowers, Emilio Valentino Watch, Polo Lady’s Watch and a complimentary stay at Damai Beach Resort & Riverside Majestic Hotel each.
The night ended with joy and laughter all over Dewan Lagenda with everyone rejoicing Stepheni’s win.
Earlier, when asked what she would do to promote Sarawak in terms of tourism and culture if she won the title, she replied, “If I win, I will promote Sarawak through its innovative products. I will be more active in taking part in more cultural festivals and competitions, such as beauty pageants competition where I can have the opportunity to display our traditional costumes, traditional dance competition, as well as traditional music competitions since I myself do play the gong and tabuh as well. My aim is to promote our cultures and traditions especially for the younger generation and provide platform for them to voice out their interest in anything cultural.”
I hope she will succeed in her goal to promote Sarawak to the world. Everything Stepheni did throughout the competition showed that she was very well prepared in the way she talked, carried herself and voiced her opinions, making her a deserving winner of Miss Cultural Harvest Festival 2014.