Sabah quake: Brother of hero guide had sad task of carrying brother's body down Kinabalu

KOTA BELUD (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - For Mr Binker Sapinggi, finding his older brother lifeless on the mountain and then transporting his body down required strength beyond the physical.

At Mr Robbi Sapinggi's wake on Sunday, Mr Binker Sapinngi, 29, said he was "more than sad" when he and three of his Kampung Kiau Nuluh neighbours found Robbi's body lying some 20m from where he was believed to have slid down after being struck by falling rocks.

"We set out from Timpohon at 11.58am and arrived at Laban Rata around 2pm. We wanted to continue our search for Robbi, but were stopped by the strong aftershocks.

"When we were picking up his body, I lost all my strength. I asked the three guides who were with me to carry his body down while I led the way," he told The Star.

Asked if the recent tragedy had dampened his spirits to continue in the profession, Binker said he was uncertain. He had been a mountain guide for more than four years.

"I am not sure whether I want to continue guiding. I am not confident enough," he said.

However, the eldest of the 10 Sapinggi siblings, Henry, would continue guiding.

Henry, who has been a porter and mountain guide since 1996, said he would continue guiding in memory of his brother.

"Robbi wouldn't want me to give up this job.

"Four out of five boys in my family, including Billy, are mountain guides. So was our father Sapinggi Lajon,"' he said.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old twins Laura and Mariana Lim had nothing but fond memories of Robbi, who guided them to the peak during their first excursion up Mount Kinabalu last September.

"Robbi was our guide when we first climbed Mount Kinabalu together. From the first moment we met him, he was very friendly.

"He was brave and full of jokes, never short of laughs. He was genuinely caring," said Laura, who was also Robbi's colleague at a local travel company, Amazing Borneo.

Mariana said Robbi went beyond the call of duty to ensure that she remained safe while experiencing altitude sickness at the peak.

"I was really sick at the top. I couldn't keep my head straight and he stayed with me. He found a place while we waited.

"The whole time he made sure that I was conscious and tried to keep me warm while we waited for Laura," she related.

Hundreds of Robbi's friends and relatives flooded his house to pay their last respects to the man they now call a "hero".

The funeral procession took place after prayers at around 2.30pm on Sunday.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.