PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Mount Kinabalu mountain guide Robbi Sapinggi may be gone, but he lives on in an award-winning documentary made by Sabahan film director Cath Jayasuriya.
Titled Dusty's Trail: Summit Of Borneo, the 2013 project highlights the journey of Jayasuriya's son who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a debilitating muscle wasting condition that affects one in 3,500 boys worldwide.
Mr Sapinggi became part of the documentary as he played a pivotal role over the last four years in guiding participants from all over the world who join Expedition Mount Kinabalu, a charity event to raise funds for DMD awareness.
As the person in charge of mountain guides every year, Mr Sapinggi was an integral part of Coalition Duchenne's annual climb, which saw 110 participants last year.
"Robbi was supportive of my charity climb and he understood why I was doing it," said Jayasuriya, 52.
Her son Dusty Brandom also grieved over not being able to meet the man he had heard so much about since 2011.
"I always wanted to climb with my children, but my oldest son Dusty is unable to climb (as he has DMD), so that's when I decided to create Expedition Mount Kinabalu to climb for him and other boys with Duchenne," she added.
To recall happier times with Mr Sapinggi, the family decided to watch the movie again to see the parts where Robbi sang Tinggi Tinggi Kinabalu with his father Sappingi Ladsou.
"It just made us smile. Robbi always joked that he wanted to be famous. In safety briefings last year, he used to playfully say 'Listen to me - I'm famous now, I'm in a movie!' to the people," said Jayasuriya, who has climbed Mount Kinabalu eight times since her first ascent at 11.
"Robbi knew the mountain like the back of his hand, and he was able to pace all types of climbers - the slow, the medium paced, and the fast ones as they depart Laban Rata for the final push to the peak.
"He always noticed the ones who were most scared and helped them out," she said.