Delayed by Covid but firmly in sight, Battle of Macau’s quadricentennial to be celebrated on Sept 24

Marco Carvalho

Now that everyday life has regained a sense of normality, the International Institute of Macau will once again join forces with other local associations – namely, the Macanese Association, the Macanese Youth Association, the traditional Portuguese folk dance group Macau no Coração and the Alumni Association of the Pedro Nolasco Commercial School, to evoke the memory of one of the greatest military feats in the history of Macau, the unlikely victory achieved on June 24th,1622, by the combined Portuguese-Chinese force against the powerful Dutch fleet.

Only one of the initiatives that were originally planned for June 24th took place on the set date. A Solemn Mass was celebrated behind closed doors in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady. “On the 24th of June, a Mass was celebrated in the Cathedral. That Mass, which was broadcasted online, took place on the feast day of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of Macau. But there was little or no talk about the historical importance of this event for Macau,” António J. Monteiro, a member of the International Institute of Macau, recalls.

“During the celebration that will take place on the 24th of September, Father Daniel Ribeiro will perform a blessing. This small ceremony will take place in the auditorium of the International Institute of Macau, where an image of Saint John the Baptist will be on display. We will borrow this image from the Macanese Association, one of the entities that joined us in the organization of this event,” adds Monteiro, who is also the president of the Macanese Youth Association.

The addition of the religious ritual is not the only change introduced in the program, compared to the original plans. The commemoration of the quadricentennial of the Battle of Macau included a traditional Macanese chá gordo (literally “fat tea”), albeit with a limited number of participants. Now, and having in mind the instructions of Macau’s Heath Bureau, the organizers of the event decided to forgo the festive meal.

“In view of the new instructions and recommendations of the Macau Health Bureau, the International Institute of Macau decided to promote this event without any food and drink, allowing instead everybody to enter our premises without any sort of limitations,” Monteiro clarifies.

He continues, saying, “People can take part in this event as long as they show a green health code and wear a surgical mask inside the premises. In other words, everyone can participate.”

The ceremony will feature musical performances by groups and artists such as Macau no Coração, Giulio Aconci and Ari. The highlight of the commemorations is, however, the evocation of the historical relevance of the Battle of Macau, led by José Sales Marques, the president of the Council of Macanese Communities and by Wallace Kwah, the president of the Macau Heritage Ambassadors Association.

On the occasion, the International Institute of Macau will also award the 2021 Identity Prize to Manuel Viseu Basílio and the traditional Portuguese folk dance group Macau no Coração.