We were participating at Mount Payung Festival in Poopo, South Minahasa 21-22 February 2020. The festival was initiated by Wolay Cultural Art Community in Poopo aims to promote Daseng Gunung Payung Poopo as a natural and cultural tourism destination in North Sulawesi. This activity succeeds inviting lots of tourists and nature lovers. With a height of about 500Mdpl, it is well known for its view above the cloud. Beautiful view that can be enjoyed in the morning around 5 at 9 am.
Putting up our education tent is one of our ways to spread conservation messages to local people, tourists and nature lovers in the festival. Proven by the enthusiasm people who came to the tent, red the information on display about wildlife in North Sulawesi and the protected by law. Children were also look very excited about their Yaki masks. Once colored, they immediately put it on their face by shouting “Molay.. Molay..!” Molay is the name of our Yaki mascot!
In the afternoon, although the rain had been poured the whole village, the Mawolay Parade kept going. Big and creepy masks seemed to walk into the village. The arrival was greeted with children’s shouts. Some were afraid, some were mezmerized. Mawolay is a creepy mask that in ancient times was usually placed in a field or rice field aimed to scare wildlife including the yaki that at the time, still considered as pests by local people. It looks like if you look at this mask, not just the animal that will run in fear, human would seem to be frightened! The mask is made from Enau (Arenga piñata) or in the local language, Seho leaves. Usually, this mask will be pared around the fields and the paddy fields, while them singing “wolay rede…” then hung the mask above the tree around. The tradition that has been rooted and cultured in the people of Poopoh, South Minahasa is one of the evidences that the conflicts of humans and animals can be solved without having to hurt the animals. Even though the mask is no longer used to expel pests, it remains preserved as a cultural heritage. Usually each “kuncikan” or the last Sunday in January each year, it has become a tradition of closing the New Year celebration, this mask is again displayed in the parade.
After finished with the Mawolay Parade, as well as our outreach activity with the education tent, our team took a little break and had dinner at home “Hukum Tua”(name for the head in the Minahasan village). Right at 8pm the team joined the groups of “hikers” including tourists, nature lovers and local communities started the climb to the Daseng Mount Payung. The climb begins with prayer together at the starting point. Although the mountain is not very high, but the climb cannot be “seen with one eye closed” and idiom to say underestimate. To save time, we decided to use the car to the end of the forest, then began to climb. The 30 to 44-degree slope line was quite energy consuming. We arrived at the top right at midnight, and with a small remaining energy, we set up our tents, hung the hammocks then rest immediately. The peak of Daseng Mount Payung that night was very crowded, we hardly have a place to set up the tent. Seeing the enthusiastic spirit of the everyone there that night, it can be said this festival is a massive success.
The sun was still hiding behind the clouds when everyone woke up, stood up and waited for the sunrise and the sea of clouds. And at 5am, the sky appears burning red. The sun was slowly coming out and truly show a magnificent view. So true… it really felt like being in somewhere over the clouds. The white clouds rolled up, the reddish sky and the peak of Mount Soputan can be seen in distant. What a beautiful morning that cannot be experienced anywhere in the city. Satisfied with lots of selfie with the magnificent background of Sunrise, sea of clouds, and the mountain of Soputan, our Programme Director Harry Hilser was given the opportunity to delivered few messages for everyone. Harry expressed her gratitude for the beauty of Mount Payung that hopefully can be aligned with the sustainability of the environment. And afterwards, a joint declaration was held where everyone who was there that morning committed to take care of the nature around Mount Payung also to no longer consume protected wildlife bushmeat, including yaki.
After came back from Mount Payung, Harry together with Alberto Salinas our Programme Coordinator were participated as speakers in “Tourism Development of Daseng Gunung Payung Poopo” seminar. Harry spoke about ecotourism and provided few inputs for the tourism development of Mount Poopo. Three ecotourism components such as the importance of nature conservation, local community empowerment, and increasing environmental awareness. It is not only addressed to the tourists but also the local community. In addition, inputs such as providing educational facilities on the mountaintop about conservation were well received by local communities and governments. On that occasion, the community had a chance to have a dialogue with speakers. The participants in this seminar also came from the provincial tourism office, the academics of Sam Ratulangi University, Polda Sulut, and the tourism community.
A great thank you for Bill Werung – Wolay Cultural Art Community in Poopo for the great initiative to made this festival and to get us involved. And of course, to our amazing youth Yaki Ambassadors Iin, Nadia and Karmel, as well to our great supporters Rizal and Vidi who voluntary help us in many events. Everyone played an important role to support the team especially the time given. See you all to the next festival!