Padian-Pengalu history on showcase at week-long exhibition

|     Azlan Othman     |

AN EXHIBITION on padian, or women boat vendors, was officially launched at the Dermaga Diraja yesterday by Chairman of Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Board Haji Ali bin Matyassin.

Organised by Riza Group and UF Academy, the exhibition is open to the public until March 17.

Director of AF Academy Haji Mohd Firdaus bin Orang Kaya Kaya Haji Nordin said that the exhibition has prompted youth to inquire more about the pengalu, who acted as suppliers of the goods sold by the padian.

“The proliferation of water taxis on the Brunei River led to the extinction of the padian,” he said.

“Back in the day, the padian were a common sight on the Brunei River. Every day, early in the morning, boats called gubang, bidar or perahu, were seen being rowed by women wearing wide hats known as seraung. These women would then row from one house to another in Kampong Ayer, selling daily necessities such as vegetables, fruits, fish and other daily supplies.

“Some of them also piled their wares along the jetty near the capital, which is now known as Bandar Seri Begawan. A padian was viewed as a floating market selling all sorts of foodstuff, vegetables and commodities. Basically, they were middlemen who made profits from selling goods obtained from the suppliers, or pengalu.”

Apart from showcasing padian-pengalu history, the exhibition also features side activities such as ketupat-weaving, kite-making, live cooking demonstrations and vintage car shows.

Chairman of Bandar Seri Begawan Municipal Board Haji Ali bin Matyassin launches the exhibition on padian. – AZLAN OTHMAN