Festival recalls Latin American’s influence in Macau

Gary Ngai (left) and Sergio Manuel Avila

The ongoing 2017 Latin American Cultural Festival features eight cultural activities and aims to raise the public’s awareness on the region’s overlooked Latin American roots.

Organized by the Macau Association for the Promotion of Exchange between Asia-Pacific and Latin America (MAPEAL), a series of Peruvian cultural activities took place on Tuesday for students, residents and visitors in Macau so that they could learn more about Peruvian culture.

The activities included the Latin American Cultural Seminar and the Latin American Film Shows held at the University of Macau, while a Photo Exhibition titled “Peru’s Memory: 1890 – 1950” and cooking demonstration were held at the Macau Tower.

Gary Ngai, president of the Executive Board of MAPEAL, and Sergio Manuel Avila, Consul General of Peru in Hong Kong and Macau, both stressed that the city should not forget the roots of Macau, and that Portugal and China are not the only counties that should be recognized as important to Macau history.

He argued that as Macau is promoting its links between Portuguese-speaking countries, it should also do the same with Latin American countries.


Sergio Manuel Avila demonstrates his cooking skills

Speaking to the press, Ngai recalled that culture flowed between Macau and Latin America back in the 16th century through the Maritime Silk Route.

“That makes us now, after 400 years, look back at our history,” he said.

According to Ngai, Macau has a long way to go in acknowledging the influence of the Spanish- speaking countries of the world.

“Here in Macau, they only have contacts with 12 to 14 Latin American countries [in terms of] culture and business. It’s not enough. It’s just a starting point but we have been doing it for 10 years already,” Ngai pointed out.

He added that Macau is the only Chinese city which has these sorts of roots and additionally suggested that it should not disregard its links with Spanish-speaking countries.

“The Latin culture in Macau is deeply rooted but if you don’t show it to the people, they’ll forget,” he noted.

With the wide array of gastronomic offers in Macau, both Ngai and Avila revealed that a Peruvian restaurant will be opened at MGM Cotai, a move that will allow residents to become more aware of Peruvian cuisine.

However, they also expressed the opinion that much support from the government is still needed to open Latin American restaurants in Macau, as it is an initiative that “will take time and will cost money.”

Ngai pointed out that Macau has positioned itself as an international city and expressed hopes that the government would support further cultural initiatives such as the Latin American Cultural Festival. “They should not forget that one of roots here in Macau is the Latin American culture,” Ngai reiterated.

With the festival’s aim of raising the public’s awareness of Macau’s Latin roots, Ngai stressed that if the region forgets certain cultural roots, Macau will only be a part of its neighboring regions.

“If you try to forget this, you make Macau just a small part of Hong Kong or Guangzhou,” Ngai warned.

Avila noted that Spanish- speaking countries have cultural similarities and influence on Macau, even with their different cuisine.

The diplomat stressed that the festival is an opportunity for the younger generations to be aware of the regions’ historical similarities, citing similarities of some churches and residential demographics.

During the festival’s cooking demonstration on Tuesday, the diplomat demonstrated how to prepare traditional Peruvian dishes such as Aji de Gallina and Mazamorra.

Avila also prepared a typical Peruvian dessert Arroz con Leche with quinoa from Peru.

“I was missing Peruvian food during my first diplomat post abroad […] so I started learning how to cook. I wanted to share with the public a little bit of what I’ve learned during the years,” said the diplomat.

For next year’s edition of the festival, Avila hoped that they would be able to create a whole week offering Peruvian cuisines as part of the festival’s gastronomic highlights.

The 2017 Latin American Cultural Festival will run until November 5.

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