When Volunteering & Arts Come Together
Interview & Text | TE Editorial Special Thanks to Ms Felicity Eku
WHEN VOLUNTEERING & ARTS COME TOGETHER
Pangrok Sulap (PS) is an art collective of artists, musicians and social activists with the purpose of empowering rural communities through art.
Pangrok Sulap, "Pangrok" is the local pronunciation of "punk rock" and “Sulap” is the name of a hut or a resting place usually used by farmers in Sabah,derives from the name Punk Rock, which is a music genre that was quite popular at the time and Sulap is a Dusun word for "home".
TE Media had a chance to interview two (2) PS member, Rizo Leong and Bams. Rizo is a Sino Murut from Ranau who used to study Civil Engineering and Bams is a Dusun born from Keningau that have education background in Psychology Counseling.
TE: How did Pangrok Sulap established?
All of us are actually friends to begin with. Two things that we have in common are that we like to play musics and keen on doing volunteering work. Before PS, we are always going out doing music gigs and performing. But we feel like we want to do more for the community. So we start by going to the rural areas. Back then we called ourselves "V for Volunteer". We started playing music in 2008 and later into arts in 2011. We go rural school and give the students motivational talk. We also help them to paint murals.
In 2018, there was a music band called Marginal from Indonesia and they have their own collective group. They play music and making arts. They were doing wood carving at the time and we took the chance to held a workshop with them and learn wood carving from them. They taught us what kind of knife and wood to use. That was how we started doing arts, and later on doing more like tattooing, henna drawing, house building, etc since there are so many of us. But we used this wood carving as our basic medium.
TE: How did you guys sustain your collective group?
We don't have any quota or any sign up requirement to join our collective group. We collect money from the members or anyone who wants to donate. We started doing artworks and we realise that our arts can make money. We sustain ourselves by selling off our artworks. We sell posters, hand printed clothes, etc till the point that we get bigger projects that involve a lot of funds. Most of these funds will go back to the community. We try to minimize expenses as much as we can so we did a lot of recycling. Pangrok Sulap is also persistent on the DIY concept hence the slogan 'Jangan Beli, Bikin Sendiri' (Don't Buy, Do-it-yourself). We will always try to produce things that we can sell with a low budget. We mostly make souvenirs made out of bamboo, rattan and stuffs from jungle. We collect secondhand books and clothes then distribute it to the villagers. We did a lot of mural paintings with the villagers. We teach any knowledge that we have to those who are less privilege. In a way, we improved both of our soft and hard skills.
TE: Advice on those who want to start they own collective group?
RL: Do not be afraid. Dare to try and just do it. But most importantly do not hope too much, especially with fundings. Dare to go out and do something that will benefit both the community and our ownself. It is a process. Start with idea sharing and go out to share the your ideas like going to events or even go out to the street. Because you want people to see what you are doing.
B: Do not put money as an obstacle. There are a lot of people who wanted to do collective group but many have failed. It is hard to sustain a group and money is always the main problem. Eventually the group members will spread out to find their own money, so the group will die and it will be a waste. So if you want to start a collective group, think about how you guys can sustain the group. Secondly, do not be too comfortable with what you are currently studying. You must explore as much as you can during your youth time. Do not stop learning and limit ourselves after graduation from school or university, instead we need to go out from our comfort zone to learn new things, because the world is so wide. We can learn everywhere.
"Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart."
Group Photo: Pangrok Team Members (left and right) with Ms Felicity from The Edupreneurs® (middle).