IN THE PAST LANES – GERRY D’MELLO BENDUR – Multifaceted Personality
By Antony D’Cunha
Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages”.
The MCCP (Mangalorean Catholic Centre of the Parish – Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Chruch, Ruwi,) is turning 20 this year. Gerry D’Mello being one of the founder members of this great institution who nurtured the growth of MCCP having spent 20 years in the Sultanate of Oman before migrating to Canada, we are privileged to herald the reflections of his journey from Bendur, Mangalore, towards the beautiful shores of Muscat on April 25, 1985 and thereon to his dream destination Canada in the year 2006 to give shape to his long cherished goals and to play different roles on the global stage. He is the role model and a beacon of hope & light for many upcoming talents in our community.
BENDUR, MANGALORE – the beginning
Gerald D’Mello, popularly known as Gerry D’Mello Bendur, is gifted with many talents and was groomed as artiste at the Parish of Bendur under Catholic Action League (C.A.L.) – one of the oldest and most popular youth associations in the Diocese of Mangalore. His childhood pals include Kalashree Calud D’Souza, (late) John D’Souza, Henry Rodrigues, Percy Noronha, Oswald Saldanha, Oswald D’Souza, Gerald Towers, Claud Pais, etc. They all bloomed under Dr. Austin D’Souza Prabhu – a great youth leader of his time and currently a high ranking professional at the U.S.A.
Like his mentor, Gerry’s love for Konkani and Konkani culture saw him emerging as a Konkani poet, author, singer, stage actor, compere and in short, an ambassador of Konkani & Konkani culture. Besides he was a regular contributor for Konkani periodicals such as Raknno, Divo, Kannik, Mithr, Jhelo, etc., and his poems have featured in all these periodicals. His emceeing skills are inimitable. He has compered many high level programmes and events. As a lyricist and composer he has composed many songs and among them Mai (Mother) and Sthri (Woman) have won the hearts & minds of music lovers. He has won many laurels for singing at various levels.
As an actor Gerry acted in many Konkani plays. His lead role as ‘Jesus’ for record breaking 16 times in ‘Somiyaso Pashanv” (Passion) staged by Konkani Natak Sabha, Mangalore in 1984 is remembered by many even today.
Apart from composing, as a singer he has also performed in Wilfy Nites, Jerome Nite, Henry Nite, Claud Nite and & Melwyn Peres Nite.
DOWN THE MEMORY LANE – MCCP Reflections
It is the result of active role played by Gerry and other like minded people in the formation and nurturing of MCCP in the year 1992, the present generation is able to avail of the community services and facilities extended by the institution. Like any organization, they too had their share of problems and challenges in early days of MCCP. It was not a smooth sailing. Those hardships and sacrifices by the founder members in early days of MCCP can never be substituted by mere words. Since then, MCCP has moved from strength to strength winning laurels and goodwill of Mangaloreans in the Sultanate of Oman. Gerry’s active role in organising and anchoring numerous programmes and events – showcasing the richness and diversity of Mangalore and Konkani culture has left a deep-rooted impression in the hearts and minds of MCCP members.
Gerry was one of the key persons who triggered highly cherished Monti Fest celebration in Oman back in 1988 and led Monti-Fest celebration committee for 16 long years until his departure from Oman in 2006.
Besides MCCP, he is also one of the founder members of Borpi Mithr – Muscat. His interest in journalism has motivated him to focus on many issues of common interest. He has served as Vice President in the Parish Council of Sts. Peter and Paul Church – Ruwi, Muscat and was the first Mangalorean to shoulder this responsibility in the history of Ruwi Parish.
DAIJIWORLD & Do…..Re……Me….Fa…. column
His love for Konkani Music has motivated him to author the column Do…..Re……Me….Fa…. in DAIJIWORLD. All the prominent Konkani Music stalwarts have featured in his column. The list of people featured in the column goes like this (late) Mick-Max, Fr. Charles Vas, Claud D’Souza, Wilson Olivera, Henry D’Souza, Eric Ozario, Apolinaris D’Souza, Alwyn Fernandes, Adrian Gomes, (late) Wilfy Rebimbus, Fr. W. Albuquerque, Oswald D’Souza, Melwyn Peris, (late) Bennet Pinto, Victor Concesso, Joel Periera, Lawrence D’Souza, Prof. Alban Castelino, Harry D’Souza, Goa’s Melody Queen Lorna, (late) J.B. Rasquinha, Maxim Periera, (late) Simon Rasquinha, (late) Joachim Periera, (late) Alfred Rose, Fr. Denis D’Sa, (late) Fr. J S T Rodrigues, Joswin Pinto, Norbert Periera, Walter Pais, Mike Simon, Fr. Valerian Mendonca, Fr. Clement Mascarenhas, Melwyn Rodrigues, (late) Jerome D’Souza, Michael Machado, Fr. Jerry D’Souza, (late) Patrick Carlo, Fr. Jerry Sequeira, (late) Sippa Mistry – Cyprian Pinto, (late) Saturnine Moras, (late) Denis Peris, Prem Kumar, Ivan Sequeira, Rony D’Cunha, etc. Through this medium he has managed to convey the world about the greatness of our native talents and their dedication & sacrifices for Konkani Music.
Recently he has won the prestigious Dr.T.M.A. Pai Konkani Book Appreciation Award for his book “Do..Re..Me..Fa.. Vollke Gronth- Poilo Bhaag” and that is another shining feather on Gerry’s cap. Whatever his literary achievements are… he humbly submits the entire credit to his “Literary-Guru” Clarence Pinto Kaikamba for all his encouragement, direction and support.
CANADA – the Global Destination
Like any ambitious professional of our time, Gerry D’Mello Bendur, too had a dream of making it to the global destination – CANADA. So in the year 2006 along with his family he set his journey to his dream land and relocated to Canada. After the initial settling down struggles, his love for homeland motivated him to start Konkani Writers’ Forum – Konkani Sangathi, in Canada, the first-ever in North America. The active participation in recently held Henry Nite, Melwyn Peris Nite, Claud Nite in Canada speaks volume about Gerry’s talents, skills and capabilities.
He has been covering socially relevant issues, events, reviews and interviews for DAIJIWORLD and other media channels.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
The list covering some of the awards and recognitions conferred on Gerry:
1. Dr.T.M.A. Pai Konkani Book Appreciation Award for his book “Do..Re..Me..Fa.. Vollke Gronth- Poilo Bhaag” received in March 2011.
2. Honoured by the United Youngsters during 248th Wilfy Nite held at Mangalore in October 2009.
3. Honoured by Daaiz.com in 2006.
4. Honoured by MCCP during its Decennial Celebration in 2001.
He is a family man. “Behind every successful man is a woman”. Gerry’s charming wife Lucy has been his inspiration and support throughout his journey. They are blessed with talented children – three daughters Nishita, Nicole, Nerissa and son Nikhil.
On this occasion we at MCCP aired a few questions at him and following are the excerpts of that conversation:
Q: As one of the founder members of MCCP you nurtured the growth of MCCP and this year the MCCP is turning 20. Celebrations are underway to mark the event. What are your feelings on this happy occasion? How do you consider the overall growth of MCCP over the years?
A : I am so thrilled and excited to know that ‘my baby’ MCCP is turning 20 this year. Undoubtedly, MCCP is a great gift from God not only for Mangaloreans in Oman but also for the entire Konkani World at large. The service that MCCP rendered for the community in the past two decades is immeasurable. In spite of experiencing ups and downs during its journey, MCCP has shown steady growth year after year and the greatest beauty of MCCP is – it has remained as “ONE”! I congratulate and salute all the past Presidents and the respective committee members for their unassuming sacrifice and dedication in placing MCCP on strong foundation that we all experience today. In a very special way I highly commend the immense service through their leadership rendered by the incumbent president Stanley Fernandes (chairman for 1 term & 2 terms as president), Oswald Soares (chairman for 1 term & 2 terms as president), Henry Martis (3 terms as President) and Donald/Eula Pinto. Personally over the years being actively involved in various associations in India, Oman and now in Canada without any hesitation, I consider MCCP as one of the best associations in the world and proudly say “Saare Jahan se achchaa.. MCCP hamaraa”!
Q: Good times bring happiness and bad times bring experience. Having said that what all challenges you had to face during early days of MCCP?
A: Ups and downs are the integral part of everyone’s life and MCCP is not an exception. Year after year the appointed Executive Committee wanted to give their best to the members and finally it became a sort of competition in organizing events for the year. Shouldering responsibility as an E.C. member became very challenging and members were reluctant to serve in the E.C. As a result, the year 2005 – 2006 became an ‘eclipse year’ in the history of MCCP without having appointed E.C. to run the association. Hats off to the ‘super-heroes’ of MCCP – Clarence Pinto and Suraj Rebello, for their great leadership in placing MCCP back on the track in 2006. Today, it’s truly a great honour to the entire Konkani Diaspora residing in Oman that MCCP is being rated as one of the best 25 Konkani Associations in the world and was honored by the Hon. President of India during Konkani World Cultural Convention held in Mangalore recently.
Q: Your love for our mother tongue Konkani, Konkani Music and Konkan culture motivated you to refine your God gifted talents and made multifaceted personality. You have grown in stature over the years as poet, author, singer, stage actor, songwriter and composer. What is the future of Konkani according to you? Will our younger generation pay enough attention for its promotion and development?
A: It’s truly a bitter truth. Today’s generation prefers Western culture and modernized music. Any talent is fine as long as it is rooted in our language culture. The present generation is more comfortable speaking in English rather than Konkani. Also it depends on how the parents teach their children about the Konkani language and culture. People who have gone to the Gulf have kept the Konkani culture more alive than in other places. This gives a greater fulfilment to the Konkani artistes. The youth are losing interest in Konkani language, art and culture because they are attracted to other entertainment such as English/western music, Internet, T.V. etc…
Q; You are known for inimitable emceeing skills. What is the secret of this special talent and how to master this skill?
A: I praise and thank God for the gift of speech (gift of the gab). When I was a kid I used to attend Wilfy Nites and apart from Wilfy’s songs I really used to enjoy amazing emceeing by late Mick-Max whom I consider as my ‘Emcee-Guru’. It was my ambition to become an emcee like him one day. I never dreamt that one day I would become a co-founder of a great Konkani association like MCCP together with a highly talented personality like Mick-Max. I cannot forget one of the happiest days of my life when Mick-Max patted my back and congratulated me for my emceeing for one of the MCCP programs back in 1992.
Q: What message that you want to convey to all MCCP members in particular and other fellow Mangaloreans in general?
A: I wish to congratulate each one of you on the 20th Anniversary of MCCP. May this association remain as a beacon of hope for the Konkani community in Oman and especially for the younger generation. I strongly urge all the MCCP members to serve in the E.C. at least once in their lifetime. Thank you guys for remembering me, and for this unique opportunity to convey my message to my beloved MCCP members. Once again mabrook! May God Bless you all! Long live MCCP!
We at MCCP would like to take this opportunity to wish Gerry D’Mello and his family both personal and professional prosperity.