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Of Historical Interest

 

Genealogy Website of Macanese Families  

Drawing extensively on a mammoth 3-volume work in Portuguese by Dr Jorge Forjaz (Familias Macaenses, 1996). Henry “Quito” d’Assumpção of Adelaide, Australia has built a website incorporating information on Macanese families into a computer database. Family tree records of some 44,000 Macanese, in Portuguese, were captured from Dr. Forjaz’s masterpiece. 

The electronic database itself is in English and contains mostly raw data on names, births, marriages and deaths. Under continual construction as it were, and currently with some 44,500 persons, the entire database is in a draft restricted Website and can be accessed only by password. Quito is not sure at this stage how the passwords will be managed all over the world.  At present he is giving access only to individuals but he will be writing to the various clubs globally to see if some arrangement can be made.

Every one of the 44,500 people in the website has an individual page giving essential details such as name, date and place of birth, marriage and death, and names of spouse(s) and children, and occasionally accompanied by narratives.

The major advantage is that one is able to navigate around the website easily and find people, and then, if they wish, to look up further details in  Dr. Forjaz’s books. For example, clicking on the name of a child takes one instantly to that child’s page.

Quito will be happy to accommodate requests for inclusion of new family data and correction of errors, if any, detected by family members.  It is his hope to establish a permanent record of Macanese culture and history and engender a sense of pride in Macanese heritage, particularly among the newer generations.

Readers are encouraged to do their part in making this website more comprehensive by:

.- going through old albums and identifying as many people in photos as they can

.- writing down what they and the older members of their family can remember – anecdotes about  ancestors, where the family came from, who did what

.- tape-recording or videoing the older members of the family to capture the stories and songs of their youth

.- preserving old books, recipes, etc.

Most of this will be private, only for their children and grandchildren. But if there is anything that they would like to share with other Macanese, Quito suggests that they contact in the first instance their own local Macanese Club.

But there is urgency: memories fade, energies wane, people pass away and records are lost forever. Start now!

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The Portuguese Community in Hong Kong – A Pictorial History

By António M. Pacheco Jorge da Silva - November 5, 2007

To all the Casas de Macau Worldwide, UMA Inc., Lusitano Club of California, Macau Cultural Association of Western Canada, Vancouver, Macau Club, Inc., Toronto, Club Lusitano, Hong Kong and Club de Recreio, Hong Kong.

I take great pleasure in announcing that the Instituto Internacional de Macau (IIM) has confirmed the publication of the above titled book which will be launched at the upcoming Encontro in November.

The book, as I wrote it, has about 90 pages of written text with about 180 full page photographs.  It briefly recounts the history of the Portuguese community in Hong Kong from 1841 to the middle 1960s, highlighting events of interest in the community and some of its members.  Sports, being one of the primary sources of recreation, is featured in some detail.  The Second World War, having major impact on the lives on the community, and the seed of the Diaspora Macaense, is also referenced with details available to the author.  The many families who sent in photographs at the time the book was written are proudly presented in the pictorial section.

Borrowed from the Preface of the book is the following:

“As photographs of the early Portuguese who migrated to Hong Kong do not exist the only recourse is to briefly describe their contribution to, and participation in, the birth of the British colony.  Less is written about those who lived in the colony later as the intention is to use photographs to illustrate their part in this history.  The pictures that are presented in this book date back to the beginning of the 1900s and relate only to the Portuguese and events in which they participated.  As we view the photographs, we must also keep in mind that they are selected only to represent those who lived in Hong Kong as this is their story.  They do not go beyond to cover their lives after their departure from Hong Kong to settle overseas.  Macau, Shanghai and the Treaty Ports each have their own photographs, their personalities and their stories.  Events which took place between the Portuguese of Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau are featured where applicable and are largely dependent on the availability of photographs to the author.

Every effort has been made to get as many pictures as possible from the Macaense community from all over the world.  Unfortunately, the response was not overwhelming and many pictures that exist were not sent in for this publication.   However, I invite those who have photographs and stories to share to send them in as I am almost certain there will be a second edition after our worldwide community sees the first.  Remember this is your story and that of your forefathers; I am but the messenger.”

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to write this book and am only sorry it took so long to complete.  “At the conclusion of the First Encontro in Macau in November 1993 I felt a deep sense of’ saudades’ and was overcome with a feeling of urgency to do what I can to preserve the history of the Portuguese of Hong Kong.” Yes, it took that long for me to do this.

I hope the community will enjoy the memories and that time will never forget the faces, names and contribution of the Portuguese to the history of Hong Kong.

Very sincerely,

António (Tonéco) M. Pacheco Jorge da Silva

Author

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Unity of the Macaense Community - Ten Years Ago

Text of letter dated August 6, 1996, from Mr. J. Jose Ferreira da Fonseca, Consul General of Portugal, San Francisco, to Mr. Eduardo Collaço, President, Lusitano Club of California.

Dear Mr. Eduardo Collaço,

                        You have asked for my opinion regarding the efforts being made to unify the Macaense Community in California.

                         I have no problem in doing this.  When I arrived in San Francisco there were two Clubs:  UMA and LUSITANO.  By talking to members of both these Clubs I got the feeling that they agreed that, for the size of the Community, one Club would perhaps be better, but that the unifying process would not be easy mainly for historical reasons.  I had representatives of both clubs for dinner and I realized they got on very well together.  After that, the success achieved through cooperation of both clubs in many joint activities, led me to believe that bringing the Community together would certainly give them more strength.  This I think they will need if they want to preserve their identity after the Transition Period in Macau.

                        For this reason I cannot say that I was happy with the appearance of Casa de Macau as a third organization.  But obviously it is up to the community to decide how many organizations it wants to have.

                        Officially I cannot speak for the Government of Macau but I know they would also prefer one organization representing this Community.

                        So, to answer your question, I very strongly believe that the unity of your Community would be of great benefit to all, and the sooner you can achieve it the better.  But this is not something that can be forced on people.  They have to think about it, discuss it, want it, feel comfortable about it and only then will it happen.

                                                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                    J. Jose Ferreira da Fonseca

                                                                                    Consul General of Portugal

 

c.c:    Mr. Delano Pereira, Interim President, State Board, UMA, Inc.

         Mr. Anthony G. Sousa, President, Casa de Macau USA, Inc.

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Macau in UNESCO World Heritage List

The Historic Center of Macau was today [July 15, 2005] included in the list of protected heritage sites of the United Nations.  The decision of UNESCO to make Macau the 31st locale of China to be designated as world heritage was taken at a meeting held in Durban, South Africa.

The Historic Center of the City of Macau includes streets and squares, such as

Largo da Barra, Largo do Lilau, Largo de Santo Agostinho, Largo do Senado, Largo da Sé, Largo de S. Domingos, Largo da Companhia de Jesus, Largo de Camões,

with which will be affiliated a succession of more than 20 monuments, including

Templo de A-Má, Quartel dos Mouros, Casa do Mandarim, Igreja de S. Lourenço, Igreja e Seminário de S. José, Teatro D. Pedro V, Biblioteca Sir Robert Ho Tung, Igreja de Santo Agostinho, Edifício do Leal Senado, Templo de Sam Kai Vui Kun, Santa Casa da Misericórdia, Igreja da Sé, Casa de Lou Kau, Igreja de S. Domingos, Ruínas de S. Paulo, Templo de Na Tcha, Troço das Antigas Muralhas de Defesa, Fortaleza do Monte, Igreja de Santo António, Casa Garden, Cemitério Protestante, Fortaleza da Guia (including the Capela da Guia and the Farol da Guia).

Congratulations for the success of this accomplishment to Secretary Fernando Chui Sai On, representing the Government of RAEM, and Zhang Xuezhong, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate for China attached to UNESCO, Zhang Bai, Vice Director General of the National Administration for Cultural Heritage, and Tian Xiaogang, Secretary General of the National Chinese Commission for UNESCO.

Quotations on this occasion reported by Harald Bruning of the Macau Daily Post:

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah

“I am glad to share this honour with everyone across the country [China] and in Macau and on behalf of everyone, I would like to express the deepest gratitude to UNESCO,” Mr. Ho said in the message, adding, “Ever since the beginning of the application, the central government (in Beijing) has fully stood by the Macau Special Administrative Region Government by putting the historic centre of Macau as the sole item on this year’s list.”

Mr. Ho also said that the Macau’s historic centre was a “unique gem” that was “testament to the merging of Chinese and western cultures on Chinese soil.”

“The application has raised Macau people’s awareness about the protection of historical monuments and its success is the fruit of our collective effort. We believe that Macau people love their hometown even more and actively protect and promote our cultural heritage,” Mr. Ho said.

Macau Government Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Fernando Chui Sai On said in a statement sent from Durban that Macau’s bid had succeeded “thanks to the full support of the central government and the tremendous endeavours of the Macau SAR government and citizens. Inclusion in the prestigious UNESCO list will bolster Macau people’s understanding of their role in Chinese and world history and give them a profound sense of pride and ownership of their cultural identity.”

Mr. Chui also said in the statement, “Now that the historic centre of Macau has been inscribed on the world-heritage list, the people of Macau are entrusted with a vital mission: the protection of this heritage for all humankind.

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MACAU – UNIVERSAL HERITAGE

Text Box:  
By Gertrude de Souza

Exhibits courtesy of the International Institute of Macau, Macau S.A.R.

The gala opening of the magnificent Macau Photo Exhibit on April 14, 2005 at the History San Jose was a memorable event only rivaled by the magnificent display and consumption of lavish Macanese cuisine from recipes passed down from generation to generation. Guests, members and organizers alike were generous with compliments while tasting delicious Chilicotes, Paezinhos Recheados, Bolinhos de Bacalhaus and Arroz Pulu made by Casa de Macau members, Germanda Britto, assisted by Yours Truly, and Maria Noronha. A perfect complement to the authentic delights was a Rice Pudding graciously produced by Peggy Wheeler, Committee Chairperson for the exhibit and succulent ripe jumbo strawberries lovingly dipped in white and dark chocolate and set diligently prepared by her son Paul, who also acted as Bartender.

Food consumed, wine and conversation flowed easily and the atmosphere was one that would be the envy of any Hostess. Just as the beautiful photographs showed the cooperation of two cultures merged complimenting and learning from each other, we were all rewarded by our differences learning about each other’s traditions during the pleasant encounter.

On Sunday, April 24, 2004, renowned architect, Gustavo da Roza, from the International Institute of Macau, delivered a mesmerized talk on Architecture in Portugal and Southern Europe influenced by the “Renaissance” in Italy from 17th to 19th century, the political influence from Portugal to India and China. The local Chinese buildings and temples and finally, the purpose of the exhibit – to seek support for Macau’s classification for world heritage at UNESCO.

All this would not have been possible without the persistence and perseverance of one Arthur Britto, President of Casa de Macau USA and liaison to the International Institute of Macau.

It all began when on April 2004 while Mr. Britto collaborated with UC Berkeley on a Portuguese Study program and the International Institute of Macau brought 52 photographs to display as part of their conference. After it was over, they asked Mr. Britto if he could exhibit these photographs elsewhere. In seeking sponsors, Mr. Britto approached the Mayor of San Leandro who brought the photographs to the attention of the Arts Council of San Leandro who were enthusiastic about the project. They agreed to sponsor the Photograph Exhibition on August 2005 at the San Leandro Museum and Art Gallery. At that point Mr. Britto approached History San Jose and presented them with ideas for a Photo Exhibition at one of their galleries and they very willingly agreed. However, producing an exhibition requires money, so Mr. Britto, (also a Director of The Portuguese Heritage Society of California in San Jose) requested and received their sponsorship and staff support for a committee for the event.

The 52 architectural photos is a small selection of outstanding photographs from various contests organized by the Cultural Patrimony Department of the Cultural Institute of Macau for young Amateur photographers. Among this group of photographs are some buildings and sites presented to UNESCO for Macau’s classification as World Heritage. The International Institute of Macau’s hope is that these exhibits will help to support its classification by UNESCO in 2005 of which Mr. Britto is extremely proud of being part of it.

You can view the Macau Photo Exhibit at History Park, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, Tuesday through Sunday until the end of July from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. then the exhibit will move to San Leandro Museum and Art Gallery, 320 West Estudillo Ave., San Leandro. The Georgia Southern University as well as the Luso American Foundation have shown interest in exhibiting these exquisite photographs. So look out for this very interesting Photo Exhibition that may be coming to a town near you soon!
 

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Macau – Universal Heritage

Text of a press release issued by Arthur Britto, liaison, The International Institute of Macau, Macau, S.A.R:


The International Institute of Macau, Macau, S.A.R, will soon exhibit a small collection of outstanding photographs celebrating a unique architectural duality. The Portuguese Heritage Society of California, the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project and History San Jose are sponsors for this exhibition at Kelley Park, 1650 Senter Rd, San Jose, California.

The exhibit will feature 52 architectonic photographs collected from various contests organized by the Cultural Patrimony Department of the Cultural Institute of Macau, for young amateur photographers since 1982. Beijing has made application on behalf of Macau to UNESCO and sixteen of its historic monuments have been included on the World Heritage and some are in this group of photographs. UNESCO will announce its decision some time this year.

The 52 photos were first viewed as part of the Portuguese Study Program at UC Berkeley on April 2004 and these exquisite photos will be on display at the History San Jose Art Gallery, from April 7 through July 31, 2005. On Sunday, April 24, 2005, a guest speaker from International Institute of Macau, Architect Gustavo da Roza, will discuss the architecture of Macau.

The International Institute of Macau organized this exhibition to help promote their cultural heritage and support of Macau’s application to UNESCO in 2005.

Arthur Britto, liaison – International Institute of Macau, Macau S.A.R.

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LusaWeb, a Portuguese Ancestry Community

From the Age of the Discoveries to the present, the Portuguese have been an adventurous and pioneering people. Whether tempted by riches of the new world or the opportunities to provide a better life for their families, millions of Portuguese from the Azores islands, Madeira, and of the Portuguese mainland have left their homeland and settled in all four corners of the World.

LusaWeb is an Internet community dedicated to the people of Portuguese ancestry living in the United States and throughout the world. LusaWeb is a place to celebrate our common heritage, to learn about Portuguese history and traditions and to share the memory of our Portuguese ancestors. http://www.lusaweb.com/

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Macau Candidates for World Heritage Status

The ruins of St. Paul’s Church, the Monte Fortress, the Guia Lighthouse, the Leal Senado, and the A Ma Temple are five historic buildings in Macau that will be CONSIDERED for world heritage status in 2005 by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

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Dia de Cidade

(By Fausto Manhão)                

On June 24th "old" Macau used to celebrate Dia da Cidade.  That day is not celebrated anymore, of course, but in the hearts of the Macanese (Macaenses), June 24th will always be remembered.  It was also known as Dia de São João.

When we were kids, we use to celebrate that day by going to the barracas de banho  to swim and we enjoyed Arroz Carregado com Porco Balichão Tamarindo.  Good old days, really.

I attach a Leal Senado flag, in case you would like to make a reference in your website.

.

The obelisk shown above is the Monumento da Vitória, which was erected to commemorate victory against the Dutch on the 24th of June,1622, when they tried to invade and occupy Macau.  History narrates that, thanks to the good aim of a Jesuit priest-gunner, who managed to hit the Dutch ship’s ammunition wagon and blowing it skyhigh, Macau was saved.

Looking at the odds, I would say it was a real miracle:  about 60 Portuguese soldiers and 90 civilians (Macaenses, priests, teachers, lawyers, etc.) against more than 800 well-armed Dutch sailors.

So from then on June 24th became known as "Dia da Cidade" and was declared a holiday.

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Memórias do 25 de Abril

By Rita Lopes

O dia 25 de Abril de 1974 é data mais inesquecível da minha vida.  Neste dia fui testemunha de um acontecimento histórico em Portugal, quando a Junta Militar derrotou o fascismo.

Nessa madrugada levantei-me, como todos os dias, fazendo os preparativos para enfrentar mais um dia de trabalho.  Vivia em Almada com minha irmã, a música, o rádio e as notícias não faziam parte das actividades matinais.

Para ir trabalhar para Lisboa tinha que atravessar o Rio Tejo de barco.  No autocarrro para o Cais de Cacilhas notei que havia poucos passageiros, mas na altura não me deu suspeita nenhum.  No Cais de Cacilhas não havia movimento.  E o barco estava quase vazio.  O ambiente no barco era muito quieto e não se ouvia comentários nem dos trabalhadores do barco e tão pouco dos passageiros.

Logo que o barco ancorou no Cais do Sodré e me dirigí à Praça D. Pedro IV foi quando vi, na minha frente, tanques da guerra e soldados com as metralhadoras pronto a disparar.  Grande siléncio reinava na praça, só o pensar no cenário da guerra causava-me arrepios.  Dentro de mim qualquer coisa me dizia que algo estava errado.  Apressadamente embarquei no eléctrico.  Quando cheguei ao trabalho havia uma grande comoção e soube então que tinha havido um Golpe do Estado.

O médico director da clínica Dr. Firmino, onde trabalhava, declarou um dia de folga neste dia.  Quando cheguei a casa já todo o povo estava informado do golpe de estado.  Como a Junta Militar se apoderou da televisão, as notícias vinham através da rádio que, por entre as notícias, tocavam canções revolucionárias.

Passadas 24 horas, como todos sabemos, o Presidente Américo Tomás e o Primeiro Ministro Marcelo Caetano saíram para o exílio no Brasil.  O povo saiu vencedor do golpe de estado.  E o mais importante é que não se derramou nem uma gota de sangue.

Da revolução nasceram os sindicatos, a liberdade de imprensa, a liberdade de expressão e os diversos movimentos polítocos como o Partido Socialista, o Partido Comunista e o Partido Social Democrático.  Foi uma sensação especial quando, pela primeira vez, tive a oportunidade de votar democráticamente.

Fez este ano 25 anos do aniversário da Revolução do 25 de Abril de 1974, isto se deve à Junta Militar da liberdade que todos os portugueses hoje gozam.

Viva a Democracia!  Viva a Liberdade! E que Deus abençoe Portugal.

(Reprinted from the archives of the now defunct A Voz de Macau USA – Ed.)

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1993 Flashback – In the Words of Anabela Ritchie

“As we approach the hour of Macau’s return to the sovereignty of the great People’s Republic of China, it is worth recalling the touching, eloquent and heartfelt comments made by Anabela Ritchie, outgoing President of the Legislative Assembly of Macau, in her 1993 address to Encontro I participants:

“Queridos amigos e conterrâneos,

 

Macau será sempre a nossa velha casa da família, onde nascemos, crescemos, brincámos e aprendemos a vida, quando a olhamos de fora, mesmo com outros donos, ainda é a nossa velha casa da família, porque são nossas as recordações, porque por lá ecoa parte da nossa vida e da nossa memória.

 

Como disse o poeta: “A minha pátria é a língua portuguesa.”  A nossa pátria é a língua portuguesa, mas é tambem o patuá e os poemas do Adé, o farol da Guia, o “minchi,” o “tacho” e o “balichão, a água do Lilau, as danças do leão e do dragão, o rebentar dos panchões, as Ruínas de S. Paulo, a ermida da Penha e o templo da Barra, e tantas outras coisas que nos encheram gerações inteiras de gentes e culturas caldeadas.

 

Essa pátria existe aqui, tem de continuar aqui, em Macau, e nas quatro partidas do mundo, agora e para sempre.  Essa pátria é intemporal, não tem fronteiras nem processos de transição e será por nós honrada!”

Let all true Macaenses live and breathe these soulful words all of their days – that Macau reigns!”

(Excerpted from the archives of the now defunct A Voz de Macau USA – Ed.)

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Macau and the Macaenses

 By Antonio M. Jorge da Silva

Macaenses, filhos de Macau, are Portuguese or descendants of the Portuguese who were either born in Macau or trace their ancestral roots back to Macau.

 Macau, a peninsula protruding from the western banks where the Pearl river meets the South China  Sea, was recognized by the authorities of Kwangtung Province as a Portuguese settlement in  1557.  Between that time and the first Portuguese landing in China by Jorge Alvares in 1513, the Chinese court of the Ming Dynasty forbade any permanent settlements along the Chinese coast by the Portuguese “barbarians”.  Pervading successive illegal trading posts as far north as an island off the Chikiang coast, the Portuguese were slowly pushed back to Liampo, then Ningpo, the Fukien coast, then back to islands off the Kwangtung coast - first Sanchuen, then Lampacao in 1554.   A typhoon in 1553 caused some Portuguese ships to take shelter at “A-Ma-Kong” or “A-Ma-O” (translated from Chinese as the “Bay of the Ancestral Grandmother”), soon modified by the Portuguese as Amacao and later Macau.  With a sheltered inner harbor and a land link with China, the Portuguese soon moved there from Lampacao.

 Although Macau was not officially recognized by Portugal until 1587, the first Macaense was probably the child of a Portuguese father and a Malaccan, Japanese, Malay, or Goanese mother.  There were also African slaves among the early settlers.  Few Portuguese women survived the long trip from their homeland to the Far East in those days - but a few did, so that possibility also cannot be discounted.  As the Portuguese could not marry a non-Christian, intermarriage with the Chinese, who were forbidden to adopt the Christian faith, was not to occur until just after the turn of the century.  With the discovery of Japan in 1542 and the conversion of many Japanese to Christianity, the Portuguese were able to marry Japanese girls.  The Malaccan women and the Japanese were, in fact, the ancestral mothers of the early Macaense population.  As their children grew up intermarriage within the community and with the new arrivals from Portugal, formed the original structure of the Macaense people.  Little by little, the Chinese married into the community, adding much to its culture.  All this is true of the early genealogical make-up of the Macaense, however it is also the case that other Europeans as well as metropolitan Portuguese continued to marry into the community.  Macaenses who traveled to further their studies in Portugal and other western countries after the turn of the twentieth century would often return with Portuguese and European spouses.  Professional and military personnel from Portugal have, in many cases, married Macaense women and remained in Macau after their term of service.  It would be ethnically incorrect, therefore, to generalize that all Macaenses have a large percentage of Asian blood, as the contrary can often be the case.

Macau and the Japan Trade flourished well into the 17th century, decades after the expulsion of the Jesuits and the Portuguese from Japan in 1614.  Its decline started as trade with Japan diminished, and as the deeper keeled steamships replaced the shallow bottomed sailing galleons. The silty waters of Macau made it impossible for the deep-keeled cargo vessels to pass through its shallow channels.  Following the cessation of Hong Kong to the British after the Opium war in 1842, almost three hundred years after the settlement of Macau, the ports of Canton, Amoy, Foochow, Ningpo, and Shanghai, were open to foreign trade.  In 1844 the British transferred their trade headquarters from Macau to Hong Kong.  They also set up in Shanghai which was soon to become the international center of the China Trade in northern China.  Initially a few, then later many, of the Macaense had no alternative other than to leave Macau for better opportunities. 

 The Macaense communities of Shanghai and Hong Kong began to grow and settle into their new environment.  World War II saw the disruption of these communities with the majority, as fate would have it, returning to the land of their ancestors, Macau, as refugees from the invading Japanese.  After the surrender of the Japanese which ended the war in the Pacific, most of the Macaense refugees moved back to their former settlements in Shanghai and Hong Kong; a few started to emigrate to other countries in the Western world.  This was the turning point in the lives of many Macaense families.

 Less than a decade after the war, families from Macau itself began to emigrate to Brazil, Angola, Moçambique and Portugal.  At first a trickle, then more and more Macaense families from Hong Kong and Shanghai (particularly after the Communists took Shanghai in 1948), left for new opportunities in the United States of America, Australia and Canada.  A few followed those from Macau to Brazil, and fewer still, to Portugal.  The vacuum left in the Macaense communities in Asia which largely intermarried within itself, saw more and more marriages with the Chinese and other Asians.  Many Macaense families in Macau today use Chinese as their first language.  Portuguese and Portuguese patois was, until the middle to late 1970s, heard in most Macaense homes in Macau.  In Hong Kong and Shanghai, English was the first language.  This is still the case for the few families left in Hong Kong.

 After almost 400 years of Portuguese rule, Macau was returned to China in December, 1999.   The end of an era.   Macaenses are now spread all over the world, many of the later generation integrated with the peoples of the countries to which they emigrated.  The culture will live on, so long as the Macaense community worldwide continues to pass it along to their children and grandchildren. Their heritage as descendants of the Portuguese pioneers who ventured to the south China coast is part of the colorful history of Portugal and the pride each Macaense carries in his or her soul.

 Note:  This article has been modified from an article which I wrote for use as part of the display exhibited by the Lusitano Club of California during the Portuguese festival held in the San Francisco Bay Area in June 1995.  Photographs, a map of the South China coast, and posters of Macau were also on display - AMJS

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 The Hong Kong Volunteers

An email dated 11-8-03 to Cynthia Joel, Brighton, England from A Diaspora Macaense na America read:

“With the approach of Veterans Day on November 11 here in the US, I find myself thinking of the Hong Kong Volunteers who died in the defense of our homeland at the time, Hong Kong.  Are they continuing to be memorialized by the British in whose service they were indentured?  How do the British honor the fallen?  Do they have a day for living veterans and a separate day for the fallen?”


It is nostalgic to read Cynthia Joel’s  reply of 11-9-03 (Note:  Cynthia does not vouch for the total accuracy of what she has written, but total accuracy is not the point of eliciting this information.  Remembrance is.  It is pertinent to ask if we, the Macanese diaspora, are not indebted to the Hong Kong Volunteers for their valiant sacrifice in our behalf, and why we should not remember them annually on November 11, Veterans Day):


”We have memorial services all over the country for those who died in all the wars, going back even to the Boer War.

Poppies are sold all over the country, and everyone wears one for the weekend closest to the 11th November.

There is a huge memorial service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall where the Queen lays a wreath, as do the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, and Chiefs of the Armed Services, and where all the religious services are represented.  This is followed by a march past by all the living veterans, and then a fly past.

There is a huge concert in the Albert Hall in London where the Armed Services give displays and this is attended usually by the Queen and/or her children.  Again, living veterans are honoured. The end of the concert is marked by petals tumbling from the ceiling, for one minute, to complete silence as people remember.  Then the Last Post is played.

The Hong Kong Volunteers are covered under the Commonwealth and Colonies.

There is a move for everything to stop (traffic, shopping, etc) on the 11th hour of the 11th of the month.  It is voluntary.  I have been in supermarkets where they have asked you to stop for a minute’s silence at this time.  It is very moving.

You might find this an interesting website to find out more about the Hong Kong Volunteers:  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/remembrance/flash/index.shtml

It is too late to do anything this year, but A Diaspora Macaense na America would like to suggest that a remembrance ceremony jointly sponsored by the three Macanese clubs in 2004 and annually thereafter would serve the dual purpose of paying tribute to the gallantry of the Hong Kong Volunteers and of uniting in common cause.


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