Singer makes a comeback at 72

Talented family: Ongkino (centre) posing with his children (from left) Andy, Janet, Judith and Melvin.

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - Kadazandusun singer and composer Ongkino Moidon is making a comeback to the music scene at the ripe old age of 72.

Although his name may not be familiar among today's generation of Kadazandusun song fans, half a century ago, his voice was often heard on radio, singing hits he himself wrote, such as Hunggui Sukudon Ku (The Sadness I Have To Carry) and Kokito di Unduk Ngadau (Looking at the Harvest Queen).

However, Ongkino faded from the local music scene to focus on his job and raise his family of eight children at their home in Kampung Koidupan in Penampang near the city.

Thanks to his children, the retired civil servant finally fulfilled his lifelong dream of cutting his own album of Kadazandusun songs.

"I'm really proud of my children for helping me to pursue my dream. This is something I always wanted to do but I didn't have the opportunity to do so," said the former carpenter from the Public Works Department.

Despite not having sung publicly for some 50 years, Ongkino had kept alive his composing, sometimes singing to his children.

When he expressed his wish to have some of his songs compiled into an album during his 72nd birthday celebration last year, his children agreed.

This time, however, the 12-song album will be performed by his children Judith, Melvin, Andy and Janet.

"Our father obviously has no intention of making singing a career not at his age now. But he has always been passionate about song writing, something which he has been doing quietly for more than 50 years. On his birthday, he asked us to compile some of them into an album.

"We took up the challenge as a gift to him. But come to think of it now, this is actually his gift to us, his children and also the Kadazandusun community," said Janet.

Due out in May, the album will feature some of Ongkino's best works. Unlike most modern Kadazandusun songs, his compositions reminisce about the traditional way of life with simple chord arrangements.

However, his children have made minor modifications to his original works to better suit the taste of the present day listeners, who will find the spontaneity of his songs enjoyable.

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