HINAVA. The Life Of A Stroller

Sabahan trio Hinava are the best known strollers working in Kota Kinabalu
Hinava (L to R) Glenn, Ponin and Oboy

I first saw Hinava in Sept 2009 at Ferdinand’s restaurant in The Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort. They walked over to our table, and played two songs beautifully; Michael Buble’s ‘Home’ and the Eagle’s ‘New Kid in Town’. I asked them afterwards where they were from, and they said Penampang. I knew that I would want to talk to them again.

Hinava are known as “Strollers”. They are from Kampung Nosoob Baru in Penampang. Glenn plays guitar, Ponin plays rhythm guitar, and Oboy plays double bass. As strollers, they walk around venues singing and entertaining hotel guests. These guys sing in beautiful harmony, the music is natural and acoustic, and easy listening.

Hinava has been playing for a long time, although the present band has been together for about 5 years. They were contestants in ‘Blast Off’ in 2007, the same year that Andalusia were in there. “We didn’t win anything though!” Oboy laughed.

They all started playing music when they were in high school.
“My main influence was my older brother,” said Oboy. “He inspired me. But not everyone can carry on with the guitar, many give up halfway.”

“I love to sing. So that’s why I joined this band,” said Ponin.

“When we first started, that was the hardest part,” said Oboy. “Before we started [as a stroller band] we practised for one month, six days a week.”

“Then after that we know what to do,” continued Glenn. “Now we practise one or two times a month. We are very lucky. We don’t need to struggle much on practising a new song because we understand each other. We don’t argue about our parts. We can just enjoy ourselves.”

Hinava have been playing at Magellan for 14 months. I caught them in their last ten days here, because they are moving to Nexus.

Hinava in Magellan Sutera

They start work at 7pm, and play for an hour at each of the Magellan food outlets.

-Five Sails [poolside dining]
-Tariks Lobby Lounge [teh tarik specialist]
-Al Fresco [Mediterranean]
-Ferdinand’s [Italian fine dining]

It’s good work for a musician. Hinava have played in some beautiful places over the years. Before Magellan they have had contract work in RasaRia and Nexus, Also, they played at local cafe S Club. Hinava also played in Johor, and in KL they played at The Equatorial and on Pangkor Island.

Like everything, there are ups and downs. The hotel guests are not always pleasant.

“Drunk people, they keep on requesting all the time things like: ‘Can you play Lady Gaga,'” said Glenn. “They ask us to play Techno songs, ask for some hip hop. It’s not for us to play!”

“It’s part of the normal job. You always have to deal with the drunk customer. Luckily we are not girls,” said Oboy.

Working the hotel circuit, Hinava obviously see a lot of Filipino bands. Glenn said, “I think the skill of the Filipinos and the local musicians are quite the same. But the Filipinos are more disciplined: They practise more. That’s why hotels finds them easier to handle. But that’s not saying local [musicians] is not good. Local is GOOD.”

Glenn added, “Luckily, the tourism minister Masidi implement new rules that all hotels must hire some locals, and it’s for bands too, not just ethnic music.”

All the band members are married with little kids. I asked them if they want their kids to have music in their lives, and it was a resounding YES!

Oboy said, “I will send them to piano class or guitar class, see how they go from there. If they like it or no, it’s up to them. I’m not going to push them. Go with the flow!”

Hinava are solid musicians with a lovely sound. Many thanks to them for giving us an insight into the Life of a Stroller.



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