From Maria Armanda Falcão to Vera Lagoa; from RTP cameras to the «gossip» of Diário Popular and the editorials in O Diabo. A full and diversified career, based on a critical voice and an irreverent style
Um «Diabo de saias»
“I don’t like you. You are very ugly!”. So it ended the editorial “O senhor Gomes de Chaves”, published in O Diabo, in February of 1976. The text was signed by the publication’s director, Vera Lagoa.
Less than two weeks after, the weekly newspaper was suspended. The order came from the Revolution Council, disturbed by the newspaper’s rebel tone and the irreverence of its director. Two numbers after, O Diabo saw its activity interrupted.
The weekly, originally founded in 1895, had reborn under Vera Lagoa’s orientation. The first edition had reached the newsstands on February 10th of 1976.
“Much water passed under the bridges so that it was allowed for a woman like me, without a literary past (only with a fighting past), to manage a combat and culture newspaper. For the combat, here I am. For the culture (besides also the combat, obviously) here are those who write in the newspaper”.
In the same edition, the writer and poet Natália Correia signed the article “Um Diabo de saias” [A Devil in Skirts].
“Here it is [O Diabo] now reappeared at the light of freedom, with skirts in the direction. And what skirts! Vera Lagoa, who heads O Diabo’s new avatar is, without doubt, a controversial personality. As the men who through themselves in the line of fire are. Even more if it is a woman! “.
Vera Lagoa already knew how it was to be in the line of fire. The suspension of O Diabo wasn’t the first warning of the Revolution Council done to the journalist.
In September of 1975, the organ had approved by unanimity her detention for “offensive and counter-revolutionary action in the person of the President of the Republic”. At stake was the opinion article “Sr. Presidente, perdi-lhe o respeito” [Mr. President, you’ve lost my respect], published in the weekly Tempo, in which the journalist called “cork” to the General Costa Gomes.
Vera Lagoa became the first journalist to be sued by a President of the Republic. Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho’s intervention avoided the decision of the Revolution Council to go through.
The altercations with the regime didn’t silence the journalist’s critical voice.
Non-resigned, with the suspension of O Diabo, Vera Lagoa and her team found a new weekly newspaper: O Sol. After the publication of the first number, it was placed a bomb at the door of the director’s office.
“O Sol isn’t extinguished with firecrackers”, the journalist wrote, in the editorial of the second edition.
The publication was frugal; O Diabo returned in the beginning of 1977, practically a year after the suspension.
The journalism also founded the weekly O Crime.
A WOMAN OF CAUSES
An active voice in the Portuguese society, Vera Lago headed the first public reactions against the communists, already after the 25th of April and her separation from José Manuel Tengarrinha, founder of MDP/CDE.
A light that, even though in different sides of the political spectrum, she had already showed before the revolution, by fighting the fascists.
A woman of causes, she participated, in 1958, in the candidature to the Presidency of the Republic of Humberto Delgado, “General Sem Medo” [The fearless general].
Her memoires and journalistic works gave origin to several work.
The writer and cartoonist José Vilhena, who confessed having in Vera Lagoa one of his preferential targets, even compiled a book with answers of the ones related to the journalist’s bombastic revelations.
FROM MARIA ARMANDA TO VERA
Before Vera Lagoa appeared, there was already Maria Armanda Pires Falcão. Born in Mozambique, on December 25th of 1917, Maria Armanda Falcão became the first Portuguese television announcer, at RTP.
During the 50s, she worked as secretary in the company and ended up on conquering a place before the cameras. It was only imposed one condition to her: she would have to dye her hair.
Now blonde, she became “RTP’s first smile”. It is also of her responsibility the creation of the competition Miss Portugal.
Her contract wasn’t renewed for having “too much personality”.
Vera Lagoa was born during a lunch with Luís de Sttau Monteiro: Vera, for wanting to be true; Lago, inspired by the white wine they drank during the meal. Maria Armanda was Vera, Vera was Maria Armanda; in different ways, both would mark the Portuguese Journalism.
“GOSSIPS” AND THE SOCIAL LIFE CHRONICLES
In the 60s, Vera Lagoa became a chronicler in Diário Popular. Her irreverent column “Bisbilhotices” caused sensation and made her one of the busiest Portuguese reporters of the 20th century.
Considered a pioneer in the area, Vera Lagoa was renowned for her chronicle of manners, developed in a unique and irreverent style.
“I would still be there, I would still be in that room, watching about a hundred people dancing and singing without the owner of the house seemed disturbed with that, if I didn’t had to call this chronicle. This is the best that I, at 7 AM, am able to write”.
In a time when journalism was suffocated by censorship, the chronicler disguised as banalities her social critic: she would go beyond a mere report of social events, of the intrigues, of fashion and etiquette and dared to point the finger to the society of the tine.
Vera Lagoa – or Maria Armanda Falcão – passed away on the 19th of August 1996.
A double identity that intrigued the journalist herself: “Maria Armanda was person with much more value than Vera Lagoa. She had more energies, more things to fight for. Vera Lagoa pushed many people aside that Maria Lagoa would like to see near her”.
A television pioneer and a critical voice of her time, Vera Lagoa was an inescapable figure of the Portuguese chronicle.