Sabah quake: Donations flood crowdfunding site in memory of ‘heroic’ mountain guide

The Indiegogo site stated 638 people have so far contributed to the family of Robbi Sapinggi.
The Indiegogo site stated 638 people have so far contributed to the family of Robbi Sapinggi.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — A crowdfunding site has collected over RM116,000 in just three days for the family of a mountain guide who died while saving the lives of his charges following a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Sabah’s west coast last Friday.

The Indiegogo site stated 638 people have so far contributed to the family of Robbi Sapinggi, a licensed guide who was hit by falling rocks resulting from the earthquake after waiting for five hours for rescue teams, after which he and the climber he was assisting decided to descend Mount Kinabalu themselves.

“Robbi was a man of passion, he loved his job and the people he worked with. He was always joyful and his spirit was contagious,” the Amazing Borneo team, the tour company whom Sapinggi worked for, described him on the crowdfunding page they set up.  

“We received countless reviews about his excellent service throughout his time with us, and we are proud to say that he heroically took care of his guests all the way to the end.

“His passing is a great loss, not only to his family but also to Sabah Parks and our organization. He will always be our unsung Hero,” the page read.

The site has collected RM116,954 at the time of writing, surpassing its RM37,559 target.

All proceeds will be donated to Sapinggi’s wife and six-month-old son, the Amazing Borneo team said.

Sapinggi has been dubbed a “hero” after putting the welfare of the climber he was escorting before his own, asking that the climber continue descending without him after the former was hit by falling rocks and bleeding profusely.

“Despite being injured, Robbi’s only thought was for the welfare of his guest, urging his guest to continue ahead to climb down the mountain to safety.

“He bravely chose to remain alone and wait for help rather than to put the guest’s life at further risk. Unfortunately, Robbi was unable to make it down the mountain in time to receive proper medical attention and he died due to loss of blood,” the Amazing Borneo travel team wrote on the crowdfunding page.

The tour company also posted a review by a climber who spoke of Sapinggi’s kindness in giving her his gloves in order to stay warm during a climb in 2012.

“My fingers were almost frozen. Without hesitation, he removed his gloves and gave them to me. He kept me warm in a hut while waiting for sunrise, and calmed my nerves with his antics,” the posting written by Jonna Baquilas read.

The travel company’s Facebook post urging those wanting to donate to Sapinggi’s family has since been shared 412 times and liked by 1,343 people, along with many commenters asking that the donations be shared with other mountain guides who helped with rescue efforts.

Some 74 people have also donated to Sapinggi’s family directly through bank transfers, with values ranging from RM1 to RM2,500, the tour company’s Facebook page showed.

Ranau town, some 16km south of the earthquake epicentre, took some of the brunt of the earthquake on Friday, with several buildings — including the mosque, banks and schools — damaged.

The death toll from the quake that hit Sabah on Friday morning is now at 18, six of whom were children from Singapore who were at Mount Kinabalu on a school excursion.