From our Global “Mail Bag”

May 16th, 2013 19 Comments

Mail bagDuring the time that I have been contributing to the Far East Currents web site, I’ve receive a lot of e-mail and social media messages from all over the world. Recently, those messages indicated that many people are recording their experiences in different forms to create and distribute their work. Many messages include pictures, descriptive paragraphs, anecdotes, short essays, links, and even video.

The following are a few examples from the global “Mail Bag”. Our correspondents include a blogger, a journalist, a novelist, a university professor, a graduate student, a high school student, a teacher interested in historical restoration, a documentary filmmaker, a translator, and several family genealogists. Some live in the United States. Many others are in Brazil, Portugal, Canada, Britain, Hong Kong, Macau, Australia, and Singapore. All of them have at least one thing in common: an interest in Macanese history and culture.

Please feel free to leave your comments or send me something you have written via the “Submit Memories” page (above) or at: [email protected].


Doreen Cotton (Connecticut, USA)

My birth name is Doreen Jorge Cotton.  I was born in Macau in 1937.  I  graduated from St. Rose of Lima School (English section) in 1953.  I was too young for the network of Catholic women’s colleges of that time.  The nuns instead found me an intermediary “school” called Grailville in Loveland, Ohio, run by lay women.   They gave me a scholarship for one year with the intention of then placing me in a suitable Catholic women’s college.  Eventually, I attended Our Lady of Cincinnati College for one year and then transferred to Duquesne University in 1959.   A professor from the philosophy department recruited me as a “natural,” by which he probably meant one of the walking wounded who questioned everything. …

My son suggests that I put my memoirs on a blog.  Besides the fact that I can’t think of an original domain name, I’m a little afraid of it.  I don’t want to lose the constant feedback (intense emails) from a small group.  Writing for them gives me a voice that keeps the episodes going.

Here’s Doreen’s announcement and a link to her new blog:

Dear Roy,

I have finally launched my own website and am publishing my memoir there.  The reason I have not responded to your generous offer of giving me a byline on your site is that my memoir is not conventional.  You are a historian, and I wanted to give you a chance to read more of my postings before deciding whether you would want to feature any of them. My website is still very much a work in progress.  It is at: .

All the best,


Armando Rozario (Brazil)

Hi Roy,

I have just posted your message on my page. My name is Armando Rozario, I am a Macanese who is about double your age. This is what I posted:
Armando Rozario shared a link.

Armando is a photojournalist who has worked for many well-known news agencies in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.


Manuel Noronha (Macau)

Hi Roy,

I really enjoyed your article on “the beginning of the diaspora”.. in fact when i was collecting data for my dissertation, i recorded a fascinating story about the 123 incident that occurred in Macau in 1962, which subsequently led to the destruction of the Coronel Mesquita statue in the Leal Square. …

I’m working as a senior language instructor at the English Language Center of the University of Macau. I’m very interested in computer-assisted learning technology and that is my current area of interest.

My father is Luiz Noronha and my grandfather is Libanio Joaquim Noronha. All of us were born in Hong Kong. My mother Jacinta Maria da Silva is from Macau. She went to work in the bank in the 50s where she met my father. We grew up in the bank flats in kowloon tong with most other ethnic macanese kids. Like everyone else, i grew up with English as my mother tongue and cantonese with the local chinese kids. When i came to macau in 85 to study at university, i learned portuguese and later developed a full interest in patua. That was also my research in MA (code switching) Ph.D (Macau Portuguese). I’m very interested in Macau’s history and language and as such i have presented my papers and delivered talks about these two topics.


Theresa Cunanan  (Hong Kong)

I graduated from a primary school in Hong Kong which was once named Portuguese Community School Inc., Escola Camoes. And the reason why I am writing you, is that my fellow classmates from Escola Camoes are trying to find sources that can help us track the history of our Alma Mater before it was handed to the Hong Kong government. …

My classmates and I are trying to trace the historical and cultural value of Escola Camoes because we want to submit an application to the Hong Kong Antiquities Advisory Board so that the school can be listed as a heritage site.

Theresa is currently conducting research based on information provided on Far East Currents.


Yolanda Christian (London, UK)

Hi Roy,

Thanks for taking the time to send me your last reply.

I’m attaching a Word file ‘Alvege update’ , which shows Peace Ave, Kowloon, and you will see my great grandfather’s name highlighted. Any word on that from anyone would be amazing. …

My novel ‘Eye of an Artist’:

The prologue is about my real Great Aunty Cheeki dos Remedios, who I was very fond of, and she was the only person willing to talk about the past.

The reader has to go on a bumpy ride before they get to the Macanese people.

Dear Roy, your contact is very much appreciated.

Best regards to you,

Here’s the link to Yolanda’s recent video, a reading from new her novel: “Eye of an Artist”. . Order the book on HERE


Jason Da Rosa (New York, USA)

Hi Roy,

I recently came across your website and the survey of Portuguese-Macanese and found them very interesting.

My dad’s side of the family is from Macau (my mom is Hong Kong Chinese). My parents live in Hong Kong while I am working in New York. As you’ve identified in your writing, there are many around the world that share a similar heritage and background to me. I’d like to better appreciate and understand my own history and help others in a similar position.

I am reaching out to offer my help with your studies and research on the Macanese people. …

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Jason will be working on the 2013 Portuguese-Macanese Survey, scheduled for this summer.

Eric Lui (Hong Kong)

Greetings, professor. I am a 15 year old Hong Konger.

Yesterday, when my grandmother saw my collection of old Hong Kong stamps, she sat down and started to tell me her story and the history of my family. I am very interested in history and I found the story fascinating.

My grandmother was born in the year 1928 and she is now 85 years old. She has been living with her family in Carnarvon Road No. 1-2, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, in a two-storey tall mansion owned by a Portuguese family. My great grandfather was employed by the Portuguese family as their chef. He was also a good friend of the father of the Portuguese family, who was working for a bank.

As my grandmother doesn’t speak Portuguese, she could only recall the Chinese translations of the names of the banker’s two sons and daughter. ‘’Puen’’, ’’Pucheon’’ and ‘’Lina’’. They are about 6-7 years older than my grandmother and they have had a happy childhood together.

My grandmother has always wanted to meet the Portuguese once more but she cannot find them in the past decades. Therefore she asked me to look for the Portuguese on the internet after telling me her story.

Then I came across with your research on ‘’Portuguese Community Life in Hong Kong: 1841 – 1941’’. I realized that you are an expert on Portuguese activities in Hong Kong, therefore I write this letter to seek your advice.

If anyone has information about the Carnarvon Road address, please leave a comment.

Johnny Monteiro (Vancouver, Canada)

Hi Roy,

Just received your newsletter.  Excellent work … keep it up.  I have forwarded it to many FMs around the world.  One has to be an FM to truly understand our proud heritage, culture, and life style.

So glad you are keeping our heritage up.  No doubt the community is very proud of you for doing this.  Have you thought about teaming up with Quito Assumpcao who is also doing sterling work for the community?

All the best,


Angela Niles (Australia)

Hi Roy,

For your own information, my father, Willie Reed, lived with his parents and six brothers in the family house on Broadwood Road in Hong Kong. That house was looted and left in ruins during the war, and four of my uncles died in that war.  After my family’s return from Macau (where I was born) after the war, we settled into the flat at 244 Nathan Road.  My father’s mother and eldest brother lived with us, and the other remaining brother left for London and eventually settled in Wales.  My father’s newly widowed sister-in-law and her daughter also lived with us until their move to Toronto a few years later. …

I read some of the articles on your web site and found them to be very interesting.  It’s great that you’re researching the Macanese history and all the work involved with this project.

All the best,

Ian Watts (Virginia, USA)

Hi Roy,

I would call myself neither a writer nor an academic.  I am
translating Camilo Pessanha; I always say I’ll complete the text at
the end of this year – but I’ve been saying that now for the past
five. …

My interest in Macau and its peoples began in 1994 while I was an
undergrad in Anthropology at the University of Virginia.  I spent the
summer of 1995 there and spoke to any and everyone.  Since Macau was
about to be handed over, the subject of leaving came up a lot – I was
among those who had or perceived they had “something to lose” be it
livelihood or a sense of freedom or perhaps nationality.  Since I was
into Ethnography and politics, my questioning often fell along these
two subject lines.  …  I left Lisbon and resigned from
graduate school after a long year in Portugal. …

And there you go.

Nevertheless, identity is always interesting as it involves many many
different components that social science has yet to explore.

All the best,

Lhagva Erdene (Hong Kong)

Dear Professor Xavier,

I am a media graduate student at HKU, JMSC.

We were asked to pitch a documentary video proposal for a class taught by Ms. Nancy Tong.

I find your story on the fire at the valley very interesting and submitted a proposal in class few weeks back.

If my class votes for this project we will then go ahead and make a documentary video on the topic. …

I am planning on shooting at the memorial and the valley and Hong Kong Museum of History.

Kind regards,

Lhagva’s proposal was approved and he’s now in production on his documentary.


Jeannette (Xavier) Smith (Oregon, USA)


I found the background on this article very interesting.   Joao Jacques Floriano Alvares was my great grandfather, and I have the genealogy of his family going back six generations to 1650.  It was given to me by my mother’s cousin, Al Alvares. I also have some Church records not very legible in Portuguese – these were from Uncle Ico – my mother’s brother.  Have you seen these documents?

The documents revealed that the Alvares family of Macau and Portugal can be traced to the 12th century.


June Tieken (San Francisco, USA)


I just want to let you know how much I do appreciate your work.
During my upbringing of British heritage in Hong Kong mainly and some
in Macau which was all before the end of WWII.  This has left a huge
legacy with many thanks to the Portugese and Macanese influence.  I
enjoy the foods so much.


Bill Renfro (Australia)

G’day Roy,

Great website and great post! Somehow we must preserve this pricless culture hertiage but not as somehow old and historic but a living, breathing and growing tribute to Macanese Heritage which has been 500 years in the making and continuing to this day and beyond. …

I am a St. Francis Xavier boy and was in the HKG Regiment during both of the HKG 1966 & 1967 Riots (exciting times)and immigrated to Canada in 1976.


Paul Henry Barretto Ferraz (Singapore)

Dear Dr. Xavier,

I have been meaning to write you for the longest time as I have been following your posts in your website, Far East Currents for the quite some time now. I find your writings extremely informative and very well written. Have also been wondering if we are related as there are people in my genealogy database with the Xavier surname. However, I just had to write you after reading your most recent posts about the Barretto family. …

Paul later provided additional information for the Barretto study.


Stuart Braga (Australia)

I greatly appreciate this interesting analysis of J.P. Braga’s pamphlet. It is worth noting that it was published at the same time as Robert Ho Tung also took issue with the Hong Kong Government on the matter of the curfew laws, which applied only to Chinese. This led to a life-long connection between the two men.

J.P. Braga was indeed brought up by his grandfather, Delfino Noronha, who influenced his outlook in many ways. Perhaps I might point out that his father had not died, but was working in Japan as Chief Accountant of the Imperial Mint.

I would be interested to know where you obtained a copy of the pamphlet ‘The Rights of Aliens in Hongkong’. Very few copies appear to have survived.

A copy was found in a U.C. Berkeley archive.


  1. gerald woollard says:

    Hi my wife was born a Cotton and feels sure that;-
    DOREEN JORGE COTTON is a relative, could you please send me back
    her email address so that my wife (margeret Elizabeth Cotton)at birth
    can contact her. Many thanks….Gerald

    • Director says:

      Gerald, as a matter of policy, and to protect the privacy of our users, we do not share e-mail addresses.
      Please see my message in your e-mail box.

  2. Jana Ferniza says:

    Buen trabajo, que es un gran mensaje. La información es bueno saber!

  3. says:

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    account it. Look advanced tto more added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how could we communicate?

  4. Wayne Carew says:

    Lucked out stumbling on to your site. I’m an original Hong Kong boy with an extensive Portuguese heritage (Souza & Pereira). In fact, I just read an article about the HKVDC written by Reg Pires. I remember an uncle named Reggie Pires, but can’t confirm as the pictures he posted are pretty small. I do recall however, he had brothers: Sonny, and Francis, who was married to my mother’s sister.
    I have spent a number of years researching my family history, and was all but stalled when it came to the Portuguese side. You’ve kicked a door open for me. Cheers! Facebook: the Hong Kong Wilkinsons.

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  6. Oh thanks for that Roy. Yes, I’m registered on that site. I agree with everyone, this page is very lovely.

    By the way, I have revised my video in response to comments, and made it shorter and added graphics. It can be found on:

    Only Horatio wanted it be longer, which was a shame!

    best wishes

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  15. The Youtube link takes you to 3 short readings from the novel. The first 2 take place in Los Angeles, and the last one takes place in London.

    I’d really love some feedback, especially on my very bad American accent!

  16. Hi Roy,
    Thoroughly enjoyed this page, and would like to ask a couple of questions:

    1. Can I know more about Quito Assumpcao?

    2. Bill Renfro writes above about the HKG Regiment during both of the HKG 1966 & 1967 Riots and immigrating to Canada in 1976.

    I am hoping he has a diary or memoir. Could you ask him? Why not release it as an ebook?

    I’d be especially keen to know more to inform any revisions to my novel: “Eye of an Artist”, Part One, illustrated. I have always wanted to know more about the regiments.

    3. What nationality if Bill and where was he born?

    many thanks for your helpfulness.

    • Director says:

      Hi Yolanda,

      Sorry for the delay in responding. Quito is Henry Assumpcao, the web master of, a genealogical web site that places Jorge Forjaz’s research on-line. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to register on the site.

      I wrote Bill Renfro, who lives in Australia, if he has a diary or memoir of that time. He has yet to respond.

      Bill is married to a Macanese woman from Macau: I think he is Australian.


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