The First Step is to Believe in Portugal
Trying to see the glass as half full and not half empty is an art that, when practiced, transmits a channelling energy for the discovery of solutions. Perhaps for this reason, I always have good reasons to believe in Portugal, even when it may seem unlikely.
It is true that sometimes we, the Portuguese, like to focus on what we are not and what we do not have, instead of considering what we are and have - which in my humble opinion is very, very much.
The idea that we have a very complete identity is practically unquestionable. I do not think it is necessary to make comparisons with other countries and other cultures on this point. However, when we talk about Portugal as a brand, we can say that some difficulties of affirmation and recognition have persisted, both in Portugal as well as abroad. It is still ironic, therefore, to realize that we have still known success - often to our own amazement. Nothing like taking one of the most recent events, like the current pandemic outbreak derived from COVID-19, to exemplify. In recent months, foreign clients have said that there would be no other country they would prefer to be in, which is always great to hear and may even surprise some people.
It is true that I usually deal with foreigners in my daily life and I have no difficulty in conveying how privileged I feel to live in Portugal. The elements highlighted could be part of a real advertising campaign, but they are real, and I feel them as mine own. In fact, I often try to abstract myself from the fact that I am Portuguese in order to feel our country “like the first time/ as brand new/ as a brand-new experience”. It is a refreshing feeling and highly recommended. In this exercise, it would be easy to speak, for example, of the overwhelming inspiration brought by the sea in Guincho or the smell of the Dama da Noite in the Algarve summer, that flavourful Ginjinha do Rossio, the crispy sound of a Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tart pastry) or the tranquillity of moments by the Tagus River, overlooking the bridge and Cristo Rei on the horizon or to the north the terraces of the Douro.
However, there is, in my view, an element of the Portuguese brand that is more difficult to convey to foreigners precisely because it emanates from our inland: authenticity. I often hear that we are losing what characterizes us. But the Portuguese people continue to be welcoming, tolerant and adapt easily to different circumstances. These characteristics are virtues specifically ours; they are part of our identity, and foreigners sense it.
What to me seems to be important to emphasize is that we can promote these elements and prevent them from being misrepresented - a role that each one can obviously play in their own way.
As in the Brave New World, the current context may act as a catalyst, as we hope, for attitudes of valorisation, promotion and defence of what is really important in our lives and society. We do not know exactly what is going to change. Many may even believe that everything will remain the same. But it is very much within our reach, and will continue to be, the will to affirm the virtues of our country and people.
In this regard, I often recall the words of our poet, in the person of his heteronym Ricardo Reis:
Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada
To be big, be whole: nothing
Teu exagera ou exclui.
Yours exaggeration or excludes.
Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és
Be all in everything. Put how much you are
No mínimo que fazes.
In the least that you do.
Assim em cada lago a lua toda
So, in every lake the whole moon
Brilha, porque alta vive.
shines, because high it lives.
The first step is to believe.
Alexandra Cesário- Founder and Customer Experience Officer