Welcome to Toisan Pride

Toisanese (Hoisanese is the REAL pronunciation; and Mandarin speakers call it "Taishan" or Taishanese") were among the first Chinese-Cantonese immigrants to hail to the United States from the Guangdong/Guangzhou Province of Southern China in the Pearl River Delta, west of Hong Kong.

Many Hoisanese immigrants came to the U.S. starting in the 19th century to help build railroads, and eventually stayed to establish laundromats, restaurants, etc. and worked hard to build a better future for their families. Some famous Hoisan folks include: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Chef Martin Yan (Yan Can Cook); Hawaii Senator Hiram Fong, Hong Kong Martial Artist Donnie Yen (star of IP MAN), Actor James Hong, Former California Treasurer Matt Fong; Actress Anna May Wong. For more Toisan/Taishan background history, click on Wikipedia.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Some day, I plan on updating it but Blogger isn't the greatest with blog templates so I appreciate your patience! I welcome comments, stories, photos, Toisanese/Say-Yip history, anything about our wonderful people to toisangirl@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Mother

Me & my mom in Long Beach, I look like a little boy...

My mother was beautiful. I was five years old and in my eyes she could do no wrong, and was all I needed in my world. Youthful, beautiful, and kind, she had a somewhat ethereal quality to her. In the morning, I’d watch her coif her long black hair into a perfectly-formed princess bun on top of her head as scents of Jergens lotion and Jean Nate cologne lingered in our downstairs bathroom.

She had dark almond-shaped eyes and porcelain white skin that complimented her petite figure. I held her hand as we walked down Oakmont Street to La Merced Elementary School to my kindergarten class on my first day of school. I cried so hard when I realized she was leaving me there. I had never been away from my mom before and so the thought of separation drove me to tears. I remember crying for what seemed an eternity in Mrs. Shaw’s class when a brown-haired Mexican girl asked "Do you want to play with me?"

With one question, she broke my concentration on bawling and snapped me out of my reverie. I replied, "Me, you want to play with me?" So we played, we laughed, napped, ate snacks and I discovered kindergarten wasn’t so bad after all. I didn't miss my mom after all. When mom returned to pick me up, we walked hand in hand up back up Oakmont Street along sidewalks that fronted manicured middle-class homes that led us back onto 4th Street to our house. At home, I sat on a yellow vinyl stool in our avocado green kitchen while my mom made me a Chicken of the Sea tuna sandwich with mayonnaise on white Wonder Bread. I just remember it tasting so good after my first day of kindergarten.

In fifth grade, my idealized image of my mother began to unravel. One day, she told me “Keep some secret, don’t tell people everything about us.” Our conversations became stilted and her mind seemed preoccupied as if she were millions of miles away. I began to lose my trust in sharing my thoughts and feelings with her. Sometimes she’d ask me about my day but it was seldom, so I retreated to my journals and into my room to pour out my hopes, fears, and guarded thoughts.

Another time, she whispered to me, “We can’t talk in here, there are cameras and recorders set up in our house to spy on us,” so she’d insist on lecturing me in our backyard or front yard. Her beautiful mind was spinning into paranoia and I was confused. I knew something was off.

As a child, I didn’t care about money too much since we always seemed to have enough for dinner or I simply didn’t know any better. But there were ensuing arguments between my parents night after night about money or other things. I’d kneel by my bedside and pray to an unseen Christian Protestant God asking him to bring peace to our household.

It never came.


  1. What a beautiful story of your mom and a very familiar one relating to childhood. I think most of us who grew up 'back in the day' in a Toisan household have similar experiences, I know I did. These are nostalgic at the least and perhaps somewhat bitter sweet but, I wouldn't trade these memories for the world. I'm sure you're like me, I love my mom & dad!

  2. Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a compelling story, which brings my own childhood to mind: translating things for my mom, being fascinated by the mysterious smells of "care packages" sent to her from China, going to reunions at the family association in Boston Chinatown... My parents endured a great deal to make a good life for their 8 kids. Ooah-dieh!

  4. Ho ooah-die ah Pat. Thanks for reading my blog and for sharing your comment. Wow, 8 kids is a lot! I too recall being mesmerized by my mother's mysterious and musty chinese style wooden chest that she brought from Hong Kong, in fact, I inherited one of them and sometimes imagine the journey that it took and what magic it could hold... as inspiration for my next writing - thank you for bringing that up!

  5. Johnson6.5.15

    Hello, Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I was raised in similar conditions and my parents always have money for our education. Just buy a pen set for yourself and pretend they give it to you. It may bring back the good feeling.
    I always know my mom send money to support her parents. We grew up not having things like my friends. I made a trip back to my dad's village and found out he was supporting his relatives back there. I did not feel bad growing up without things anymore.
    In fact, I was very proud of my dad to support our family in need.
    Ni how u seem.