A McDonald's occupying an 18th century Portuguese building
that would have best proven its cultural worth
if it only had been converted into a museum, or a theater, perhaps.
Nobody makes much fuss about this:
the past, anyways, not the present, not the future,
is the mother of this thing they call globalization.
The place is noticeable only for its famed Golden Arches;
"I'm Loving It!" and everything else are in Chinese.
One does not need to be a polyglot or a linguist to order:
just smile, say "nei hou" and point to the pictures on the menu.
In front of the building is an old catholic church
erected by Spanish priests and their Filipino servants
shipwrecked here on their way to Spain from Manila:
no Chinese family admitted them in their huts.
The current parish priest thrives on eucharistic hosts
and Chicken McNuggets as evident in the state of his health.
Around are shops of familiar brands— Gucci, Swatch,
Armani, Nokia, Louie Vuitton, Baleno, Versace, an endless list—
Old World's modern exports without that famous papal bull.
Anything touched by the Holy Ghost sells virtually nothing here:
brochures distributed by Christians of all colors fill the rubbish bins.
"This is not about Jesus. This is our real situation," volunteers
and members remind, disseminating their political party's papers,
making sure they do not end up in those dreaded containers.
At the market next to the church and the newspaper stands
Filipino migrant workers on day-off tirelessly work for Jesus Christ,
ecstatic of the certainty that theirs is the ultimate salvation, sobbing,
singing at the top of their lungs for the souls of the Chinese pagans.
Others walk around brandishing boxes, collecting mission donation.
Middle Eastern tourists, Japanese, Koreans and Taiwanese
look stupefied, smirking, scratching their heads,
but a dollar or two is no big deal for the loaded.
Call it ecumenism: Muslims and Buddhists financing the Christians!
Old Chinese men sitting under the trees with the day's paper
from time to time pause from their reading
to side-glance at the European prostitutes on their way to work.
This if their wives are not looking on, engrossed in their usual tattles.
In one far corner Pakistanis and Sri Lankans enjoy their Tsingtao beer;
in the other, young girls and boys in school uniforms
learn a thing not in their textbooks: to smoke.
By the fountain built in honor of the long-gone Portuguese empire
a dirty and greasy loony whispers something no one understands.
Nothing seems to make sense in this place, but life goes on.
Papa Osmubal writes from Macau, Southern China.