Twenty 22 Japanese and Brazil tourists flocked the 7th Coca Cola Waghi Cultural Show at remote Nondugl, Jiwaka Province Papua New Guinea over the Queens Birthday long weekend.
It was a peaceful and quiet event held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend from 12-13 June 2010 at the once renowned colonial Edward Hallstrom Bird of Paradise Sanctuary.
Continuous highlands torrential rain which has caused havoc through floods and roadside landslide the last four months or so was respectful of the annual celebration taking a good well advance two weeks break. A week of dry period before the show was ample for the 10km dirt muddy pothole-ridden road to be refilled and flattened for comfortable rides by travelers to the showground. Only concerned sections needed patching, not the whole 1okm to be specific. From Waghi Bridge, junction of the road leading to Nondugl from the Okul Highlands Highway, was at a reasonable state for show goers travelling to and from the show ground on a 25-seater Toyota coaster bus and trucks, after the road being maintained.
A fine day on Saturday 12 June 2010 preceded by early morning fog clearance after the first dawning rays was a fantastic day. Usual tropical highlands of the pacific hue of green, blue fading with elevation to white clouds on the top of the ranges of Kubor and Bismack to sky blue was the spectacular ambient sight for the visitors. Panoramic view from Dona ridge, just 4km meters up north from Waghi Bridge, the junction of the dirt road leading to Nondugl, was breathtaking. Scattered plumes of smoke on the nearby hills remind us of subsistence farmers utilizing the dry weather making garden, hunting or having an outdoor mumu. Dotted sweet potatoes garden plots with nearby village hamlets are visible along the hills. That is the centre of Waghi Valley and Papua New Guinea. Here, there is another junction with road branching to Banz and Nondugl. The road leading to Banz has been upgraded by Cameron Construction which will to be sealed soon. Truck and bus loads of singsing groups and spectators are heading for the showground from both roads towards Nondugl.
The smaller local crowd within the showground provided enough room for tourists to mingle with the members of singsing groups and take photos. Two Brazilian tourists attended the show on Saturday through Trans Niugini Tours were delighted. Expatriates from the Melanesian Nazarene Bible and Teachers college at Ninge and Kudjip attended, though they were purposely there for an evangelistic outreach at the showground. They enjoyed the event too.
Mark Eby and Marion Cadora from University of Goroka (UOG) attended the show after checking Waghi Cultural Facebook fan page. Mark Eby is a lecturer at UOG. He is from Venice, California but has grown up in Waghi Valley at age 13 when his father Lee Eby established the Melanesian Nazarene Bible College in 1967 at Ninge. He enjoyed the show and is sharing his photos as posted on his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=222104&id=756420347). Mark is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, USA but has taken avid interest in Waghi Valley producing a Papua New Guinea documentary featuring tribal fights, coffee, local painters to name a few featuring local talents. It will be showed for the first at Melanesia Nazarene Bible/Teachers College at Ninge at 2pm on Saturday 26 June 2010. Feel free to contact Mark Eby on firstname.lastname@example.org about the documentary film. Marion is quickly adaptable in Papua New Guinea jumping up PMVs while in Goroka. She is having a great time. Marion is living in Honolulu, Hawaii but she is originally from Dana Point, California. While on a short visit to PNG she managed to make it to Waghi Cultural Show which we hope she took brought back lasting memories of the place and event.
Consistent staging of the 7th Waghi Cultural Show annually since 2004 has impressed a senior officer of Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNG TPA). Jerry Agus, Manager of Policy and Planning, who has associated with the show since its infant stages was impressively delightful. Jerry has attended the show in 2006 and again in 2010. In 2008, the former PNG TPA Marketing and Promotion Manager, Jimmy Yomapisi attended. Jimmy was accorded beautiful Waghi hospitality when he attended the event. Jerry congratulated the WCS Committee for consistently staging the event annually making it a tourist attraction event.
The annual cultural festival not only brings in international tourists to witness the event but also promotes preservation of the local Waghi Valley style of decoration (bilas), face-painting, singsing, dance and songs during pig killing, bridge price, compensation, tribal fights and funeral rituals.
Fine weather again on Sunday 13 June. Two 25-seater bus load of Japanese tourists left Mt Hagen town for the show at around 9am. This group of tourists was arranged by Elizah Hon of Paradise Tours. They headed eastward flowing with Waghi Valley along the Okuk Highlands Highway. Passed Kuli Gap and descended into fertile belly of Waghi Valley. The testimony of the soil fertility should be the lush tea and coffee trees along either sides of the road. WR Carpenters tea and coffee plantations on either sides of Kudjip is an irresistible sight for photographers to pass by. The tourists toured Banz town, a bustling and fast-growing township serving the newly created Jiwaka Province. Back to Kudjip and another further 40km east to Waghi Bridge and a 10km dirt road drive north to Nondugl. They were in the midst of the event mixing and taking shots of the dancers in colorful costumes. Groups of celebrants from Muinde (border of Chimbu and Jiwaka Province), Minj Junction, Tambul-Nebilyer and one from Nondugl entertained the Japanese tourists. Each tourist was pinned a badge each commemorating their attendance at the 7th 2010 Coca Cola Waghi Cultural Show by the committee members. They left the vicinity around 2pm with lasting memories of the event and place, friendly people.
The bonuses, as always been and are, for tourists traveling to Waghi Cultural Show apart from seeing the celebrants in finely attired traditional customs, dances and songs are many . But the few notable are the breathtaking scenery of Waghi Valley including the everyday life of people along the roads; the food crops, the gardens, the village huts, markets, food sold on the market, tea and coffee plantations, the ambient temperature and climate and rivers. Innumerable tourism activities can be undertaken within Waghi Valley and Jiwaka Province. A tourist choose to Waghi Cultural Show is not just about witnessing a cultural festival but stepping a into a lifetime adventure of tropical highlands of Papua New Guinea where nature is still pristine with less western influence. Yes, that is where the people still live in their traditional style…much different from urban Papua New Guinea lifestyle.
Written by "Waghi Cultural Show Committte"
Written by "Waghi Cultural Show Committte"