The activities will start today and will conclude June 25, and are intended to celebrate Portugal’s National Day on June 10. Macau Daily Times spoke yesterday with the Portuguese Consul General Mr Manuel Cansado de Carvalho about the event that will be called “en-Cantos”, a play on words, as in Portuguese it means, “things with enchantment” and it also refers to the Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões, who wrote his most famous work “Os Lusíadas” (The Lusiads) employing the canto division.
MDT – This year the program of activities to celebrate Portugal’s National Day was extended from previous occasions. Why?
Manuel Cansado de Carvalho (MCC) - I think there are more appropriate ways to celebrate Portugal in Macau than the mere institutional reception, considering the number of Portuguese that live here and the means we have at our disposal. We honor our presence doing a bit more. We maintain the traditional framework for annual celebrations but we added the result of the joint effort of many people. Over a fortnight there will be at least one event each day.
MDT – Which activities included on the program would you highlight?
MCC – The opening activity [today] is a Thai documentary that signals the 500 years of friendship between Portugal and Thailand. It’s an open door event, although the entrances are limited to the capacity of the room. We expect that the Chief Executive and the Thai Consul in Hong Kong will attend the opening. On the second day there will be a concert performed by Carlos Damas in Theatre D. Pedro V that I expect will be very good. It’s one of the few events with paid entrance. The theatre is a very beautiful space, today [yesterday] I was there attending the rehearsal and they will play musical pieces that have never been performed in Macau. During the fortnight we will have, for example, the Macanese ‘chá gordo’ [literally ‘fat tea’] on the Bela Vista terrace [the former hotel is currently used as the residence of the Portuguese Consul]. I also would like to point out the Tomás Pereira cicle that will take place during the second week of the events and features a documentary about Tomás Pereira in Mongólia, a conference and a cravo sonata. There’s a thematic idea that applies to all events; all of them, in a way, are about the five hundred years of Portuguese presence in Asia. There are mentions as diverse as Thailand, the Macanese cuisine - that is a product of fusion between Portugal and Asia – and Tomás Pereira, a Portuguese Jesuit that was counselor to the Chinese Emperor. All this brings West and East together through Portugal.
MDT – Will this event continue?
MCC – If everything goes well and the audience adheres, we will think about it. For now we want to do this one, but we intend to leave the door open for the future.
MDT – The crisis in Europe is severely affecting Portugal and there’s the perception that many Portuguese are coming to Macau. Do you have any information that confirms this?
MCC – I’m not sure of that. I have the notion that the Portuguese that arrive here don’t go directly to the Consulate. I have the impression of seeing new faces but I wouldn’t say there are many of them. Maybe a few hundred arrived last year. Considering the size of the Portuguese community here, this is visible, but we are talking about a few hundred people.
MDT – And are there Portuguese companies that see the crisis as an opportunity to expand into Asia, using Macau as a base?
MCC – Yes, but not enough. I see a different situation. There are Portuguese agents in Macau more available to respond to a higher demand of Portuguese companies that want to export. They are not new companies arriving. The companies already established here are working better. This can provide higher profitability, because these companies don’t need to invest in order to establish themselves here.
MDT – So, would you say that the Portuguese community in Macau is more dynamic and stronger than before?
MCC – It has always been. The Portuguese community in Macau is dynamic and renews itself. It’s one of the Portuguese communities more qualified in the whole world.