Traditionally, the Kadayan village head would determine the frequency of “manuba”. Under normal circumstances the “manuba” festival is an annual affair or depending on the fish population in the river. The Kadayan people are expert in determining the fish population and their sizes and the types of fish residing in the “limbauh”. The methods used to determine such situation were crude yet effective. Some of the methods used were through observation in which the village folks were asked to go to the selected “limbauh” to see if there were any indications that the “limbauh” was heavily populated such as movements created by the fish at the water surface. Such movement is called “tunggap” in Kadayan dialect. “Tunggap” is an action by the fish gasping for air at the water surface or fish trying to capture its prey such as large insects and small animals or falling / floating fruits and nuts at the water surface. If the “limbauh” is populated by lots of fish, then the frequency of “tunggap” would be very regular. Bigger fish normally produced more dramatic “tunggap” where the splashing would be stronger and there were occasions that larger fish would jump out from the water as well.
The other common method used by the village folks was simply to fish at the “limbauh” using “hamboo” instead of normal fishing rods. “Hamboo” is used to catch bigger fish, whereas rods and lines are for smaller fish. Logically speaking when the “limbauh” is heavily populated with fish, then the catch would be bountiful. Another common method used by the village folks to determine the fish population was by throwing tapioca leaves into the “limbauh”. Larger fish such as “tuyan” and “pulihan” love to eat the tapioca leaves where the fish upon noticing the impact of the leaves at the water surface would instantaneously grasp the leaves with dramatic splash.
Satisfied with the results of their site survey, the village folks would return to the village to give a SITREP (situation report) to the village head, The village head would convene a meeting attended by senior village folks to determine the date of the “manuba” festival and the necessary preparations to be undertaken prior to the festival,
“Tuyan” and “pulihan” were highly sought river fish by the Kadayan people. Both types of fish were considered as delicacy even until today, where a kilogram of “pulihan” may fetch up to RM85.00 and sometime even more. In my childhood days, the “tuyan” and “pulihan” population were still abundance in Lakutan River or sometime called Mesapol River.
To be continued....