Thursday, February 09, 2006


Allan Dumbong

Recently I and other family members visited Melaka. Besides visiting the famous "A Farmosa", St Paul Hill, Stadhuys "red" Building, and of course the other new additions like the Istana Kesultanan Melaka, Museum, Independence Proclamation, we also took the opportunity to visit the Portugese settlement.

There we went through the Portugese housing area, passed through the Esplanade, and stop to look for makan, psss.. looking for "Portugese specialty". This brought us to a kedai makan located at the house coumpound of one Kessler family. There we eat mutton curry and few others. I also tried to start a conversation to know little bit about the Portugese settlement but the hosts were not in the mood to sit down and talk to us. Anyway, the 1/2 hour visit was not wasted, for I got the following information:

(i) The total population of Portugese Settlement was approximately 300 people, mostly Catholics and settled there since the Albuqaqie days in 1511 onwards.
(ii) The Portugese speak English, malay, and their own language. Ironically, an old man said that their dialect is not similar with the language spoken in Portugal but more like in Spain and Brazil. I failed to understand why.
(iii) My old friend, Gerard Fernandez, who is a resident in the Settlement is apparently sick and in serious condition. Gerard was the one who first brought me and other friends back in 1983 to the Settlement. There we put up for the nihgt and enjoyed Stevie Wonder's song " I just Call To Say I Love You", played by a group of Portugese (or rather the Fernandez) band boys. That time, Gerard's mother cooked for us "petai masak ikan bilis". That was my first time eating petai, which taught me to eventually cook petai that way. BTW, I am sorry that I was unable to visit Gerard who stays few blocks away as the day was getting late and we need to be back in Nilai, Seremban by 7pm.

Whilst the Portugese host were quite suspicious to us, though we introduced that we are visitors from Sabah and just want to see the Portugese settlement, we enjoyed our trip very much. We had no hidden agenda, more to try to learn about the Portugese way of life.

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