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Volume2 Number 4
A MEMORY TO LAST A LIFETIME
Christmas was fast approaching, the days were getting shorter, colder and damper. Everything pointed toward a usual winter here in Vancouver - the one exception being a new millennium was in sight.
As usual, our family had not even started our Christmas shopping yet, and this was only early December. We still had three weeks or so to battle the hordes at the Malls in an effort to find that perfect gift for everyone on our gift list. For those who are usually finished with Christmas shopping by Halloween, this must be indeed a sacrilege - to leave such things to the last minute. But alas, that's the way it's been with us for years, and this Christmas didn't look any different; that is, until the delivery courier dropped off "the" package at Fernanda Ho's office (our Casa's official mailing address).
The phone call from Fernanda came at 4:30 p.m. or so on Thursday December 2nd, 1999. "The" package contained an invitation to the Handover in Macau on December 20th!!! Not knowing any more details at the time, I surmised it to be a courtesy invitation sent out to many who had made contact with the Macau Government over the years, and our Casa was merely receiving notification of the events to take place. I hadn't thought more about it until the following Monday (Dec.6th) when, in a telephone conversation with Tiago de Vasconselhos (the Governor's ADC) in Macau, that I understood the full impact of "the" package. The package contained an invitation to be an official guest of the Macau Government at the Handover ceremony. Little by little, my mind started to sort these facts out, namely,
Well, I think you get the picture. Chaos reigned, and Carol and I literally flew around town making all the necessary arrangements to enable us to leave Vancouver on Dec. 15th, and believe it or not, everything got done in time, including Christmas decorations in the house before we left. Thanks to some very good friends and family members who all helped out in some away to enable us to leave on time.
On the plane, it all started to sink in. The immense pride I felt at being given the opportunity to be "your" representative at this historical event cannot be put into words. It was a feeling like no other especially as it had been over 30 years since I left that part of the world for our chosen home in Canada. Thoughts were abound in my head, and I was fortunate that the excitement subsided long enough for me to catch a couple of cat-naps on the plane before we landed in Hong Kong.After a brief one-day stopover in HK, we left for Macau on the Saturday before the Handover. It was the morning of December 18th when we arrived at the jetfoil terminal to board our vessel. After showing our credentials, we were indeed amazed at the VIP treatment afforded us. Almost immediately, we were ushered into a waiting room where all our travel documents were attended to (yes, we got our passports in time, thanks to the Canadian Passport Office in Surrey), then we were finally escorted with an armed bodyguard onto the jetfoil to Macau. While we had anticipated security was going to be tight, especially in Macau, we had not expected it at the HK jetfoil terminal. Not until after the jetfoil was searched were we allowed to take our seats in a specially set-up VIP section on the ship. As we entered Macau, several Chinese gunboats were plainly visible in the outer harbour, almost on display or maybe as a show of force. When the jetfoil docked at the Macau terminal, security was clearly evident, and we were once again duly escorted off the jetfoil, whisked through customs and onto a "private" mini-bus just for us (no one else was allowed on it), which took us to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency on Taipa where the other casa presidents were also staying.
It was a beautiful sight to see all the Portuguese flags flying from nearly every lamppost and telephone pole on the drive from the ferry terminal to our hotel. Although every Portuguese flag was accompanied by the red Chinese flag, it was nevertheless a striking sight to behold upon our arrival. At the hotel, we noticed the ever-present police barricade at the entrance, and they were not letting anybody in without proper accreditation. Finally after we explained who we were (we did not have any of the proper passes at this time yet as we had just arrived), the police allowed us into the hotel, but not before we were subjected to yet another walk through a metal detector at the main hotel entrance. Once in, we were fine, but it was difficult getting in the first time without any hotel or government issued documents. The rest of the afternoon was spent at Largo do Senado walking, shopping, sightseeing etc. The square was filled with tourists, locals, security forces and media, all searching for something to eat, buy or rent. I had searched high and low to buy a Portuguese flag to take home with me, but could not find a single one anywhere that day. Either they were all sold out, or nobody wanted to openly display that they had any left.
That evening, we met up with Robbie da Costa (UMA), Henrique Manhão (Casa de Macau USA), Gabriel Azedo (Lusitano HK) and Lourenco Conceição and his wife, Cecilia (Casa de Macau Toronto) for a delightful (and delicious) Macanese dinner at the hotel. It was during this get-together that we learned that Sunday Mass at the Sé Cathedral was going to be a special Thanksgiving Mass and was going to be noted as the Last Portuguese Mass celebrated under Portuguese rule. Well, we just had to attend it, wherever this Cathedral was!! Now, all we had to do was find where the Cathedral was!!
The next morning was Handover Day morning, and after a wonderful mixed breakfast of congee, omelettes and fruit, we set out for the 11 a.m. Mass. After obtaining directions from hotel staff, we set out to walk from the Hotel Lisboa to the Cathedral. As we neared the Cathedral, we noticed security officers were everywhere again - on motorbikes, in cars, on the streets, on rooftops, on foot etc. We then realized that all the Portuguese dignitaries involved in government in Macau or Lisbon were in attendance. We noticed the President and Prime Minister of Portugal and their wives and the Governor and his family (Tiago noticed us in church and was caught off guard, but he winked and waved at us with a smile). The Mass was concelebrated by Macau's bishop, Bishop Lam and probably all the priests from the Diocese of Macau. It was the most beautiful and touching event of our entire visit to Macau, and we are so grateful we found out in time so that we were able to attend.
Later that afternoon, we left our hotel (with a police motorcycle escort) and were taken to the Handover Ceremony site where once again we were subjected to more metal detector searches prior to entering the Handover Venue. There was red carpeting everywhere, huge expanses of it, indoors and outdoors, and everywhere we as guests walked, there was red carpeting. I should point out here that everyone from the people at the jetfoil terminal to the people at the Hyatt Regency to the hosts and hostesses from the Macau Tourism Office, seemed to go all out to make us feel welcome and special - they indeed succeeded. They catered to our every need and made sure we had everything we needed for an enjoyable and memorable visit. It was "customer service" at its very finest.
The evening started with entertainment in the form of a musical taking us on a journey from the early days of the Portuguese settlers through to present day Macau with the modern and tall skyscrapers. A colourful dragon dance followed immediately afterward as we attended a cocktail reception just before the banquet. Seated at our table was Maria Roliz (Lusitano USA), Tiago de Vasconselhos (the Governor's ADC in full military uniform), Antonio Conceição (Casa de Macau Australia), Robbie da Costa (UMA), Henrique Manhão (Casa de Macau USA), Lourenco Conceição (Casa de Macau Toronto), Francisco Rodrigues and his wife (Casa de Macau Rio de Janeiro), Dr. Vitor Almeida (Casa de Macau Lisbon) and José Sales Marques, President of Leal Senado (The Mayor) and his wife. During the evening, other individuals known to us strolled by to chat or to simply say hello: Dr. Monjardino from the Fundação Oriente, Cdm. A.de O. Sales from Club Lusitano and Club de Recreio in Hong Kong, Dr. Brandão from the Fundação Oriente, Dra. Julie de Senna Fernandes from STDM in Macau and sister of our 1st Vice President, Francis da Costa, were among those who stopped by our table.
Due to high winds that evening, the scheduled fireworks display did not take place. After dinner, our large group of invitees made our way over to the Handover Hall a short distance away. A somber mood was already evident by the time we arrived at our seats in our designated area. The room was very clearly split in half - invitees of the Chinese Government occupying the left half while the right half (where we were) was filled by invitees of the Portuguese government. As midnight approached, the Portuguese half of the crowd seemed uneasy - clearly dreading the inevitable event soon to take place. The hall was brightly lit (I'm sure to accommodate the many television cameras there from all over the world) while we listened to musical pieces played alternately by the Chinese then the Portuguese military bands. As you would have read by now through other media sources, the ceremony was timed to exquisite precision - starting on time and ending on time.
The actual lowering of the Portuguese and Macau flags was a moment I and several hundred others who were there will never ever forget. The sadness of the occasion revealed itself in almost every face I looked at afterward, and as tears flowed freely from many in attendance, I could not help but feel proud of our heritage, of who we are and of where we came from. For the first time since I accepted the responsibility of the role as President of our Casa did I truly feel the enormity of my task - trying to create and maintain the infrastructure within our club which will ensure preservation of our heritage and culture for future generations to come. If there was one lasting thought or feeling I took away with me, this was it. I had not felt its full impact until that moment, and ever since that historic day in December, the thought has remained with me. The discussions we are having with others over how many clubhouses? how much money can we get out of Macau? whose fault is it? seem so shallow in the face of it all. We shall always have challenges and be challenged, that is a fact of the times we live in. How we handle and deal with these challenges is what will set us apart.
Macau, the City of the Name of God, may be gone, but each of us holds onto our own special memory or meaning of this fascinating place which is the birthplace of our people. Whether we have been there or not, and regardless of where we were born, Macau will always be the place where our Roots took hold, and it is now up to each of us to resurrect what is within us to ensure we carry on her culture and traditions for generations to come.
(NOTE: Macau's last Governor, General Vasco Rocha Vieira has done more for our worldwide community than any other individual or community group emanating out of Macau or Portugal. He sought out the Macanese Diaspora and brought us home, not once, but three times through each of the Encontros held in Macau during his governorship. He did this as he had the foresight to see that we were the key to continuing Macau's traditions, culture and heritage. This past December 1999, once again, through his kind generosity, he invited the Presidents of the Casas de Macau throughout the Macanese Diaspora and brought us back to witness the most significant historic event in Macau's 442 years of existence - the Handover back to China on December 20th, 1999.
Sentimentos de Gente Gente de Nossa Casa
Gilly (Delgado) Marshall:
Marie Cecile (Remedios) Guterres:
While watching the video of the handover, the many summers came to mind: the anticipation of boarding the "Fat Shan" or "Tak Shing" for the 4-5 hr. journey, delicious cheese toast on board, muddy water was a sign that we were approaching our destination, the relatives' welcome at the pier, then it was off for paddy-cab rides and stopping for "chue cheung fun" and ice-cream, Mass at St. Antonio Church and Sé Cathedral and many family gatherings.
It was a truly sad day to see the Portuguese flag replaced. This little enclave, though changed considerably before the handover, unfortunately, will change even more under Chinese rule. I am glad Sonny and I took our daughter to Macau a couple of years ago to expose her, somewhat, to my experiences. Some of my old haunts were still intact; the food was definitely intact!!
Memories of the summers spent in Macau, I shall never forget. They were wonderful times with terrific people."
Teresa (Baptista) Campos:
Fernanda (de Pinna) Ho:
For the sake of brevity, I am highlighting certain important issues in order to update our members. Additionally, and in keeping with the agreement made with the MCA at our dinner meeting on November 18th, 1999, neither club will use our newsletters nor websites to criticize each other. Anything that cannot be said face to face should not be put into print. This is an excellent approach to adopt, and we shall stand by this agreement. It was also further agreed by all in attendance at that meeting that past issues will remain in the past and that we would focus only on the future and on the betterment of the Macanese Community here in Vancouver.
The Clubhouse: The matter is still up in the air despite having met with the other club on a few occasions. The major issue involves the number of clubhouses. While we believed all along we were working toward (and searching for) a single clubhouse with certain shared facilities, certain events lead us to believe this matter must once again be clarified. As has been relayed to our members on numerous occasions in the past, the two Foundations who are prepared to assist with financing our clubhouse have stipulated in clear and indisputable terms that it must be one joint and shared clubhouse. It will then be up to the two clubs to work out a suitable sharing arrangement, i.e. which areas make most sense to share? But before we can get to that stage, a basic understanding of what the word "shared" means must be as clear to all parties. The objective in stipulating one clubhouse is so that our community can stand a better chance to unite rather than become fractured even more. In fact, this was the sole purpose of the Governor's visit last November. There are other issues which must still be resolved once and for all if talks are to continue successfully and productively and these will be tabled at our next meeting with them.
The Funds: On December 4th we were visited by Drª. Gabriella César, President of the Foundation for the Cooperation and Development of Macau (FCDM). She spent the day with Executives from both clubs visiting a site in East Vancouver selected by the other club and also paid a brief visit to our Eaton Centre meeting room where our Casa had a language class in session. We felt it beneficial that she view first hand the type of facilities we had to utilize for our meetings and classes and afterwards Drª. César remarked that the visit there was most beneficial. The afternoon session was spent in discussions surrounding how much money was needed, how it was to be used etc. The concept of a single clubhouse with certain shared areas, to be determined by the two clubs, was the topic of the day. Drª. César made it abundantly clear that two clubhouses was totally out of the question. She departed the next morning with a promise that she would get back to us with a dollar amount we can expect her Foundation to provide toward the funding of the one clubhouse. True to her word, Drª. César advised us in early January that her Foundation, now chaired by the new Chief Executive of the Macau S.A.R., Mr. Edmund Ho, had approved a grant of MOP$7,000,000 to be placed into a joint account to be setup by the two Vancouver clubs. We immediately sent a letter of acknowledgement and thanks to Drª. César and her Board. We view any grants to be extremely generous and are grateful for any amounts received. This sum, together with a smaller contribution from the Fundação Oriente would allow us to search for a suitable facility even if it means we must scale down some of our expectations. Drª. César worked extremely hard to justify and obtain approval for this sizeable grant and we feel that we should all be showing her our complete gratitude rather than asking for more.
We have dealt with both the Fundação Oriente and Drª. César honestly, sincerely and with all our cards on the table, and it is important that they can continue to expect the same from us. We have entered into all the meetings and discussions with all parties in good faith without any hidden agendas, and all we ask is for the same courtesy in return. What we have said at the negotiating table is identical to what we have and are saying away from the negotiating table. It is a fact we are indeed proud of. We have since been in contact with both Foundations and have outlined.to them our position on all matters involving the clubhouse and the eventual funding of same. Both Foundations know we have a clear and uncluttered understanding of what they (the two Foundations) are trying to do and how the clubhouse is intended to be shared and operated.
We are hopeful we can get these talks back on track and shall update you as we are able to. We anticipate a meeting with the other club once our newly elected Executive have a chance to meet after taking office on March 11, 2000. The new Executive are slated to meet to discuss these issues on April 1st, 2000.
The Elections: As you now know, a new Executive has been selected and will take office mid-way through the March 11 meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Francis da Costa, Monica de Carvalho and Margie Rozario for all their work and contributions this past year. Their input and support, particularly in matters involving the clubhouse, has been invaluable. I feel this past year has been a most successful one from a variety of viewpoints, and these individuals played a very large role in helping the Casa get to where we are today. As is customary in volunteer roles, many sacrifices had to be made and these individuals made many and I thank them. Thanks also to the many people who helped out this past year in different ways: socials, bursary, cultural to name but a few. To name all by name would be impossible.
Charles Curry and I are serving you again this coming year on the Executive and we shall be joined by Fernanda de Pinna Ho, Grace Johnson and Mickey da Roza. Aleixa Haslam has once again agreed to serve as our Parliamentarian for which we are grateful. I am looking forward to working with our new Executive as fresh ideas are always beneficial in many ways. We have much to do, and I am therefore also grateful for the many volunteers who have already stepped to the plate to help out in areas such as our Cultural and Social Committees. We need many more hands for other Committes such as Bursary, Seniors etc., so I urge you to let us know if you can help out in any way.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
(Webmasters Note: These funds were finally received after the newsletter went to print. Casa de Macau Vancouver members and Executive are extremely grateful to the former and present adminstration of Macau for their generosity towards us.)
Our Casa's Annual Elections were held during our Annual General Meeting on February 12, 2000 and the results are as follows:
PRESIDENT Michael M. Guterres
SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT Michael da Roza, Sr
SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT Fernanda A. de Pinna Ho
TREASURER Charles Curry
SECRETARY Grace Johnson
Hi, my name is Tim Haslam. I am your guide as to what happened on December 31, 1999 at our Casa's Y2K party at Greenacres Golf and Country Club in Richmond. Unfortunately, I was slightly delayed in getting to the function, but just in time to get fed. I arrived just as the festivities were getting started . Our Mistress of Ceremonies was Fernanda Ho who was the picture of elegance.
What a wonderful buffet spread! The buffet table was set up very nicely with a great deal of finesse. Among the entrees were salmon, a wonderful chicken dish, a superb roast beef along with a great selection of salads. These salads were culinary treasures for me as well as for many others who were in attendance that evening.
The night opened with Fernanda welcoming everyone to the function and with Michelle Ho singing wonderfully the national anthems of both Canada and Portugal.
Our President, Michael Guterres gave a short speech in which he thanked the Greenacres staff, and as well, he thanked our Casa's volunteers who organized the function. He also made the point that this was the 5th Annual Festive Season Celebration in our Casa's short 5-year history, which is a wonderful and remarkable achievement. At the end of his speech, he gave away a set of prints which he had picked up in Macau while attending the Handover Ceremonies a couple of weeks before. These were won by my tablemate, Mariazinha King.
At this point, we settled in for our meal, enjoying ourselves a great deal all the while. Soon after we all gorged ourselves on the buffet and the desserts, the real party started; the dancing started.
Everyone had a fabulous time welcoming 2000 complete with more dancing, hats, noise makers, champagne, lucky draws and an abundance of balloons!
MY LAST REPORT
On 25th April, Portugal's Liberty Day, our Casa was invited to join in the Celebration Dinner held at the Seniors Foundation Hall. The guest of honour was the Ambassador of Portugal from Ottawa, Sr.Dr.Duarte de Jesus. On being introduced to him, I took this opportunity to present him with our Casa Pin and he showed great interest in our Sao Paulo logo, as well as the activities of our Casa de Macau in Vancouver.
10th June - Dia de Portugal - We were once again invited to join the Portuguese Community at a Luncheon in celebration of Dia de Portugal hosted by the Portuguese Consul Sr. Pedro de Sampaio.
In July I attended the Opening Ceremony of the Portuguese Discoveries Exhibition held at the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Mr. David Valpy, President Board of Trustees, VMH (Vancouver Maritime Museum) welcomed guests and introduced the Consul Sr.Pedro de Sampaio who gave a brief outline of the Exhibition and introduced Sr. Dr.Tiago Miranda, Representative High Commissioner for the Portuguese National Committee, who spoke on the discoveries of Portugal. It was a most interesting and well presented Exhibition and on congratulating Consul Sr. Pedro de Sampaio, I commented that there was no reference to Portugal's presence in Macau, and gave it no further thought. Imagine my surprise when at a Dinner Reception for Sua Excelencia Sr.Jose Lello, Secretario de Estado da Emigracao e das Communidades Portugueses in NOVEMBER, held in the Hall of the Portuguese Seniors Foundation, Sr Sampaio came up to me and specifically pointed out the large poster on Macau depicting the 3rd Encontro, hung on the wall among all the other posters of various Provinces, Cities and Islands of Portugal, eg. Porto, Madeira, Lisboa, Alentejo, Algarve, and Acores.There was Macau for the very first time (all accents omitted). I knew then that Sr.Sampaio had not forgotten our encounter at the Maritime Museum and thanked him for it. The Macaenses are now truly a part of the Portuguese Community.
Being in touch with the Portuguese Community of Vancouver, and especially with the Consul Sr.Pedro de Sampaio, who at every occasion had expressed desire to include the Macaenses on all occasions involving the Portuguese Community has given us a sense of belonging. Our Casa was invited to attend every function in honour of visiting Officials and even those renowned guests made it a point to welcome the Macaenses in their speeches.
At the occasion of the Reception for Sua Excelencia Sr. Jose Lello, Consul Sr.Pedro de Sampaio expressed his eagerness in having our active participation on this occasion by requesting for a Macaense dish which we did by adding Pao de Leite to the dinner dessert, while the Macau Cultural Association had their children perform a number of Christmas Songs. Sr. Jose Lello in his speech conveyed his delight in having the Macaense Community a part of the Portuguese Culture. He was impressed and expressed the desire for continued unity. He was on his way to Macau and would stopover in Hong Kong where he will be meeting Mr. A.de O. Sales and let him know of our meeting. No doubt, he would probably have a good word for us in Macau as well.
I was more than welcomed within the Vancouver Portuguese Community and have made several friends. Mr. Armindo Santos, and his wife have been most gracious to both my husband and I, and we have enjoyed the company of their members. At one of the Meetings at their Club, Mr. Baptista, President of the Vancouver Portuguese Club, suggested that all our Clubs join together (there's something like 14 clubs in the lower mainland) in one big celebration on Dia de Portugal. This will be 'the event of the year' and we are all looking forward to it.
I hope I have made a contribution, however small, to the CASA during my year of service as Second Vice President, by bringing our CASA closer to our very first forefathers from PORTUGAL. I only wish that I could have done much more. My best wishes to the new Executive Committee for continued success in this direction.
My participation as Seniors Representative with Anne Remedios, was all too short as we only came into the picture in the latter part of 1999. Nevertheless, we managed to organise an outing to the Skagit Casino for the Seniors, and although not all of us were lucky, everyone had a good time.
CASA FAMILY DAY held in November , in lieu of a Christmas Party, was a joy for us to get underway as it's always a pleasure to have children involved.
CASA FAMILY DAY
On November 21, 1999, the Scandinavian Community Centre was the scene of a very successful get-together by nearly 80 members of our Community. All ages were on hand, and one family was even represented by four generations!
There were games and contests, and the children had the time of their lives, with winners showing off their prizes. It was also a good opportunity for the adults to "chin-wag".
Prayers were led by the children prior to the meal, and the potluck was really sabroso, and included arroz gordo, Korean cold salad noodles, capela, minchi, pao recheado, chilicote, cheese toast, Molotofe cake, gummy cake and many other Filhomacau delicacies. The hall was tastefully decorated, and our Seniors Committee who organized the event certainly deserves everyone's congratulations.
The evening ended with some of the couples on the dance floor, keeping time with whatever music was being played.
Let us hope that it will not be too long before a similar event draws us all happily together again!
A FOND FAREWELL
The single most historical date for all Macaenses living in whatever part of the world today was definitely Sunday, December 19, 1999. This date, as we all know, was the date on which Macau officially reverted back to Mainland China after 450 years of Portuguese Administration. For every Macaense family, this change came with a deep feeling of nostalgia, heartache and a final feeling of acceptance - an inevitable political reality in a fast-changing world.
World media coverage of this historical event by C.N.N., R.T.P. and other national television networks was closely followed by the large Comunidades Macaenses of California, Australia and Canada.
With the lowering of the Portuguese flag for the last time, the people of Macau will continue to live their lives as they have always done in the past, by doing what comes naturally to them; that is, surviving and continuing to work hard to sustain and to feed their families. They are the ultimate survivors, resilient and resourceful - past history confirms this fact.
Portugal can certainly look back with pride to the many years of good stewardship and goodwill by its competent, top-level administrators. Macau's reputation as a safe haven and shelter for a great number of people at a time of immense peril and war is world-renowned. A case in point is the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II (1941-1944). On hearing the plight of the Hong Kong (Filhomacau) families, the Portuguese Government and the Macanese families in Macau readily opened their hearts, city and homes to them. They undertook the responsibility to house and to feed the majority of these Hong Kong refugee families. Many British and Chinese nationals also sought and were given sanctuary in Macau during this period.
It is for this very generous humanitarian gesture on the part of the Portuguese Government and the people of Macau that will remain forever in the hearts of their Hong Kong Filhomacau counterparts. This kindness, generosity and welcome will never be forgotten; Macau became their home during the War Years, and to this day, those who have returned to Hong Kong or have since immigrated to other countries after World War II are eternally grateful with vivid and very fond memories of Macau that have become part of their collective, Filhomacau psyche forever.
Our Casa wishes to thank His Excellency, General Vasco Rocha Vieira, for the many years of dedicated, loyal and hardworking service to Macau and its people, particularly the Macaenses who hold him in high esteem. We would also like to thank His Excellency for his gracious and kind invitations to our Casa to attend the 1996 and 1999 Encontros das Comunidades Macaenses, and we wish His Excellency and his family every success and happiness in the years ahead!
MEMORIES OF MACAU
Young as I was, the memory of World War II is still vivid in my mind. I can still hear the air raid siren and the bombing. Shortly after the war began, we were told that Macau would accept the Hong Kong Filhos de Macau as refugees. My mother, brothers, sister and myself travelled by boat, the "Fat Shan", to Macau. We arrived late in the afternoon. My father who remained in Hong Kong, joined us later.
On arrival in Macau, we joined other refugees in the long march along Rua Avenida Almeida with onlookers on either side the street. We marched to a Salesian school, Don Joao de Bosco, where we were served with hot soup and freshly-baked bread and then assigned to different refugee centers.
My grandfather together with other members of our family went to Bela Vista Hotel. Each family occupied one room, irrespective of how many people comprised a family. My mother, my three siblings and myself were assigned to Club de Macau. We shared a room with a Mrs Mabel Gardner and her daughter, a Mrs Remedios with her two daughters (and Marie, Mrs Remedios' elder daughter later married a Filhomacau with the surname, Marcal). Altogether, we were 10 people. I was 8 years, my brother, Jackie - 7 years, my sister, Paddy - 5 years and my youngest brother, Andy - 2 years.
Being the eldest, I had certain responsibilities which included helping my mother. Because the washrooms were always occupied and because the latrines were often out of order because of dysentery and diarrhea, we had to have a "potty" for my younger siblings. My duty was to empty this "potty" daily, and my greatest fear was spilling the contents in the middle of the huge hall while worming my way to the washroom. This hall was partitioned by curtains which formed cubicles for individual families. As children, we loved to "investigate" and survey the whole building, and while on the balcony, one could observe the families living in the cubicles in the hall below. We had meals (consisting mostly of rice and vegetables) provided to us, and I remember having to line up for these.
Again, because I was the eldest, I had to go and buy boiling water - there was a small shop that had a very big tub with water boiling constantly, and we paid very inexpensively for this by the thermos or whatever containers we had. I could not carry too big a container so I always bought only one thermos full. Very often, I would meet friends from other centers like Luzo Chinesa, which was very close to Club de Macau. It was during one of these occasions that I met the Pinna family - Patsy, Therese, Hercia, etc. Their family was big and the sisters were musical and talented. They were known for their harmonizing and singing.
At Club de Macau, I met the Medina family, Hatti, Freda, Lily etc. who were also a very large family. My grandmother's brother, Victor (Mollie, Mollie) Azevedo, Freddie Abraham and family, Eddie Marques and many more also resided there. I mention only a few of the names that I recall as these people impressed me at my young age as being so musical and talented. Where there are Filhos de Macau, there are always concerts and music, but I was too young to participate. I remember joining in with Eddie Marques leading the "Congo" dance to the music provided by Freddie Abraham and others.
We stayed in Club de Macau until my father arrived from Hong Kong. We then rented a basement suite at Beco de St. Loureico, adjacent to the Don Joao de Bosco School and opposite St. Loureico Church. In this neighbourhood, I met Bertha Price and played with her children - Heather, Buddy, Bob and Irwin. My cousins, Marylou and Francis Souza, children of Carol and Satyro also lived close by. Also, I made friends with a Darling Leitao and went to her house many times.
St. Loureico Church was attended by many elite members of Macau, and I made friends with a Maria Lourdes whose father was an official with the Macau Police. I was invited to her house many times, played and had tea with her - this was a treat to me. Eventually, my mother became their seamstress.
The Shell Company where my father was employed before the war decided to give their employees a subsidy per head so my parents decided to move to a better accommodation. We lived on Rua Nova Guia at the foot of a hill from the Observatory and a hospital. We rented the basement suite of a house with the Laurel family (Bobby Laurel and sisters, Hilda Nidia and Elsa) occupying the upper level. My father had an interest and began to rear chickens, turkeys and rabbits. Needless to say we had chicken, eggs and turkey for food. One of the duties we had as children was to lead the turkeys and other fowls to the back of the house and on to the foot of the hill for them to graze on the grass until we take them indoors as evening drew near.
At the end of the street where we lived, Martin and Laurinda Neves lived with their only child, Marina (Michael was born after the war in Hong Kong) and they became close friends of ours. My father was teased as the "Professor" because he always had ideas to start a project and Martin was known as the "Doctor" and the worker. Between the two of them, they built pigeon holes for rabbits and chicken in the atrium and gathered branches with leaves to feed the rabbits. They also learned to cure the rabbit skin which my mother sewed into a vest for my sister to wear when she was approached to become one of the Angels at the Senhor dos Passos Procession. It was usually very cold in February and my sister was very young.
As children, we attended Escola Infintil and Escola Central. Madam Eca and Emilia Marques were our Portugese teachers.
As my father was working part-time for the Macau Government, he was able to get some ration of sugar, flour and rice so that occasionally we would have cakes baked by my mother.
On one occasion as we were returning from church, my mother bought us each a bun and immediately we ate. A beggar just brushed my sister aside and stole her bun from her. At night, hawkers will sell hot buns, and we looked forward to buying these just as we would now look forward to the icecream man.
The four years I spent in Macau were quite an experience and our lifestyle was one which I will never forget, no matter how hard I tried. Everything is still so real!!!
GROWING UP, MACANESE STYLE
Even though I've never had an opportunity to visit Macau, I feel like I've already experienced it because my Mom and Grandparents brought so much of Macau's culture with them when they came to Canada. They kept authentic Macanese recipes (Mmm, smell that minchi in the kitchen!), continued to speak the language (Vai casa ya!), and observed the customs (Vai juga mah-jong!), all of which I became accustomed to as I grew up.
One of my favorite Macanese desserts is my Grandma's secret Christmas cake. Every November, I would to come through my front door after school smelling the Christmas cake batter that Grandma was already busy preparing. I would promptly drop my belongings on my bedroom floor and make my way out to the kitchen table to watch in amazement as she stirred all the fruit into her huge yellow mixing bowl. The most exciting part of the show had to be when she poured the burnt sugar into the batter and my brother mixed it all together. I would just sit in my chair completely speechless with my little eyes wide open. I loved coming home to that smell in November.
But after Grandma had her stroke, there was no more Christmas cake to smell or eat during the Holidays. In fact, there was no more genete, pao de leite, and chilicote, etc. to smell or eat either. Where did all that delicious food go? It was funny, however, that the absence of all my Macanese favorites during the Holidays was something I didn't really notice. Then, last year, Mom got this great idea: she was going to whip out my Grandma's secret recipe book and try some of the recipes for the desserts that had always been a part of our Christmas table. I didn't realize just how much I missed all those Macanese desserts until Mom made them.
Also a part of growing up in a partly Macanese family is learning the language. When I was younger, I recognized the Macanese language, but I didn't understand it. I did, however, learn a few key phrases such as: atira vai ya!, ferado ya!, vai casa! It was only when I started taking Spanish at school that I started to understand Macanese more and more. Spanish and Macanese are very close, so while I could understand more Macanese at home, I was flying through Spanish class at school! I have to say that that was a really good deal!
As for the Macanese customs, the one I remember the most is going to play mahjong. Well, at least, the grown-ups played mah-jong. All the children would wait for their parents and grandparents to finish their games or perhaps to take their break which was often very long and would sit at the mahjong tables making pyramids, or whatever else they felt like making, out of the mahjong cards. We would also shuffle the cards and pretend we knew how to play. Then, our parents and grandparents would come back to their seats and spoil our fun. They would play for another hour or so, while we little ones had to amuse ourselves quietly, so as not to distract anyone from their game.
So, as you can see, I've always had a taste of Macau right here in Canada. I've never been to Macau, but that's okay because it's everywhere! I just figure that if I can't go to Macau, my family can always bring Macau to me.
Macau is the ancestral homeland of each and every Macaense, whether of pure blood or of mixed blood - this is a fact no one can ever deny, no matter where in the world we were born, no matter what schools we attended, no matter where in the world we now wish to call "home", and no matter how much one tries to tell us otherwise.
If one's Macaense parents were born in Macau, and if these parents then later immigrated to a foreign country where their children were to be born, would these children nevertheless be regarded by their Macaense parents and the Comunidade Macaense at large, as being Macaense? If not, then if a child were born aboard a plane or aboard an ocean-liner, what race would its parents then regard their newborn to be? Talvez aquele maes pais logo fala di eles-sa bebe nung teng "heung ha", nung e nossa gente.....talvez sung uma qualidade de pastro ou peixe!
The race of any newborn is determined by the race of its parents - this is pure common sense. There is no known scientific experiment which has proven that a chemical reaction inevitably takes place to change the race of a child just because its birth took place in a country other than its ancestral homeland, or perhaps because the child was lucky to have parents who could afford to educate him or her abroad.
Hence, the question remains: given the fact that many Macaenses have now immigrated to other parts of the world, and that many of their off-spring have not even been to Macau, be it to attend an Encontro or simply for a private visit, what then does Macau mean to this extended and ever-growing overseas Comunidade Macaense? Furthermore, what does it mean to grow up in a Macaense household so far away from Macau? Some answers to these questions may be found in the valuable contributions to this issue of The Voz.
While watching the Handover Ceremony, I felt that I was being forced to give up my ancestral homeland to China because the Handover was not something the ordinary Macaense in the street had any control over. Therefore, during a subsequent viewing of the Handover Ceremony, I intentionally paused the videotape when the flags of both Portugal and Macau were being lowered and then played it backwards, in the hope that it was all a bad dream, but reality kicked in all too soon! Qi dui coracam!
Nossa Macau sung uma umchinho "pedaco" de Portugal, nung e de China. Although China has now taken physical possession of the land on which nossa Macau was built and developed, the heart and soul of nossa Macau will always remain in the heart and soul of each and every Macaense all over the world!
Nung quero medo! Nossa Macau, nossa terra nadi disaprece na ar assing facile, assing ligero
por causo assunga mundo teng nos com nos, por causo assunga mundo teng nos por nos! Nossa gente sung deveras fumidavel! Assing sung nossa Macau ya!
Our Portuguese classes for the current fiscal year started on July 17, 1999 and by the end of February 2000, we had had eleven classes, with two more on March 11 and 18. These classes are held fortnightly on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon at either the Eaton Centre or Metrotown Mall Community Room, whichever is available.
Julieta Catao, our Portuguese instructor, is an excellent teacher. She has a sense of humour and is very patient with us, especially when we often revert back to our Macanese when we are stuck for words. She is very interested in our Patua, culture and heritage and has even sampled our Macanese food when she and her husband, Joe, attended our Casa Family Day potluck dinner on November 21, 1999.
When we started our classes last summer, we did exercises from the textbook, "Discovering Portuguese - An Introduction to the Language and People". The lessons are becoming more interesting and challenging as Julieta speaks to us in Portuguese and we are encouraged to reply in Portuguese as well. The topics are varied and we are learning to carry out simply everyday conversations on various subjects. We recently took turns reading a Portuguese recipe and translating it into English. We were all very excited about it as we will soon be able to read and understand some of our old Macanese and Portuguese recipes. At a recent Portuguese class, we read and translated a few poems and verses (written by children) from a book entitled "Textos e Imagens de Portugal".
At our last Portuguese class on February 12, 2000, Julieta made four loaves of Broa de Bacalhau which we all enjoyed. It was really sabroso! She has kindly offered to teach us how to make this delicious Portuguese cornmeal bacalhau bread.
Currently, we have eleven members from our Casa who attend the Portuguese classes regularly and with great enthusiasm. We all enjoy the classes and have learned so much from Julieta in such a short time. Thanks Julieta for being so patient with us! Muito obrigada, Julieta!
We would especially like to thank Dr Carlos Monjardino, President and Dr Joao Calvao, Head of Culture of the Fundação Oriente for financing this project and making it possible for us to learn Portuguese, the language of our forefathers. We plan to continue with our Portuguese lessons for the next fiscal year and our new Cultural Committee has already firmed up sixteen lessons for the period, April to December, 2000.
What is Fado?
Q. Is Fado always sad?
A. No, that is a wrong idea that people have about fado. Fado has three musically distinct components: MINOR FADO, which is a sad fado; MOURARIA FADO, which is a positive fado; and FADO CORRIDO, which is a very cheerful fado which has to do with the people who emigrated from the North to Lisbon, taking with them their cheerfulness, their music and their colour. This cheerful component in fado corrido makes fado cheerful too, when that is what is wanted. It can be sad, it can be positive and it can be cheerful, or it can be all three.
Casa de Macau Club (Vancouver) does hereby express thanks and appreciation to the Fundação Oriente for their continued financial support to "The Voz", our Website and our Portuguese Language Classes.
The editorial staff of Voz dos Macaenses de Vancouver wish to acknowledge and thank all contributors to this special "Macau Handover" edition of "The Voz".
(Editor's Note: Omission of proper accents on the Portuguese words appearing throughout this issue is because my keyboard is not equipped with these. Desculpe!)
AMALIA RODRIGUES, "QUEEN OF FADO"
Amalia Rodrigues was born in Lisbon, Portugal on July 23, 1920. She died peacefully in her sleep in her home in Lisbon, Portugal on October 6,1999 at the age of 79.
Amalia da Piedade Rebordao Rodrigues was born into a poor family in Lisbon's docklands. Her father was a cobbler and amateur bandleader. The exact date of her birth was never known but her passport would eventually carry the date of July 23, 1920. Amalia married Francisco Cruz, a Portuguese guitarist in 1940, but they later divorced. In 1961, she married Cesar Seabra, a Brazilian engineer, who died in 1997. She had no children
She was brought up by her grandparents and had to start work as a child. As a young girl, she sold fruit and souvenirs at the quayside while humming the doleful tunes of fado to herself. Her family never wanted her to sing professionally. Fado belonged to the dockside taverns and poor districts of Lisbon. It was not a decent profession for a young girl, but she ignored family complaints and began to sing at local festivals and in restaurants and taverns.
The fame of the mournful-voiced, dark-haired girl singer, who always wore black dresses on stage, spread quickly through the fado world and she was signed up to a number of travelling shows. Amalia recorded a long string of hit records from the 1940's until the early 1960's. In the 1950's, she performed in cities such as New York and Paris. Her emotional renditions of songs such as Coimbra, Barco Negro, Ai Mouraria and Foi Deus gave international audiences a glimpse into the melancholy soul of Portugal. Her tours took fado as far as Russia, Mexico and Japan.
Although in recent years, her appearance became increasingly rare, any concert of hers was a guaranteed sellout. Her last stage appearance was during Expo 1998 in Lisbon, Portugal.
On her death, Portugal announced three days of official mourning, and political parties suspended campaigning for the October 10 elections.
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