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Joao Santos Lucas

Joao Santos Lucas is a man of the world. The Lisbon-born consultant and academic studied in three countries – Portugal, Scotland and the United States – and has traveled to 40 nations, including 150 cities. He now makes his home in Guangzhou, where he is general manager of Yiber Consultancy & Investment Co., Ltd.

"I am a global citizen," says Lucas, a man with silvery white hair and elegant, European features. "I'm interested in helping problems to be solved."

He's also interested in the environment that surrounds him. Lucas cherishes the mountains, the sea, the beaches and the flowers that grace the coastal town in Portugal – Cascais – where he still owns a home. He especially appreciates the rhythm and the beauty that waterways bring to a community. "The flow of water is what life is all about," says Lucas, equating it to "the flow of emotions and the flow of thought," "The river and sea are a reflection of our emotions."

He sees Guangzhou, with its bounty of river ways and streams weaving through virtually every part of the city, as possessing untapped potential to utilize these waterways as a vibrant part of the city's life and lifestyle. He would like to see the city invest money into developing its waterways, so people can sit by waterside restaurants and cafes, for instance, or stroll above canals and thereby breath new life into areas of Guangzhou that now are largely unknown.

"It's a good concept to be a ‘flow' city," Lucas explains, because making use of the many river branches and channels in Guangzhou, as well as allowing more light to fl ow into urban spaces, can inspire more conviviality and creativity among citizens and visitors. "Each district," he suggests, "needs to find its soul… For me, Guangzhou has great opportunities to be more cosmopolitan than it is now."

Lucas also appreciates the way flowers can bring beauty to a metropolitan area like Guangzhou. While he enjoys red and white roses, especially as part of bouquets he can present to women he admires, his favorite flower is one that is popular in Portugal although it is not native to his home country – the bird of paradise. This exquisite flower, with its rich and brilliant color, is native to South Africa. The Portuguese import the bird of paradise, which is also known under its scientific name as Strelitzia. The delicacy and color of the flower remind many of the bird of the same name – bird of paradise.

Bird of paradise

"It looks like a bird, and I like to fly," says Lucas. Indeed, many see a resemblance to a sleek bird in flight when they observe the fine lines of the bird of paradise, with its long and pointed petals. While there are different species, Lucas's favorite, and the one most common in Portugal, is blue and orange. They just happen to be his favorite colors.

Lucas also enjoys the bird of paradise for its resiliency, he says. No surprise, there, since Lucas himself is a man of resiliency who has zoomed around the world, residing in places like Turkey, Spain, the United States, Africa, and – immediately before coming to China – in Singapore, where he worked seven years as a health management consultant.

For a long time, though, he had fancied the idea of living in China. "Coming to China for me was the fulfillment of a dream," acknowledges Lucas, who is studying Mandarin. "I want to explore the future, and for me, the future is in Asia, the future is in China."

Five-ram stone sculpture

Can a man so peripatetic in nature keep his roots in Guangzhou very long? "How many years am I going to stay?" he ponders. "It could be forever. I wish I could stay forever." But he is a lifelong nomad, and he has two daughters back in Europe, so it really could depend on his job. "I want to work until I die," Lucas asserts.

China, he admits, still remains something of a mystery to him, but a mystery he likes and hopes to watch unravel. "I want to see China be the top of the world again. And I want to be part of that."

(By Louis Berney)

Editor:Vita Lin
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