The story of viat began when Marcus and i went visiting Punan Setarap village at the beginning of the end of May 2009. it was a hot day when we arrive at the village. We were accompany by Long Kebinu resident who stirred the Ketingting for us to reach Setarap and Punan setarap villages.
In Setarap village we did our routine survey of the village demography. It was normal answers we receive from them on population, on education, on health, on diet, on livelihoods, logging activities, on occupation, on village harmony etc, etc, etc.
On the issue of border harmony, they explained that they informed us that some of their old residents decided to move out and set their own village. Since most of deciding to move out are of the Punan dayak ethnicities, hence the village is known Punan setarap village. According to Setarap leader, they decide to move to have more independence in managing themselves.
We walked along Punan Setarap people and asked for the residence of the head of the village. Several Punan kids pointed to the house on the top of the hill. Yes, most of the village in Malinau are built along Malinau river in East Kalimantan. And Punan Setarap is in the top of the hill.
We were welcomed by the head of the village, Alan Laing. His father is Ruit Laing as the traditional village leader. He was 1.60 metres or less and his physic fits to its height. He was open but reserved in answering our questions. Mind you he is getting nearly 200 questions from us.
May be from the name, we would guess they are already modernised. Yes, they have TV and with satelite dishes. However the village only have two generators to bring electricity to the village.
On the question of their name, ah, what is in the name. The dayak now have modern name such as Marcus, Ramses, Dany etc because the Protestant missionary had been here since 1960s maybe since the Dutch colonilization time. Beside the Protestant, there is also Catholic among Dayak population in Malinau.
In Punan Setarap the village we visited, there exists only Catholic Church catering for 187 people. There is a primary school with local teacher only.
Not long, his wife brought the coffee out to us. The coffee is the harvest from their own farm. Their ladang is across the river. Marcus loved the coffee. It seems coffee fits to the climate and easy to plant and not too much maintainance. It could be argued the coffee introduction by government for livelihoods is a success story.
Toward the end of discussion, Mr. Alan Laing, told us the story of Viat. It is a creature of tiger look alike. Marcus was startled and wanted to know more. It could be a finding like they were finding Pygmy Elephants. The Viat is siluman, changing form. It could be human look alike and could also be tiger look alike.
Is there Viat? I wonder.
Rayan in Malinau