February 17, 2010

Wong Duang Ing - China-born College Educated Teacher

Ms Wong Duang Ing met my uncle Tiong Tak Sing (from Sibu) in Fuzhou city when they were students at college in  the late 1930's. She was then a Methodist Church Sunday School teacher as well. Both of them were at that time finishing college but when the Japanese arrived they had to interrupt their education. At that time many Foochow boys and girls were already being sent home or "overseas" for their education from Sibu. Fuzhou was an obvious choice.

Today she says her prayers in what we call "literary Foochow". She continues to speak the very careful and formal style of Foochow.

Her Foochow parents(in China) at that time were traditional and valued boys more than girls even Sun Yat Sen had toppled the Qing Government for many years and the Long March of Mao Tse Tung was almost over. She hasd grown up during the times of change in China. Furthermore the American missionaries had impacted the Fuzhou women and helped them become more open minded and independent. And thus out of these turbulent times Duang Ing became very determined to spread her wings and migrate to Sarawak.

While waiting for travel papers to come from Sarawak  and the then Brooke Government she and her young educated husband faced the first turmoil in their life together. It was unfortunate that her first born of only 10 months suffered from dysentery- a killer disease then. Without any western doctor to help her she was really desperate. Young as she was she was not willing to let her child die without a single drop of medicine. However a traditional doctor did came to help and  asked her to catch an anteater whose tail must be steamed with his herbs as a cure for dysentery. She went to the outskirt of the village and caught an anteater.

But the precious son breathed his last even before the herbal soup was steamed. This was her kind of background as she sailed to Sarawak.

When they arrived in Sibu she and her husband were invited to help teach in Guong Ming school in Sungei Bidut. As they were quite poor they decided to tap rubber to supplement their meagre earnings. A teacher's earning was only $60 at that time. It was impossible to bring up a growing family.

As pioneering teachers at that time they used the simplest of books and teaching was very very disciplined. Her college education helped her a lot. In retrospect the standards in China was very high and it was hot and humid in Sibu. The classroom was four walls with bare windows and daily flood from the river became part of her life. Mosquitoes  danced about her ears. But the neighbourhood was a happy lot and a church was nearby.

However as more children were born to the couple life became tougher for the young family and the income from teaching was too small.  Two more boys died before they were five and it was so heart breaking. A good friend of my uncle's suggested that they should move to Miri to help with his timber company.

Finally my uncle Tak Sing took his wife and remaining children to Miri where he worked as a trusted and honest manager of a timber company. One more daughter was born in Miri. We can say that she became the first  Sarawak Foochow girl born in Miri to a China born Foochow woman! Aunt Duang Ing never taught again because her first priority was to raise her small brood of children. She is now 89 years old.

My uncle's family became the first Sungei Bidut family or even the first Sibu Foochow family to move to Miri in the 1950's. After they arrived many others followed.

P/s Ms Tiong Ping Nguk another cousin of Tak Sing taught in Krokop Chung Hua School until she retired. She passed away recently. Aunt Duang Ing and my Yuk Ging Goo Poh were best of friends in Sibu.


wenn said...

wow, admire her!

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, very interesting to read of relatives who made their way in this world, or rather your side of the World.
Its the same here too, with a young family from Hong Kong, Singapore, China, even Malaysia arriving in Canada early 50's, 60s and today their families have beget bigger families....
And not surprising, the 2nd, even 3rd generation unable to speak Chinese.

And a lot of married other races too....
You have a very interesting family tree.
Have you tried coming out with a drawing of your family from 5 generations back?
I guess mine would include pirates, opium smugglers, ha ha.
Have a great Tiger year, Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks. She is admirable and she makes sure that we are all respectful towards each other by being respectful to all. She calls upon her in laws and the younger generations.

I cannot imagine how she survived without her own "family" in Sarawak. She must have been really in love with my uncle to forsake all and come to Nangyang!!

It is really WOW.....I am going to squeeze her love story out of her when I am less busy...

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee....
Thanks for writing. I am sure the Lee Family is a great family ...
I know an opium smoker on my grandfather's side and
Yeah...a few loan sharks here and there . There were definitely the lovable and proverbial black sheep in every family.

But it is really lovely to have a big family.

You have a great day!

Anonymous said...

We are all back at work now...earning our living. Your aunt's story is marvellous. So many changes in life..so many difficulties.


Ann said...

My respect to a teacher. To a bereaved mom, I bet her heart still cry a tear for her 3 deceased children.

If you see her , tell her she walked ahead of me.

Ann said...

Now a discussion topic to you CY, an English teacher.

I always wonder why they use the term "released from hospital" for the word discharged.



Ann said...

Another one on a teacher. I had been meaning to ask for a long time when I read your post posts.

Marina Tan, will you ask her if she was in Batu Lintang in 1974? If she was, it is a small small world. I was in her class and my bedroom was backing to her room.

You may be wondering what I am about. Remember Robert Frost's Two roads meet?

After form 6, I was planning to go abroad. My parents wanted to have some guarantee, so I applied for Batu Lintang. When the results came out, I left BLTC.

The same batch, my other girl friend Ruth Wong, (Dr. Wong's sister) who was in my bedroom, she too left for MU.

Say Hi to Marina, if she the Marina I knew.



Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Justin
Nice of you to write. The tragedy of the family of four in the longkau of Miri/Marudi Road drowned in their Hilus has affected so many of us who travel that road!! So be careful when you and your family go up country....the Chinese newspapers had a full page report and so sad to see the coffins.

Condolence to the family.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Yes I will tell her and we are making plans to meet up more often to tell each other stories. Her favourite one is about the child who passed away in China and I really feel that she carried her grief from China to Sibu and it has been more than 60 years...10 months old and rosy cheeks. No baby in the village had been better looking than him - the boy born of a Sarawak Sibu father and a village school teacher.

I feel the sadness in my stomach.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ann
"released from hospital" could be a Chinese/English kind of phrase.
Discharged is correct but a more difficult word for the Chinese tongue.
Admitted (more often correctly used) is sometimes replaced by "entered the hospital"...correct term is "warded".

Very interesting ..

Sarawakiana@2 said...


What a small world!! It must be the same Marina Tan. I will let her know.

As for Ruth Wong she was in MU and then later she was my colleague in Maktab perguruan Sarawak in Miri before she went to Australia for a short stint. Her two sons are in Melbourne (?) and her husband Dr. Francis Ngu is in Kuching with her.

I will let her know too.

Ann said...


More for you.

Ann said...

Released from Hospital.

In New Zealand they use it all the time.

12 Feb 2010 ... On the same day he was released from a hospital after undergoing a heart procedure, former President Clinton told reporters he has no plans ...
www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/12/clinton.heart/index.html - Cached

My bro in Australia says: discharge

My bro in Sarawak, tongue in cheek says: can go home.


I thought discharged is more appropriate, released??? sounds like released from prison.

My Kiwi English teachers say, it liken to because you are sick, you are not allowed to go home.

BTW, they also use Class release when we have a relief teacher to take over your teaching so you can do admin work.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

My hubby said that in Olden Days England the hospital was like some kind of institution and patients were "under care" and when they were allowed to go home they were "released" ...the term institutionalised is a nice term for "kept in custody by the state" because of mental or similar illnesses!!

We don't have relief teacher here unless you are in "confinement"!!


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Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...