Response to Lusitano Statement on Unity
I was delighted you accepted my invitation to comment on the editorial written by the President of UMA, Raquel Remedios, on the subject of unity of the three Macanese clubs. It represented the first time for each of you that you formally addressed yourselves to the Diaspora Macaense na America website after five years of its existence. I was not being condescending when I said your reply was well written even though I had reservations about the some of the positions taken by your club. By well written I meant to say it was written in good English, a rarity in the Macanese community, and was polite and temperate in its tone, also a rarity.
Permit me to take issue with some of the premises in your Club’s letter to me.
You are incorrect about the absence of “cogent arguments that adequately and objectively articulate why uniting the three clubs will strengthen [rather than weaken] programs for the local Macanese community.” The website is replete with specific and detailed suggestions for reorganizing the clubs to attain unity while preserving the ability to be diverse. These may be found in the Editorials & Articles page of the website. What is lamentable is no efforts were made to respond to them, nor were they made an agenda for discussion among the three clubs. Moreover, this website, whose mission is stated on the Home Page to be the preservation of the Macanese community as such, has been totally and completely ignored by the management of the three clubs – until now.
It is unfortunate and probably true that “Financial support from Macau/Portugal would also be affected by a merger. The Macanese community has received and continues to receive generous funding from Macau/Fundacao with separate distributions to all three clubs. In all likelihood, one club would NOT be the recipient of the combined three sources of funding. If only one club exists, then Macau will only fund one club.” It was extremely generous of Macau to have jump-started the clubs with funds to purchase a joint-use clubhouse, but beyond that should we not stand on our own two feet? I have heard that the Macanese in California are described by some in Macau as rich Americans. As long as equal funding from Macau is being provided on a per-club basis (regardless of size of membership!) it is an incentive for the clubs to retain their separate identities, i.e. they should remain disunited. The same situation obtains in Vancouver BC.
You also claim that “Currently, our 3 clubs are working cohesively together to launch the MCC and we all get along very well and this to us is “unity”. Well, the fact of the matter is the working cohesively together, it seems to me, is to salvage a poorly conceived transaction, not unity of the clubs. In an editorial dated October 25, 2007, this website asked for answers to nine seemingly questionable practices by the MCC board of directors, and the questions were “cohesively” ignored.
Repeating what I said to you privately, my personal agreement or disagreement is totally irrelevant. It is what the three clubs wish that is important, and that they have addressed the matter democratically is all I seek. Whether the course elected by the three clubs (two at this writing) enables the Macanese community to survive as such is for historians to record.
Horatio Ozorio, Editor, August 27, 2008
Unity – When, When, When?
By Horatio F. Ozorio, August 5, 2008
On July 14, 2008, the President of UMA, Inc., responding to a letter from this website, A Diaspora Macaense na America, on the issue of democratic elections, also expressed herself on the subject of uniting the existing three Macanese clubs into one organization. The following is excerpted from her words:
“I believe that each and every member of the three California clubs, Casa de Macau USA, Lusitano Club of California, and UMA, Inc., should be made a member of the MCC [Macau Cultural Center]. At UMA's last two Annual General Meetings, the members voted for the unification of the three California clubs into one [emphasis added].
“I would like this statement to be made a part of the record to show that I am advocating and in favor of the incorporation into the MCC of the members of Casa de Macau, Lusitano and UMA. I would recommend that a timetable be set with specific dates for this transfer of members to take effect. I would also suggest that achieving this goal be the primary focus of our new President, Alex Xavier, and all the Directors of the MCC.”
It is regrettable and sad that so many of our senior members have passed away without seeing the Macanese community united - it is time for us to be ONE."
Raquel Remedios, President, UMA, Inc.
In the past and on various occasions Lusitano Club of California and Casa de Macau (USA) Inc. in holding forth on the subject of unity have at best been ambiguous. Quoting the President of UMA, “it is time for us to be ONE,” we invite the other two clubs to write to this website for publication stating definitively their position on unity and, if they are in favor of unity, “with specific dates” for its accomplishment. It is the responsible thing for them to do. The Macanese community deserve to know where they stand, no less, after all this time.
[Scroll down below for this website’s editorial on unity “Still in a Myopic Quagmire” dated March 16, 2007. Ed]
Democratic Elections – An Exchange of Views with UMA President
In the light of questions asked in a Diaspora Macaense na America website editorial about the propriety of the process by which directors were appointed to the board of the Macau Cultural Center, namely
1. Why is it that no one from the community had a vote in electing the nine directors of the MCC, the majority of them non-professionals?
2. Why were the directors of the MCC chosen through undemocratic means, which at times bordered on nepotism?
and the written opinions expressed by two members of the Macanese community and published in the website, as follows:
Sunny DeSouza -Thus, there is in my mind no doubt that in an open elections with the entire community voting, many in the current group of 9 in the MCC would have very little chance of being elected.
John T. Chui - The Macau Cultural Center needs to have members and free elections or risk being referred to as an elitist clique. Let the people rule! Conduct themselves in a transparent manner,
I was astounded to read in the summer issue of the UMA News Bulletin that it is proposed to amend Section 9.2 Elections of the UMA Bylaws as follows:
No doubt the comments made by Messrs. DeSouza and Chui and the editorial pertained to the Macau Cultural Center, but they are equally valid and applicable to UMA in terms of fair and democratic elections and opening the board to new blood. Thus amending the bylaws to allow the directors of UMA to elect and re-elect themselves in perpetuity flies in the face of democratic principles and cries out for reconsideration. Was a committee constituted to oversee the amendments to the Bylaws? Was a survey conducted to obtain input from the general membership on the proposed amendment?
I would like to provide follow up to the readers of the website in this matter and would be thankful to have your comments at your early convenience.
July 12, 2008
Reply by UMA President Raquel Remedios
“As President of UMA and a newly-installed Director of the Macau Cultural Center (MCC), I would like to express my view on the organization's membership. I believe that each and every member of the three California clubs, Casa de Macau USA, Lusitano Club of California, and UMA, Inc., should be made a member of the MCC. At UMA's last two Annual General Meetings, the members voted for the unification of the three California clubs into one.
When in 1999 the Government of Macau generously donated funds amounting to US$2,000,000, it was in order to acquire a cultural center for the entire Macanese community in California, as represented by the three aforementioned clubs. The purpose was to promote our culture and heritage here in California, where a substantial number of the Macanese have settled. Though these funds were donated to the three California Macanese clubs as equal partners, the money was subsequently transferred to the control of the Macau Cultural Center Association, an organization made up of 9 Directors (3 representatives from each club), and having no members. The MCC used part of these funds to purchase the building at 37695 Niles Boulevard, in Fremont as a cultural center to be used by the three clubs.
As matters stand at present, the MCC, comprising 9 Directors, is the legal owner of the building and of the remainder of $1,000,000.00+ in its bank account. The formation of the MCC with its present structure was not voted upon by the general membership of the 3 clubs, as far as I am aware. (I happen to be a member of both UMA, Inc. and Lusitano Club of California, but not of Casa de Macau USA.) As justification for the organizational set-up of the MCC, it was argued that it would be more efficient to find and purchase a building with only 9 Directors to contend with. But now that the building has been purchased and the renovations are underway, it is the right time for the MCC to bring in all the members of the three clubs into its organization.
I would like this statement to be made a part of the record to show that I am advocating and in favor of the incorporation into the MCC of the members of Casa de Macau, Lusitano and UMA. I would recommend that a timetable be set with specific dates for this transfer of members to take effect. I would also suggest that achieving this goal be the primary focus of our new President, Alex Xavier, and all the Directors of the MCC.
It is regrettable and sad that so many of our senior members have passed away without seeing the Macanese community united - it is time for us to be ONE."
2. UMA has voted twice at our AGMs for unification of the 3 clubs into
the MCC. So it is not UMA that is holding up the process. It is
unfortunate that the other two clubs are not willing to do so at this
time and we have not even been able to get any commitment on a timetable
July 14, 2008
An Editorial by John T. Chui, San Francisco, CA – April 25, 2008.
Furthermore, it is ludicrous to have 3 Macau organizations. Lusitano members all belong to UMA. They ought to merge. Casa de Macau dominates all cultural activities, with one super self-promoting individual trying to be everyone and everything at the same time, from the Gastronomy Society to the Miss Encontro Beauty Pageant to the Patua. There is little room for personal agendas in non-profits.We need to think about WE the community. We live in America, let the people rule I say. I'm sick and tired of apathy. Hooray to "Sunny". Kudos for speaking out.
An Editorial by Sunny Desouza, Miami, Florida – 4-17-08
Firstly I must congratulate you on a very fine website. A site which is read by hundreds of thousands of people throughout the year from around the world deserves my and other people's praises. Your website is amongst my favorites and I use it as a reference guide on Filo-Mac matters.
I now reside in Florida, but I have spent a large part of my life in Canada. I have many friends and some distant relatives in California where I am kept informed of the activities of the 3 clubs and related matters.
Mr. Editor, I want to express my opinion that I wholeheartedly agree with all your editorials. The Macao Cultural Center (MCC) has no business operating in their present capacity as a private self serving group. It should open up immediately for membership or risk facing legal action from any disgruntled member of your macanese community as the money from the government of Macao was and is intended not for use by the members of the 3 clubs, but for the use of the entire community.
In my opinion, 2 of the clubs, Casa di Macao and Lusitano California ought to fold and let UMA run the entire show. UMA Inc is almost 60 years old and its membership is somewhere in the 1500 range. I am told that Casa di Macao, an insignificant minute midget in the world of macanese matters, is only comprised mainly by members of two macao families-the rest being mahjong player regulars. Lusitano of California directors are in no way as experienced as their UMA counterparts and are far below in stature both socially and economically. Thus, there is in my mind no doubt that in an open elections with the entire community voting, many in the current group of 9 in the MCC would have very little chance of being elected. It is a sham and an insult to the entire macanese community by allowing the MCC to have no members. Apart from being immoral this exclusion of membership for the benefit of some and to protect vested interests could also very well be illegal.
The Correct Beneficiaries of the US$2,000,000 Grant
By Horatio F. Ozorio, April 11, 2008
In the total absence of any new information regarding the desirability of a merger of the three Macanese clubs into the Macau Cultural Center (MCC) to form one single organization to pursue the beneficial activities of the Macanese community in California, it would seem that the clubs are stalemated and continue to be unable to arrive at a consensus in the matter. In a few days it will be the ninth anniversary of the joint petition by the three Macanese clubs to His Excellency the then Governor of Macau for funds to establish a joint-use clubhouse. If indeed the clubs are stalemated, it might be helpful and clarifying to review anew the letter from the Fundação Para a Cooperacão e o Desenvolvimento de Macau (FCDM) announcing the grant of US$2,000,000 for that purpose.
The first paragraph of the grant letter from the Fundação was at best unclear. Translated from the Portuguese, it read:
By this means and in relation to the request for a subsidy solicited in the letter dated April 24, 1999, addressed to His Excellency the Governor of Macau, for the acquisition of espaço [space] for the three Casas UMA (União Macaense Americana), Club Lusitano de California and Casa de Macau USA, destined for the installation of the future sede [clubhouse] of the Centro Cultural de Macau in California, we inform your Excellencies of the following:
Taken in context with the subsequent paragraphs of the grant letter, the first paragraph really is just descriptive of the petition to the then Governor of Macau The paragraph did not bequeath rights to the funds to anyone.
The second paragraph of the letter read, translated:
The Conselho de Administração of this Fundação in its meeting of the current month [17th September, 1999] approved the grant of a subsidy in the amount of USD2,000,000.00 (Two million American dollars).
Through the good offices of the Governor, the Fundação para a Cooperação e o Desenvolvimento de Macau came forward and approved a grant of US$2,000,000 WITHOUT, HOWEVER, STATING TO WHOM THE FUNDS WERE GRANTED. That subsequently they named the three clubs to receive the US$2,000,000 in the eventual transfer of the funds did not confer on the clubs ownership of the funds remitted. After all, some party had to be named the transferee.
The third paragraph of the letter read, translated:
This support is destined not only for the acquisition of espaço [space] for the installation of “Centro Cultural de Macau” and its furnishing but also for a establishment of a “Trust Fund” whose income suporiar [not in the dictionary] as despesas increntes [not in the dictionary] in the maintenance of the Centro Cultural and of its activities.
In describing the purpose of the funds, the Fundação meaningfully chose to use the words “This support” instead of “This grant.” Too, the heading of the grant letter, “Financial Support for Centro Cultural de Macau in California, USA” said support for the Centro Cultural de Macau, not support for the clubs. Significantly, in his acknowledgment to the Fundação, the then President of UMA said, “I am writing to thank you for your letter informing us of the decision of the Board of Directors of FCDM to grant the Macaenses of California USA [emphasis added] the sum of USD $2,000,000 for the purchase and maintenance of premises to serve as a Macau Cultural Center.”
The fourth paragraph of the letter read, translated:
The property and the TRUST FUND are to be registered in the name of the three “Casas” UMA (União Macaense Americana), Club Lusitano de California and Casa de Macau USA.
What does “registered” mean? If it was the Fundação’s intention that the three clubs be vested with the funds what was the need to stipulate that the funds be “registered” in their name? The Fundação meant to show it was their intention that the clubs act as agents for Centro Cultural in the registration process. Moreover, at the time the grant letter was written the MCC was not yet in existence. Thus, the clubs in being made temporary custodians of the funds were clearly not the donees.
As though the Fundação saw itself continuing to be the constructive owner of the funds, it preemptively exercised its right to stipulate the manner of disposition of the property should all the clubs ever become defunct. In the latter event the liquidated value of the property was to be escheated to a yet to be identified fundaçao in Portugal.
The terms and conditions stipulated in the Grant Letter make it seem clear that in the mind of the Fundação the clubs were indeed the custodians of the funds and the property, not the owners. So it is entirely fanciful to say that each club is the outright owner of one-third of the grant funds and as well that each possesses one-third of the voting rights. Who owned the MCC was even a question raised at the annual general meeting of UMA a year or two ago. Whose name now appears on the title deed to the MCC and is it in fact the rightful name?
At any rate, the arbitrary interpretation and claim of one-third ownership by each club represents a major stumbling block standing in the way of merging the three clubs into one entity with one Board of Directors (instead of the current four, which only contributes to further argument among them). Once the misapprehension of the role of the three clubs is out of the way merger talks should be able to proceed apace without the parties feeling unfairly or unjustifiably dispossessed, and as well the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws revised to correctly reflect the relationship of all parties to the transaction.
Before many more of the elderly members of the Macanese community are denied the enjoyment of the $2,000,000 by their passing, the clubs need to regularize as soon as possible the status of the MCC as an entity (a) which owns the property, (b) which is governed by a Board of Directors elected by and responsible to dues-paying members of the Macau Cultural Center, and (c) which is open to membership to all in the Macanese community.
The Macau Cultural Center Directors
By Horatio Ozorio, February 19, 2008.
When questions were recently asked of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney about his Mormon beliefs, he answered, promptly and eloquently, in an address to the American nation.
When Pope Benedict XVI was asked to explain the speech he recently made to an academic audience at the University of Regensburg, Germany, which so upset the Muslim world, he did, promptly and with great humility.
When Victoria Cruises Corporation was asked about the dangerous condition attending the boarding of one of its vessels by the Lusitano Club group headed on a tour of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, it answered, promptly and solicitously.
And that’s the way of responsible management. They respond promptly. They owe their constituents an answer whenever faced with enquiry into their policies and practices. It matters not whether they are at the helm of a political, corporate, religious, military, or any other type of organization. They hold themselves accountable.
Apparently not so with the directors of the Macau Cultural Center (MCC). In an editorial in this website dated October 25, 2007, questions were posed touching upon issues of management and leadership on their part. That was almost four months ago. To date no response has been received, and seemingly there is no reason to suppose any will be forthcoming.
So what is the Macanese community to think of these so-called directors? One can only speculate. Do they really believe they are accountable to no one? Hardly. They can’t be that naïve. Are they relying on the well-known apathy of the Macanese community to escape from having to answer? That’s possible, and disappointing if it is true. Don’t the provisions of the California Corporation Code under which the MCC was chartered impose on them fiduciary responsibility to perform in a manner they believe to be in the best interests of the MCC? They do, but we have had enough of litigious shenanigans in the past to want to go in that direction. Or could it be they are unable to answer - with any degree of credibility or intelligence that is? That’s probably the case. No one relishes publicly confessing their incompetence.
According to the Winter 2007 issue of the UMA News Bulletin, the MCC President reported at the club’s annual general meeting that renovations “have not yet commenced,” and that “it is hoped” that the City of Fremont will give final approval to all construction plans “by the end of this year.” Which year? He might just as well have reported that he had nothing to say!
The Macanese clubs, which appointed these directors, would do well to remove them and replace them with people who have the required qualifications for the job. ASAP!
Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
By Horatio Ozorio, December 17, 2007
Being recognized for meritorious performance is not something volunteers who toil for the Macanese community can usually anticipate or look forward to. Pleading burn out and discouragement by volunteer workers is something heard all too often, sadly. But the following letter written by Dolly da Silva of UMA to her President and to a Director of her Chapter brings feelings of admiration and hope to the breasts of those of the Macanese diaspora who feel its survival as such in the Twenty-first Century is not exactly assured. Her letter speaks of Maria Roliz, President of Lusitano Club of California, a rival club, in connection with the role Maria played in the unfolding of Encontro 2007. Here it is:
To Fatima and Robert from Doris da Silva:
Re the Encontro 2007 trip to Macau, I am listing the attentive and gracious services we received from Maria Roliz of Lusitano, who tirelessly worked to see that her people were taken care of at the Beverly Plaza Hotel where she stayed with us. She never questioned the fact that we were UMA members, she just included everyone in whatever was planned.
These are the things Maria Roliz, President of Lusitano, did for her members and for us.
*We arrived around midnight Sunday, November 25.
Maria and her helpers were there in the lobby to greet us, clear up the confusion we encountered at the check-in desk, and gave us the keys to our room, our badges and our breakfast coupons and told us the time and place for breakfast.
*Lusitano members received a daily schedule detailing time, place, venue, activity, type of dress and tours planned for each day.
*At the request of her members, she arranged a tour of Macau on Wednesday. Since it was booked up, we asked if she could arrange another tour for Friday. She arranged another tour for the rest of us for Friday, while another tour took off for Hongkong.
*A shopping tour to Zhuhai, China, on Thursday, was a whole day affair!
Bonnie Braga [Braga Travel Consulting] and Maria checked all passports, gave instructions, divided us into groups, ABC, with leaders keeping each group together. The schedule showed time to meet, departure time, lunch time, shopping time and return time.
*When we returned from the Closing Ceremony Dinner at the Venetian, Bonnie Braga and Maria Roliz were in the Beverly Plaza lobby to check each members flight, give us color-coded tags for our luggage according to our group departures, and made sure our flight tickets were in order.
Bonnie Braga and Maria were there in the early morning to check our passports, plane tickets and escorted us by bus to the ferry terminal, where Bonnie collected our passports for a group clearance through customs, made sure our color-coded bags were grouped together for retrieval on the HK side and gave us last minute instructions.
Maria had not slept all night!
*Every day Maria posted the latest schedule on the board, added, deleted and updated the daily events and kept a reminder of all that we had to do. She was available for questions at all times, and answered everyone with politeness, patience and a ready smile.
We are very impressed with Maria’a dedication to her members and can’t thank her enough for including us in all the tours she planned.
We are wondering if UMA had anything going on for its members aside from what was originally planned by the Encontro people. If they did, sadly we were not included in it.
Even before anyone put one step on board the plane for Macau, Maria Roliz was knee-deep in tackling the logistics of the side tours to China and Vietnam that preceded Macau, and the finale in Hong Kong, totalling 21 days in the Far East. In those add-ons, Maria handled all the requirements relative to itineraries, sign-ups, passports, visas, plane tickets, program updates, hotel accommodations, trip costs, travel insurance, trip rosters, etc., etc., as well as travel problems personal to some of the travelers.
A performance truly deserving of an Oscar!
Why? Why? Why!!!
An editorial by Horatio Ozorio, Eduardo Collaço and Nuno Prata da Cruz – October 25, 2007
Note: Responses to this editorial, if any, are appended below - Ed.
The time is long past when the Macanese community was within its rights to demand answers from the group of the nine people who were arbitrarily appointed by the three Macanese social clubs, Casa de Macau USA, Lusitano Club of California, and UMA, to be directors of the Macau Cultural Center (MCC). Each of them it turned out has a conflict of interest - between loyalty to the social clubs to which they belonged and loyalty to the MCC. That undoubtedly is one of the reasons behind the visceral disagreements among them.
Here are some of the questions we continue to ask:
Why is it that no one from the community had a vote in electing the nine directors of the MCC, the majority of them non-professionals?
Why were the directors of the MCC chosen through undemocratic means, which at times bordered on nepotism?
Why is it that the directors of the MCC do not seem to feel they need to be accountable to the Macanese community, and on what grounds did one of the directors of the MCC allegedly say, publicly, that the board can and will do as it pleases?
Why have we still not been told who owns the MCC despite doubts in this respect and despite such a question being raised at the annual general meeting of one of the clubs?
Why is it that the Macanese community continues to be kept in the dark about what is happening with the MCC, and that no information has been forthcoming from the officers and directors about its affairs?
Why is it that meetings of the officers and directors of the MCC are closed to the community, and minutes thereof kept secret?
Why are the bylaws of the MCC unavailable to the community, if they have even been written?
Why does the MCC continue the absurdity of having no members, in defiance of the express purpose of the Macau government that the MCC was for the benefit and use of the Macanese community?
Why is it that skyscrapers, roads, and bridges have been built literally overnight in Macau, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but the Macanese community in California is still waiting with bated breath after years for an existing building to be readied as its cultural center?
There are many more ancillary questions that can and need to be asked, but the above are sufficient to show that the MCC is so far just a colossal farce. Incidentally, not that long ago the frustration of the nine directors in their own inefficiency was such that the immediate sale of the building was said to have been a topic of discussion at one of their secret meetings.
Frankly, bailing out of the lousy deal that the MCC turned out to be would not seem to be a bad idea. By now, despite everything, the building could probably be sold for a capital gain. It its place the Macanese community should follow the example of the Casas in Vancouver even if the reason for it is different, i.e. buy two smaller buildings, and locate them closer to the centers where the Macanese population live. The latter plan was originally advocated at the time the MCC was purchased by many who felt that it was too far away for most members of the community, a roundtrip of 150 miles on average, for it to be put to regular and frequent use. The prospect that the MCC could turn out to be a white elephant, sadly, is not unrealistic. The present apathy of the Macanese community about what happens to the MCC seems to confirm that they would not be terribly interested even if the MCC finally came into operation. If the two-cultural centers idea is adopted, let us not make the same mistakes that attended the disorganized and poorly administrated MCC that is amply illustrated in the questions we pose above.
We invite a response to this website editorial from the MCC nine, and we welcome comments by the Macanese community.
Response by John Monteiro 10-28-07
I refer to the editiorial dated October 25, 2007 by Horatio Ozorio, Eduardo Collaco, and Nuno Prata da Cruz. The authors asked for feedback from the Macanese community, so I would like to put in my point of view.
I can fully understand Horatio, Eduardo, and Nuno’s frustrations about the position of the MCC. I have no doubt that many others share their views. However, I believe they, and the FM community should give the MCC directors some understanding and support in the Board’s efforts to complete a FM community clubhouse we can all be proud of.
Their task is far more difficult than most people can imagine. They have huge challenges to overcome in this thankless project. One thing is for sure, whatever the Board does, they will receive little thanks, and be faced with the wrath of criticism from the community.
I agree with them that the MCC board should give everyone regular updates, but I disagree that Board should be required to keep the entire community informed of everything that takes place at their meetings. The simple reason for this is because everyone has their own opinion of what should be done. This will result in total bureaucracy and it will bog down progress. As an example:
The YEARS of delay in buying a clubhouse has proved extremely costly. Our money was badly invested, and we lost our buying power as a result of this. More so, had we moved forward at that time, we would have owned property that must have doubled in value. What caused these delays? Many many reasons, but the bottom line is because we had 3 FM clubs that could not get along, in-fighting, and everyone had to be consulted. As a result, we took one step forward and two steps backwards.
There are genuine reasons for the delays, and the Board needs our support, and not be overly criticized.
We need to make decisions, and move forward. So we need to give the Board the power to make the best decisions they can, and complete this project. We should not dwell in past decisions whether they were right decisions or not. The fact is, we have bought this building, let’s now move forward. Time is NOT on our side. If our community continues to fight amongst ourselves, many will be not be around to witness a united FM community with a MCC clubhouse they can enjoy.
Our community is fast shrinking, we need to ban together now and support each other.
Are We on Our Way?
By Horatio Ozorio, April 11, 2007.
UMA is to be congratulated for having elected Mrs. Raquel Remedios as its 2007-2008 State Board President, and she in turn is to be commended for “stepping up to the plate.” Here is someone who can justifiably claim to be burned out, like so many other veteran members have done, but did not. A successful businesswoman in her own right, hers is a record of years of contributing to the wellness of the Macanese community. It is a pleasure to read what she has written so far in the UMA News Bulletin since the inception of her administration, both from the standpoint of sensibility and her communication skills. She may well turn out to be the person who pulls up the socks of a moribund community. Pity she does not also occupy the office of President of the Macau Cultural Center, but having her as one of its Directors the community can well expect to see her fine hand in getting its house in order.
That having been said, Mrs. Remedios’ comments in a discussion currently under way in the UMA Bulletin, among those reported by several other commentators, are the only ones right on point. The topic of discussion is Consolidation of the Three Northern California Chapters, into one single chapter. Mrs. Remedios perspicaciously points out that “It may be a bit late in the day to consider any major structural changes in UMA. We should be concentrating our efforts in trying to consolidate the 3 clubs: UMA, Lusitano and Casa de Macau into the Macau Cultural Center.” Terrific! She is in the Twenty-first Century while the others are still floundering in the Twentieth.
As this website has intimated in previous editorials, as long as the three Macanese clubs remain entities in their original incarnation, and with their pathetic record of interclub and intraclub squabbling, there is not a chance that the Macau Cultural Center can be the successful undertaking it can and should be. There will always be conflicts of interest, and therefore further disputatiousness, among and between the four Boards of Directors. As one united club, the Macau Cultural Center could still have the former clubs and chapters operating as before but as activity groups based on geographic convenience. Such groups need not have Boards of Directors or even corporate officers. Simple work leaders will do. Thus, with only one Board of Directors, that of the Macau Cultural Center, all issues could and should be dealt with by motion, seconded, discussed and voted on, and that would put an end to the historical habit of endless and disgraceful squabbling.
By the way, UMA is also to be congratulated for organizing the Consolidation discussion under the leadership of a Past President, Jim Silva. It has been the habit of UMA to throw raw data on the floor for debate at its annual general meeting, with incredible scenes of disagreement and disagreeableness. When this writer was President of the Contra Costa Chapter in the mid 1990s, it was his suggestion to the State Board that an advisory group of Past Presidents and/or ad hoc committees be created to research and deal with issues, after which their findings submitted at the annual general meeting for adoption or rejection, and if necessary the membership surveyed for ratification. How much more would have been accomplished at its annual general meetings had that suggestion been implemented will never be known.
Be that as it may, there now seems to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Organizational Structure of Macau Cultural Center
This website was recently able to obtain a copy of the bylaws of the Macau Cultural Center (MCC). A quick perusal thereof raised two immediate questions.
The first question was, what genius decided that “This corporation shall have no members.” That’s what Article IV on Membership says. No members? A reading of a very small section of the California Corporation Code, under which the MCC was chartered, reveals that the word “member” appears 19 times. So, the MCC existentially is a corporation with just nine directors, initially appointed at the time of formation of the corporation, and no members. Pretty exclusive, what? [See addendum below]
The bylaws go on to say in Article V that the Board of Directors shall consist of “three (3) Directors respectively from each of Casa De Macau USA, Inc., Lusitano Club of California, Inc., and UMA, Inc.” They also say these Directors “shall be nominated and elected.” Nominated and elected by whom? They have no members, remember? By persons outside of the Macau Cultural Center! And these outsiders have been quarreling with each other for years!! Currently, they talk about the three clubs uniting, but that too is a quarrel that defies solution. It defies solution because traditionally the Macanese are guided not by what is good and best for the community but by personal agendas. By that yardstick expect that the older generation will be rotting and moldering in their graves before unity takes place, if it ever takes place. Hopefully the younger generation will have developed an interest in their tradition and culture by then and taken over in more enlightened fashion.
So, anyone desiring to enter and use the MCC would theoretically be a trespasser unless he or she obtained prior permission to do so, each time. Permission from whom? And while in the Center how would such a person be held accountable?
The second question was, why was the Macau Cultural Center organized as a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation which can engage only in activities for any public or charitable purposes, whereas being organized as a Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporation enables them to engage in activity for any lawful purpose? That seems to have potential for possible problems. How is “Public Benefit”defined? The Macanese Clubs are private clubs. They are organized as Nonprofit Mutual Benefit Corporations. Could their activities ever be in conflict with those permitted to the Macau Cultural Center?
None of these problems would have arisen if the three Macanese clubs had united as one single entity to form the Macau Cultural Center. All members of the individual clubs would have ipso facto become members of the MCC, while any non-club member of the Macanese community could apply for membership. Furthermore, all could and should be assessed an annual membership fee thereby generating self-sustaining revenue for cultural activities.
Finally, so structured, the MCC would be a democratically run institution, especially if its bylaws called for election of officers and directors by the members instead by the directors. That would permit members of the younger generation to throw their hat in the ring to run for office. Young blood at last?!
[Addendum 4/14/07 - And since there shall be no members, the directors are not members either!]
He was a Grand Old Man
By Horatio Ozorio, April 3, 2007
The Macanese community lost one of its most beloved members with the passing of Rigoberto Paulo José Collaço Roliz on March 10, 2007. Fondly known as Rigo by everyone, he was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues as was attested to by the overflow crowd that said goodbye to their dear friend at a Memorial Service held for him on March 31 at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. A large church by most standards, St. Gabriel’s was completely filled. Even the pastor, the Reverend Fr. John Sakowski, who eloquently presided over a beautifully staged ceremony, was moved to wistfully say he wished his church were always so well attended. It was estimated that about 700 attended the Celebration of Life ceremony, easily a record of some kind. Following the Memorial Mass, it was standing room only at the seated reception held at the United Irish Cultural Center (wouldn’t it have been just great had it been the United Macanese Cultural Center!). Daughter Maria enthused, “I know my dad must have been overlooking the function with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other grinning away to see and know how many dear friends were there.”
Rigo was aptly described as a “people person.” He had time for any and every one. Bearing this out, Rigo, a widely traveled man, described himself best when he said, “I go to see faces, not places.” Seemingly paradoxically, this gentle loving soul was an amateur featherweight boxing champion in his younger days, winning most of his fights by a knockout. This writer recalls seeing him bobbing and weaving in the ring with footwork worthy of the great Ali. He transcribed the latter dexterity into a terpsichorean deftness that delighted the ladies on the dance floor with whom he jitterbugged, waltzed or tangoed. An avid sportsman, he excelled at lawn bowls, soccer, and softball. As a staunch member of the Club de Recreio, the Lusitano Clubs in Hong Kong, Shanghai and California, and União Macaense Americana (UMA), Rigo was a steadying and motivating force in their activities and affairs.
It will be strange for members of the Macanese community not to see his smiling face at their get-togethers. They will for sure miss this affable congenial man like no other.
Rest in peace, Rigo.
(Rigo is the father of Maria Roliz, President of Lusitano Club of California, Director of Macau Cultural Center, Concelho Geral of Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses for Lusitano Club of California. – Ed.)
Still in a Myopic Quagmire!
By Horatio Ozorio, March 16, 2007.
A little over three years ago this website editorialized that the managements of the three Macanese clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area were myopic, i.e. shortsighted. Despite being almost identical in their objectives and activities, the clubs persisted in remaining separate entities rather than sensibly uniting to form one club. They did, however, finally reach belated agreement, after much squabbling, on how to use the $2 million they received from the Macau government years ago and bought a joint-use clubhouse.
Were the executives of the clubs insulted at being accused of a deficiency of foresight? Apparently not. They did not defend their record. They did not even deign to reply. They blissfully continued to remain separate clubs in disregard of the fact that the Macanese community as such was in danger of dissolving and evolving into vanilla American citizens. However, we like to think they were prodded by the editorials in this website and have of late started speaking, just speaking, about uniting.
What is holding up unity even though a joint-use clubhouse, the Macau Cultural Center, has been purchased? A clue comes out of the latest annual general meeting of the largest of the three clubs. The minutes of that meeting contains the sentence, “He also posed the problem of ‘what happens to the money’ when we consolidate the three clubs as the three clubs have different amounts of money.” The question was posed by a director of one of the chapters.
In past years, the three clubs received annual subsidies from the Macau government in identical amounts without regard to the number of members in each club. There was no specification how the money was to be used. In fact the money was spent or preserved according to the discretion of the respective management of each club. So now the amounts remaining in the treasury of each club are disproportionate relative to the size of their memberships. Compounding this situation is a variety of opinions on “what happens to the money,” including spending it, on non-cultural events if necessary, in order to bring the level of the equity in each treasury into proportion to the number of members in each club, with the residual amount to be handed over the Macau Cultural Center.
This website had earlier suggested that the clubs turn over their unallocated funds to the individual members personally, but that suggestion was not properly thought out. That surely would have caused an intra-club fight, with the members of longest standing probably demanding a greater share of those funds. We now are of the opinion the funds in the treasuries of the three clubs should be turned over in their entirety to the Macau Cultural Center. It is not difficult to imagine, and in fact it is obvious, that the subsidies from Macau were motivational in nature, intended to help the clubs out in their cultural activities. It is hardly likely that the subsidies were meant to be pocket money for the individual members to be spent as they desired for their personal enjoyment.
With very short notice to the community, the Portuguese Studies Program of the University of California in Berkeley and the Macau Arts Culture and Heritage Institute will, on March 21, 2007, present the International Institute of Macau on “Macau’s Identity – Crossroads, Challenges and Opportunities.” One segment of the conference will feature a roundtable discussion by the “Casas leaders in California.” Even though these panelists will be the same “leaders” who have been around for years and have hardly had anything new to say, it should be an interesting discussion given that they will, this once, have a public audience. Amongst those sitting in on the roundtable discussion will be the distinguished visitors from Macau. Hopefully the “Casas leaders” will discuss “what happens to the money,” AND COME AWAY WITH THE RIGHT DECISION, a decision that will enable their Boards of Directors to get the lead out of their …..feet.
Macanese Community “Leaders” – Boo!
By Horatio Ozorio, August 12, 2006
The following are excerpts from editorials appearing in this website over the past years:
Meaningful Elections – One More Time - 7/13/06
“… In January of 2004, in an editorial headed “Meaningful Elections” this website urged that strenuous efforts be made by the Macanese community to seek candidates for office from among its members who had professional qualifications; who have shown they are able to work with others realistically, with civility, and in good faith; and who honestly believe that their efforts would be in the best interests of the members of their club, as required of directors by the California Corporation Code. It also urged that candidates be provided with logistical support and funding in the election process in order to level the playing field for all candidates, to ensure more intelligent voting on the part of the electorate, to achieve greater voter turnout, and to stimulate greater interest by members in the business of their club”
Wake up Call to the Macanese Community – 1/7/05
“… For another, and that is the thrust of this editorial, in the case of the largest club, its electoral system calls for executive officers of the club to be elected not directly by the membership but by members of its board of directors. The practical effect of this latter is, the same people run for office as directors year after year, who in turn elect and re-elect themselves as officers. One would imagine there isn’t a soul in the club who would not welcome new blood.
“… It would be interesting to see what the outcome would be if the bylaws of the clubs uniformly call for election of the President, the Vice President, the Treasurer, and the Secretary by the general membership directly instead of by their directors. This would not guarantee the election of new blood, of course, but younger candidates at least for once would know they stood a chance of being elected if they really wanted the job, had fire in their belly, and campaigned hard enough. Almost for sure those who have had enough of the system in which directors elected their officers would lend their wholehearted support to any young candidates whom they identified as competent and who spelled out a platform that offered real hope for the survival of the Macanese community as such.”
Meaningful Elections – 1/27/04
“… It is not inappropriate at this juncture then to remind all concerned of the call by A Diaspora Macaense na America for candidates for office to be carefully chosen for their ability, professional expertise, experience, and integrity; as well to ask again the questions posed by the Editor of the Lusitano Bulletin regarding poor attendance at the Annual General Meeting at which elections take place, membership disinterest in club business, and ignorance of the candidates, their qualifications and their platforms.”
Lusitano Bulletin Editor Speaks Out – 12/26/03
“… He points out, using what are clearly rhetorical questions, the disinterest of the membership in club business, their lackadaisical attitude towards their candidates for office, their ignorance of the candidates’ qualifications and platform, and the entrenchment of the usual groups of persons running for office with few other choices on the ballot.”
Dishearteningly, nothing has been done by club leaders about these suggestions for reform. They, most if not all of them, appear not to have discussed the suggestions among themselves nor have they presented them to the membership for its opinion or consideration. Perhaps they have not even bothered to read the editorials, given their pathetic tradition of conceitedly believing they know everything there is to know about leadership, of not accepting advice from anybody who would dare to offer it, and whom they contemptuously dismiss with epithets such as “know-it-all,” “show-off,” “messiah,” “pontificator,” and equine rear-end (can’t print the actual term used). Collectively, these so-called leaders have blithely proceeded irresponsibly, negligently, and in blissful dereliction of their corporate and fiduciary responsibilities. The apathy and arrogance of the Macanese community “leaders” has been breathtaking.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. The apathy permeates the rank and file of the membership itself. Those members who seem to care about the fortunes of the Macanese community have simply confined themselves to deprecating the scandalous non-performance of their “leaders,” cursing their cultural bad luck to have such types at the helm of their ship of state, throwing up their hands, and turning around and going back to their mahjong games, poker games and lawn bowls. Reprehensibly, they have failed to hold their “leaders” accountable. What can be said about such apathetic members? In an axiomatic nutshell, they deserve the government they elected. In the meantime the community is in its umpteenth year of squabbling over what to do about its cultural center, about club unity, and about the survival of the Macanese community as such.
If and when this website ever shuts down, it can be assumed, sadly, that yet another member of the community has thrown up his hands. Keep the website going? What for!
A Filomacau Takes on the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Constitution of the United States basically spells out the rights of its citizens. Subsequent to its original enactment, amendments were added to it. A section of the 14th Amendment reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
Michael Colitti, son of Benita Remedios Colitti of Ventura, California, is of the opinion that current interpretation of this provision by US courts is flawed, with adverse consequences for American immigration policy. More specifically, he quarrels with the “Anchor Baby Rule,” which encourages illegal immigration by pregnant women in order to have their babies in this country. Such births automatically entitle the baby to American citizenship. The baby then becomes the anchor of the chain by which its family may receive benefits from social programs, and may themselves eventually become citizens of the United States. The cost to U.S. taxpayers is huge.
Michael feels so strongly about this that he has formed a website, www.The14th.org, to remedy the interpretation flaw, and is prepared to go all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States to do so. As mother Benita describes Michael’s efforts, “… it has taken tremendous dedication, time and effort to reach this point – and the most difficult mountains are yet to be climbed.” This website doffs its cap to Filomacau Michael Colitti for having the courage of his convictions and the intestinal fortitude to go all the way.
Meaningful Elections – One More Time
By Horatio Ozorio, July 13, 2006
The Nominating Committee of the Greater East Bay Chapter of UMA, Inc. has just announced a slate of candidates to stand for election as officers and directors for the year 2007. The candidates are all holdovers from the recent past, and the recent past has not been impressive. For a chapter in sore need of revitalization, it would seem unrealistic to expect a winning combination to emerge from this slate, for the following reasons:
There is no reason then, it would appear, to suppose that the chapter would be in a position to get its act together any time soon, certainly not with the motley group that comprises the 2007 slate.
In January of 2004, in an editorial headed “Meaningful Elections” this website urged that strenuous efforts be made by the Macanese community to seek candidates for office from among its members who had professional qualifications; who have shown they are able to work with others realistically, with civility, and in good faith; and who honestly believe that their efforts would be in the best interests of the members of their club, as required of directors by the California Corporation Code. It also urged that candidates be provided with logistical support and funding in the election process in order to level the playing field for all candidates, to ensure more intelligent voting on the part of the electorate, to achieve greater voter turnout, and to stimulate greater interest by members in the business of their club. The outcome? Management and membership yawned and that was the end of the matter, culminating in the 2007 slate of unprepossessing candidates described above.
Is it too late to do anything about providing the membership with a greater number of candidates to choose from? No. The chapter can still organize an all-out campaign to publicize the fact that write-in candidates are allowed, welcome, and encouraged. Hopefully this suggestion will not be met with another yawn.
Vancouver, Put an End to It!
By Horatio Ozorio, April 27, 2006
This website has obtained a copy of “AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MACANESE COMMUNITY IN VANCOUVER & ELSEWHERE” written by Mr. Luiz M. Souza, MBE AE, Editor – Boletim Macaense – Macau Cultural Association, to which he attached copies of letters written by Ms Laura Cordeiro, President (1994) & President-elect (1995), Macau Cultural Association, to two of its then members.
In his open letter Mr. Souza complains that “Casa de Macau Club is again continuing in its attempts to discredit our Association worldwide…” while Ms Cordeiro responds in her letters to the procedural objections raised by the two members in connection with the November 20, 1994, Election Meeting of the Macau Cultural Association.
To avoid the appearance of taking sides we are not publishing Mr. Souza’s open letter, but as members of the Macanese community “elsewhere” we accept the implied invitation to comment.
At issue in the dispute were the rules governing the eligibility of new members in good standing to vote at the November 20 Election Meeting. Dissatisfaction with the ruling of Ms Cordeiro who presided over the meeting led to an eventual breakaway of a large contingent of dissident members to form a club of their own, and to 11 ensuing years of bitter community acrimony and hurling of verbal brickbats at each other by the two rival organizations. In the resulting stalemate the biggest casualty in the fray was the purchase of a clubhouse for the Macanese community in Western Canada with the funds so generously donated by the Macau government. Attempts to resolve the problem, including two separate efforts by officials from Macau, met with no success.
Not having been there and not being privy to the minutiae of the dispute does not dissuade us from venturing a guess in retrospect that it was probably parliamentary failure and failure to enforce the club’s byelaws during the meeting that was the chief cause of the debacle in which the two organizations now find themselves. A ruling of the chair should have been sufficient to dispose of the matter. It was not, if there was any. Of course, the well-known disputatious tradition of the Macanese in such situations would not have allowed them to move on, and they didn’t.
The solution to the problem seems simple enough. The two organizations should agree to beg, borrow, or hire an expert on social club bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order from a prestigious club, let’s say the Rotary Club, present him or her with the evidence, and agree to abide by the decision he or she hands down. The vindicated club is awarded jurisdiction and custody over the funds from Macau while refusal to submit to this form of arbitration by either club automatically escheats the funds to the consenting club. The concurrence of the Macau government would of course be necessary for that to happen.
The vanquished club, it is to be hoped, will place the best interests of the Macanese community above its pique and graciously join the winner to form one united club, while the winning club, it is also to be hoped, will be magnanimous in victory.
The time is long past due for sensible heads to put an end to this wretched affair.
Respect for Each Other
By Horatio Ozório, March 13, 2006
In an editorial dated March 10, 2006, José Rocha Dinis, Director, Jornal Tribuna de Macau, complimented Americans - Republicans and Democrats alike - for the respect they show their democratically elected Presidents, in office and out of office, even if those Presidents had not been candidates of their choice, and despite having said repellent things about them during presidential elections; and, as well, notwithstanding that Presidents, from John Kennedy onwards, were not free of embarrassing indiscretions or “gaffes” during their respective administra-tions. It was in the context of a country’s maximum leader deserving the respect and consideration of all citizens that Dinis wrote, sadly, that he saw persons of high level responsibility in Portuguese democratic circles committing the inelegance of not greeting the newly elected President of Portugal, Prof. Aníbal Cavaco Silva.
On a different level, we Macanese Americans could well take note of such breaches of etiquette on our part, not so much in our dealings with persons of preeminence but in our personal relationships with each other. We have not learned the lessons of democratic generosity or courtesy from our American hosts despite having worked and lived in their midst for several decades. Not only do we fail to accord our Macanese colleagues their just due whenever they are deserving of it, but we often diminish each other’s accomplishments. It is an unfortunate flaw in our character as a community, and it was so noted long ago by J. P. Braga, a distinguished member of the Macanese community of the past in his writings of yesteryear.
That trait of ours would seem to account for our inability as a community to work together for the common good. Perhaps we could learn from the words of Rodney King, a fellow American. Who was he? He was a local black man, poor and not particularly well educated, who took a severe beating at the hands of four white police officers, resulting in the race riots in South Central Los Angeles in 1992 when they were found not guilty of brutality. With unexpected maturity and uncommon magnanimity King said, after he had recovered from his wounds and at their trial, “Can we all get along?”
Jornal Tribuna de Macau Reviews 2005 - Excerpts
2005 O Ano em Revista
16 - As três associações macaenses sediadas na Califórnia iniciaram de forma auspiciosa o Ano Lunar do Galo, chegando a acordo para a criação de um Centro Cultural.
2 - A comunidade macaense radicada na Califórnia foi incentivada a participar num prémio literário criado pelo Instituto Camões, a atribuir durante o Congresso “A Vez e a Voz da Mulher em Portugal e na Diáspora”, que a Universidade de Berkeley acolhe em Abril.
5 - As três associações macaenses da Califórnia poderão fundir-se numa única entidade, admitem os seus dirigentes, que consideram a criação do Centro Cultural como um passo decisivo nesse sentido.
3 - A Arquitectura de Macau foi o tema de uma palestra proferida em San Jose, Califórnia, por Gustavo da Roza, prestigiado arquitecto natural do território, que acedeu a um convite do IIM.
11 - Pereira Coutinho foi convidado pela diáspora macaense na América a representar a comunidade nas comemorações do Dia 10 de Junho na Califórnia.
18 - A direcção do Centro Cultural de Macau na Califórnia acordou em finalizar um processo de aquisição de um imóvel que funcionará como sede da nova instituição a abrirá caminho para a fusão das três associações macaenses.
30 - “Esperamos que o Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses dê apoio às actividades da Diáspora um pouco mais rápido. Estamos aguardando as suas decisões”, salienta Henrique Manhão, da Casa de Macau USA.
28 - Casas na Califórnia lançam Associação de Empresários Macaenses dos EUA.
29 - O Centro Cultural de Macau na Califórnia deverá ser inaugurado até Outubro e terá como sede um edifício histórico da cidade de Fremont.
- Fiéis às tradições macaenses, dezenas de associados da Casa de Macau USA juntaram-se para assinalar a passagem do Dia de São João Baptista, historicamente celebrado como Dia de Macau.
- José Manuel Rodrigues desvaloriza as anunciadas demissões no Conselho das Comunidades e assegura que as Casas de Macau em Vancouver e nos EUA não foram alvo de pressões para denunciarem os protocolos assinados com a ATFPM. “Foi apenas uma questão de opção”, garantiu o presidente da APIM ao JTM.
- A Assembleia Geral do Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses vai votar o programa de actividades e o orçamento para 2006. Numa altura em que mais comunidades se preparam para constituir estruturas comerciais, à semelhança da Associação de Empresários Macaenses da Califórnia, o presidente do CCM apela ao “sentimento de unidade” entre as Casas de Macau.
5 - A agenda do Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses ficou marcada pela recepção do Chefe do Executivo, que reiterou a confiança no trabalho das Casas na diáspora. Os dirigentes macaenses reuniram com o director dos Serviços de Turismo para definir estratégias de colaboração futuras. Para Costa Antunes, as Casas têm um “papel único” na divulgação da imagem da RAEM.
6 - Considerando que a colaboração com as Casas de Macau tem sido um sucesso, o director dos Serviços de Turismo afirma que é necessário estudar formas de estreitar as relações de colaboração. No próximo mês a DST irá receber uma apresentação das Casas e das suas actividades para avaliar novos modelos de cooperação.
28 - A Fundação Macau viabilizou as obras de renovação e apetrechamento do edifício onde vai ficar instalado o Centro Cultural de Macau da Califórnia, revelou ao JTM o director-tesoureiro da Casa de Macau (USA).
Matriarch of a Very Portuguese Family Dies
By Horácio Ozório - August 27, 2005
August 21, 2005, the sad word went out. Thália Maria Prata da Cruz had slipped away peacefully during the night and had gone to the Lord. It was not unexpected. Thália at 95 had been fading slowly, and with her passing was lost to the Macanese community a grand old lady and matriarch. But reporting that in this website is not meant to be an obituary. It is to salute a remarkable Macanese citizen.
It was in a won ton house in Hong Kong that I first met Thália. My wife Yvonne and I had stopped in there ravenously hungry for a bite while waiting for the ferry to take us to Macau after the long flight from San Francisco. The occasion? It was Encontro das Comunidades Macaenses 1996. Thália was seated at a table with her husband of 65 years, Felisberto, and appeared to be sizing us up as we entered, probably wondering if we were Macanese. That was quickly settled and we struck up a conversation.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Thália was unusual. She was very Portuguese, something I had not noticed in other Macanese women whom I had known. For starters, she enlightened us that Encontro was not the proper word to describe the trip to Macau. Correctly speaking, according to her, it should be romagem, a word that does not appear in my 1997 Portuguese dictionary but does in my much older dictionary, so old it doesn’t even carry a date or a claim of copyright. At any rate, the meaning of romagem, she said, was pilgrimage. I liked the sound of that. Yes, indeed we were on a pilgrimage to Macau, the land of our forefathers. And with that she re-started my interest in the Portuguese language, for I had studied Portuguese at St. Luiz Gonzaga College as a refugee in Macau during World War II but had dropped it on returning to Hong Kong after the war.
Thália lived her love for Lusofonia. Not coincidentally, all four of her children are married to Portuguese, Nuno to Maria João, a charming portuguesa from Alentejo, and daughters Manuela, Fernanda, and Mariazinha to Luis, Humberto and José respectively, all Macanese boys. Notice the names. Portuguese, all of them. Needless to say, they all speak Portuguese. Nuno and Mariazinha received some of their education in Portugal.
Born and bred in Hong Kong where she lived the first 50 years of her life, Thália treasured her Portuguese citizenship, resisting any persuasion by others to change her political status to that of a British subject to which she was entitled by reason of having been born in Hong Kong, a British colony then.
Thália was proud of her heritage. She loved being Portuguese. And she loved and was proud of her family. In 1956 when her husband semi-retired from his job in Hong Kong, she moved her entire family to Macau because she wanted her children to be more exposed to the Portuguese culture.
A devout Catholic, whenever she prayed the rosary she did so in the Portuguese language. Her idea of recreation too was very Portuguese. She enjoyed listening to fado music, and during her lifetime traveled and vacationed in Portugal at least 20 times. In addition to keeping an apartment in Lisbon, Thália bought two annual timeshares in the Algarve for her travels. Following in her footsteps, her children have taken out mortgages for apartments purchased in Portugal for their future retirement.
Commendably, all of her family are members and faithful supporters of the three San Francisco Bay Area Macanese Clubs and their events. It was at those events that I would visit with Thália, and had the opportunity to practice a little of my poor Portuguese. There can be no doubt that had there been more women like Thália in the Macanese community, it would have taken on a very different look today.
Descanse em paz, Da.Thália Maria Prata da Cruz.
World Heritage Recognition – An Editorial
By Harald Bruning, Macau Daily Post, July 16, 2005
Yes, we finally got it! World heritage recognition by the UNESCO is one of the greatest news that Macau has received since its return to China in 1999.
Our cultural affairs officials, including Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai On and Macau Cultural Affairs Bureau President Heidi Ho, deserve a hearty pat on the back for a job very well done. Congratulations! However, we must also express our sincere gratitude to China’s delegation to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s meeting in Durban for their successful bid, particularly Beijing’s Permanent UNESCO Delegate, Ambassador Zhang Bai. Well done Mr. Ambassador!
Macau’s bid was successfully centred on its so-called “historic centre” that comprises two dozen monuments and eight squares on the peninsula in virtual walking distance. The “historic centre” represents Macau’s relatively peaceful Occidental and Oriental coexistence for nearly half a millennium. Macau’s tangible world heritage, which has now been officially recognized, is complemented by its intangible heritage, such as its special way of life, its Asian-Portuguese Creole – Patua – and, last but not least, its Euro-Asian “Macanese” cuisine. Hopefully, Macau’s intangible patrimony will also be recognized as world heritage before long.
The new status, which will draw global attention, also means new obligations in terms of heritage preservation, cultivation and promotion. All this will require increased human resources and financial support.
Gauging by a straw poll held by The Macau Post Daily yesterday, Macau residents are united in their joy, pride and satisfaction over the successful bid. “Great for business and great for our identity,” an elderly resident said, adding, “Macau hit the jackpot.”
It will now be up to the Macau Government Tourist Office, the Macau Cultural Affairs Bureau and other public and private entities to find the most efficient way of promoting the world-heritage status worldwide. The Macau Post Daily will play its modest role in promoting our world-heritage by further strengthening its coverage of cultural events.
Jorge Rangel on Indifferent Financial Support for the Diaspora Macaense
By Horatio Ozorio - July 5, 2005
In the June 20, 2005 issue of the Jornal Tribuna de Macau, Jorge Rangel, President of the Instituto Internacional de Macau, quoted as follows from an article by D. José da Costa Nunes published in the magazine “Oriente” No. 3, of March 1915:
“Unfortunately the Motherland could not or did not learn how to take advantage of its resources, and he left, emigrated, and there went to others the efforts of his labors and his intelligence.”
Whoever read this excellent article, Rangel said, would readily conclude that some of the biggest problems that afflicted the Macaense community at the dawning of the 20th Century remained with them until the entry of the new millennium.
Using the pseudonym “Mario,” the then Father Costa Nunes, later Bishop of Macau, Patriarch of the East Indies and Cardinal Vice-Camerlengo of Santa Sé, with an extraordinarily outstanding work record in his long and rich tenure in the service of the Church, learned how to identify and characterize, with impressive clarity, the difficulties, the role and the future of Macaenses of his time, whom adverse local circumstances had already driven out of Macau to other countries, primarily Hong Kong.
The article, As Colónias Macaenses, which, despite having been authored nine decades ago, contained, Jorge Rangel said, mutatis mutandis, material worthy of reflection in the bosom of the Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses.
José da Costa Nunes wrote passionately of the struggles of the sons of Macau to care for themselves and their loved ones domiciled in foreign territory. He deplored that the Macaenses, with their aptitudes, with their facility of adaptation, with the quality of their work, with their knowledge of Eastern ways, could not be an asset to Macau to which blood ties and patriotism continued to link them. Nor is the love for his homeland obliterated from the soul of the emigrant; on the contrary, it is intensified, because from afar, he said, patriotism increments.
It saddened José da Costa Nunes to foresee that the generation born in foreign lands, which studied in the language of foreigners, which assimilated the habits of strangers, which had no knowledge of their own national history, which did not speak in the idiom of their motherland, which was ignorant of the names of their heroes, their politicians, their authors, which lived segregated from the intellectual and social life of the Portuguese, could not be intensely patriotic.
Necessity impelled the Macaense. In his heart it was natural that he prefer to remain in Macau, together with his own, in his beloved motherland, perpetuating with his presence the happiness of home and lending his services to his own country.
Thus, Costa Nunes wrote, “We love our nation, we desire its development, we take pride in its glories, and we suffer with its misfortunes. But great is the love which we consecrate to that village, to that tiny place where we were born and where little pieces of our heart still reside. Greater still is the love which we devote to our loved ones, and almost find ourselves confusing familial love with love for the country, that is to say, we see the country where the family is.
Costa Nunes concluded his lengthy treatise with a detailed description of what he deemed crucial to the displaced Macaenses in order to strengthen their sense of patriotic faith and to counteract the factors that tended to divest them of their national character and rights. Therein lay one of the dangers – inevitable, for certain, he said – of the denationalization of the Portuguese colonies of the Far East.
Commenting himself on state of affairs in Macau in the early 19th Century, Jorge Rangel wrote that a politically weakened State, the lack of local government participation and continuity, a congenital absence of vision and of the capacity to make decisions, as well as a weak sense of opportunity contributed to the increasingly irreversible degradation of Macau while Hong Kong was rapidly prospering since the last quarter of the 19th Century. Emigration became the only dignified exodus for many, initially to Chinese ports, where the Western powers, Japan and Russia had imposed their presence and set up their installations, and, later, out of the ashes of the Pacific War and the implantation of the communist regime in China, to destinations more distant and more stable. Thus was born and thus grew the diaspora Macaense.
In his article, the then Father José da Costa Nunes had already appealed for courses, schools, libraries, books, newspapers and other effective forms of help. In our day, Rangel wrote, many decades later, we continued to hear constant pleas along those lines, but whoever could effectively help often preferred to support initiatives which certainly were more eye-catching, but ephemeral in effect and inconsequential. Even today, with the Casas de Macau and other Macanese associations established, help remains uncertain and at the mercy of the body politic and the resources of foundations where they never attained the priority they deserved. Let us hope, said the President of Instituto Internacional de Macau, that the Conselho das Comunidades Macaense is aware of and is disposed to face seriously this question and to help these entities with the financial capacity to define, in structured form, a participatory system that is more reasonable, correct and utile, in order that Macau can also benefit from the capabilities and the availability manifested many times by these associations and so that the latter may place themselves at the service of their homeland in countries and cities where they are now domiciled. In this sphere it has to be recognized that there remains much to be done.
Recreio Club Hockey Players Newsletter
By Horatio Ozório – Mar 3, 2005
He has some spectacularly beautiful photographs in glorious color in the website that are an absolute must-see, but that was not the reason Rennie Marques, Hong Kong born and bred, as he puts it, started the website. The son of Doris and Eddie Marques, he is an avid sportsman and it was his love of field hockey in particular that motivated him to do so. He plays for Clube de Recreio, a Portuguese sporting club, and wears the blue and white uniform of that club with pride. The Macanese diaspora will remember their days in King’s Park, Hong Kong, when Clube de Recreio was a preeminent hockey team in the colony. Rennie Marques started the website to preserve those memories, to foster the game, and to serve as an unofficial newsletter for Recreio hockey players, especially for former teammates who now look back on those days from distant shores.
Enthusiasm for hockey at Recreio was such that the team played in overseas invitational hockey tournaments, in Singapore in 1982 and in Northern California in 1984. Rennie Marques (in photo kneeling, in pads) describes the latter as follows: “This was the 1984 trip that Recreio made to take part in the NorCal Hockey Tournament. Toneco [referring to António Jorge da Silva, currently the President of the Macau Cultural Center, (standing behind Marques) – Ed.] was already in California at that time, but he played for us in the tournament. That 1984 trip also saw the gathering of former Recreio players coming together to play against the Hong Kong-based visitors, and from this grew the Lusitano Club of California with about 300 members.” Today, Rennie Marques alternates between fullback and centre forward for the C Team who are currently top of the 3rd Division.
In his earlier incarnation, Rennie Marques worked in radio for 24 years, but decided to change his line of work and ended up with an email service provider. “It was at their knee, so to speak, that I learnt about putting Web pages together.” He is webmaster for a number of sites.
A humorist, Rennie Marques throws into his hockey newsletter cum photographic pictorial a number of other topics calculated to entertain visitors to the site. Even the website address is a bit nutty: http://home.graffiti.net/recreio_newsletter:graffiti.net/. After clicking on “Click Here” scroll all the way down to see the array of topics he offers.
The Macau Post Daily Editorial of December 6, 2004
By Harald Bruning
Horacio F. Ozorio, a Hong Kong-born Macanese retiree from California, is the prime mover of diaspora macaense, a website that intends to keep all the local and overseas Macanese together with the help of the Internet.
“The aim is to keep everyone connected and coordinated,” Mr. Ozorio told me during a brief visit to our newspaper office yesterday, adding, “Actually, everyone should have a website.”
Mr. Ozorio launched the site (www.diasporamacaense.org), which contains useful information and interesting commentary, in October 2003. The former international banker visited The Macau Post Daily with his fellow Californian Macanese, Nuno Prata da Cruz, a member of the Macanese Communities Council.
Both Mr. Ozorio, who lives in Lafayette, and Macau-born Mr. Prata da Cruz, an economist by profession, took part in the week-long Macanese Communities Encontro (get-together), which ended with a closing dinner last night. While Mr. Ozorio emigrated from Hong Kong to California in 1958, Mr. Prata da Cruz left Macau for The Golden State in 1968.
Mr. Prata da Cruz said he believed that up to 10,000 Macanese lived in the United States, “over 90 per cent” of them in California. Mr. Ozorio said he hoped that a census could one day show how many Macanese did actually live in the States, adding the US Macanese came from three main areas: Macau, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Both said that Patua – the endangered Macanese Creole – was still spoken by some Macanese in California, namely elderly women. Mr. Prata da Cruz said he himself spoke Patua quite fluently. However, both said they could not quantify the number of Patua speakers in California.
Mr. Prata da Cruz also said he and his Portuguese wife were working on a “Macanese anthem” that he hoped to reveal soon. “Viva o Macaense” [long live the Macanese] will be the title,” he said, adding the anthem would resemble Portuguese marching music. He also said he believed that the Macanese would continue to play a “niche” role between the east and west. Mr. Ozorio said he hoped that all Macanese would “leave behind personal dislikes to unite for the common good.” Both men also said that California was treating its Macanese immigrants “very well,” pointing out that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had sent an “international proclamation” to the Macanese reunion in Macau.
(Harald Bruning is the editor of The Macau Post Daily)
Revisiting the Rationale for Macau’s $2,000,000 Clubhouse Grant
By Horácio Ozório - January 9, 2005
Many years ago, as an officer on the operations side of an international banking career, I was somewhat taken aback to hear a fellow lending officer say to a client that he was not borrowing enough to accomplish what the officer thought was an excellent business plan the borrower had submitted. Logically, a loan in a higher amount was approved.
I find myself wondering if that same principle should not apply to the $2,000,000 so generously donated in 1999 by Fundação Para a Cooperação e o Desenvolvimento de Macau to the three Macaense clubs in California for the acquisition of a clubhouse, i.e, I wonder if the sum donated was not enough to accomplish Macau’s objective. And what was Macau’s objective? Having a clubhouse or cultural center in California to hold the Macaense community together, to enable it to pursue the activities necessary to preserve and promote its culture and tradition, and to help keep alive the memory of over 400 years of the Portuguese presence in the Far East, among other objectives.
In recent times, officialdom in Beijing, Lisbon, and the Região Administrativa Especial de Macau (RAEM) have spoken of the importance of the Macaenses in the implementation of the One-Country-Two-Systems formula devised by the late Deng Xiao-ping. China's president Hu Jin-tao has urged the governments of Hong Kong and Macau to work harder at making a success of that formula. Also emphasized by Beijing has been the trade liaison role of Macaenses between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries of the world. And, of course, preservation of the heritage of ancient Macau is important to the tourism trade.
The Macaense diaspora too has been cited as important to China. Shortly before Encontro 2004 to which they were invited, the Director of the Comissariado do MNE da RPC, Mr. Pak Chi Kin, and the Comissário Ambassador, Mr. Man Veng Cheong, pointed out the importance that the RPC attributed and continues to attribute to the Macaenses scattered all over the world. In other words, the $2,000,000 donation to the California Macaense diaspora continues to have validity as to the purpose for which it was granted.
The “business plan” for the acquisition of clubhouse premises, I would argue, was not, however, well thought out originally. Firstly, with the high and constantly rising prices of real estate in California and the cost of operating a clubhouse, it was extremely difficult to find buildings that met the criteria for purchase. The amount of the grant was partly predicated on the knowledge that funding was anticipated also from Fundação Oriente, which to this day has not materialized due to the Macaense clubs’ failure to meet Fundação Oriente’s criteria.
Another aspect of the “business plan” not having been properly thought out was a geographic one. Macau, I believe, had no conception of the distances involved in getting to and from a clubhouse in the San Francisco Bay Area, wherever that clubhouse might be located.
I think it was our good friend Julie Senna Fernandes, when she was here with the Doci Papiaçam group, who was astounded at the distances that had to be traversed between the cities of the Bay Area. For instance, a member of Casa de Macau in Concord would have to drive 55 miles to attend a Lusitano Club event in San Mateo, for a round trip of 110 miles. Thus to have a clubhouse even centrally located would entail a long drive for most members. That of itself would surely translate into poor attendance and utilization of the clubhouse.
Add other adverse factors for freeway travel necessary to reach the clubhouse – twice-a-day commute traffic, clogged approaches to bridges and tunnels, traffic jams by huge ballpark crowds (7 professional teams), bottlenecks caused by traffic accidents, adverse weather conditions during five months of the year, overpopulation in the San Francisco Bay Area – and going to and from the clubhouse can be a daunting experience, again seriously discouraging members from using the clubhouse. None of this was taken into consideration in arriving at the figure of $2,000,000 to be donated.
Another factor that was not taken into consideration in the “business plan” was that for only two club events for the whole year, one by UMA and one by Lusitano Club, it would have been nice to have a large clubhouse. Renting a large hall clearly would be the more economical way to go.
So, what should a sound business plan have proposed? A superior and more practical plan then would have been to have two smaller clubhouses, one in the North Bay and one in the South Bay. This would ensure greater attendance and participation by reason of closer proximity to the clubhouse, while being able to count on more helpers living close by to volunteer with the maintenance of the clubhouse without having to drive great distances.
A bit audacious perhaps on my part but I think the three clubs should go back to Macau with a new “business plan” and make the case for a supplemental donation that would enable the Macaense diaspora in California to implement Macau’s objectives as originally propounded in 1999.
A Wake-up Call to the Macanese Community
By Horácio Ozório - January 7, 2005
A frequent lament expressed by the officers, directors and the general membership alike of the three Macanese social clubs in California is, the youngsters of their community are not terribly interested in their Macanese roots, have little desire to participate in the clubs’ events, and are unwilling for the most part, if they are members, to serve in any management capacity.
In the case of one of the clubs, its President has publicly and rhetorically asked me a number of times what my children had ever done for his club. We were discussing the future of the Macanese community. My response always was to ask what he and his club had done to interest the younger generation in club affairs or in the Macanese community. Like, which came first, the chicken or the egg. It was not up to my kids to do the job for which he was elected. Bottom line it left us neither here nor there.
Youngsters can hardly be blamed for their lack of interest in becoming a member of a club, let alone run for office as a member. For one thing, the clubs have offered little reason or incentive for them to do so. For another, and that is the thrust of this editorial, in the case of the largest club, its electoral system calls for executive officers of the club to be elected not directly by the membership but by members of its board of directors. The practical effect of this latter is, the same people run for office as directors year after year, who in turn elect and re-elect themselves as officers. One would imagine there isn’t a soul in the club who would not welcome new blood. Well, not quite. There was a year in the late Nineties when two young attorneys and an accountant, all three Macaenses from Southern California, did throw their hats in the ring for directorship. They were defeated at the polls! And nothing has changed.
It would be interesting to see what the outcome would be if the bylaws of the clubs uniformly call for election of the President, the Vice President, the Treasurer, and the Secretary by the general membership directly instead of by their directors. This would not guarantee the election of new blood, of course, but younger candidates at least for once would know they stood a chance of being elected if they really wanted the job, had fire in their belly, and campaigned hard enough. Almost for sure those who have had enough of the system in which directors elected their officers would lend their wholehearted support to any young candidates whom they identified as competent and who spelled out a platform that offered real hope for the survival of the Macanese community as such. In a previous editorial I suggested that it would be a worthwhile investment if the clubs paid for the reasonable campaign expenses of the candidates. The time is ripe for such reform.
I say it is worth trying because the managerial performance of the three clubs in the past has not exactly been sparkling. After all these years, the three clubs continue to operate wastefully as separate entities, despite having very little to differentiate themselves from each other; interclub bickering is the rule rather than the exception whenever consensus is in the best interests of the community; internal and external personal animosity at senior management levels is rife; and they are stalemated on the issue of acquiring a clubhouse six long years after receiving funds from Macau for the purpose.
A New Year is dawning. Why not try it. What is there to lose?
We Think Alike!
By Horácio Ozório - December 18, 2004
In an editorial dated September 30, 2003, A Diaspora Macaense na America wrote:
“There are three Macanese clubs in California: União Macaense Americana (UMA), Lusitano Club of California, and Casa de Macau (USA). All three have the same corporate objectives. All three are almost identical in what they do. So, you might ask, why don’t they join up and form one club. Simply, the answer to that question, unfortunately, is myopia. It is separatism for the sake of being separate and for no other cognate or cognizable reason.
A little over one year later, in an article dated December 3, 2004, José Miguel Encarnação of Macau’s Ponto Final, reporting on the meeting of the 12 Casas de Macau with Fundação Oriente during Encontro 2004, wrote, and we translate freely:
“… also raised was the problem of coexistence of various Casas in the same city or region. Rui Rocha [of Fundação Oriente] said to Ponto Final this was a circumstance unacceptable to his institution, if it would be more advantageous to unite the Macaense community under one roof. He had in mind a city in which three Casas de Macau existed side by side. To end this state of affairs, he said, it was necessary that people reconcile and end certain quarrels.”
Mr. Rocha’s opinion is consonant with a unity plan advanced by A Diaspora Macaense na America in our abovementioned editorial. We would not be wrong then to extrapolate from the words of Mr. Rocha that the disunity he noted has stood in the way over the years of funding assistance from Fundação Oriente which the Macaense clubs in California now desperately need in order to resolve their clubhouse problem. It would behoove the clubs, therefore, to move with all deliberate speed to achieve the unity that their previous administrations miserably failed to deliver, after which they should break out their tin cup and go knocking on the door of Fundação Oriente.
We close these comments by taking the opportunity to compliment Lusitano Club of California’s new President, Maria Cecelia Roliz, for the initiative she has recently taken to start the healing process to bring the clubs and the community into unity. It is no coincidence that during Encontro 2004 Ms Roliz was overwhelmingly elected 2nd Vice President of the Conselho Geral arm of the Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses.
Some Observations on Encontro 2004
By Horácio Ozório - December 18, 2004
Encontro das Comunidades Macaenses 2004 is now history, having come on November 29 and gone on December 6. But the memories it engendered and its achievements will not soon be forgotten.
To begin with, attendance at this fifth in the series of reunions was assertedly an all-time record, approximating 1,000 from the four corners of the globe. It strained to the limit Macau’s venue and lodging capacities. For some events local residents had to be called upon to make the supreme sacrifice in deference to the diaspora and sit them out, however not without some understandable disgruntlement.
As in the preceding four, the hospitality in the fifth encontro was nothing short of lavish. The tables at Encontro 2004 were laden with a superabundance of gourmet foods and drink, catered by a battery of eager-to-please help, with the weather serving up balmy temperatures throughout the week.
Dinner entertainment took the form mostly of singing and dancing on stage, accompanied by at times deafening music and, on one occasion, presided over by a stentorian master of ceremonies. But it was all taken in stride and good humor, and, to coin a phrase, a good time was had by all.
The crowning achievement of Encontro 2004 had to be the creation and constitu-tion of the much-needed, long-awaited Conselho das Comunidades Macaenses, a governing body designed to provide macro oversight over the best interests of the Macaenses globally, and managed by a crew drawn from the ranks of the leadership of the Macaense casas and associations. Masterminding this legislative feat was José Manuel Rodrigues, President of APIM and of the Encontro Comissão Organizadora, who deserves the plaudits of the Macaense community for his tenacity of purpose in the pursuit of his mission, notwithstanding the usual Macaense reluctance on the part of some to go along to get along.
Another gratifying element of Encontro 2004 was the participation, contribution, and enthusiasm of many of the ethnic Chinese, whose ties to their Macaense roots are not always self-evident. In an arena that has persistently seen controversy, they showed that they belonged and they did so with pride. Whether bearing Macaense or Chinese names or surnames, they spoke Portuguese with an ease and fluency that was to be envied by a lot of Macaenses who could not. One could only view with satisfaction and listen with pleasure to the ethnic Canadian Chinese group from Toronto playing Tuna Macaense songs with traditional Chinese musical instruments. Good show, José Cordeiro, President of the Executive Council, Amigu di Macau Club (Toronto). The wholehearted participation of the ethnic Chinese augurs well for the future of Macau under its format of existence.
Topping all of this, Macaenses could enjoy a warmth of feeling upon hearing Chief Executive Officer Edmund Ho say at the Opening Ceremony that in the almost five years since the establishment of the RAEM, Macaenses, as others who have chosen Macau for their home, played with great merit their role as protagonists of Macau’s progress. They contributed their know-how and labor to achieve the cause “Macau Governed by its Own People” as well as realization of the principle, “One Country, Two Systems” at this important juncture in their history. To all the Macaenses who care so much for their homeland CEO Edmund Ho extended his sincere thanks.
Could Encontro 2004 have been improved? Of course it could. Nothing is perfect. The objectives of the reunion could have better been achieved with more inclusive communi-cation. Face it. With a preponderance of the participants not speaking Chinese or Portuguese well enough, if at all, to understand what was being said in speeches, in conferences, in lectures, in the communal messages leveled at the audiences, much of what was being communicated was lost on them. The language most understandable in common at Encontro 2004 was English, but the use of it raises some sensitivity issues in a territory where Chinese and Portuguese are the lingua franca, in that order. Whatever is important to the organizers, of course, must take precedence, even over practicality.
Despite the disappointment of not having the pleasure of the attendance of the guest of honor, Portuguese First Lady Dona Maria José Ritta, wife of Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, who was under doctor’s orders to rest, all in all, it can be said that Encontro das Comunidades Macaenses 2004 was a great success.
Congratulations to all who contributed to it.
Jovens Vancouver – A Juventude Lusa na Web
August 28, 2004
The good people at the captioned website seem to have drawn inspiration from the words of U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan: "Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline." The Macaense community in California, which has the problem of a disinterested youth, could well take heed too of that sagacious advice.
JOVENSvancouver is a Canadian group organized in 2003 to further develop, encourage, and empower the participation of youth in their community processes and decisions. With emphasis on teamwork, their goals include but are not limited to:
Creating unity amongst the youth.
Education in the Portuguese language and culture.
Providing a network and support system for youth.
Providing a foundation of leaders.
Becoming a visible entity and fostering a sense of pride in the Portuguese culture.
Acceptance of diversity and other cultures
All JOVENSvancouver members are active participants in one, or more teams.
Each team appoints a team leader who reports its activities to the whole group at a monthly gathering.
The monthly gatherings are run as "retreats," with updates provided from each team leader on the different projects: sharing time; lounge and mingle time; going out for dinner (social committee?), etc.
On projects, the teams meet as needed, with the team leader prepared to share the on-goings of the team and project progression with JOVENSvancouver at the monthly gathering.
They have group coordinators who facilitate the monthly gathering: they collect info from each team leader and from members at large to create an agenda for each monthly gathering.
For more details, visit them at http://www.jovensvancouver.com
Civility among the Macanese Community Leadership
July 30, 2004
The following is condensed from a commencement address by Edwin J. Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation to the Hillsdale College Class of 2004.
In 1969 a Stanford University psychologist named Philip Zimbardo set up an experiment. He arranged for two cars to be abandoned – one on the mean streets of the Bronx, New York, the other in an affluent neighborhood near Stanford in Palo Alto, California. In the Bronx, within three days the car was stripped. In Palo Alto, something quite different happened: nothing.
Zimbardo was puzzled but he had a hunch about human nature. To test it, he went out and, in full view of everyone, took a sledgehammer and smashed part of the car. Soon, passersby were taking turns with the hammer, delivering blow after satisfying blow. Within a few hours, the vehicle was demolished.
Among the scholars who took note of Zimbardo’s experiment were two criminologists, James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. The experiment gave rise to their now famous “broken windows” theory of crime: When a broken window in a building is left unrepaired, the rest of the windows are soon broken by vandals. Wilson and Kelling say it’s because the broken window sends a signal that no one is in charge here, that breaking more windows costs nothing, that it has no undesirable consequences. Both order and community unravel, sometimes with astonishing speed. When order is visibly restored at that level, a signal is sent out: This is a community where behavior does have consequences.
What we’re seeing in the marketplace of ideas today is a disturbing growth of incivility that follows and confirms the broken windows theory. A few examples: A liberal writes a book calling Rush Limbaugh a “big fat idiot.” A conservative writes a book calling liberals “useful idiots.” A liberal writes a book titled The Lies of George W. Bush. A conservative writes a book subtitled “Liberal Lies About the American Right.” A liberal publishes a detailed “case for Bush-hatred.” A conservative declares. “Even Islamic terrorists don’t hate America like liberals do.”
Those few examples come from elites in the marketplace of ideas. All are highly educated people. Once someone wields the hammer – once the incivility starts – others will take it as an invitation to join in, and pretty soon there’s no limit to the incivility. Increasingly, those who take part in public debates appear to be exchanging ideas when in fact they are trading insults: idiot, liar, moron, traitor. Some – a few – will join in the food fight. Once the insults begin flying, many will opt out. They leave because the atmosphere has turned hostile to anything approaching a civil exchange or a real dialogue. This is the real danger of incivility. Society requires an open exchange of ideas, which in turn requires a certain level of civility rooted in mutual respect for each other’s opinions and viewpoints.
Civility isn’t an accessory one can put on or take off like a scarf. It is inseparable from the character of great leaders. Incivility betrays a defect of character. The rising chorus of incivility is driving out citizens of honest intent and encouraging those who trade in jeering and mockery. After four years of study at Hillsdale, you know the difference between attacking a person’s argument and attacking a person’s character. Respect that difference.
(Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, www.hillsdale.edu.”- Ed.)
Reaching Out for Yesterday
(By Naz Johnson, Jacksonville, FL 32246 USA) - Jun 24, 2004
I am neither Macanese nor Portuguese, but if ever asked as to the very best years of my life, my solitary answer would be those 10 years (1972-1982) I spent as an educator in Macau. I taught for various departments of the Portuguese government, inclusive of the Administração Civil and its chief, Sr. Augusto Pires Estrella, and the Judiciaria Policia and its director, Sr. Cavalheiro Sanches. I also taught for the colleges of Santa Rosa, St. Mark, St. John, and Ricci; then eventually established the American English Night School which at its height had an annual student population of 630.
Nothing can ever replace the enchanting nurture of genuine friendship from the thousands of Portuguese and Macanese who gave their hearts that I may also call Macau my home. The United States and the rest of the world has yet to learn from them.
22 years have since passed and time has taken its toll. I revisited Macau a few more times but the faces have changed and the Macau I once knew now only lives in the twilight of my memories.
I respectfully approach your website in the hope of invoking your assistance in finding any means of reunion with anyone of those I once knew and still hold most dear -- be they in Portugal or elsewhere. Please guide me on how to search for them, where I might post bulletin, where I may once more see faces remembered before the sun sets. I have to tell them that I hold all of them responsible for this relentless ache in my heart that yearns for yesterday.
(Mr. Naz Siytangco-Johnson can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning him at 1-904-565-8480. – Ed.)
Joint Cultural Activities
By Horatio F. Ozorio - April 11, 2004
With what seems to be concrete steps finally being taken jointly by the three Macaense clubs in California to acquire appropriate premises for use as a cultural center or clubhouse and to be jointly operated by them, unity or even a merger of these entities appears to be in prospect. The funds for this purchase, in the amount of US$2 million, were generously donated by the Macau government about three years ago, and have been lying fallow and accruing interest in an account in a financial institution ever since.
Recently, the three clubs met jointly with an attorney to discuss options they may have in the application of these funds. One of the options discussed was the use of the accrued interest for the purpose of subsidizing cultural events. UMA reported that the attorney advised they “probably should not,” but added that “once the clubhouse is purchased, and there are enough funds to cover operating costs of the building, there seems to be no impediment to funding other activities.” Lusitano Club of California reported in similar vein.
The clubs appear to have had in mind using the accumulated interest for cultural activities scheduled individually by the clubs, and this of course has been opposed by critics of the idea. If, however, the cultural events were sponsored jointly by the three clubs and wholly or partially subsidized by the accrued interest, it would seem that would fall well within the spirit of the purpose for which the funds were made available, i.e. for the preservation of the culture, tradition, and history of the Portuguese over more than 400 years in the Far East, as well as promoting harmony and unity in the Macaense community. Examples of joint cultural pursuits would be events such as celebrating Dia de Portugal, dinners hosting VIPs sympathetic to the Macaense cause, honoring fallen Hong Kong Volunteers on Memorial Day, celebrating American citizenship, and so forth. The chairmanship and venue decision of the events, limited to two or three annually, would be rotated among the clubs.
Any activity jointly sponsored would be a step in the direction of unity and should therefore be encouraged and welcomed, and is in the best interests of the Macaense community. It is difficult to foresee any meaningful opposition to the joint use of the accrued interest for that purpose. Who would enjoin the subsidization of such activity?
On Speaking Chinese
By Horatio Ozorio - April 4, 2004
I am often kiddingly referred to as a “Hong Kong boy,” a bloke, and if you immediately assume then that I speak Chinese fluently, guess again. Were I to rate my ability to speak Chinese on a scale of 1 through 10, 10 being fluent, it would be a 3 at best. The only Chinese characters I can recognize are those that appear on mahjong tiles! Now that’s pathetic considering that I lived twentyfour years of my life in Hong Kong and four in Macau. Why, you might ask, am I confessing this debility? Because underlying it is the typical, traditional upbringing of a Macanese boy in Hong Kong that I consider a tale worth recounting for those interested in Macanese heritage and contemporary history.
English was the language I spoke as a very young child. I heard my parents speaking Macanese and understood what they were saying for the most part, without having to or being able to speak it. What Chinese I learned was from amahs who took care of me and other members of the family. My Chinese vocabulary and expressions did not extend beyond what was needed to communicate with the amahs as it related to meals, dress, toiletry, and other household matters. I should mention, however, that from them I did learn the intonation of Chinese speech, so critical to properly speaking and understanding it. Incidentally, someone recently told me, in a disparaging sort of way, that I spoke Chinese a bit like a kwai lo, which I vehemently deny!
In school, I was segregated from Chinese students, not for ethnic reasons but because they had to be taught in Chinese. They couldn’t speak or understand English well enough to learn in that medium. And because I couldn’t carry on a conversation in Chinese there was no fraternization between Chinese students and me. So my primary education experience took place entirely in an English-speaking environment.
In the working world, business was conducted in English except in the smaller private Chinese firms which hired Chinese-speaking employees almost exclusively. My Chinese office colleagues, those who could speak both English and Chinese, spoke with me in English because, again, I could not carry on a conversation with them in their language. Plus, in their own self-interest and enlightenment they desired to improve their command of English. So I learned no Chinese in that setting either.
Socially, I hung around with my peers – birds of a feather flock together, they say. The neighborhood I lived in, the Catholic church I attended, the clubs I belonged to, all were essentially “European,” and all English-speaking. Again, no opportunity to learn Chinese. By the way, there were no exchanges either in Portuguese and very little in Macanese.
There was yet another reason for my monolingual awkwardness, an ugly one. Hong Kong’s was a three-tiered society: the foreigners, which included the Brits, the non-Chinese locals, which included the Macanese, and the Chinese. For reasons which can only be described as ignoble and unChristian, the three groups rarely socialized with each other. The practical effect then was to have a form of self-imposed segregation. Only in the sports arena did they “fraternize,” and then only because not to do so eliminated any chance of competitive sports. But we co-existed peacefully. We each knew our “place.” That denouement, of course, denied me any chance to upgrade my knowledge of Chinese.
Compounding this anomalous situation was the practice in those days of Macanese parents choosing French as their child’s second language. They could hardly be faulted. Being able to speak French was the hallmark of a good education. How could they have foreseen that China would be the great nation, the superpower, that it is today, and that speaking Chinese could be the ticket to better things. I do remember one Macanese family, however, that had the vision to see the advantage of mastering Chinese. They even sent their son to a Chinese school. At the time, I thought they were fanatic. Today, of the thirty most-spoken languages in the world, Chinese (Mandarin) is first, Portuguese is seventh, and French fourteenth.
After fortyfive years in democratic America mingling with whites, blacks, browns, et al, I have rediscovered the Chinese and much admire them. Do I regret not learning Chinese? You bet. Big time. Do I regret not having socialized with the Chinese in my three decades in the Far East? Big time again. I am in my comfort zone when I am in China Town. I feel “safe” among them. But I still can’t befriend them. I still can’t carry on a conversation in Chinese.
Doci Papiaçam di Macau
Friday, April 2, 2004
By HARALD BRUNING
Last week's two shows before a full house by a local amateur group performing in Macau's Portuguese-Asian hybrid dialect proved, again, that slightly risque comedy is not just good for a hearty laugh but may also help preserve one's fragile identity.
The detective story, Unga Tiro na Iscuridam (A Shot in the Dark), involving a bevy of women of easy virtue and swindlers, as well as two lovable police officers dressing up in drag to clear their names, was performed by the Grupo de Teatro Doci Papiacam di Macau (Macau's Sweet Language Theatre Group) in Patua, with subtitles in English, Chinese and Portuguese shown on a screen above the stage of the 500-seat Macau Tower Theatre.
Julie de Senna Fernandes, one of the prime movers behind the formation of the group in 1993, said its founders thought that the power of theatre was the best way of preserving "our unique language and identity that very few of us still speak but many still understand".
Patua is the now almost extinct original mother tongue of Macau's Eurasian minority, customarily known as Macanese, comprising some 8,000 residents in Macau and an estimated 20,000 emigrants around the world. It is a mixture of Chinese syntax and Portuguese, Malay, Indian, English, Japanese, Spanish and a string of other Asian and European languages. The strong Malay influence derives from the fact that Macau's early Portuguese settlers sought wives primarily from Malaya, as well as India and Japan. The British presence in Hong Kong resulted in the inclusion of English. Patua, also known as Maquista, began to be superseded by "metropolitan" Portuguese as the Macanese community's main language from the early 20th century. The crux is that Patua, which sounds melodiously sweet, never reached written-language status.
Nowadays it is fluently spoken by just a few dozen women in their 80s, in Macau and Hong Kong, and a few hundred Macanese emigrants. However, several thousand people in Macau and elsewhere still know a smattering of their ancestors' "sweet language".
Heidi Ho Lai Chun da Luz, president of the government-run Macau Cultural Institute, insists that Patua theatre plays have become a "must" for the annual Macau Arts Festival.
Regrettably, little research into one of the world's most interesting hybrid dialects has so far been done. None of Macau's 12 tertiary institutions offers any courses, let alone research or degree programmes. Time is running out. Urgent action is needed to stop the tide, otherwise Patua will vanish. That is why I suggest setting up a Patua research centre at one of Macau's higher-education establishments to not only conduct linguistic investigations but also provide language courses. I would be one of the first to enrol.
(Source: The South China Morning Post, Hong Kong. Reprinted with permission)
Celebrating Macanese Golden Wedding Anniversaries
By Horatio Ozorio - March 19, 2004
The reaction that first overtakes the recipient of an invitation to a Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary reception is one of awe and pleasure, awe because to have arrived at that memorable milestone is a tremendous achievement, and pleasure because the celebrating couple are treasured friends.
In this day and age when society has become accustomed to rampant divorces and separations, when it is appalled by the increasing number of people living together without benefit of marriage, and when in more recent days it is grudgingly accepting of same-sex unions, Filomacau couples can be forgiven for being oldfashioned and feeling good that their upbringing has been in the Macanese Catholic tradition of honoring their marriage vows to have and to hold each other, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do they part.
However, there is more to it than just feeling good and proud. There is wistfulness and perhaps a little sadness that the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary signals too that contemporaries are in the November of their lives, as deliriously happy as they may be to have reached that great milestone. It also means the community of the Macanese diaspora is aging and, perish the thought, may be fading as such. For those reasons and by the grace of God it will be even more joyous to be able to have old friends and family help to mark the occasion.
The festivities, of course, would be grand, staged by the children and grand-children of the couple, again in the Macanese tradition, following a celebratory Mass and renewal of marital vows. Come to think of it, where best to hold the reception than in a Macanese clubhouse or cultural center, with the assured attendance of the coveted members of the younger two, maybe even three, generations, amid surroundings of Portuguese cultural pomp and religious ceremony. The Macanese clubhouse, if there were one, could have been the venue for celebration for those whose Golden Wedding Anniversary took place in the Nineties, and will not be for those happening in the first years of the Twentyfirst Century. And, God forbid, may never be?
What has evoked these thoughts and words are the forthcoming 50th Golden Wedding Anniversaries in April 2004 of Ed and Sylvia Ribeiro and Lionel and Lucy Guterres, stalwart sports figures in the past of Hong Kong’s Clube de Recreio. To these blessed couples, A Diaspora Macaense na America extends its heartiest congratulations and healthful best wishes.
Diáspora Macaense is the Salvation of Macau
February 13, 2004
The following is an editorial written by an unnamed representative of Casa de Macau in New South Wales, Australia, and published February 2, 2004, in Jornal Tribuna de Macau in its entirety due to its interest, and is hereunder freely translated:
“Following in the footsteps of awe-inspiring Portuguese tradition, Macaenses also inherited the adventurous spirit of their ancestors. They left Macau, some of them 60 years ago, and emigrated to the four corners of the world.
There exists, actually, nearly 50,000 Macaenses abroad originally from Macau, Hong Kong and Shanghai and now living in the five continents of the world. How many Macaenses are there in Macau itself, I ask.
Macau, without the Macaenses and without foreigners, would be another Chinese city, the same as all of the others. Only by being exposed to the outside world can Macau be thought of as an international city.
The Macaenses abroad left Macau, some because they felt they could not or did not want to live their future lives under a Chinese totalitarian regime, a regime in which a person could be arrested and sent to prison simply for publishing something in the “Internet.”
Macaenses have always had a unique and distinct culture. The approximately 50,000 who exchanged their homeland for distant shores devoted a whole lifetime to acquiring new skills in those new lands.
They were exposed to new foreign techniques, to different ways of thinking, to new customs, acquired new knowledge and underwent new adventures and experiences. All of these new aspects and characteristics can now be repatriated, brought back to Macau, the point of original departure.
Those experiences of a lifetime can be transferred to Macau. This reverse “brain drain,” this knowledge transfer, can serve to enrich the Macaense residents in Macau and to assure the survival and the future of the Macaense populace. Done properly, this process can also lead to growth, development and greater progress in the territory of Macau.
I am sure that the Macaense diaspora will be more than happy to support the local Macaenses. They are, without any doubt whatever, always ready to help their brothers and sisters. It would be appropriate now for the local Macaenses to show whether or not they value their contacts and relationships with the Macaenses abroad. The discussion who are true Macaenses should be ended. History will demonstrate that the Portuguese of Shanghai as much as of Hong Kong are all originally of Macau. The birthplace of each should make little difference, because basically we are all the same, the Portuguese of the Orient.”
In a footnote to the above, and in accordance with their editorial policy, Jornal Tribuna de Macau welcomed and encouraged their readers to present their opinions on issues of interest to Macau and its communities. They also expressed their appreciation that this reader followed daily the electronic edition of Jornal Tribuna de Macau.
By Horatio Ozorio - January 27, 2004
The year 2004 is a presidential election year in the United States of America. As this is being written the Democratic primaries are in full swing with the seven remaining candidates competing to be the Democratic nominee to oppose incumbent President George W. Bush in November later this year.
Naturally, this brings to mind the elections that will also take place this year in the three Macanese clubs in California, one as soon as early February. It is not inappropriate at this juncture then to remind all concerned of the call by A Diaspora Macaense na America for candidates for office to be carefully chosen for their ability, professional expertise, experience, and integrity; as well to ask again the questions posed by the Editor of the Lusitano Bulletin regarding poor attendance at the Annual General Meeting at which elections take place, membership disinterest in club business, and ignorance of the candidates, their qualifications and their platforms.
Presumptuous it might be but we choose to believe these comments have sparked some attempt by candidates to take the election process more seriously, as witness the mailing of campaign literature by some of them. Unfortunately, most of the spiel in these flyers has tended to be vague statements of good intentions without providing any specifics, and in one instance fanciful claims of virtuosity in club management in the past. To be sure, the clubs have succeeded commendably in holding the Macaense community together, but forward progress has eluded them. The clubhouse fiasco is a prime example of inability to make headway. The apathy and disinterest of the younger generation towards its own community is another.
As A Diaspora Macaense na America has previously noted, the crisis facing the Macaense community is one of disunity among the clubs, chiefly at the management level. It is difficult to believe that separate clubs who can’t agree on the purchase of premises for joint use as a clubhouse or cultural center will readily be able to agree on how to operate it once it has been purchased. Certainly then, candidates who espouse a merger of the three clubs should be favored by the electorate, for that is the only format for successful operation of a clubhouse. Failing that, votes should go to qualified candidates who have shown they are able to work with others realistically, with civility, in good faith, and who honestly believe that their purposes are in the best interest of the Macaense community, as required of directors by the California Corporation Code.
A Diaspora Macaense na America would like to offer a suggestion. Since it is very desirable that the electorate be familiar with the candidates for office and their respective platforms, it would be a worthwhile expenditure for the clubs to pick up the reasonable campaign expenses of the candidates. Better still, organize volunteers to consolidate all campaign flyers and assist in their mailing. By doing so, the clubs would be levelling the playing field for all candidates, ensuring more intelligent voting on the part of the electorate, achieving a greater voter turnout in all probablity, and stimulating greater interest by members in the business of their club. This surely sounds like a win-win situation for all concerned.
By Horatio Ozorio - January 27, 2004
A viewer has written to express concern that A Diaspora Macaense na America may be considered unprofessional because some articles appearing in its web site have no byline. We understand the concern of the viewer and appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Six of the ten articles that do not carry a byline are reports of well publicized generic news of interest to the Macanese community (appointments, economic news, etc.), requiring no attribution and this is consistent with journalistic practice. Two of them identify the author in the body of the article. Of the remaining two, one describes a Macanese “enclave” in Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, California, and the other the Macanese tradition of partaking in religious street processions in Hong Kong. The latter two admittedly could have carried a byline. To complete the record, they were written by Horatio Ozorio. Speaking parenthetically, we wish we could say they were submitted by some other of our supporters.
Of other articles published, a few were free translations from the Portuguese language of items appearing in the foreign press and were so described at the foot of each.
All articles otherwise carried a byline.
It is the policy of A Diaspora Macaense na America to be factual and constructive in what it publishes, to do so without fear or favor, and to be fair and balanced. Nothing will be published that hides behind anonymity. We have no fear of appearing unprofessional. Amateurish? Maybe!
Lusitano Bulletin Editor Speaks Out
December 26, 2003
It is gratifying to A Diaspora Macaense na America to see that the editor of the Lusitano Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter of the Lusitano Club of California, has taken up the fight for a more efficiently run club and come up with a hard-hitting editorial in its Winter edition.
He points out, using what are clearly rhetorical questions, the disinterest of the membership in club business, their lackadaisical attitude towards their candidates for office, their ignorance of the candidates’ qualifications and platform, and the entrenchment of the usual groups of persons running for office with few other choices on the ballot. A Diaspora Macaense would add that at their club’s last Annual General Meeting, at which elections are usually held, they did not even have a quorum of directors present to begin the meeting, and only three or four other members attended. Ironically, this is the club that is the loudest in demanding a large centrally-located clubhouse. He excoriated the proxy-hunting practices of past candidates for office and urged reform of their elective process. In the argot of this country’s current national politics, he suggests “regime change” is needed.
The editor is a little more blunt in his language but essentially echoes Diaspora Macaense’s call for candidates for office to be carefully chosen for their ability, professional expertise, experience, and integrity; Diaspora Macaense’s deprecation of the intransigence of past and present club officers and directors in the matter of resolving the clubhouse crisis; and Diaspora Macaense’s call for more participation by the younger generation.
Response to Lusitano Bulletin Editorial
By Horatio Ozorio - December 23, 2003
The Winter Edition of the Lusitano Bulletin, a quarterly sponsored by the Lusitano Club of California, contains some gratuitous comments on our Web Site by Michael McDougall, its editor, which call for response. We shall endeavor to do so without betraying rancor since it is the avowed objective of this Web Site to refrain from unpleasantries, however justified.
“..other pages are bare.” As this is being written there are 43 articles spread over 12 pages. The 13th and last page is the “Contact us” page and is indeed bare, there being nobody who has found it necessary to contact us despite the site receiving over 5300 hits at this writing.
We wonder why McDougall felt constrained to point out that three articles in the Web Site had appeared previously in other publications. It is true. The articles by António M. Jorge da Silva and Frederic “Jim” Silva were well written, of universal interest, and were worthy of being presented to the vastly wider readership, both Macanese and non-Macanese, provided by the Web Site. The inclusion of Ozorio’s article on Cultural Shock, and other articles in similar vein, had in mind too the Macaense of Macau readership and a dollop of humor.The dissemination of relevant information for the edification of our readership, fair and balanced to quote Fox News Channel, is one of our stated objectives.
As regards avoiding this Web Site being a one-man show, in our Greetings Message on the Home Page we identified that forestalling the possible demise of the Macanese community as such was a task for the many, and added that the website’s welcome mat was out to all with any desire to contribute to the achievement of its goals. As our Web Site gains more publicity, or should I say notoriety, we are confident that others will be stepping forward to share the burden of providing content to the Web Site pro bono Macaense. We solicited McDougall’s contribution and his commendation but nothing has been forthcoming as yet save gratuitous advice, including the benefit of infusing “more scholarly articles to give depth and range.” It is not the purpose of the Web Site to be all things to all people, particularly at our “one-man show” stage of development.
McDougall further criticizes this Web Site for having some news items that were already out of date, and stressed the importance of the “need for refinement and continuous maintenance.” For his information, what is out of date for a visitor in January is current and still useful news for one visiting for the first time in March.
It is ironic that Lusitano Club’s own web site had not been updated in a couple of years until recently but, to our knowledge, did not have the benefit of McDougall’s keen observations. His remarks on our Web Site, therefore, do not convince us of his good faith. We would consider him fairer and more balanced if he published this response in his next bulletin.
Unity and Separatism
By Horatio Ozorio - December 30, 2003
One hears repeatedly comments that the Macanese are not a united community. True and not true. On an individual-to-individual basis the community is very much united. This is evident in community events, parties, get-togethers, even wakes, where the Macanese congregate. Being Macanese is their common cause. It is just heartwarming to see the gaity, cordiality and camaraderie among them as they reminisce and catch up with each other. On the other hand, it is the Macanese clubs that are disunited, or, more closer to the truth, the managements of those clubs that are at loggerheads.
There are three Macanese clubs in California: União Macaense Americana (UMA), Lusitano Club of California, and Casa de Macau (USA). All three have the same corporate objectives. All three are almost identical in what they do. So, you might ask, why don’t they join up and form one club. Simply, the answer to that question, unfortunately, is myopia. It is separatism for the sake of being separate and for no other cognate or cognizable reason.
A plan for uniting the three clubs, published in the form of a letter to the editor of the Lusitano Bulletin, was proffered recently. Details of this plan were as follows:
“As a first step, each of the three clubs passes a corporate resolution affirming its desire to attain unity with the other two clubs jointly, thereby displaying its intention and goodwill.
Get together and form a legal organization, with some such name as The Macanese Cultural Center, officially registered as such with the Secretary of State of California, using as a temporary expedient the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of, say, UMA or Lusitano, which can be revised later. The presidents and vice presidents of the three clubs can be named as the incorporators.
The clubs each name three, four or five of their members to act as members of the Board of Directors of the Macanese Cultural Center, these individuals to be carefully chosen for their ability, professional expertise, experience, and integrity.
Each club transfers part of its treasury to the Macanese Cultural Center on the basis of an identical per capita amount for each club, with the remainder of the funds of each club to be distributed to its own members or used as future dues. The members of each club automatically become members of The Macanese Cultural Club. The clubs then become defunct and pass into history.
Form as many standing and/or ad hoc committees as are necessary to advise the Board of Directors on matters of finance, organization, operations, legal, audit, etc., and to do the work of operating and maintaining the Macanese Cultural Center.
Decide on the executive structure and hold elections.
Take care of the myriad lesser items incidental to the smooth and efficient operation of the Center.
All actions taken by the Macanese Cultural Center will be by binding resolution, seconded and approved by vote of the directors, thereby eliminating individual goodwill, cooperation, willfulness, intransigence, etc., as well as allegiance to members’ former affiliations.”
The response from the presidents of the three clubs was, to say the least, disappointing. One president said the plan was not new and had been bruited many years ago. That was not quite accurate. No plan had ever been offered with such specificity. Another president said, “No comment,” while the third did not see fit to reply. Nor is there any evidence that the plan had been put before their boards of directors for consideration or that the plan had even been discussed. It is precisely this intransigence on the part of past and present club officers and directors that has held back for so many years the acquisition of premises for a cultural center or as clubhouses with funds so generously donated by the Macau government.
Inasmuch as the survival of the Macanese community as such, as well as the resolution of the clubhouse issue, depends a great deal on a united and concerted effort, it behooves club members to keep pressing their officers and directors for responsible action. A house divided cannot stand.
Let us Give Thanks
By Afonso Diniz - October 12, 2003
An editorial by Al Diniz which appeared in the November/December 1991 issue of the UMA News Bulletin, of which he was the long and faithful editor, and which, with Thanksgiving Day 2003 fast approaching, is here reproduced in loving memory of him, a true friend of the Macanese community:
November is traditionally the month that Americans give thanks for the blessings and benefits of the year. Let us, as a community, join in and offer our share of thanks for the countless blessings which we, as immigrants and displaced persons, have received in this New World of ours.
Looking back over the years, almost every one of us will have some tale to tell of our experiences in the Old World, how we went through the War, how we survived the Camps, how we came through as refugees, how we waited endlessly for our visas – but now, for the most part, we can look with satisfaction at how we have transplanted, how we have assimilated, how well our children and grandchildren are doing, how our old folks are being cared for. Our life styles have changed quite dramatically from what we were used to – the luxury of servants, the frequent partying, the Club life – but what we have gained in exchange far outweighs these hedonistic attributes. We have stability and security, we exercise more, we eat less, we clean house, we go grocery shopping, we work harder at our jobs and are paid commensurately more, and get far more recognition of our capabilities. In short, we get far more satisfaction at our own accomplishments, and those of our offspring.
For these, therefore, and any other special benefits which we have received throughout this past year – LET US GIVE THANKS.
As you sit down to your thanksgiving dinners this year, and for those who are so inclined, here is a prayer which is eminently appropriate:
O, Heavenly Father: We thank you for food and remember the hungry.
We thank you for health and remember the sick.
We thank you for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank you for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
That your gifts to us may be used for others. Amen.
Meanwhile – Back in HongKong By Frederic A. “Jim” Silva
November 3, 2003
Does anybody know what is going on at our venerable old Lusitano Club of HongKong?
Even though a large proportion of our community may now be scattered throughout the world, there are many ex-members who still take a concerned interest in the club today.
Concern and interest revolves around two things. Firstly, the recent rebuilding and reopening of the club and the financial consequences of this move. Secondly, the effect and results that have arisen from broadening the constitution of the club to allow for lady members as well as for non Portuguese associate members.
To have gone ahead with the rebuilding was, in the face of circumstances then prevailing, a reasonable and farsighted move. What was not foreseen was an economic slump that took place in HongKong subsequently that was accompanied by a real estate collapse which saw rentals halved and many office spaces and apartments standing vacant and unproductive.
On the membership score there was supposed to be a substantial increase in dues, entrance fees and meal charges. This eliminated to a great extent the overgenerous low charges for subsidized meals and services seen before.
From more hearsay – and hearsay is all I can go on for the moment – and I stand to be corrected, I hear that:
A) The club has the exclusive use of the top five floors of the building. These floors are smaller than the lower floors as the building tapers upwards. There are a total of 27 floors.
B) The rebuilding loan has been renegotiated with bankers to allow for the lower and more manageable interest rates now charged.
C) Certain floors of the building are still not yet let and have stood empty from the start.
D) There was a massive overrun on planned construction costs from the proposed HK$200 million (US$26 million) to HK$280 million (US$36 million). What is the loan position now? What is still being owed?
From a business point of view, do the real estate basics – rentals versus interest and expenses - point towards a viable long term project?
Is good use being made of the club today? Has there been an influx of associate, lady and ordinary members – and are the purely club finances workable?
What does the future hold?
Memories of the Oct 3-13, 2003 Tour of Brazil Organized by Lusitano Club of California
By Merlinde d’Assumpção Brown - November 22, 2003
Brazil has always fascinated me. The mystique of a distant region, jungles, glorious beaches, spectacular scenery and lively people gyrating to reggae music was something to look forward to. The flight to Rio de Janeiro was lengthy and exhausting and took about 18.5 hours, including stopovers in Miami and Sao Paulo.
The all-inclusive sightseeing was spectacular. The Pão de Acucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) rose 396 m. above sea level. The aerial car gave us a view of the Guirabara Bay and reminded me of the peak tram summit view of the Hong Kong Harbor. The Cristo Redentor was stunning on top of the Corcovado Rock. The Marius Crustaceos Restaurant, by the beach , was definitely unique. This gastronomical eatery offered specialty grilled meats and seafood like BBQ lobsters, bolinhos de bacalhau, raw oysters, fish stews, and in addition an assortment of salads.
Our visit to the “Feira Hippie” was eagerly anticipated. The market was like a huge bazaar of artisans trying to sell their handicrafts at bargain prices. Bargaining was discouraged and was really unnecessary as most items sold at rock bottom prices.
A distinct place to visit was the Jardim Botánico. A haven for nature lovers, the gardens were founded by Dom João VI in 1808 and have 6,000 species of tropical plants and about 140 species of bird life.
The Petrolis ultimately beguiled me. No wonder Dom Pedro II selected this resort for him and his family to spend the summer. Brazilian coffee barons also flocked to this area to build their stately mansions.
In Rio de Janeiro we were unable to visit Casa De Macau as it is currently undergoing some renovation. However, we were wined, dined and entertained by the Macaense community at a recreational center nearby. Everybody enjoyed feijoda, roasted capon, roasted lamb, chilicote, turnip pie and several desserts. After-dinner entertainment consisted of a Karate demonstration by Alberto d’Assumpção, the Vice President of the club, and his expert team on methods of self defense. A live band provided continuous music for dancing. Several club members sang and provided impromptu skits.
After Rio we were off to São Paulo. Fortunately, it was cooler there. The tour guide took us to an older section of town. The luncheon at the Cozinha de Dona Lucinha was very unusual. The cuisine was typical of colonial times in Minas Gerais. It was as if we were transported to a provincial Brazilian town of another era. I was fascinated with the steaming hot black cauldrons that contained delicious feijoda, porco açafrão, minchee, roasted pork with crunchy skin, not unlike Chinese roast pork, and hot curry chicken.
The highlight of the trip to Sao Paulo was the visit to the Casa de Macau. The Main Building was very impressive and the club members and officials welcomed us. An adjacent property was a massive Auditorium that could accommodate over two hundred people. The stage reminded me of a stage I viewed in Macau during one of the Encontros. The stage props depicted the facade of São Paulo and other notable scenes of old Macau. A live band of talented musicians strummed on mandolins and guitars and played nostalgic tunes popularized by the Tuna Macaenses. A chorus group also enhanced the entertainment with their well-orchestrated voices. All the while we feasted on exquisite Macaenses food. It was reminiscent of Hong Kong’s Club Recreio.
Senior housing was at an adjacent building. This structure is able to accommodate up to seven seniors. Eligibility is based on need and is very economical, roughly US$185 per month for room and board. Boarders must provide their own medical insurance. Each of the units is fully furnished and has an attached bathroom. Amenities also include a dining room, a sitting room, and a library. This Senior Building also houses a section for Administration. Conference tables, desks, Xerox copy machines and computers are available.
The playground area is very suitable for games. It has an adjacent fenced-in area with a pool and a spa. One could not miss the large Tiki Hut (gazebo) in one corner of the yard. This structure is quite spacious and has two built-in barbecue pits. There are several walking trails, an impressive grotto, a vegetable garden, and a nearby waterfall for meditation. They really have their act together.
None of the officials that manage the clubhouse looked stressed. They are on the right track.
The Brazil trip was an eye-opener and very memorable. .
A Memorable Visit to Macau
By Fernando Ribeiro - November, 2003
Maria Fernanda and I travelled to Macau early November at the invitation of the Macau Grand Prix Committee to attend the Grand Prix Golden Jubilee Carnival, a celebration of half a century of the Grand Prix, held over and between the weekends of the 8th and 9th and 15th and 16th.
The reason for the invitation was the fact that Maria Fernanda won the very first ladies’ race held during the 1956 Grand Prix. While in Macau she was interviewed by a leading newspaper, the “Hoje Macau”, and her interview was published in a special section dedicated to the Macau Grand Prix. The front page of the paper carried a large photograph of hers with the heading – “Fernanda Ribeiro – The Champion”. The special section, which also carried her photo, headed her interview with the following title – “The First Lady”.
She was elated at being so much the centre of attention…and so was I.
The week in Macau was filled with car and motorcycle racing, prize giving evenings followed by dinner parties, fireworks displays, concerts, food festival and many other exciting events.
As far as the two of us were concerned, the highlight of the week was our taking part in the Historic Cars Parade held on the 15th November. We were invited by the owners of the cars to ride with them and we did two full laps of the GP circuit watched by thousands of spectators who cheered us all the way. Maria Fernanda rode in a gleaming black 1947 MG TC and I rode in a 1983 Austin Healey. It was quite an exhilarating experience that we shall never forget.
On a lesser busy day we did a tour of Macau and the islands of Taipa and Coloane and we were very impressed with the amount of development that has taken place since our last visit. Two new casinos are being built by casino owners in Las Vegas, one in Macau, to be ready in 2004, and one in the reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane, to be ready in 2005. This reclaimed land has now a name to it. It is called COTAI.
Also, on another free day, we took a quick trip to Hong-Kong just to have lunch with some friends at Clube Lusitano. It was indeed very pleasant.
The hospitality extended to us during our stay in Macau was simply 5-star plus.
By the time we returned home we were utterly exhausted. But it was well worth it.
(Fernando Ribeiro is a former Vice Consul for Portugal in Hong Kong)