Have you heard of Pitas in Sabah Borneo? It is not a Pita bread. Pitas is actually a district that is located in Kudat Division of Sabah Borneo. Home to a majority group of Rungus, a sub-group of Kadazandusun people and Orang Sungai ( including the Tambanuo tribe).
Pitas is originally called ‘Tupak, which derived from Rungus language means “across”. It refers to the local residents of Tombonuo tribe and Rungus tribe during the ancient time. After the commotion occurs between the two tribes in Bandau Bay, some of the residents in Bandau left the area to Bengkoka River in order to avoid from the “Sindaat Mongkorudu” (Black Magic) attack by Aki Palzavan and Aki Sook ( Aki means ancestor/grandfather). Since that day, the area name called ‘Tupak’ is changed into Pitas, as the local residents are no longer a victim of the black magic attack.
Apart from that, Pitas is also derived from the word of ‘Nopitas’ from Sungai language, which means “lost”. This refers to the local residents that escaped from the black magic and move to Bengkoka Village. Unfortunately, the Bengkoka River is often in a big flood which causes the river to cut off. The name subsequently enshrined by the locals until the time it became Pitas.
Not many people have heard of Pitas as it is only a small town, but it actually has natural charms that might get your attention. That is what makes Pitas a unique destination for holiday in Sabah Borneo. Get to know Pitas more below and make it as your next holiday destinations.
Natural Waterfall in Bongkol Village
Bongkol Waterfall. Photo: Aklee Madinjin
One of the interesting things in Pitas is the natural waterfall in Bongkol Village area. The Bongkol Waterfall is a new tourism destination in Pitas which discovered in 2014. It is about 21 km away from the Pintas town and another 5.5km trekking from Bongkol Village to reach the waterfall. The Bongkol Waterfall is suitable for visitors who are seeking for some adventurous and thrills holiday. The Bongkol Waterfall is located within a forest reserve area. Thus, there is no proper road trail to reach the waterfall. Visitors are required to go for a short trekking through the Borneo Jungle to reach the waterfall.
Rungus Women. Photo: muslianshahmasrie
The major tribe in Pitas is Rungus, which is a sub-group of the Kadazandusun tribe. They have their own language, traditional costume, architecture, customs, and oral literature. Rungus tribe are well-known for their intricate design of beadworks that worn together with traditional costume. Apart from that, there are also other tribes live in Pitas, such as Orang Sungai (River People) include the Tombonuo tribe; Bajau; and other sub-Kadazandusun groups ( Kimaragang and Sonsogon tribe). With the diverse culture in Pitas, it is not a surprise that Pitas is one of the unique holiday destinations in Sabah Borneo.
Delicacies of traditional Food
Since Rungus is the major tribe that can be found in Pitas, there is also Rungus traditional food that anyone should get a taste of it. The traditional food of Rungus tribe is Sinasadan, or known as Tapai rice. It was made by mixing the yeast together with cooked rice, then left it overnight to produce the sweet taste and scent of Tapai. Sinasadan is famous among the locals in Pitas especially the locals from Narandang Kanibongan Village. Sinasadan is actually originated from Narandang Kanibongan Village, as the villagers are the original maker of the traditional food.
Sinasadan. Photo: Yefraim Yef
Supirak Island. Photo: DaryIkless
Sabah Borneo is a state with many stories of myths and legends. It makes us feel fortunate to be in this state that is rich with unique culture and historical diversity. In Sabah Borneo, we do have a local folklore story about a legend of a rebellious child, which is the legend of Nakhoda Supirak. The legend of Nakhoda Supirak is closely related to the existence of Supirak Island, which resembles of a large ship at Malubang Village in Pitas. Most locals from Pitas and some in Kota Marudu can easily share the history and location of the Supirak Island. According to the story delivered by the locals for generations, the legend of Nakhoda Supirak is about a rebellious son towards his mother.
The story started a long time ago, a young man named Supirak lives together with his mother (Odu Gerawang). They were very poor which made Supirak wanted to sail to faraway lands. Supirak worked hard and eventually became a rich man. Then, he had his own ship and sailed with his entourage to many places. Somehow, they sailed to Supirak’s village. As the ship closer to the bay of Supirak’s village, his mother was waiting there for him. She immediately went to the place where the ship docked in hopes to meet Supirak as she longs to meet her son for a long time. Unfortunately, Supirak is ashamed to see his mother in that state, poor and stink. He then told his entourage that he knows nothing about the poor old women there and this made them chased her away.
Odu Gerawang was stunned as she could not believe that her son will disown her. Then, with tears and sadness, she prayed to the almighty to curse Supirak and his ship. It didn’t take long before that Supirak, his entourage and the ship turn into a large stone. According to locals, the story does explain the existence of the Supirak Island until now.
Apart from Supirak Island, there are also five rock wonders that can be spotted at the area. Batu Gerawang is believed to be the house of Supirak, which now it became a stone arch. Not far from the Batu Gerawang are the three freshwater wells, which is a water supply to the village area. Moreover, Batu Talam can be found in the area which the locals believed that the stone looks like a food cover. Next, the Batu Berunsai that looks like a group of people dancing together that turned into stone. Lastly is the Batu Dulang, three rocks with a flat surface are believed to be the plates of containers for the food.
In conclusion, Pitas is a very unique place that is worth to become a tourism destination. There are so many places in Pitas that are not yet explored by any locals and travelers, making it one of the hidden gems in Sabah Borneo. So, take the chance to make Pitas as your next holiday destination in Sabah Borneo!
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