San Francisco

4 Chinatown residents celebrate their second century

Yesterday afternoon, friends, family, city officials and community partners gathered at Chinatown Community Development Center's (CCDC) Bayside Senior Housing to celebrate birthdays for four residents who've reached their second century.

Chiu Ping Lee, Phat Lam Hoang, Pak Ling Yu and Kam Ha Kong were joined by District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and CCDC executive director Norman Fong. Peskin represents the area, and Kim worked for CCDC early in her career as a Chinatown youth organizer.

"In a society that increasingly prioritizes youth over everything, it's beautiful to celebrate the incredible gifts of our community members who have traversed a century of life and still continue to give," said Peskin via email. 

Photo: Jane Kim

Dragon Papa Dessert owner Derek Tam was also on hand to demonstrate the 2000-year-old art of hand-made "longevity" dragon beard candy for the celebrants. 

Two of the residents — Pak Ling Yu and Kam Ha Kong — have been married since their twenties and are "ringing in their 100th year together," said a CCDC spokesperson.

When asked for their secrets to living a long life, Yu said the trick is "eating a lot of fish and early morning strolls in Chinatown parks." Kong is "convinced that Peskin was her English teacher at one point in her life," said a spokesperson, "so, [the secret] might be learning," she said. 

Chiu Ping Lee, who actually turned 101 this year, said her longevity secret is not sweating the small stuff. "Let go and let God," she said at the party. 

Phat Lam Hoang—who originally hails from Nanhai, China—celebrated his 105th birthday. At the event, he told attendees that his longevity is owed to his faith; his 95-year-old wife, also in attendance, echoed the sentiment. 

Diana Pang with Grandma Pang. | Photo: Sunny Angulo

CCDC's Diana Pang—who grew up in the Chinatown youth program—was also in attendance with her grandmother, who while doesn't live in the home, also celebrated her 100th birthday this past Sunday. 

The other four residents all live at the 31-unit, low-income senior housing community, which is managed by CCDC.

In addition to providing resident services and property management, the organization aims to ensure residents have opportunities to build community, engage with its youth program, and participate in intergenerational activities. 

"CCDC has long engaged in a comprehensive community building program along with general support services, including games like bingo and cooking together," Kim told Hoodline via text message. 

Birthday celebrants receiving a certificate of honor. | Photo: Sunny Angulo

As a youth organizer, she helped start a tenant services program at the senior facility with "youth-led monthly actives to build generational ties and combat isolation," Kim said. 

"We love our centenarians." said Fong. "The secret to longevity is love and care."


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