Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Brunei Town

Traditional tales for a new generation

Adib Noor

With a love of Disney stories and an appreciation for local heritage, a collective group comprising local artists, animators, writers and musicians came together to ensure continued acknowledgement of traditional stories by creating Parabelle Studios.

“Many of our members came from the Bruneian tribes such as Murut, Dusun and Iban. We shared the same concerns; the stories we grew up with are not being passed down or appreciated by the future generations,” explained CEO and co-founder of Parabelle Studios Tina Afiqah in an interview.

Speaking on their main goal, Tina shared, “The objective of our company is to re-adapt traditional Bruneian teachings and stories in a way that is relatable and applicable to the new generation. Similar to Disney, we strive to find new and inventive ways to ensure that our stories continue to be embraced and appreciated by locals and international friends alike.”

This can be seen in their first publication, which is a fantasy adventure novel titled Bubble Princess and The Stone Heart written by Tina herself and illustrated by Sarah Halim and Azra Hasnan.

The novel is a re-adaptation loosely based on two popular Bruneian folklore tales, Lela Mencanai and Jong Batu, and hopes to appeal to the new generation as well as re-introduce the traditional stories to the country.

The story of Bubble Princess and The Stone Heart revolves around the Island of Poni, which is rich in its traditions and a place where magical creatures roam.

Tina shared that her stories are inspired by Bruneian culture, ranging from references to food, flowers, animals, landmark, moral beliefs and even phrases.

“Even in the nature of our characters whose main phrase is Jumpa lagi, which of course means we will see you again,” said Tina.

She shared that the novel also features ambuyat, which is authentic to Brunei, as well as many other Bruneian traditional patterns from different ethnicities and local societies.

Parabelle Studios was first established in 2019 and they have sold close to 400 copies of their independently published books.

“There is no denying that the reading culture in Brunei is fairly small,” said Tina. However, Parabelle Studios has something up their sleeve.

“Studies have shown that book sales will experience a major increase after a movie or even a series adaption of the book is released.”

She said that it is their goal to have their story adapted into these visual mediums and even dubbed and translated into other languages that will reach a wider range of audience and, of course, pique interest from the younger generations as movies and series adaptions will engage them more than just simply reading.

Apart from their first novel, Parabelle Studios has also recently published a poetry book titled Bubbly Thoughts for the Stone Hearted, which features a collective by 12 local poets and two local illustrators who have worked together to write a series of poems, all of which are written from the perspectives of the several characters in the studio’s first novel.

They also work with other talented creatives who design tote bags, notebooks, pins and even masks.

True to its goal of reaching out to a wider and even younger audience, the group is also currently working on various future projects which includes a new story titled Banana Baby & The Bloodlust Beasts.

They are also working on a series of children’s books which will feature Brunei traditional proverbs as well as a musical adaptation of The Bubble Princess and The Stone Heart which is set to be completed in 2023.