Monday, December 17, 2007


Manuel de Santa Cruz

Manuel Francisco Xavier Fernandes hails from Kalapura
(Santa Cruz, Tiswadi). Born on Christmas Day in 1945,
he is the son of late Diogo Alfredo do Rosario
Fernandes and late Maria Zoraida Elvira Germack de
Souza. Manuel studied Portuguese (Primeiro and Segundo
Grau) in the village school and later at Liceu
Nacional Afonso de Albuquerque at Panjim (now Panaji)
where he studied upto Terceiro Anno (Third Year).
Consequent upon liberation of Goa in December 1961,
"Liceu National Afonso de Albuquerque" was affiliated
to Delhi Board of Higher Secondary Examination where
he completed his Std. XI, Manuel proudly reminenses.

>From an early age, he had the interest to act and sing
on stage. It was in 1959 that he was given an
opportunity by late Florence Fernandes in his tiatr
“Atam Sampodlo” as a child artiste. Since then, his
passion for the Konkani stage increased in leaps and
bounds. Every ward (vaddo) in Santa Cruz village
organized one tiatr practically all year round. Santo
Agostinho Ward was not having any tiatr and Manuel
approached other wards to cast him in their tiatr.
They were not interested to absorb him citing the
reason that he does not belong to their ward and this
led Manuel to try and present a tiatr all by himself
and he took up this challenge.

On 1st January 1967, with the assistance of fellow
artist Hilario do Rego, he jointly wrote and directed
his first tiatr “Axec Lagon” in his Santo Agostinho
Vaddo (Maddir). He showed his acting and singing
caliber in his tiatr “Axec Lagon” and the audience
heaped praises on him. Having been successful in his
first venture he penned and directed another tiatr
“Pissudlelem Kalliz” on 28th May 1967 followed by
“Maim-Sunn” on 10th December 1967, three tiatrs in a
row in the same year which was a hat trick. He
recollects the tremors that followed on the night of
December 10th, which shook the whole of Goa and the
Koyna region.

Manuel was well noticed at this junction and the
writers and directors who once refused to cast him in
their plays offered pivotal roles in many tiatrs held
in Santa Cruz and its vicinity. He is well remembered
for his tiatr “Bhau-Bhau ani Zau-Zau” which the
audience rated as his one of the best.

His interest in social work at the village level as
well as his keenness to support social causes and
justice to his fellow villagers at every level took to
him to the charms of politics. He canvassed
extensively for the separate identity of Goa and
toured all North Goa during the Opinion Poll and
addressed public meetings along with United Goans
stalwarts such as Dr. Jack de Sequeira, Erasmo
Sequeira, Ananta Narcinva Naik, Orlando Sequeira Lobo,
Jagdish Rao, to mention few which brought him to lime
light and he gained name and fame as an orator at the
tender age of 22 years.

In year 1968 Manuel took up a job as a “Lighthouse
Keeper” in the Captain of Ports and soon thereafter
worked in the Secretariat as a "LD Clerk" in various
Departments. Politics was the second passion for him
and he made up his mind to contest the Goa Assembly
elections in the year 1972 as an Independent candidate
from Santa Cruz Assembly Constituency and for this he
sacrificed his job at the Secretariat. He received
good number of votes (4,483), but for a simple young
man that he was, Manuel could not defeat the very
influential Dr. Jack de Sequeira. Until this stage
(1972), no independent candidate garnered this many
votes in any constituency in Goa.

Later it was another political leader, the late
Dayanand Bandodkar (Bahusaheb) who absorbed Manuel in
his “Orient (Goa) Pvt. Ltd. Company where he worked as
a Senior Assistant. After exactly three and half
years, opportunity knocked on his door and he was
selected for the post of an “Executive” in D. B.
Bandodkar & Sons Company where he devoted his services
until February 1982. He continued to act and sing in
several tiatrs as the acting talents were in born in
his blood.

A new genre of tiatr in the form of Khell-tiatr were
presented and it was in the late 1970’s that such
presentations were receiving attention. Alexander
Noronha selected Manuel for a powerful role, which
revolved around the story theme in “Ekvottan Somplo”
khell-tiatr. Manuel has also acted in several tiatrs
written and directed by Peter Barbosa, Frank de Santa
Cruz, Candido Araujo etc. It was now for Manuel to
show his talents to the judges and the audience at the
annual Kala Academy Tiatr competitions. It was for
Caetano Pereira’s “Tukaim Tench” and “Ugdass” Tiatrs
and Peter Barbosa’s "Asro" tiatr in which Manuel was
adjudged the "Best Actor". His name figures
prominently in the Kala Academy's Competitions Record

In 1981, Manuel acted as “Batkar (Landlord)” in
Ping-Pong Rod (Lawrence Rod’s) tiatr at Aldona-Carona.
It would interesting to mention that without a single
practice he played the role to perfection. He just
read the script once and everything was done
immaculately in detail. In continuation of his
interest in politics, he was elected to represent
Santo Agostinho-Ubo Dando Ward 5 of Santa Cruz Village

It was in March 1982, he looked for better pastures
and landed in Kuwait. He was elected, as Member of the
newly formed Goan Welfare Society (GWS)-Kuwait in 1989
and has been a committee member for several years
until recently. He worked for a major Trading Company
as a “Commercial Assistant” and while he was on
vacation the invasion of Kuwait took place. At this
point, he provided his full support towards the
movement in support of Kuwait condemning the invasion.
He rendered valuable support and assisted in whatever
way he could.

Upon his return to Kuwait in 1992, he continued his
passion for the Konkani stage and it was for Kuwait
Konkni Kendr (KKK’s) Songit Sanz (Musical Evening)
where he was bestowed the pen-name "Manuel de Santa
Cruz". He acted for Kala Mogui Kuwait's one act
Konkani play "Mafi Magtam" (December 2002) written and
directed by Dominic Araujo in which he did a memorable
role as "Mama" (Paternal Uncle). Yet another
performance worth mentioning was for United Club of
Utorda's 2nd One Act Play Competition, also directed
by Dominic Araujo and written by Maria Esteves titled
"Ho Niah Koslo?". Since then on and off he has acted
in Konkani tiatrs and musical shows.

Manuel was also elected as a Managing Committee Member
of Kuwait-Goa Tiatristanchi Sonvstha (KGTS) and has
sung in the first KGTS Musical Show "Tiatr Ani

While on vacation in Goa in December 1999, with the
assistance of Joaquim Jose Fernandes and fellow
villagers of Santo Agostinho Vaddo, he scripted and
directed his tiatr “Vegglozar” which was part of the
program presented by Santo Agostinho Vaddo during the
Christmas Season. I have assisted several amateur as
well as professional tiatrists to edit and script
their tiatrs, he recalls.

Manuel has two daughters and a son. I have a lovely
grand-daughter and a son-in-law, he smiles. He is well
supported by his wife, Espy, throughout his long

Manuel has been well appreciated by the Konkani tiatr
lovers in Kuwait for his meticulous acting - the most
recent one being Rosary Ferns' "Bhurgim - Mai-Paichem
Sukh" (August 2005). A special mention is made here
that he supports the organizers and even donates
towards their efforts - his valuable time as well as
monetarily. He was also featured in Marcus Vaz' tiatr
"Almachea Disa" (Sept. 2004).

"A tiatr is not only drama, or only music or only
comedy; it is a fine mixture of all the above
ingredients - drama, music, comedy and improvisation.
Appropriate blended music provided by a brass band is
a noteworthy element of this popular art form. I am
happy to see more of the brass band and blowing
instruments for a tiatr or a Konkani Musical. Tiatr
has today evolved as a powerful medium for mass
communication", Manuel remarks. "We should continue to
demand more support from the Goa Government as well as
from the Central Government. Why shouldn't the State
Language of Goa and the Konkani Romi Script be
supported at par with the Devnagri script?"

He is hailed by none other than the Konkani writer and
collector of Konkani books and archives, Brazinho
Soares (Kalapurkar) as "A versatile actor and a good
tiatr writer and director" in his article published in
Goa's only Konkani monthly publication "GULAB" under
the caption "Manuel Fernandes - Boro tiatr-borovpi,
Voznadik bhumika korpi".

He has been featured in T-Bush's first Konkani e-cinema
"BLACK Nhesop Atanchem Fashion" in a role of a priest,
which he did with graceful and tact.

"I will continue with my passion for acting and will
also, God willing, produce and direct tiatrs, when I
return back to Goa", Manuel says it with pride. "Some
professional tiatrists have recently offered to have
him in their troupes", he laughs mischeviously. Here's
wishing you all the best!

- Gaspar Almeida, Associate,
Moderator/Editor, Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter since 1994

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