Cotula walk – IV

by Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

My friend Salvador Mascarenhas and I were now on the last leg of our walk through the vaddo (ward) of Cotula in Saligao. Close to the former house of the Gama rose family that I wrote about earlier, is the house of Dr Raimundo da Gama and Camila Mariana Tereza da Gama. Dr Raimundo da Gama had a sizable clientele in Coimbra, Portugal. Nearby is the residence of Celly and  Gil Coelho’s large mansion. He was headmaster of various English high schools in Goa. In its proximity is the house of Annie Pinto whose daughter, Sr. Mary Jane, née Rita Pinto, was twice Mother General of Holy Family of Nazareth Congregation of Sancoale, Salcete.

Behind her house is the Krist Raj Bhavan (home for male senior citizens) established in September and run by FMCK nuns. Adjacent to it lies the stately house of the world-famous ophthalmologist Dr. Cláudio Raimundo da Gama Pinto, who has to his credit an Institute of Ophthalmology named after him in Lisbon, Portugal. At his birth centenary, the Portuguese Government brought out two stamps, one light brown and green in colour of 2 reis and another black and white of 3 reis entitled Republica Portuguesa 1853-1953 Gama Pinto, Correios, Estado da India. A road was named after him in Panjim and there is also an avenue named Avenida Professor Gama Pinto in Lisbon.

In 1978, on the 31st of August, a tribute to Dr Gama Pinto was organized by ophthalmologists from Portugal and Goa at the Saligao Institute in Arrarim. After the session the eminent ophthalmologists went to Dr Gama Pinto’s ancestral house in Cotula, and at the hands of Prof. Dr J Ribeiro da Silva from Lisbon, a commemorative tablet inscribed in Portuguese was placed therein.  Its English translation is “The Great Ophthalmologist Prof. Cláudio Caetano António Júlio Raimundo de Gama Pinto was born here on 30th April 1853.  Where a group of eminent Ophthalmologists from Portugal have gathered to pay their homage to the great Master who so honoured Portugal as well as his birth place Goa with the extraordinary contribution to the eye surgery placing a tablet offered by the Association of Ophthalmologists of India represented by its branch in Goa to commemorate the homage”.

I have written a book on Dr Gama Pinto, published in November 2002 and titled “A Paean to an Ophthalmologist: Prof. Dr. Gama Pinto”. Dr. Cláudio da Gama Pinto was born in Saligao (Cotula) on 30th April 1853 and died in Lisbon on 26th July, 1945 aged 92 years.  His parents were Francisco Salvador Pinto, leader of the old Progressive Party of the Council of Bardez and the first President of the Bardez Municipality and of Camila Mariàna Tereza da Gama.

Affectionately called Salu Pinto, Dr Claudio’s father was undoubtedly the greatest single benefactor of our village of Saligao.  It was he, practically single handedly, who gave us our beautiful church, of which every son and daughter of Saligao may be justly proud.

Next to the house of Gama Pinto is the house of Vitinho Mendonça. His son Lino Mendonça lives there along with his wife. Opposite their house, across the internal road, is Lynn (Ismael) da Gama’s house, who rose to be the President of the Central Council of Goa of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, as well as the Chairman of the Confraternity (now Association) of Our Lady of Victory in Saligao Church. For several years he ran the affairs of this Association with great responsibility. Dominic Soares from Cotula married Tereza da Gama, Lynn’s sister. Dominic Soares is one of the talented footballers of Goa, and represented Vasco Club. He now resides with his family at Tabravaddo on St. Anne’s Road running from Aula to Sangolda. 

Then there is the house of Sr. Celine Coelho. She too had been the Mother General of FMCK nuns. Her brother Cyril Coelho is also a dedicated social worker. Next comes the house of Napolean Vaz, who was for a long time in charge of the Church Committee and who freely shared his knowledge about church affairs with all.

Finally, a word on Mae de Deus House for senior lady citizens in Cotula. Mr & Mrs Luis Mendonça, to comply with the last request of their dear departed youngest daughter Dr. Lila Mendonça, herself a Holy Cross nun, bequeathed their ancestral home to the Holy Cross Society. It so happened that Holy Cross Society, due to unforeseen circumstances, were unable to undertake the task of caring for the aged.  They requested the FMCK Regional Superior to consider the matter and offered her the house together with a handsome donation.  In November 1973 the Home was opened, inaugurated and blessed by an illustrious grandson of Saligao, Archbishop Eugene D’Souza. A dream had been translated into reality and three Franciscans Missionaries of Christ the King took charge of the House with 19 women on the roll. This Home came into existence due to the tireless efforts put in by the late Fr. Albert Saldanha (Arrarim), President of the Committee of the Centenary Celebrations of Saligao Church (1873-1973).

In this walk through Cotula we may have missed some prominent personalities. We ask for their forgiveness, but would appreciate if their details are inserted here by someone (via comments) to make this walk a truly memorable event for anyone else embarking on it.

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