Letter To Father Manuel Teixeira

Epistolarium II

Aurelio Porfiri

Dear Father,

During my studies about Macau musical tradition and Macau heritage, your name has popped up lots of times. Then I discovered how important was your historical work about the history of Macau. You are rightly to be considered “the historian” of Macau. I am sure you learnt a lot from Father Regis Gervaix, a French priest teaching at Saint Joseph’s Seminary in the 20s, the time of your arrival in Macau. Father Gervaix was your predecessor as “the historian” of Macau and now, according my humble opinion, you have no successors. You spent so many years in this city that certainly you can collect so many things that then you want to put in your many books. I am sorry, we can never meet in person. When you passed away I was not even aware that one day I would live in a place called Macau. But if we could have the chance to meet, I am sure we would share for hours our passion, books being one of them.

I have enjoyed very much reading your books. They give me a lot of information that allow me to see things more clearly about Macau and its historical development. Even more I have enjoyed reading some of your interviews.  There is one from 1982 that should be read by everyone who wants to understand Macau outside of the “official history”. You know, all the times I have spoken with someone that knew you I have received this kind of comment: he was very knowledgeable, very nice but also very patriotic. Now, that someone from this part of the world accuses someone else to be very patriotic is like an Italian accusing someone else of eating too much pasta. But in any case I wasn’t to see deeper in this judgment. Indeed, an interesting book about the presence of Italians in Hong Kong and Macau published by the Italian consulate in Hong Kong can help to shed some light. Many of the Italians that were called to report briefly their stories bring up one interesting fact: they say that at the time they were here, they rediscovered their roots and their being Italians, Europeans, Western. I think this happens because this part of the world, Macau included, is a land of contrasts, of differences that cannot be reconciled. White looks more whiter when black is more black. Indeed this I also learn from your interview, where you said clearly that Portuguese and Chinese were mostly on their own. But this can be learnt by everyone who wants to read what the travelers to Macau have said during the centuries. You also mentioned, correctly, that your historical effort was mainly in researching the western side of Macau. Even for the name of streets, as we all know, there are two possibilities, the western one (with its own story) and the Chinese one (with a different story). Macau is the history of this non-communication between people at all levels. It is like being in an elevator with people that you don’t know, you don’t want to know or maybe you cannot stand, but you need to be very close to them until the elevator is not reaching the desired floor. I think, dear Father, that so many times western and Chinese people in Macau have asked themselves what should be the “desired floor”, and not having an easy answer to this difficult question. They are just continuing to ride the elevator, spending their time  going up and down.

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