Issuu on Google+

FMLA Newsletter Issue 6

February 2011

MALTA’S LOST VOICES The lost story of recorded Maltese folk and popular music in the 1930s now has been found. Maltese Lost Voices is an intriguing account of musicians, composers, poets, and songwriters who in 1931 were sent to Milan and Tunis to record on the major record labels at the time: HMV, Polyphon, Odeon, and Pathe. The article about the work of musicologist Andrew Alamango, supported by the National Archives and the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, as part of the National Memory Project, begins on page 5.

FEBRUARY 2011

Page 1


From the Editor’s Desk

Always Time for Some Music… I remember a conversation with my mother at about the time when Frank McCort‘s book, Angela’s Ashes about the hardships and squalor of depression-era Irish in New York Ireland was published and became a best seller. Mom was not impressed. ―You don‘t think that other ethnic groups like the Maltese had it any different? When I was growing up……‖ and then, more of the stories about the difficult life she and other Maltese families in New York City and its environs had during the depression and after. Cold water flats. Carrying coal, stored in a basement bin down several flights of steep steps to heat the flat. No indoor plumbing. Men having difficulty finding work and barely providing the money to feed their families. Many of us have heard those stories from our relatives; perhaps some of our more senior readers had similar experiences when they left Malta for new lives elsewhere. Although some of us might just ignore these conversations with our more senior relatives, there often was a glint of hope or joy in the difficulty. Most Maltese stuck together under these difficult conditions, often getting together on a Saturday night in someone‘s flat to socialize. According to my mother and her sister, my Aunt Marion, the women and children used to sit around and talk in the kitchen or a bedroom and the men would be in the living room, smoking, cursing, and often drinking. Someone usually had a mandolin or a guitar, Aunt Marion says, and she remembers the nicknames of some of the men, like Johnny Barbodun, who had a bass. (She also says that there were a lot of nicknames for friends of my grandparents that she was never allowed to use in referring to them!) And there would be music… Maltese Gћana. And everyone, she said, would stop what they were doing and listen and participate. Music, Aunt Marion said, was a big part of christenings, and there were a lot of them. When times improved, many of these new immigrants encouraged their children to learn how to play a musical instrument. Music lessons then were 25 cents. Victor, one of my mother and aunt‘s contemporaries in what today we might call those early ―jam‖ sessions, became a professional musician and music teacher. When I was at university, I would babysit for his children. My mother learned how to play the piano and my aunt, the violin. At the time, my grandfather enjoyed Italian opera, still remembering the opera music he heard in Malta. So when his two daughters became proficient, they would play music from several operas. At year‘s end, I received word from Charles Farrugia at the National Archives in Malta about a new book and CD series about Malta‘s Lost Voices - would I be interested in learning more? Of course, and in doing so, virtually met Andrew Alamango, who found a collection of some of the first Maltese music, recorded on 78rpm shellac discs and started Filfla Records. On page 5, you‘ll get a glimpse of the fascinating story about OUR music, Andrew and his remarkable research, and how a Jewish man from Tripoli and his Jewish wife from Tunis came to Malta and started the Maltese recording industry. One thing my mother always says: ―We need to make time for music.‖ Like most mothers, she was right. We all need to listen more.

Saћћa u sliem dejjem! FEBRUARY 2011

Claudia Caruana ■ Page 2


From The President:

Maltese Identity and the Diaspora Many ask: What is cultural identity? Although we all have our own version of what it is all about to be Maltese, there is hardly a consensus that clearly defines what the minimum requirements are to identify oneself as a member of this specific community. On the one hand, cultural identity can be defined in an objective way as ―a set of characteristics by which a person (or a group of people) can be definitively recognizable or known.‖ Such objective characteristics, however, can be elusive and difficult to define. On the other hand, cultural identity can be merely a subjective feeling of belonging to a group with which one feels some sort of attachment. The emphasis here is less on any tangible or measurable criterion and more on vague, and often, inexplicable feelings. It has been stated that these are often no more than ―mythical portrayals of a collective past.‖ One must emphasize that such feelings and resulting needs are no less real than if there were more objective criteria of cultural identity.

The Roles of Language and Culture Within the realm of such definitions, one includes such obvious characteristics as language and culture. But even these two pillars supporting identity seem to play only a relative role. One can lose the language and still identify with the group. Many second-generation Maltese fall into this category. Nations with reasonably identical language, like the Anglophone countries, will certainly insist on their own individual identity. So language neither includes nor excludes entirely a specific identity. Culture is taken to mean different things to different people. There is ―high‖ culture, which includes the intellectual and artistic FEBRUARY 2011

patrimony of a nation, and there is ‗low‘ culture, which includes everything else, the everyday lifestyle, food, entertainment, and all those aspects which distinguish one community from another, or which are associated more closely with one community compared to another.

―High” versus “Low” Culture It is a fact that prior to Independence in 1964, the emphasis put on ―high culture‖ in the Maltese education system was minimal. Teaching of Maltese history, for instance, was a minor component in secondary schools (compared to, say, British history). Many migrants who left in the early postwar period, like the majority of those who stayed at home, were completely naïve of any ―high culture‖ influences. Since Independence, there has been much greater emphasis and appreciation of cultural aspects, but a considerable schism has continued to develop between the impact of cultural sources on locals compared to those living overseas who have, to a larger extent, not been able to share in this rebirth. So if ―high culture‖ is not such a significant marker of being Maltese, in Malta or overseas, is ―low culture‖ any better an identifier? There is no question that people are very closely attached to influences that moulded their early existence. They remember with considerable emotional attachment the alleyways and the beaches around their little village, the food that mother presented lovingly on their table, the local entertainment, the village festa, the religious festivities, the promenades along the seafront. This is what our long-term memory is capable of storing for decades, to be brought up to our consciousness in moments of self-revelation. These are things that are never lost. These are, moreover, the experiences that migrants, of however long standing, tend to

Page 3


recreate in a foreign land to remind them of their identity and their connection with the motherland.

Government’s Role in Maltese Identity Recent government decisions relating to the right to citizenship by second and subsequent generations of Maltese living abroad emphasizes the role of ―blood‖ in defining the identity of a Maltese citizen. Any person who can show direct descent from a Maltese person has a right to be considered Maltese. This has been, rightly, hailed as a triumph of good sense over the prejudice that has existed for decades. It makes it possible for those who had left the Maltese shores several generations ago to join the threads together again and confirm their much-beloved dream of claiming formal Maltese identity. This has been a source of great angst among many Maltese who found themselves, especially those who were forced out of Egypt and other countries in North Africa in the aftermath of the Second World War. Often, they had to wander all over Europe and further afield in search of a place to call ―home.‖ It is also likely that there is no single individual characteristic that makes one a Maltese. It is perhaps a conglomeration of factors which, together, make up a picture, based on genetics, upbringing, cultural influences, and a myriad of other influences that affect each of us to varying degrees, making us unique individuals and sharing common interests. This is not to deny the need for encouraging the continuance of those factors that we hold in common. In particular we strongly believe that a more united ―Greater Malta‖ involving all those within the dispersed Diaspora would be beneficial to both those who left and those who stayed in Malta. Essential for this is the encouragement of maintenance of culture (both ―high‖ and ―low‖), efforts to encourage Maltese language usage, and promotion of interaction at all levels.

FEBRUARY 2011

It is encouraging to see that after years of neglect, this aspect has been taken to heart and has become part-and-parcel of the agenda of both political parties in Malta. The plans promulgated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Education at the Convention for Maltese Living Abroad, held last March, augurs well for the future welfare of the Maltese Diaspora, and one looks forward to the implementation of these plans in the near future.

Maurice Cauchi ■

Shadow Spokesperson for Maltese Communities Abroad Earlier this month, Dr. Joseph Muscat, Malta‘s Leader of the Opposition has appointed Hon. Noel Farrugia MP (photo on left) as Shadow Spokesperson for Maltese Communities Abroad and International Development.

Appointment to Michigan Supreme Court Judge Brian Zahra, 51, who until recently sat on the Michigan Court of Appeals in Detroit, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Michigan. In 1994, Zahra was appointed to the Wayne County Circuit Court by Governor John Engler and won a six-year term in the 1996 election. Engler appointed Zahra to the Court of Appeals in December 1998; Zahra was elected to a six-year term on that court in 2000. Judge Zahra is a resident of Northville Township with his wife, Suzanne Casey, and their two children, and is the son of Larry Zahra, Malta‘s honorary consul in Detroit. Page 4


Finding Malta’s “Lost Voices” With IPods, CD-ROMs, headsets, and streamed in-music coming from computers, few people even remember how music was first recorded. Do you remember? Don‘t sweat it. We‘ll tell you: It was on 78rpm shellacked disks. Ahh…it‘s coming back: the little dog sitting next to a strange-looking box with a horn: the gramophone, remember? If it weren‘t for Andrew Alamango who graduated from the University of Malta with a degree in musicology in 1996, we may never have had the opportunity to hear the first recordings made by Maltese musicians in the 1930s. Alamango researched and wrote Malta’s Lost Voices supported by the National Archives and the Ministry of Education, Employment and the Family, as part of the National Memory Project to gather and catalogue these early records, documenting and preserving them for research and posterity. According to Alamango, the project‘s first phase focuses on research and preservation of the earliest documented sound of Malta, by way of a database which contains the original sound file of these 78rpm records as well as restored versions of the music. This will be accessible to the public for research purposes.

A Career Focused on Music Research Alamango is no stranger to music research. He has a passion for jazz, but also for

FEBRUARY 2011

Maltese traditional and folk music. Several years ago, he created the Etnika project. Etnika was a group of Maltese musicians who made and performed Maltese traditional and folk music using early instruments, many of which the musicians made themselves. ―I toured extensively with the group and organised workshops for children and adults in local traditional instruments, particularly percussion technique and an often unknown musical instrument, the traditional tanbur. Other instruments were the zaqq (bagpipe), zummara (reed pipe), flejguta (whistle flute), and zafzafa (friction drum).‖ Etnika 2009.

disbanded

in

Alamango said his research into the earliest documented sound of Malta and the early recordings on 78rpm shellac discs was somewhat connected with the Etnika project. ―It began when I started to find records of Maltese music on 78rpm shellac discs.‖ He added: ―I discovered that the first recordings of Maltese music actually were made in 1931 and 1932. These are audio documents of a socio-political and musicological history, which was previously unknown and lost to most for the last 80 years. Now, most of the music has been preserved and documented by transferring them to more durable medium, i.e. digital audio files for their preservation.‖ Page 5


The material he has collected is being housed in the National Archives for the time being with the hope that a National Sound Archive will be created for permanent storage. Meanwhile, Alamango has created Filfla Records, which will preserve the audio files of heritage music from the 20th century, and release them in a series of publications and CD-ROMS.

1931 and 1932.‖ The actual pressing of the records was done in Malta. Alamango also discovered that a number of these Maltese records were sold from shops in Tunis such as Bembaron & Cie to the Maltese community, which, at that time, stood at around 22,000. ―Clearly, these records were sold to the migrants in Tunis, Algiers, Alexandria, and Australia as they were a strong source of nostalgia for the motherland as they still are today.‖ Many stores in Malta, at the time, were selling gramophones and records, Alamango explains. ―The year 1931 was important he says due to several technological advances such as recording with the moving coil microphone, durable and improved quality discs, and more marketable and accessible gramophones. This encouraged the local agents in Valletta like Damato of Strada San Giovanni and P. Carabott of Strada Mercanti to record Maltese music.‖ [Editor‘s Note: The Damato music store still exists on St. John Street today; Carabott closed several years ago.]

E. Cilia “Ta’ Zabett”

Malta’s Early Music Industry The music industry, according to Alamango, actually was initiated by a Jewish businessman, Dr. Fortunato Habib from Tripoli and his wife, also Jewish, from Tunis. The couple settled in Valletta, and in 1931 he sent a group of musicians to Tunis to record the first records of Maltese music under the Polyphon record label. ―What ensued after this was a social phenomenon that hit most of society by storm. A great number of records were made over the next two years in Milan, including some under the record labels HMV, Pathe, Odeon, and Zonophone. He adds: ―The Maltese musicians would return to Tunis to record on the Odeon label and the French Pathe label, between FEBRUARY 2011

―This was the first time the Maltese had heard their own music played back to them after listening to Italian classical music and operetta as well as American and English songs,‖ Alamango says. ―Similarly, today this music reflects society and the music of the day. What stand out in these records are the high quality of the musicians and the gutsy voices of the singers who sang in Maltese in a clear local identity.‖ The package, Malta’s Forgotten Voices, which includes a 50-page book with photographs, illustrations, and early advertisements plus two CD ROMs containing 30 digital tracks transferred from the original shellac records, was released in December. It is available from filflarecords.com, on-line book stores, and from the Malta National Archives. For further information, visit Alamango‘s blog http://maltashellac78rpm.wordpress.com or www.filflarecords.com

Claudia Caruana ■

Page 6


Maltese in Tripoli Celebrate the Feast of St. Paul

St. Francis Catholic Church in Tripoli celebrated the feast of St Paul‘s Shipwreck for all the Maltese in Tripoli February 10th. The mass was celebrated by H.E. Msgr. Sylvester Magro ofm, Bishop of Benghazi. In his homily, he thanked God for the gift of Faith which the Maltese received thanks

face, it has a name: it is the living Christ Jesus!‖ Msgr. Giovanni Martinelli ofm, Bishop of Tripoli, sent messages of best wishes and thanked the Maltese community gathered for the occasion for their Christian witness amongst people of another faith and the Church in Malta for her generosity in supporting the Church in Libya. The feast of St Paul‘s Shipwreck in Libya is an occasion that recalls our Christian identity and generosity as Maltese. Fr. Daniel Farrugia who is giving his pastoral service to the Church in Tripoli, thanked the Maltese Ambassador in Libya, Dr. George Cassar, the Maltese nuns from the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, the Maltese community of Tripoli, and the Maltese married to Libyans, for their cooperation and help to the church.

Bishop Sylvester Magro cutting cake

to the shipwreck of St Paul. He underlined how precious our Faith is and compared it to a treasure. ―Our faith‖ he said, ―has a

FEBRUARY 2011

After the mass, a reception was held, thanks to the support of the Corinthia Hotel in Libya.

Fr. Daniel Farrugia ofm ■

Page 7


Notes from the Secretary: On behalf of the committee of the Federation of Maltese Living Abroad, I am pleased to share a few short updates with FMLA members and the readers of our newsletter.

Albert E. Vella

Constitution Approved One of the main goals the FMLA Committee had set was the writing of a Constitution that would guide this federation in its deliberations. We are pleased to confirm that the Constitution has been finalized, discussed, and distributed to all member organizations as well as delegates who attended the Convention of Maltese Living Abroad held in Malta in March 2010. A copy of the Constitution can be requested from the Secretary. ■

Maltese Link Circulation The Maltese Link is now distributed electronically to close to 500 readers in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Libya, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, United Kingdom, and the United States. The newsletter is also distributed, either electronically or by mail, to around 1,400 members of our organizations Gozo Club, Maltese Canadian Club of London, and Malta Society of New Zealand Inc. The Maltese Culture Movement have all our issues prominently included in their web page. The initiative of these 3 clubs results in a further 1,300 potential readers of the Maltese Link. FEBRUARY 2011

While thanking our readers and our members listed below, we do encourage all our member organizations to distribute (where possible) or make the Maltese Link available to their members. Of course we would appreciate being notified if there are other members promoting our newsletter. ■

FMLA President in Sydney Earlier this month, the President of the FMLA, Prof. Maurice Cauchi visited Sydney where he had a very cordial meeting with Fred Fenech President of the Maltese Community Council of N.S.W., and Lawrence Dimech one of the senior leaders in the Maltese community of New South Wales. Professor Cauchi also gave a talk at the La Vallette Social Centre and met other members of the Maltese community. ■

Web page We have also started work on a web page which, we feel, will strengthen our links with the Maltese Global community.

Membership Growth We last published a list of members in our Issue #4 in December 2010. We are pleased to note that six new members have been added to the FMLA membership list: Gozo Club, Lehen Malti, Maltese Canadian Association for the City of Hamilton, Maltese Heritage Program, and Melita Soccer Club - all from Canada, and Maltese Literature Group Inc. – (Group Letteratura Maltija Ink.) from Australia. Membership now stands at 36 organizations whose members total close to 7,000. The full list of FMLA members is reproduced on the following page.

Page 8


Federation of Maltese Living Abroad members Organization

Country

Confraternity of St. Peter and St. Paul lnc.

Australia

Federation of Maltese Language Schools lnc.

Australia

Festa San Ġorġ Association

Canada

George Cross Falcons Club lnc.

Australia

Gozo Club

Canada

Klabb Gћannejja Maltin lnc.

Australia

Lehen Malti

Canada

Mackay Maltese Club lnc.

Australia

Malta Band Club

Canada

Malta Society of New Zealand lnc.

New Zealand

Maltese Association Hobysyons Bay lnc.

Australia

Maltese Association of WA (lnc)

Australia

Maltese Association of Wellington lnc.

New Zealand

Maltese Canadian Association for the City of Hamilton

Canada

Maltese Canadian Club of London

Canada

Maltese Canadian Federation

Canada

Maltese Community Council of SA

Australia

Maltese Community Council of Victoria (MCCV)

Australia

Maltese Cross Foundation

United States

Maltese Culture Movement

United Kingdom

Maltese E-Services Association of Victoria lnc.

Australia

Maltese Heritage Program

Canada

Maltese Historical Association (Aust.) lnc.

Australia

Maltese Lierature Group Inc. - Group Letteratura Maltija lnk.

Australia

Maltin fil-Belġju asbl

Belgium

Marsa Holy Trinity Mission - Fundraiser Association O.L.O.V.

Australia

Melita Soccer Club

Canada

Melita Social Club

Australia

Newport Maltese Association lnc.

Australia

Newport Maltese Association Seniors Group

Australia

Our Lady of Grace Association lnc.

Australia

San Gaetan Society Inc.

Australia

St. Paul South-Eastern Suburbs Association lnc.

Australia

Tarxien Social Club Inc.

Australia

The Annunciation Association Tarxien/Sydney lnc.

Australia

The Maltese Guild of SA lnc.

Australia

FEBRUARY 2011

Page 9


For Malta Chat: Consider The MaltaClub Forum [Editor‘s note: In the mid 1990s when use of the internet for chat groups or forums was in its infancy, there were a handful of these groups focused on Malta and things Maltese. Many of the participants were expats; others were people seeking to learn more about Malta before a proposed visit or sometimes, after a visit. Most of these groups have come and gone…or have been recreated and several people who were part of these early groups continue to participate in the discussion. I had participated in these groups for many years, but lost interest. Not long ago, however, a Malta Link reader told me of the MaltaClub Forum….and I am back in the chat loop and happy to report that one of the early chat group participants, Alfred Grech manages it. Here‘s Alfred‘s story.] Grech immigrated to Canada in 1964 where he was a food service equipment consultant and designed and built kitchens for major hotels, hospitals, and restaurants. He was involved with the Microsoft Flight Simulator and used to build sceneries for it including, of course, all the airports and navigational instruments. ―I built the largest sceneries in the world for that simulation,‖ he says. In 1999, however, he decided to return to Malta and ―right now, my Malaysian wife Jasmine and I dedicate lots of time making Youtube videos. Jasmine, an accomplished photographer, is very fond of Malta and our culture, and she has made many videos about Malta, festas, festivals, and concerts held in Malta. She also made videos around Malta, and some of her work has been shown on Toronto‘s Maltese weekly television program, Lehen Malti, and an Australian television program.‖ Grech is busy as well. He now creates music videos, including many Maltese songs or songs sung by Maltese singers;

FEBRUARY 2011

Alfred Grech with his wife Jasmine

the couple has created several channels on Youtube. They include: Youtube Channel mychoicealfred4 Maltese songs and singers http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p =8DD98B98BF1EA4AF Youtube Channel mychoicealfred5 Maltese songs and singers http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p =D80F7221D0EEB847 Youtube Channel jasalf5959 Malta, Malaysia & Other http://www.youtube.com/user/JasAlf5959# g/u Grech says the MaltaClub forum was formed earlier in the year, although earlier versions have been in place for more than a decade. Designed to keep Maltese and those interested in Malta connected, ―participants discuss not only Maltese topics but any topic they feel like debating.‖ At present, there are slightly fewer than 100 members from Malta, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, the UK, and the United States. Individuals interested in joining the Forum can send a blank e-mail to maltaclub-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, and Grech will approve your membership. ■

Page 10


MALTA IN MELBOURNE:

Woman of Substance (Editor‘s Note:In 2006, Clemente Zammit retired as the Honorary Consul General of Malta in Melbourne, Australia. He was wellrespected in the Victoria Melbourne community and worked hard for the Maltese community. The words that came up most frequently when we mentioned Dr. Zammit‘s name was ―he is a gentleman.‖ Many readers may remember Dr. Zammit as a speaker at the Malta Migrants Convention in 2000. He will be missed in retirement. This is what he wrote FMLA Secretary Albert Vella earlier this year. We thought it would be appropriate to share his vision about a very special woman.)

Deprived of a proper education in Malta – and, therefore, with little grasp of English – she had to re-invent herself in a society that she did not understand. For over 40 years, she struggled to penetrate through what was being said and done in a world as strange as another planet. Handicapped as she was in this respect, she had to compete with others with no such handicap from the shelter of her home, where she devoted her whole time to providing and caring for an extensive family. That not being enough, she had to adapt to a new way of life, and accept new rules and traditions. Furthermore, within an anomalous family atmosphere, she had to relate with offspring who grew progressively more and more apart, not only on account of the generational gap but also on linguistic and cultural disparity.

Josephine Zammit (in blue outfit) with family

When asked by Albert Vella, my long time friend from afar, to share with you some viewpoints on life of the Maltese in Melbourne, I had to think hard where to begin. Until it struck me that I do not have to go beyond recalling the extraordinary deeds my mother, herself a migrant, performed on a daily basis.

FEBRUARY 2011

Mother took to her grave the many regrets she harboured about having had to abandon her upbringing in the country of birth, the house in Birkirkara, many of her relatives and friends, down to the ringing of church bells close to home. And yet she never gave up the struggle to make up for the lost time in her native country, taking pride in motivating and helping her children to succeed in ways she herself never had the opportunity to emulate. She was not as gregarious and sociable as most people from the same background, preferring to seek as a matter of necessity a comforting kind of closeness Page 11


under her own roof with the rest of the family and a handful of friends who shared her native tongue. You would not find her at the festa, but family marriages, and even more baptisms, she celebrated with a gusto all her own. When dad preceded her to heaven twelve years before she did, she still clung to living by herself in the same house that over the years gave shelter to six of my siblings, and their children and grandchildren to follow. She still insisted on cooking her own meals, the smell of which was the principal drawcard to many of us who filled her ―dining‖ room to bursting on Sunday evenings. Now, for the rest of the week she would fill her time waiting for the door bell to ring and the next visitor to arrive, preferably someone calling ma or nanna from behind the security door. And in between she listened to all the Maltese programmes on radio, her window to the outside world, while tirelessly helping one of my sisters finish in time work she did from home. This is how on ordinary woman of great strength served her family and, in turn, her country, day after day, month after month, year after year, without receiving any accolade for her efforts, worthy as they were. She now sleeps in earth‘s embrace next to my father, who she loved with all her heart to the point of sacrificing all she held dear to help him realise the dream of a new life in the country of adoption – his and her own, and all their eight children bar one. I search and find her in others of Maltese background who are happily settled in Melbourne but still call Malta home. Until the next time,

Clemente

clementezammit@optusnet.com.au www.maltaecho.com ■

FEBRUARY 2011

John Aquilina MP to retire from NSW politics John Joseph Aquilina, MP, originally from Gzira, Malta has announced his retirement from NSW, Australia politics and will not participated in the next elections this coming March. Aquilina has represented Blacktown between 1981 and 1991 and currently, the electorate of Riverstone since 1991 for the Australian Labor Party. Between 1986 and 1988 and again between 1995 and 2003, he served in a range of ministerial portfolios including Minister for Natural Resources and Minister for Youth and Community. From 2003 to 2007, he was Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly. In 2007, Aquilina became Leader of the House. ■

Grazio Falzon: The Man Behind The Malta Virtuali Need information about bobbin lace for your child‘s school project? Are you looking for a Maltese recipe to impress your relatives or one you remember your nana making? Do you want to learn about the history of your last name or famous Maltese athletes? Chances are you might have consulted with the Malta Virtuali, an extensive website encyclopedia about everything Melitenese. Malta Virtuali, was begun in 1994 by Dr. Grazio Falzon, a college professor and scholar who was then living in Maryland. Initially, it was a website with links to a growing number of Maltese websites. But then, websites began to pop up everywhere, and Falzon became known to many as ―Mr. Malta.‖

Page 12


Now rechristened, AboutMalta.com and managed by others, Falzon, based in Indiana, is still busy with Maltese projects, including writing a book in Maltese. He also is improving his Spanish, painting with acrylics, reading books in several different languages—what he calls one of his passions—and in his spare time, maintaining more than 50 large oak trees on his one-acre property.

Sant and Martin Debattista offered to take over the mega site. They've been doing a fantastic job on aboutmalta.com. Now, as you know, there are hundreds of wonderful sites related to Malta.‖ Falzon, who was born in Zejtun and is one of 12 brothers, earned a B.A. Hons in Latin and Greek and a Lic-D. at the University of Malta. He went on to earn a JCD from Lateran University in Rome and was a Roman Catholic priest in Rome, London, New York, and California. He left the priesthood and married a German woman in Berlin. Their son graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After they divorced, Grazio remarried a California woman with whom he has an 18-year-old daughter. We asked Falzon for a picture of himself for this article. Everyone who knows him knows he is shutter shy so instead he sent us “his buddy,” (below), one of his many acrylic paintings. ■

We spoke with him recently and want to share with readers a sampling of what he has done for the virtual Maltese community and what he is doing in ―retirement.‖ (You can see several of his recent paintings if you check YouTube grazio falzon paintings.) ―Malta,‖ Grazio emphasizes, ―is at the crossroads of Mediterranean cultures and has an amazing history. For the Malta Virtuali, I had to research and collect material on so many aspects of our culture and it became my passion. Unfortunately, it became overwhelming for one Maltese to create and maintain. I had to HTMLize every item. I tried to answer briefly every e-mail I received every day. After a few months, I couldn't handle the site by myself. Was I relieved when Toni FEBRUARY 2011

Page 13


Maltese-Australian Awarded Australia National Medal Lillian Calleja, who emigrated with her family from Malta to Australia in 1955, earned the Order of Australia Medal. The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 with the purpose of acknowledging Australian citizens for achievements and service. Calleja earned the award for her community service and will receive the honour at a ceremony in April. The Newport, Australia resident, who was born in Valletta in 1931, was the eldest of 14 children. After World War II, she went to school to learn dressmaking and helped her family by making wedding dresses and teaching children to be seamstresses. She married Vincent Calleja in 1953, gave birth to a daughter in 1954, and migrated with them to Australia in 1955. On their arrival in Australia, they lived with Lillian‘s father (Michael Pace) in Newport, Victoria and were well known for the help they gave to the migrants with no family or pre-arranged accommodations when they

arrived. She and her father would welcome migrants in their home until they could find suitable accommodations. In 1956, Calleja and her husband had another daughter, Natalin. For the past 50 years, Calleja has been a volunteer member of numerous organizations such as Community Development, Social Activities, Fund Raising, Culture, Young Talent, Aged Care, Overseas Missions and Religious Organizations. The Missionary Society of St. Paul in Parkville, Victoria nominated Lillian to receive the blessing and Communion from his Holiness Pope John Paul II at the Flemington Race Course during the Pope‘s visit to Australia. In 1989, she was awarded with the ―Official Award for 10 years of Distinguished Service to the School‖ by Joan Kerner, Minister of Education. ■

The Federation of Maltese Living Abroad newsletter, Maltese Link, is distributed free of charge to members of the global Maltese Community. Letters to the editor, comments about the Federation, and requests for information should be addressed to the editor at ccaruana29@hotmail.com The editor has the right to edit material for style and content or refuse publishing material that is in poor taste or potentially libellous. If you do not wish to receive further copies of this newsletter, please send a note to the Secretary, Albert Vella, e-mail: atvella@rogers.com Opinions published here do not necessarily reflect the views of all individual members or the Executive Committee of the FMLA.

FEBRUARY 2011

Page 14


Maltese Link