History of the Portuguese in Bermuda

  • Milton Raposo: Using the camera to document the history of the Portuguese in Bermuda

    Milton Raposo: Using the camera to document the history of the Portuguese in Bermuda

When Milton Raposo was a child, he had to be dragged along to many Portuguese cultural events. Like most children of any ethnicity he preferred to stay home and watch cartoons.

But now, as an adult, Mr Raposo is glad his parents made him go to those events. He has become so interested in Portuguese-Bermudian culture that he is making a film about the history of the Portuguese in Bermuda.

Full time, he works for LookBermuda as a producer, editor and script writer, amongst other things. He was also one of the founding members of environmental charity Greenrock, but is now heavily involved with another grassroots community organisation, Chewstick.

Jessie Moniz sat down with Mr Raposo to learn more about his new film.

Q: Tell me about the film and what is it called?

A: The film is called ĎFabricí and itís about the history of the Portuguese in Bermuda. They say that the Portuguese are now maybe 25 percent of the population in Bermuda. In that sense the Portuguese, to use a cliche, have woven themselves into the fabric of the community. The film is going to cover early Portuguese global history right down to present day Portuguese stories in Bermuda.

Q:Why have you chosen to do this?

A: There is not a lot of historical information about the Portuguese in Bermuda except for Patricia Muddís incredible book, ĎPortuguese-Bermudians Early History and Reference Guideí and articles by Sandra Taylor Rouja and a few other writers. A lot of it is also personal recollections so I thought it was about time to put my skills to use and try to compile more or less the definitive history film on the subject. Also, in the era of the ĎBig Conversationí, thereís no reason why this canít be part of that discussion. (RGNote:The big conversation was an initiative several years ago designed to get black and white Bermudians talking with one another, and about white privilege. It has been often criticised since then for being too focused on only racial issues.) The Portuguese/Bermudian story is very much intertwined just as the black and white story is intertwined. The film is going to cover as much Portuguese influence on the island as possible. It is a story that needs to be documented.

Q:How do your family feel about you making the film?

A: I think they are excited, but I try not to talk about it. My dad has opened up a bit about his stories and why he came here. It has been enlightening from that aspect. My parents came here in the 1960s. My father came first and then a year or two later my mother came. My parents are Joe and Maria Reposo. They have been here ever since. My father is semi-retired now.

Q:When you were growing up how did you stay in touch with your culture?

A: I didnít. I was forced to go to all these events like every other child was. I didnít really pay much attention. Along the way it did not factor in my life. Like anyone else I moved away and got involved in different things. Only recently have I decided to come back to it.

Q: In making this film, do you feel that there is a big difference in the experience of your parents who came in the 1960s versus people who came a hundred years ago?

A: I would imagine there is a lot of similarities and differences. Bermuda was a largely farming community at that time. Everything was geared around that. Those similarities carried over 100 years later, except the rules on immigration, which when my parents came were a lot more strict. Hence why men couldnít bring their wives and families. In the early days people were getting away from not being able to make a living. My sense is it was the same 100 years later, except there was more opportunity in the mid 1900s. Now we are lawyers and construction bosses, politicians, we are all these things.

Q: When do you hope to screen it and where are you with it now?

A: Iíve written a quarter of it already and Iíd like to have it ready by Spring 2012. Itís pretty hard when youíre one person doing this and also involved in so many other things and have so many life distractions. Iím glad to have a nine to five job but I wish I could dedicate my days to this and have a small team to help me research faster. I have to admit Iíve bitten off more than I can chew.

Q: What about funding?

A: No film gets done without funding, at least, a quality film anyway. Iíve been lucky to have had some donors come forward, but I could use a bit more. If anyone out there wants to assist, they can reach me at fabricbda[AT]gmail.com or 537-7779.

Q: Who do you want hear from?

A: I want to hear from everybody! Everyone has a story even those who might think they donít. Just because you came here as a labourer or farmer, doesnít mean thatís the end of the story. Think about all the people who have come here for various reasons, whether they be economic, religious or even just for a bit of life experience. And I donít want to just hear from Portuguese folks, I want to hear from non-Portuguese too.

Q: Whatís your background in film?

A: I started at Bermuda Broadcasting way, way back but when I moved back to Bermuda in 2004 (after living abroad for sometime), I worked at Panatel for about three years. That was a great starting ground and had my feet put to the fire right from the start. Now Iím at LookBermuda which is great as well. I co-produced a couple of films one on the Southlands controversy, the most recent Sloop film, a music video for a London dance artist and a short film about Stan Seymour.

Q: You are involved a lot in Chewstick, arenít you?

A: I perform in the band and I am involved with the open mic nights and lounge nights. I also sit on their board. The great thing about Chewstick is it is just going from strength to strength. It started in 2002 and I got involved in 2004. I have been involved ever since.

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Published Apr 25, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 25, 2011 at 8:57 am)

History of the Portuguese in Bermuda

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