To many students, it might just be another mid-year school break; yet to over 60 Boys and Officers of the 1st Kuala Lumpur Boys’ Brigade Company, and over 1,800 BB Members from all over Malaysia and the Asia Region, it was the long awaited 20th National Boys’ Brigade Pesta Convention, held June 2-7, 2012 at Kulai, Johor Bahru!
Officers and Boys alike came with an excited soul to Parish Hall on a beautiful Saturday morning, June 2, for roll call and gathering of band instruments as well as other camping equipment. Some parents, too, volunteered to help with getting things together while some made sure their sons have brought all the necessities. Excitement and anticipation filled the mist.
Around half past eight, Captain Yee Mun Theam called for everyone’s attention and opened the weeklong journey with a word of prayer. The NCOs soon took charge to lead their members in loading the buses. About thirty minutes later, two buses and a van were loaded. Many sighed a relief, as they knew it would be a long drive to get down south. Along the way, some Boys – especially those attending Pesta for the first time – were energetic and kept interesting conversations going; others, the more senior ones, took the chance to catch a nap.
It seemed like in about no time the company had arrived at the Pesta campground, SMK Foon Yew, our home for the next 5 days. After settling down and finding our company classrooms, the band was ready to rehearse at the actual competition ground. For about two hours or so, the Boys tried to get themselves familiar with the field. Other company bands that practiced at the field included 3rd KL and 4th KL. For the past couple months, our Boys have been practicing hard for the national band competition, which is one of the few competitions that are planned for every Pesta Convention. The anxiety builds even higher as the day for competition approached.
The rest of Day 0 was rather relaxing as the Boys chilled around the classrooms and enjoyed each other’s fellowship.
Sunday was the most exhilarating day as we saw most of the companies from all around Malaysia checked in at the campground early in the morning while some international companies, namely guest participants from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Singapore and London checked in during the afternoon session. All the Pesta participants finally got to meet as a large group during the “One Voice” briefing session hosted by the organizing committee. A quick ice-breaking session took place after lunch and all participants were split into their respective platoons (A to I) to get to know their platoon leaders, group leaders, and members. Soon after, it was time for a rehearsal for the official opening ceremony of the Pesta Convention. All respective parties practiced their parts while 1st KL band took this opportunity do a final round practice at the school car park. It was humbling to see many parents came by during that time to check out their sons and 1st KL parents and fans base was already growing through the evening.
At 6:30 p.m. sharp, the guard of honor marched in with the Pesta flag accompanied by all state contingents as well as the reigning champion band – 1st Johor Bahru (JB) Company. The guest of honor was Honorary Captain Michael Moorthy, the Brigade Chairman. The scenery was awe-inspiring as all brigadiers – dressed handsomely in their ceremonial uniform – paid the utmost respect and attention to the ceremony. After the officiating of the convention by Hon. Capt. Moorthy, the recipients of this year’s President’s and Founder’s Award (second and highest award of the Brigade respectively) was recognized before thousands of eyes and cheers. 1st KL was very proud to have our very own Corporal Alvin Wong Jin Zhao to receive the President’s Award and Staff Sergeant Benny Tham Chew Hol to receive the Founder’s Award during the ceremony. Kudos!
Following the opening ceremony was the long anticipated National Band Competition. All the band members were gathered at the corner of the field as we saw Officers from the respective bands were giving their last cheer to their members before they get ready for uniform inspection. 1st KL’s band instructor was also present to give the Boys some final encouragement. The atmosphere was tensed yet inspiring.
As the bands before us complete their show, it was finally our turn to march into the stadium (we were the last performer among all the participating bands). The crowd cheered, the Boys played their numbers – it was nicely done. Fifteen minutes of (fame) show was worth all the training and practices the Boys had undergone. Then it came the announcement of results. We held our breath when the emcees named the 4th and 3rd placing. We were not called yet! “1st Runners-up goes to – 1st Kuala Lumpur Company!” It was a relief that can be heard from all the Boys and Officers on the field. Some cheered and jumped – we were glad that hard work was paid off. To add on to the achievement, our very own Corporal Alvin Wong also emerged as the Best Drum Major in the competition. Many Boys and Officers slept with a smile on their face that night.
Watch the band’s performance, recorded by Capt. Yee here.
It was a more relaxing day for us, as the Boys were not participating in the Drill, Singing and Dancing Competitions. The highlight of the day was “Wild Wild South,” an Amazing Race-themed game that put Members into platoon and had them complete tasks in order to win points. Games included quizzes, physical challenges, and obstacle courses. Many Members had a good time of fellowship with other Members from various Companies. Some of us also watched the Drill Competition and cheered for the teams. We are proud that our brothers and sisters from 3rd and 4th Kuala Lumpur Company were ranked in high placings in the competition. Later that evening, we watched the Singing and Dancing Competitions, held at the school’s main hall. It was a night of entertainment as all the teams and crews did their very best to sing and dance to the glory of God.
Dozens of buses occupied the school parking ground early in the morning. It was time for a tour around JB! In their respective Companies, the host – 1st Johor Bahru Company – has specially arranged this tour to introduce popular places around JB to many of us who have not been down south. Places we visited include Kota Iskandar, JB town, and Puteri Harbour. At each stop the Companies were given time to snap photos and 1st JB did a good job in navigating us through the history and highlights of those venues.
After our last stop at the harbor, the buses drove all Pesta participants to Sutera Mall, JB, where the main activity of the day was held. The carnival-styled station games and treasure hunt took place at the mall’s open car park. All participants were again grouped in their respective platoons and completed their missions in finding out their lunches from Sutera Mall and the surrounding area. The activity strengthened the comradeship between Members of different states and countries (remember our international guests?).
As evening dawns, the carnival came to a conclusion. Many left the mall with a satisfied tummy as well as plenty leftovers that made our supper that night. After wash up, the next event was the main highlight of this Pesta – the Youth-A-Like gospel concert. The worship team came all the way from Acts Church of Subang, Selangor. The concert was followed by a powerful message delivered by Pastor Kenneth Chin. Following the sermon was a ministry to the Members. More than 200 hands were raised, submitting their lives to Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!
Today was the last day of the Pesta program. After a quick breakfast, the platoons gathered at the field and wore their platoon t-shirts – represented by different colors. The “BB O1ympiak!” was then organized at the school stadium. A dozen of inter-platoon competition games were carried out. Each platoon – from A to I – sent different reps for the various games while the crowd cheered for their heroic participants wholeheartedly. From giant volleyball to backward running competition, each game was created to foster sportsmanship and teamwork.
The daylong program ended on a high note with each platoon getting their platoon photos taken. After wash up, all Pesta participants were dressed handsomely in their full ceremonial uniform for the closing ceremony – the “Here As One” Pesta grand banquet. More than 200 tables were set up at the majestic school hall and all brigadiers were served with an 8-course oriental dinner. The banquet was opened with a combined band from KL, Selangor, Perak and JB. We were also entertained by the winning teams from Singing and Dancing Competitions, 3rd KL Company and 1st JB Company. The banquet was continued with remarks from the Pesta organizing committee and the Brigade President. Awards for various competitions were also presented. The overall champion for this Pesta went to 8th Penang Company for their excellent participation and achievements in all the competitions. The Brigade President, Hon. Capt. Michael Moorthy announced the next host for Pesta 2014 – Perak state!
The night was concluded with a photo taking session by Company and many farewells among the participants. It was a mixed of relief and sadness as we will part for our respective homes after tomorrow.
All the companies began packing and cleaning up the classrooms – their homes for the past five days – and got ready to leave the campground. After triple checking all our camp equipment and belongings, we boarded the bus at around 9 in the morning. We waved goodbye to our new and old friends, wishing each other well so we will meet again in two years’ time.
While many companies were heading back to their respective states and countries, the journey hasn’t ended for 1st KL. The second wave of excitement hit our Boys as we prepare ourselves for the yet anticipated Singapore trip!
Read about the fun stuff we did next in the story written by Private Ho Shi Ern.
Writer’s note: There ain’t many Pesta Conventions one can afford to attend as it is held bi-annually. Through the life of a Brigadier, every Pesta is a one-in-a-lifetime-experience because of the fun and fellowship it offers. I have personally grown from this experience and I hope to attend as many Pesta as possible throughout my time in the Brigade.
Article written by W/O Jason Tham
Photography by W/O Jack Ong