ProjekBrunei.com - Everyone has a Story
Editor's Note: Rachael Lee is an international certified Personal Trainer from Fitness Institute Australia and a certified Les Mills group exercise instructor. She graduated from the University of Western Australia, Perth in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science (Major in Sports, Exercise and Health Science). In this feature, we ask Rachael about her passions for people and for fitness.
Tell us about yourself.
Hello! I am Rachael Lee (26 years old) from a small town called Kuala Belait. I now live in Bandar Seri Begawan. I give back my passion and strength for sports and fitness to the community - the world's most priceless and fulfilling job. I am also a part-time volunteer basketball and fitness coach for athletes with intellectual disabilities and special needs in Brunei.
I have always been a sports athlete (basketball, netball, track and field, futsal) since young with basketball as my main sport - of which I hold close to my heart until today as a player for the Brunei Women's Team since I was 18 years old.
How did you get into fitness?
I was a sports athlete from young, but a late bloomer in fitness. Fitness made its way into my life as my daily fix from my early 20s. Since my university years, I realised it helped me become a better sports player and athlete. By improving my fitness knowledge, it also helped children and individuals with motor dysfunction and special needs in improving their quality of life to their best ability. With the results shown through the conducted fitness programs for individuals with special needs, I fell in love with the thought of it.
It was during my months closing up to my final semester at university that I knew - one day, I needed to take my passion and enthusiasm for basketball and fitness one step ahead for the community back home in Brunei - be it as an athlete, a fitness trainer, a basketball coach or basketball and fitness event planner.
Share with us about the Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam.
Coming back to Brunei after graduation and after securing a fulltime job at a health club, I was not content. I needed to be involved somehow with a special needs organisation in order to still do what ignites the fire within me. This was when I was introduced to Special Olympics Brunei Darussalam (SOBD) committee members in mid-2014, Ms Tsara Nawwarah and Ms Dawn Lee.
SOBD is a non-profit, non-government organisation, which works closely with several government ministries as well as other Brunei-based non-government organisations. The mission of SOBD is to provide individuals with intellectual disabilities with opportunities to participate in Olympic-type sports such as Bocce, Football and Bowling, while promoting a healthy lifestyle through healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy attitudes. Special Olympics fosters the competitive spirit, and allows the individuals with intellectual disabilities to be exposed to a world and cultures beyond their own.
What are some of the challenges you face? How rewarding is it?
Challenges I face include the inability to safety accomodate all athletes in one session. I try to ensure that each attending athlete benefits as much as they can. I would like to be able to conduct a session for 25 athletes - however, sometimes with the lack of volunteers and with the different conditions of athletes present at session - a big number can be a chaotic.
Another challenge is that currently there are only two of us volunteering as fitness coaches. We would like to hopefully scout for new volunteer fitness coaches to do the same so that we will be able to open more sessions to accomodate other athletes who are unable to make it to our current weekly schedule.
The rewarding part of it that keeps me looking forward to every SOBD coaching session? Despite all the different levels of intellectual disabilities and special needs, it is the many warm happy high-fives and welcomes of 'Hi Coach Rachael!' that gives me a positive boost of energy. The visible excitement of the athletes, and their fitness improvements drives me forward. And of course not to forget, all the satisfied happy parents shaking my hands and constant gratitude from them after every session conducted. =)
Tell us about the Adaptive Fitness Programme.
After being involved with SOBD for over six months as a volunteer basketball coach - I wanted the athletes to improve more as a sportsperson and better their general well-being as an individual. Hence, I properly planned, launched and introduced Adaptive Fitness Programme - a similar programme that I was conducting in university. The programme is a weekly health and fitness session which focuses on introducing fitness and physical movements which are suitable to their motor capabilities. In turn, improving not only their fitness, daily motor movements - but also their social skills, mindset, moods, appetite and their overall well-being.
The first platform of the Adaptive Fitness Programme was opened for special athletes 12 years old and above at Fitness Zone Health Club. Now, we have our second platform at Hybrid Movement Gym for special athletes 8-12 years old.
The response has been great from the supportive parents with maximum numbers capped every session. There are now special centres requesting for the programme to be conducted at their venue. We are looking forward to be able to open more platforms of opportunities for other individuals with intellectual disabilities and special needs to join our fitness programme.
You recently held a workshop at Crossfit Manila on "Adaptive Fitness". Share your experience with us.
I am a CrossFit athlete and I believe in the power of sharing and educating my fitness innovatives and programme ideas for special athletes across the country - so why not, across the border? The workshop was a success - it opened the minds of not only the crossfit coaches at CrossFit Manila Mall of Asia, but also the Special Olympics Philippines coaches of the special athletes who attended the workshop. All parties now further understand that adaptive fitness training is crucial and needs to be included in their regime in order for the special athletes to better themselves for their respective sports selection in Special Olympics.
I do hope to do more cross-border educative workshop for fitness professionals of the general population and special education teachers: to educate and create awareness about the possibilities and wonders of fitness training for athletes with special needs and also share the concept of SOBD Adaptive Fitness Programme.
Any words of encourage to those considering getting involved?
Athletes with intellectual disabilities and special needs may have their differences and limitations - but they too just want to live a normal life like all of us. They want to be given a chance to excel in what they can - in the case of the Special Olympics world: to excel and fly high in their chosen sports. They do too, represent our country, Brunei Darussalam in international competitive sporting competitions to make our nation proud. The athletes goes through weekly fitness trainings and sports trainings to make sure they are fit to compete in their sports.
SOBD welcomes all individuals with and without intellectual disabilities and special needs to be part of our family. We are an inclusive, welcoming and supportive community which ensure that everyone and anyone who gets involved the first time with our athletes - will bring home with them a very memorable and unforgettable experience.
Get involved with us today - as a volunteer or as our athlete's training buddy. If you are already a sports coach and would like to volunteer to coach our athletes in any type of sports - you are more than welcomes to speak to any of our SOBD committee members.
Editor's Note: In this feature, we highlight the NQB group. To find out more about them, and to follow their journey, connect with them on Facebook.
Tell us about NQB?
NQB stands for "Never Quit Bboy" We met each other during our highschool days and some of us are cousins. We started to dance during break time in school but most of the time we practiced at our house. From there we decided to create our own dance team and Ehsan Issa a.k.a Bboy Chaos as our leader.
We are like a big family, we treat each other equally, gain knowledge of dance through the dance scenes around us locally and also foreign and that is one of the great experiences about dancing. We also do other dance genre such as Street Dance, Hip-Hop, Pop & Locking but Breakdance (Bboy) will still be our foundation of dancing. We get inspiration from other dancers, movies such as "You Got Served", "Stomp The Yard","Step Up","Battle Of The Years" and also from Youtube. From there we learn, teach and practice together. Our dream is to be one of the most successful bboy crews around the world.
The difference between NQB and other dance team in Brunei is our style of performance, we add creative movement with comedy to make our performances more interesting. NQB Crew is also a part of Community of Dance, Bruhooders and Morning Fresh Crew.
How do you balance work life and dance?
Some members of NQB come from all different backgrounds. Some of us are used to practicing 2-4 days a week and others practice whenever they have the time. We agree to discipline ourselves by getting our work done first before dance and so far everything is great for us. Some of us are still studying in college and university.
Share some of the highlights from your journey to date.
NQB were involved with Relentless Entertainment Dancers back in 2009-2014 and this year, a first time collaboration with The Creative Core BN to organize DANCERSMEET ‘16 Dance Competition and Showcase in Brunei Darussalam, support By Fitness Zone and D'Music Motion Studio.
In 2011, we performed for Prince Azim at Pusat Belia, BSB. Some of our other performances include Brufit Expo Event 2015, School Carnivals, private events such as Chinese Wedding, DST Anniversary, Bank Baiduri Gala night, etc. In 2015, NQB was awarded the best perfomer at Malam Pentas Belia Kelolaan JBS Tutong in conjunction of His Majesty’s 69th Birthday Celebration 2015 for Tutong District.
We have been invited by local singers for a music video production such as Jazz Hassan, Udi Luqman featuring Remmy and for the Youtube short film "HisStory" by The Nostrils Production.
Editor's Note: I love coffee. I love that first sip in the morning. I love the smell of coffee. I love the jolt felt when the caffeine kicks in. I love the process of pulling an espresso. I love the discipline involved in the process of preparing pourover coffees. I love how coffee brings people together. I love coffee, and we are glad to bring you this Q n' A with another coffee lover, Waqi from the Brew Department. Read on and follow their journey on IG.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, I’m Waqi Rahman. I work as a primary school teacher teaching Science, been teaching for about 8 years now. Aside from that, I’m chasing after my life goals by running Brew Department along with my wife. I would describe myself as laid back, outgoing and adventurous. Things that I love; island life, nature, travelling and coffee!
When did your interest for coffee began?
Looking back on my teenage days, I had always been a “hot chocolate” kind of guy. It was my wife who was the coffee drinker! Then I slowly started drinking coffee from coffee chains. Along the way, a good friend of mine, Mutah Beale, better known as Napoleon from Tupac Shakur’s rap group “The Outlawz” came to Brunei bringing 10 kilos of grade A Colombian stuff (coffee). He asked me if the Brunei market would be interested in Specialty Coffee and I was clueless as to what it meant at that time. It was Mutah Beale who introduced the world of specialty coffee to me.
How were your early experiences with coffee and how did you develop it?
During my travels, I went to check out some highly recommended third wave cafes. I observed baristas playing around with all these fancy tools when they were making coffee. It was as if they were doing a science experiment because they did everything with such precision. All these different methods of extracting coffee aroused my interest. My growing curiosity led me to communicate with the talented baristas and I was inspired to learn more about the art of specialty coffee.
About two years ago, I started brewing coffee manually with a Hario V60 pour over and later an Aeropress. Back then, the availability of Artisan beans in Brunei was quite limited. I would order my beans online or ask friends and family who were travelling or studying abroad to bring back some Artisan beans for me. I was truly amazed with the different tasting notes from the different coffees I tried. You feel a sense of joy and satisfaction when you sip a good cup of coffee and I wanted to share this feeling with other people.
As my interest grew deeper, I decided to take a Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) course from one of the best coffee mentors in KL. It’s a worldwide certified diploma-system course for any individual wanting to venture into the specialty coffee industry.
What's your favorite kind of coffee brewing method?
It’s subjective to pick a favorite. Coffees can be brewed using different methods and each cup produces a unique flavor profile. For example, Brazilian and Indonesian origins have nutty notes with medium / heavy body which are nice for milk based espresso. African origins such as Kenyan and Ethiopian have fruity and floral notes, delicious for filter coffee. For richness and sweetness, Central American origins are also great! I love exploring new coffees. I like to be adventurous. You tend to improve your sensory skills as you discover new tasting notes. Usually, when I dial in new beans, I would have it as an espresso to taste its full flavor profile. Then, once it’s calibrated, I would have it as a milk-based espresso (cappuccino, flat white). I also enjoy hand brew methods using the V60 and I’ve learnt a lot about hand brews from my good friends, Aoyama Coffee, they are always on point with their Kalita!
Brew Department has been seen in a few pop up events. Can you share some of your experiences?
The Collective Arts and Big BWN organized great events! I especially enjoyed event settings done in outdoor locations as it gave a unique coffee experience with a festival vibe. One of my personal favorite spot would be at Kunyit 7 Lodge located in the heart of the capital, Kampong Ayer. It was love at first sight for me. I instantly felt connected there. You guys would totally love the ambiance at Kunyit 7 Lodge! It reflects on our roots, heritage and culture.
Teamwork and support were crucial. During pop-ups, we had to stand up 6-7 hours straight pulling shots, but it was all for the love and passion of coffee. There were ups & downs. One of the challenges we faced was maintaining consistency and quality over a long line-up of orders, but we definitely enjoyed the experience of brewing coffee for the community, talking about coffee, meeting new people and best of all, serving our regulars. The sweetest moments were getting compliments and encouragement from people. It kept us motivated to serve people better.
I’m truly grateful for the amazing team behind Brew Department, especially my amazing wife, my supportive family and a very good friend of mine, Chee Yang, who have helped a lot with the movement.
What do you think of the coffee culture in Brunei?
The coffee culture in Brunei is certainly gaining popularity and growing steadily. I would say the market is maturing, with Kapra the first local roaster opening up and also cafes that are now serving Artisanal coffee through different brewing methods. It’s great to know that consumers have better access to good coffee so they can appreciate the true value of coffee.
Any future plans with Brew Department?
As of now, I’m just going with the flow participating in pop-up events but at the same time looking into new possibilities. I plan to do more collaborations with other creatives that can help connect coffee with the community or anything outside the box. I do have plans in expanding my coffee business but I don’t want to rush into things. I want to take my time planning, identifying the risks and gaining more experience. The world of coffee is complex, every day is a learning process and I still have a lot to explore.
What would you like to see happen in the future for the local coffee scene?
I visualize big things happening in the future for Brunei’s coffee scene. I hope it would be up to par within international standards, which means consumers would have better and higher coffee knowledge and standards. I also hope to create Brunei’s Coffee Association as it would highly benefit the coffee industry here, in terms of education and growth. Lastly, it’s important to give endless support to our local roasters, cafes and baristas as they could represent Brunei in the world stage of coffee competitions. It’s something I would like to see happening in the future.
Editor's Note: We are happy to bring you a Q n' A with Zairy, owner of Uneek Skateshop. The Uneek Skateshop is a skater owned and operated skateshop in The Souq of The Airport Mall. Be sure to drop by the next time you're at The Souq, and do check out their Facebook page.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Zairy Izhan b. Hj Ibrahim. I'm turning 40 this year. I am father of two children and I'm the owner of Uneek Skateshop.
When did your interest for skateboarding begin?
It was in the 80's when I watched this tv show, where there is a group of skateboarding team they called themselves the Bones Brigade (Lance Mountain, Mike Mcgill, Tommy Guerrero and others). I was amazed at how they could make their boards stick to their feet when they do tricks like an ollie (i.e. a jump on a skateboard). From there I bought my own skateboard from a department store and started skateboarding, learning tricks and until today, I'm still skateboarding.
Tell us about Uneek Skateshop.
We started in 2001 at Kiulap and now we have moved to a new location at The Airport Mall (The Souq). This year happens to be our 15 years of anniversary. Thank you to everyone that has been supporting us since the very beginning.
How has the local skate scene grown through the years?
Yeah, more people have started skateboarding throughout the years - boys and girls. I'm very happy to see the scene is growing with new faces coming to shop to get their skateboards and go to skate together at the park. It's good to see their will and passion to learn. I hope this will keep going for the years to come.
What is your goal with the shop?
Our goals are to cater to the skateboarders here with the best quality brands and to support the skate community here. We also have been branding our own shop brand including tees, caps and hopefully this year we will have our own skateboard deck. Uneek Skateshop is not just a shop, to me it's a place for the skate community in Brunei, where strong bonds between skaters are formed.
You select the brands and products that comes into the store. What do you look for in a product before bringing it in?
Most of the brands that we bring in are big brands from the US and some are requested by our customers.
Are there events hosted for the local skaters?
We've done a few small events for the locals here. For example, there was the GO SKATEBOARDING DAY on 21 June 2016. Check out our IG for updates on future events.
What would you like to see for the future local skate scene?
I hope the local skate scene here will continue to grow. With more good skate parks built, more skate competitions organised and even more local skateboarders representing Brunei at international skate events.
Editor's Note: I remember weekends back in the 90's. I grew up in Kuala Belait, and with most of the extended family based in the Muara district (or "Bandar" as we KB folks would say), many of my weekends were spent in Bandar. I hung out with my cousins, I ate at Thien Thien, and I would visit comic book shops - where a lot of my allowance was spent. As such, it would be absolutely accurate to say that I have a soft spot for comic book shops. On that note, it is with great pleasure that we feature Fanboys Infinite (FI) in this post. Check them out for all your comic, collectible and other pop culture related needs. Let's get to know Khairul Sabir (KA) and Haslan Haji Ali (HA) from FI.
When did your interest for comics begin?
KA: My earliest memories of comic books were my exposure to superheroes as a four year old. The first superhero I remember seeing was Adam West's Batman on TV, that show, along with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES from the Nineties created a lasting impact. Characters like Spider-Man, X-Men and especially Superman were a childhood mainstay. Shortly after I was exposed to comic books, but I didn't fully commit until I was about fifteen years old. I used to save my lunch money every day just so to be able to buy some comics from Bluestone, a now-defunct comic book store that used to be located in the Gadong area.
HA: For myself, it started back in the mid-Seventies (in London where I was raised) also with the BATMAN classic TV show that was being shown in syndication on British TV, which led me to buying my first comic books, namely JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOL. 1 #100 (“The Unknown Soldier of Victory”) and DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 1 #457 (“There Is No Hope In Crime Alley!”). And, thus, began my decades-long fascination with books in general and comic books in particular.
How has it developed throughout the years?
KA: In recent years, I have been more interested in the graphic novel medium, comprised of stories which tend to be more philosophically challenging and cover more mature ground. There are stories that are commentaries on real-world issues and character-driven arcs that are not just about punches being thrown, but also contain life lessons behind every page.
HA: I feel that the very first JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA comic book I ever bought had played a definitive role in my fascination with the Golden Age of comics as well as challenging myself to figure out new and interesting ways of telling a story, which helps, being an amateur writer and all. As such, although I do read the newer stuff, I prefer immersing myself with stories published during the Eighties as it was around this time that comic book stories really started to mature and was no longer just for kids in general. Case in point, the release of both BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the mid-Eighties led to the grim and gritty style of storytelling that has taken decades to undo and whose influence can be felt in recent live action films in general and DC live action films in particular, none more so apparent than in BATMAN v. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.
Share with us some of your favourites.
KA: My top three comic runs of all time and in no particular order are: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING by Alan Moore et al; GREEN LANTERN by Geoff Johns et al; and WATCHMEN by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
HA: I will read anything written by Alan Moore, David Mack, Grant Morrison, J. M. DeMatteis, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Kevin Maguire, Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Neil Gaiman, Roy Thomas, and Warren Ellis. I also have a very soft spot for Jack Kirby’s plethora of work with both Marvel Comics from the Sixties and DC Comics from the Seventies, and especially Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani’s seminal work on DC Comic’s DOOM PATROL. Art-wise, I simply adore the works of Alex Ross, Dave Gibbons, Dave McKean, David Mack, Frank Quitely, Kevin Maguire, and Richard Case, just to name a few. My top three favourites are ASTRO CITY by Kurt Busiek et al, DOOM PATROL by Grant Morrison et al, and PLANETARY by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.
Tell us about Fanboys Infinite.
KA: Fanboys Infinite was officially established on 8th September 2012, and was born out of the need for a comic book specialty store in the country. It initially started as a collectibles store, but pivoted towards a comic book store that also carried collectibles.
HA: I only joined the company a year later after its official establishment, and a week after I left my previous company where I had been under their employ for more than twenty years. It was a timely decision as we were able to focus more on achieving our corporate objectives, and led to our meteoric expansion from our old premises to a newer and larger one the following year after I had joined. That allowed us to better cater to our ever-growing customer base by increasing our inventory as well as hosting annual in-store events like “Free Comic Book Day (FCBD)” and “Re:Boot Camp”, both of which are annual pro-reading initiatives that we have organised over the years. Recently, we have been participating in a lot of pop-up events like the recent “Collectibles Conclave v. Books @ The Souq” event. Such events allow us to inculcate public awareness that we are here to fulfill their comic book, collectible and pop culture needs. Additionally, we have also tied up with local and foreign business affiliates in order to incite and fuel a resurgent collecting community to reach newer heights.
How has the response been for Fanboys Infinite?
FI: Response towards Fanboys Infinite is reflective of an ever-changing market mindset - as more people get into comics, we sell more of those. In comparison, the collectibles market is too vast for people to keep up with.
How is the present community in the local scene?
FI: Our core business are our members and loyal patrons. They are always the first movers in supporting all our events and whatnot, be it movie premieres or in-store functions. That is why we believe that building and sustaining a collecting community is paramount to the company’s continuous success.
Any special shoutouts?
FI: Fanboys Infinite would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who have supported us from the beginning. We will continue to do everything that is humanly possible to ensure that your respective comic, collectible and pop culture needs are met in a more efficient, effective and economical manner.
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