The Gates of Hell are supposed to be sprung open to allow ghosts and spirits access to the world of the living. The spirits spend the month visiting their families, feasting and looking for victims! Those who believe this would actually avoid checking themselves into the hospital even if they have a needed serious operation during such an inauspicious time of the year for fear of trouble from these spirits or ghosts! How timely this event came along when I was writing my spiritual blog post earlier about another type of spirit or ghost that relates to Family History Work in our Church.
This post is to cover interesting information about our 'Chong' Chinese family history that I have uncovered over the years of being inspired to do our family history work. The family name or last name in the west 'Chong' that we carry in Malaysia is not really using the official Hanyu Pinyin system of translating Chinese characters to latin script. The Chinese character (张) in simplified characters or (張) traditional for 'Chong' in Pinyin would actually be Zhāng. So my full name in the east of 'Chong Sun Fu' using the family name as the first name instead of the western way of 'Sun Fu Chong' where the family name is the last name, would be spelled as Zhāng Shān Fú as in the Pinyin system or 张山福 in simplified Chinese characters. My given name 'Sun Fu' (山福)means Mountain of Luck.
If I haven't already confused the western reader of this post enough, the family name of our ancestors in Indonesia where our immediate roots were discovered to come from is spelled as 'Tjong', Variation of this would be 'Tjoeng' as seen in some Chinese family names of friends I know born in Malaysia, where they are vaguely aware that their immediate or nearest ancestors are from Indonesia. Being western educated and thoroughly aware of the 'given name' and 'last name' confusion between the West and the East as to which comes first when we have to write our full Chinese names in English, I would spell my family name in capital or block letters to be either CHONG Sun Fu or Sun Fu CHONG. I did this so that I could print just one set of standard name cards that can be used locally or for my international business travels to the West. This however is my own innovation where some may still not understand the symbolic meaning of my captitalized family name.
I am waiting for the time when technology is more widely used by the masses where every name card would have a new QR code that when scanned by their smart phones or iPads will give an immediate internet link to some paragraphs of text to explain the meaning of what is intended. Click here for example to be led to a brief explanation of my Chinese name and a link to the profile of myself and the websites I have created. If my name card had a QR code, scanning it would quickly open up this same explanation the same way you clicked the link earlier. Get the idea of what I'm saying how technology can enhance the use of a small name card to carry more information? Either that or a name card may eventually become obsolete when two persons could just hold their smart phones to face each other, instead of the regular hand shake greeting, to capture each other's QR code so that they have immediate possession of each other's contact information stored in their own webpages. So much for technology of the future and let's carry on with our family history information.
My emails and name cards today do include a QR code too, as seen below, to clarify what's in a name or who's behind the name!
It was fortunate that my great grand father, Tjong Yong Hian and his younger brother Tjong A Fie had become rich and famous after leaving China to seek for their fortune in the country of Indonesia, in the city of Medan. It is through the legacy they had left behind that the historical records of our family and generations of names of our ancestors can be traced. The full knowledge of my rich and famous great grand father and his brother didn't really come to me until my adult years. My father didn't talk much about his ancestors when I was young and the early stories that I had heard from him or my mom was that he started off life poor as he did not claim any rightful inheritance from the family in Indonesia as he was born in Penang island in Malaysia through my grand mother who was one of the plural wives of my grand father.
I guess my father never really shared with us any of the colorful history of his father and wives he had and I grew up as the youngest in a family of 7 children with awareness of the hardships my older siblings had all gone through in their early years. My father started off with a tough time in Penang, poor and bullied by neighborhood kids and without a father as his father, Tjong Kung-We (张公伟 ) had died early from a tragic accident when the roof of his house collapsed and killed him instantly when he returned to China. He had even worked pulling a rickshaw, a two-wheeled passenger cart which was a common mode of transportation in the early days. His lucky break came from working with the British government in the Survey department where he obtained a scholarship to England for his education to become eventually a qualified Chartered Land Surveyor. By the time I was born, we had lived in a large comfortable but old British built government bungalow with a large garden in Kuala Lumpur where he had become a division one officer of the KL survey department.
Relatives on my father's side were almost non existent. He had only 1 sister and she died young from leukemia leaving only a son who was my only cousin from my father's side. There was a distance of age between us as he was as old as my oldest brother and sister. I had more uncles and aunties as well as cousins from my mother's side with the Cheah 謝 surname. So the roots of the Chong clan was not really known to me even though great grand father was a rich and famous man with his younger brother in Medan Indonesia. While I was serving my mission in Malaysia in 1980-82, it was my father who cut out the Star Paper to show me the article about Queeny Chang's book on our ancestry. I'm sharing in this post the interesting info that I have learnt about our ancestry that started just with that one contact with the author of the book who was really my grand aunt,being the daughter of my great grand father's younger brother or the cousin of my grand father Tjong Kung-We who died early. Her father was Tjong A Fie, the younger brother of my great grand father, who also became rich and famous together in South East Asia with my great grand father, based in Medan Indonesia.
Through her I was led to receive a copy of our family genealogy book (族谱- zu pu) which gives me enough names of ancestors to translate from classical chinese to last a life time! The first Zhang surname was supposedly given by the legendary emperor Huang Di (2697-2595 BC) to one of his children who invented bows and arrows. The Chinese character pronounced Zhang is composed of the symbols for 'bow' and 'long'. Zhang has now become one of the most popular names in China today as I have read.
( See the long bow symbol in the Chinese character on the lower left half - 张 )
I had learnt that the Zhang family came from the Sung-kow or 'Sou Kou' village in China in the province of Kwangtung or 'Guangdong'. Our forefathers were originally from central China. Due to droughts, floods and incessant wars, they had drifted from one place to another until they reached the coast. When they finally settled in the provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien on the east coast, they were treated as visitors by the local inhabitants.
Fortunately, in the continued search for my roots recently, I came across a video clip of my great grand father that was only published on youtube early in 2013.
From the above video, the name of Budihardjo Chandra emerged as a new knowledge to me of a living descendant of Tjong Yong Hian, a great grandson similar to my position in the family history or genealogical records. On further research on the internet social media of LinkedIn and Goggle+, I found his name and sent email or messages to him of my desire to connect to him as a Tjong Yong Hian descendant also.
The video clip also reveals that during the Dutch occupation in the early 1900s, the bustling road known as Bogor Street in Medan Indonesia today was once Tjong Yong Hian Street or Tjong Yong Hian Straat (Dutch for Street or Jalan in Malay or Indonesian) A map is seen below, Here is another example of technology. This is not a static photo below. you an click the + symbol in the box on the top left to enlarge the map. You can also move your cursor to touch the map and while pressing the left click button of your mouse and holding it, you can move the map around. Try it :
View Larger Map
So from reading the documents in my hand and the few web pages researched from the internet I have figured out that Song Kou was the village of my ancestors and it is under the county of Meixian that lies in the north-eastern part of Meizhou city which is under the province of Guangdong in China. Here are a couple of pics of Song Kou today :
However being brought up in more modern times, I do allow them to express anger or frustrations in what I call 'Family Drama' that may be disturbing for anyone who may not have faced loud conflicting situations in life proactively by 'opening their mouths' and may always have just kept quiet. I have therefore chosen a Optimal situation where I do allow them to 'Open their Mouths', be even angry to let out their stress or emotions etc but adopting a humble stance to a Father who is older and more experienced than them even in the field of computer technology that they play with, so that there can be open communication. In this way, I can read and study their psychology or maturity of their mental aptitudes or attitudes and know what needs to follow up to nurture them to adulthood to be citizens who will be contributors to society for the better rather than the worse! As they are brought up under a Church that my wife and I had chosen freely to join as separate individuals before we knew each other, and agreed mutually when we were married that we could trust the LDS Church to give them the optimal culture to nurture them to adulthood, I reminded them at times about respecting the Office of the Church to follow the instructions of say a Bishop/President of a Ward or Branch of the Church. They may not be perfect men in the eyes of members as I am not a perfect father either in the eyes of my children, but we learn to respect the office of the person called so that there may be order and peace in the Church or a Family. I did highlight to the children in times of conflicts with me that there is one big difference in a Family compared to the Church system. Bishops/Presidents are released after serving for a good number of years but a Father's calling is never theoretically released even though 21 is the legal age of a child to become independent i.e. to mean he now becomes responsible for himself as an adult to face consequences of his own actions. Reason being for example, a Father and Son relationship can never change as it was created by birth and if birth and the purpose of life can be regarded as sacred or even spiritual, if this bond is broken, detrimental effects may occur to the peace of communities and societies in our world.
Challenges of sons to their Fathers is not uncommon in the history of the world. When one of my sons in one of these challenges suggested that my personal revelations was a foolish imagination or words to that effect, I am quick to remember the experience of Father Lehi in the opening chapters of The Book of Mormon, a book that our family hold sacred, which reads as follows, written by the youngest son Nephi :
8 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.
9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the afountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
10 And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, afirm and bsteadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
11 Now this he spake because of the astiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did bmurmur in many things against their cfather, because he was a dvisionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.
This I never used it against him for it would be unwise to judge a son with scripture even though as a Father, it was revealed to me in a special blessing that I received from the Patriarch of our Church the following gift, "...as you continue your studies of the scriptures, your tongue shall be loosened and you shall never be confounded by those in opposition." For teenage children, I never had to show their foolishness of incomplete knowledge/experience and thus inaccurate interpretations of their young minds with ancient inspired scriptures as I can simply confound them with the simple reasoning and common sense logic that any Father or teenage child should have. If anything, the unstable irrational behaviors of teenagers as a half child half adult is the source of their troubles and from brain studies, some don't even stabilize or become rational even as old as in their mid 20s! Patience is the virtue fathers must have to raise boys to become men but not without constant coaching, instructions and exercises to help them develop self discipline and abilities to focus in order to achieve set goals. In Singapore, parents have the assistance of the government who require all young men of age to be enlisted into the Armed Forces of the country for 2 years. The first in our family to do so recently is Woon Shuan. His first day of entry as a recruit has been recorded here.
Now back to the Chongs. Clayton Chong in our Father-Son trip to the Gold Coast in Australia in June 2013 spent several nights sharing with me his knowledge of Chinese history and politics. He highlighted a Chinese character 孝 (Xiào) to me and explained that it consist of two sets of characters, father at the top and son at the bottom, which means filial piety and how it is written is shown here.
Singapore has many interesting little corners in the small island made accessible by a very efficient transport system. Often times meeting someone is a simple decision of which MRT station to meet at and from there you and the party can wander to a nearby corner for a meal or a drink to socialize or transact! I recently met a US visitor shuttling on flight between New York, Singapore and Jakarta for a quick lunch, pleasant update chats and a short transaction at a building near the Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Such is the efficiency of Singapore. Even as a life time visitor of Singapore, the small island still has many small corners for me that I would like to visit and wander around with fascination.