Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A peek into Cambodia's history: The Portuguese legacy

KI-Media Note: Along with our posting of the recent article on the Elephant Walk restaurant, owned by the de Monteiro family, several readers are wondering who this family is and why their last name features on one of Phnom Penh's street. Since our team includes one ever-curious member, the infamous Heng Soy, we asked him to do the research on this issue and here is what he came up with:

Foreigners in Cambodia

The Portuguese arrived in Cambodia in mid-16th Century and they established a Catholic mission (1553). They obtained a plot of land using a historical trick [whereby they asked for a parcel of land the size of buffalo hide, then] they would cut the hide into a very thin long strip to cover the largest space of land possible to be given to them as a concession by the local inhabitants. Later on, descendants of the Portuguese who were by then of mixed race but still preserving their Portuguese last names, continue to play a role in Cambodia’s history. Mainly at the beginning of the 17th Century, they tried to develop their influence after they were chased out of Sumatra by the Dutch. In 1596, Lavis Velo, a Portuguese man, killed a Cambodia king [Preah Reach Samphear]; in 1811, Joseph de Monteiro was named the king’s doctor and King Norodom’s translator was Bernard Kol de Monteiro. It was the Portuguese who let the world know about the ruins of Angkor in 1570, well ahead of the French.

Kol de Monteiro and his descendants

The genealogy of the Varman Dynasty noted (Source: http://www.royalark.net/Cambodia/camboa12.htm):

"H.E. Bernard Kol de Monteiro was Akkara Yumaraja, sometime Minister for Justice and Marine." His niece, Samrech de Monteiro married Prince Norodom Sotthavongs, the son of King Norodom.

Pierre Lamant’s paper "La Date de la Mort du Roi Khmer Ang Duong" (Date of Khmer King Ang Duong’s death) (1977) noted that Doudart de Lagrée, the French explorer and diplomat who secured French hegemony over Cambodia, indicated that Kol de Monteiro was King Norodom’s secretary.

As one of KI-Media readers noted, several of the de Monteiro descendants served under various Cambodian governments, including Kenthao de Monteiro who was the Cambodian Ambassador to Taiwan under the Lon Nol regime. Nadsa de Monteiro of the Elephant Walk restaurant is the daughter of Kenthao and Longteine de Monteiro.

Kol de Monteiro was the father of Pitou de Monteiro who was a former minister of Justice and Education and he also served under then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Kenthao de Monteiro was Pitou de Monteiro’s son.

The Portuguese left a permanent legacy in Cambodia in the name of our currency, the “Riel,” which was derived from the Portuguese old currency, the “Real.”

As with other foreigners who came to settle in Cambodia, most prominently the Chinese, the de Monteiro's success in Cambodia most likely stemmed from their willingness to fully immerse and adopt Cambodia’s customs and traditions through inter-marriages, even though they still maintain their original religious belief and last names (such as the de Monteiro, Seng, Ung, Tan, Ly, etc…).

Heng Soy's mysterious origin: If you are curious about Heng Soy's origin, some claims that he was born out of Chinese Feng Shui, while others adamantly believe that he was no other than a pit of the sleng fruit ("kroab sleng") spit out with disgust from the mouth of a CPP party member. Heng Soy's younger sister even wrote a convincing court affidavit claiming that she witnessed her older brother came out of a chicken egg at his birth. But, as usual, readers are invited to feel free to imagine Heng Soy's origin in any way they please: the more outrageous, the better. "C'est la vie!" he said.


Anonymous said...

how many Portugese lastnames in Cambodia back then ? I know deMonteiro is one and other one is Fernandez -- as in Sostene Fernandez .

Anonymous said...

it's the world's contribution in cambodia. they were mixed khmer/portuguese but were smart enough to emmerse themselves into khmer customs and tradition, etc... well, in this sense, cambodian people were not alone in mixed race. it is good to have mixed race but still contribute positively into cambodia identity, etc... i think it's ok for cambodia to have mixed race of people from all over the world because these people will eventually assimilate into khmer culture, tradition, customs, identity, etc... for for cambodia in that sense, nothing wrong with that, really!

Anonymous said...

Please forget about the history Khmer people needs more time to concentrate on the current situations and how to stop the Vietnamese expansion in Cambodia. Please do not ignore the Vietnamese involvements and movements inside Hun Sen government.

Anonymous said...

ខ្ញុំដួចជាឆ្ងល់ដែរអាមួយ 6:00AMមិនដែលចូលចិត្តយួនសោះតើវាកើតរោគ

Anonymous said...

If you read the Khmer history written in French you can see that many Portugueses came and played significant roles in Cambodia in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Contrarily to the Conquistedores who invaded and colonized the indigenous people in South America (because there they were in high number and well armed), in Cambodia they came to side with the strong rival faction and were not only integrated with local people but assimilated with them.

The name of Ponhea " Leu" District derives from Ponhea
" Ruiz" , a Portuguese who serve the king of Longvek and whose wife was the king's niece. Another Portuguese was appointed Governor of Tbaung Khmum Province, but unfortunately he was killed by the Cham during a violent riot.

Other Portugueses descents were the De Montero, the Fernandez, the Lopez.....They belong to the Aristocratie and were very Monarchist. But all or most of them were killed during the Khmeer Rouge regime.

Anonymous said...

Thank you KI team for the expanding history of the De Monteiros.
Part of the Demonteiro family was also fled to Thailand with Prince Sivotha when he was accused of trying to usurp the throne in Loung vek, there are a few of the
De Monteiros decendents serving the Thai court and in military services of Thailand.
They also establish a Christian missionary village near Bangkok known as Ban Khamen until today.

Anonymous said...

ប្រទេសខ្មែរ បច្ចុប្បន្ននេះគេយក យួនជាមែឪ ទី២របស់គេ

គេគោរពបូជា "៧ មករា ជាថ្ងៃកំណើតទី២របស់ពួកគេ" និងខំប្រឹងរក្សាទុកមិត្ដភាពម៉ឺនម៉ឺនម៉ឺនឆ្នាំ ទាល់តែអស់ទឹកដី ជាតិខ្មែរ ទើបឈប់...!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for posting this. My dad's name is De`montero and he says we are from the De`montero decent. Not sure what this means and he did say most were killed when Polpot took over including his whole family. He was also suppose to be assassinated but lied about his name and said he was adopted. After being refugee's in Thailand my parents migrated to Australia. Just wondering if there are any other De`montero's out there who survived?

Anonymous said...

I am one of the de monteiro's descendant. I live in France. My grand grand father was kieth de monteiro

som orl said...

The Modern and Stylish House

Here is a tidy and high class house design, according to furniture shop in Phnom Penh construction materials reported.

By this way this house is designed with the vast collection of tools might hang impressively from the special wall mount in the garage.

One more thing from one day to one day we always update our lives to adapt with the technological astonishment, it seen we might as well try to make the best of such a situation.

As the result we want both the modern lives and beautiful that can make us happy, feel free and fashionable.

In this side this house is such a suitable one for the people who wish to have such a modern, stylish and great feeling.

worldjonh said...

The Diverse and Pleasant Kitchen

This original and beautiful kitchen has been designed by a company based in Sweden, leading to furniture shop in Cambodia construction materials said.
In addition white role as the main theme for this design and bolder designs are also possible. One more thing this kitchen has various arrangements and it also show the personality, and there are a few interiors, which feature kids’ furniture.
Indeed the items are modern and beautiful, and then the plenty of decorative elements feel empty spaces and create fresh decors. This design is really airy and spacious, and it is also pleasantly.

Thon Mey said...

Former Google staff rolls out Boodigo

Well-known digital marketing agency, A handful of former Google staff rolled out search engine Boodigo on September 15. Formed by Colin Rowntree, Wasteland, and tech company 0x7a69, Boodigo can help users find pornography on the Internet.
Research says the search term "porn" has had a rate of interest that has not dipped below 80 percent since 2010.
As far as the project is concerned, Rowntree explained: "Google and Bing have gradually been weeding out the industry's adult content and that (for us) has been tremendously frustrating. If someone is looking for videos of oral sex and tries to find them via Google, what they get is an article by Wikipedia and advice from Cosmopolitan. And when they get what they're looking for it can well be pirated material."

RedJuly said...

The A New Chatroom App, Rooms

Facebook has announced a new chatroom app called Rooms where people can talk about shared interests under fake names, leading to
digital marketing agency reported.
Mention that, in the late '90s when you would kill time in AOL and IRC chatrooms, you needed to have a conversation with strangers about subjects you were all interested in, say "The X-Files," container gardening or The Fugees.
Moreover, Facebook want to bring some of that community back with a fun new iOS app called Rooms.
One more thing you can start a "room" for "Law & Order" fan fiction writers, toss up a background photo of Olivia Benson and customize your name or like button with gun or knife emojis.
Indeed, people who join the “Rooms” can post photos, text and videos. You can share the invite or keep the guest list short, though the posts are public.

worldjonh said...

Microsoft to Launch Special Promotion Campaign for Xbox One

(digital marketing agency) – Xbox fans can enjoy a lengthy promotion from Microsoft who offers two options in this special occasion starting next month.
The first promotion is a $50 cut down in the base price for the console. Hence, anyone who wants to put their hands on this playable gadget can revel in a special price at the Microsoft Store until earlier next year.
The second campaign is a trade-in offer. This means that users who possess the predecessor of the console, Xbox 360, or even PlayStation 3 can exchange them with Xbox one with a more reduced price of only $250. This promotion is expired at the end of the year.
Microsoft revealed that either old or new version of Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 is acceptable.

Anonymous said...

I came across this site because i need more information about De Montero.
I have no clue where and how to get connected to others De Montero because I am one of them. All I know about it is that, my grandmother said that Kol De Montero is her great great grandfather. She has his picture in her room since forever. I'm just curious and wondering if I can get to know who I am. If you have any idea or information please let me know.

Rooster_KooL said...

There are few more of Demontero who still survive in Cambodia but most of them change their surname.