我2010年路過MACAO 澳門兩次 不過沒有深入其境
Distinct Mix Holds On in a Corner of China
Thomas Lee for the International Herald Tribune
Published: February 7, 2011
MACAO — Long before words like “multiculturalism” and “fusion cuisine” entered the modern lexicon, Aida de Jesus and her forebears were mashing up food, language and DNA from far-flung corners of the globe.
“We Macanese are always mixing it up,” Senhora de Jesus said with a giggle, speaking in English, as she sat in the restaurant her family has run for decades. “We are very adaptable.”
But these days the Macanese — as this former Portuguese colony’s mixed-race residents are called — are swimming against a demographic tide that threatens to subsume their rich cultural cocktail. Always outnumbered by the Chinese migrants and Portuguese traders who crammed into this densely settled speck in the Pearl River Delta, the Macanese who stayed after Beijing took back the territory in 1999 are decidedly in the minority. Fewer than 10,000 Macanese reside here; by contrast, Macao’s population of 500,000 is about 95 percent Chinese and rising.
“There are probably more Macanese living in California and Canada than Macao,” said Miguel de Senna Fernandes, a lawyer and playwright whose father, something of a local cultural institution, chronicled the lives of ordinary Macanese in a series of novels. “Now that we are part of China, we are facing a very absorbing, overpowering force.”
Not that Mr. Fernandes is giving up. In addition to organizing social events through his group, the Macaenses Association, he has also emerged as the Don Quixote of Patuá, which is listed by Unesco as an endangered language. He helped publish a dictionary of Patuá expressions, and for the past 18 years he has staged an annual play that revives what local people call “doci papiaçam,” or sweet speech, a stew of archaic Portuguese, Malay and Singhalese spiced with English, Dutch and Japanese, and more recently, a large helping of Cantonese.
Mr. Fernandes, 50, traces his fascination with Patuá to his grandmother, who would slip into it when gossiping with friends during “chá gordo,” or fat tea, a typically Macanese interpretation of English high tea whose overabundance of Malaysian noodles, codfish fritters and custard tarts explains the fat.
“Drawn by their laughter, I would hide in the corner and later ask my grandmother about expressions I’d never heard before,” he said. More often than not they were unsuitable for an 8-year-old’s ears but his grandmother would oblige with sanitized translations, followed by an admonishment to stick to studying proper Portuguese.
“The old-timers considered Patuá broken or bad Portuguese,” he said, “but since then I’ve been hooked.”
The language is among the last of the creoles that once flourished in the constellation of ports that made up Portugal’s Asian and African holdings. Unlike British colonizers who maintained some distance from their subjects in Hong Kong, just an hour’s ferry trip from Macao, the Portuguese frequently married local women who then converted to Catholicism.
Alan Baxter, a linguist at the University of Macao and an expert on Portuguese-based creoles, said the roots of Patuá extend back to the 16th century, when Portuguese traders and their camp followers did business with Africans, Indians and Malays, then sailed onward to other colonies in the empire.
“Imagine if you went somewhere new and were deprived of knowledge of a local language and merely picked up the useful bits you heard to get yourself fed,” he said, explaining its evolution.
The Cantonese contributions to Patuá came much later, starting in the late 19th century, after the walls dividing Macao’s Portuguese and Chinese quarters were torn down and the two groups began to mingle.
These days Macanese give their laundry to a “mainato” — from the southern Indian language Malayalam — and they address their beloveds as “amo chai,” a mix of the Portuguese “amor” and the Cantonese expression for “little one.” Verbs are unconjugated, nouns are repeated to suggest the plural and words are sometimes assembled in a way that mimics the structure of classic Chinese idioms.
Early on this language served the mixed-blood Macanese well, fostering their role as a bridge between Macao’s Portuguese rulers and its predominantly Chinese inhabitants. More recently, after they began sending their children to Portuguese schools, the Macanese became indispensable as managers and bureaucrats. By the time China took over administration of the enclave after more than 400 years of Portuguese rule, the Macanese dominated the territory’s civil service.
Although most visitors these days are quickly sucked into Macao’s casinos — among them The Venetian, one of the world’s largest — those who wander the city’s narrow cobblestone streets are struck by the effortless coexistence of Orient and Occident. Incense-suffused Buddhist temples, pastel Baroque churches, Portuguese bakeries and dried shark fin dispensaries are crammed together without complaint.
That same intermingling plays out in the lives of the Macanese, many of whom are devoted Catholics but give their children small red envelopes of cash on the Lunar New Year. Come Mid-Autumn Festival, another Chinese holiday, they take to the streets with rabbit-shaped lanterns.
“Many of us have been educated in Europe, but no Macanese would dare move to a new house without consulting a feng shui expert,” said Carlos Marreiros, an architect who designed the Macao pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. “I’m a Christian but I also believe God is a big ocean and all the rivers of religion are running to meet him.”
In the years leading up to the transfer to China, thousands of apprehensive Macanese left, with many settling in Portugal. But over the past decade, as Beijing stayed true to its promise to give Macao 50 years of relative autonomy, the emigration has slowed and a small but steady number have returned.
One irresistible draw has been breakneck economic growth, mostly spurred by gambling and construction, which last year helped drive 20 percent growth in the economy. Fueled by players from the mainland, Macao’s gambling revenue is now quadruple that of the Las Vegas Strip.
The impact on local people has been mixed. A law that bars nonresidents from working as croupiers and dealers has helped deliver well-paid jobs but it has unexpectedly drained schools of teachers. The lure has also been irresistible to young people, a growing number of whom are dropping out of high school or skipping college to head straight to the casino floor.
All that prosperity has brought other downsides as well: frenzied real estate speculation is pricing local people out of the housing market. The sleepy Macao that many once held dear is increasingly subsumed by the horn-honking and manic rhythms commonly associated with Hong Kong.
“Everything is happening very fast: construction is fast, business is fast and everyone is more stressed,” said José Sales Marques, 55, the enclave’s last Portuguese mayor, who now works to promote better ties between Macao and Europe. “Prosperity is wonderful, but at the end of the day all that money can’t buy you a culture and an identity.”
Filomeno Jorge is determined to keep alive one strand of that identity. Every Wednesday he rustles up the seven other members of his band, Tuna Macaense, to run through a startlingly diverse repertory that includes Portuguese fados, Cantonese ballads and Filipino pop songs. The mainstays, however, are vintage Patuá, some dating from 1935, when the band was first established by José dos Santos Ferreira, a poet and lyricist widely credited with bringing cultural legitimacy to the Macanese dialect.
At one time, Tuna Macaense had three dozen members and the band was known for making unannounced visits at weddings and birthday parties. “They would travel on foot through the streets because Macao so small,” said Mr. Jorge, a security manager at the MGM Macau who joined the band 25 years ago. “We can’t do that now because there is too much traffic.”
Although Tuna Macaense is blessed with frequent gigs, Mr. Jorge, 54, is increasingly preoccupied with finding new blood for the band, a quest that has so far been unsuccessful.
“All of us in the band are over 50,” he said. “After we die, our music will die, and I can’t let that happen.”