The Teochew Store Blog / family
Today's Teochew presence in the United States was largely established after a wave of migration in the 1970s and 1980s. However, do you know that historical shipping records show that about 40,000 coolies were shipped from Swatow to the country between 1852 to 1858, and some of them might have formed their own fishing settlements on the West Coast? Learn about this and various stories of success achieved by the Teochews in America in this documentary produced by Shantou Television 22 years ago.
Escaping Cambodia with five children in the 1970s, a Teochew couple were cruelly separated on the Thailand border. Yet they were miraculously reunited in Canada five years later and after much hard work, eventually came to own a supermarket. Notwithstanding its great distance from Asia, Canada is a gathering point for Teochews who resettled from Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China. Let’s watch this video where several of them share their stories and aspirations.
For over 200 years till the mid-20th century, Southeast Asia was the primary migration destination for the Teochew people. However, as the result of various wars and upheavals in the 1970s, tens of thousands of Teochew families in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were forced to resettle again in France. Watch this documentary produced by Shantou Television in 1997 to hear the stories of how these Teochews who arrived in a foreign land as refugees courageously re-established their lives in Europe.
Watch how the Teochews living in Cambodia in the 1990s, after surviving the devastations of the brutal Pol Pot regime and years of war, devoted their scarce resources towards the education of the next generation.
Thailand has the largest Teochew diaspora in the world, with the size of the community estimated at 5 million in the mid-1990s. This documentary from 1997 by Shantou Television gives a glimpse of the lives of the Teochews in Thailand. (Audio in Mandarin, with some interviews in Teochew).
A fellow Teochew in the UK is running a blog, Learn Diosua Ue with Juyee 和如意學潮汕話, since 2013 to help English speakers learn and appreciate our mother tongue. Her name, you guessed it, is Juyee 如意.
Juyee's blog is at learnteochewwithjuyee.blogspot.com
Juyee grew up speaking English and picked up Teochew, both speaking, reading, writing only as an adult. The Teochew Store recently spoke with her to find out more about her blog and her personal experiences in becoming fluent in our language, a formidable task for many of us!
Today is the 15th and last day of the Chinese New Year. Also called Tsap Ngou Meh 十五暝 or Nguang Siao Zoih 元宵節.
Teochews mark this day with prayers for the family, more feasting, riddle guessing games and open lantern parades. Because this day provided a rare opportunity for single young men and women to meet publicly in the past, it has also been compared as the "Chinese Valentine's Day".
On this beautiful note, we leave you with this wonderful Teochew language remix of Zhou Xuan's famous 1940 classic "Full Moon Blooming Flower" (月圓花好).
Meet Mr Tan Peng Boon, a 78-year-old grandfather in Singapore. He is a Teochew and nine years ago he created a website with the goal of enabling English-speakers to pick up the Teochew language. Remarkably, the retiree took upon himself to learn how to build a website in order to realise this.
The Teochew Store recently spoke with Mr Tan to find out the story behind his passion to keep alive his Teochew heritage and his “Teochew for English Speakers” website.
“Teochew for English Speakers” can be accessed from http://gateways.sg/~TeochewEnglish/index.asp.
Video of Mr. Tan's grandsons doing a lively recitation of Teochew nursery rhyme “A Pear Tree on the Hilltop”):
How about kicking off the first week of the New Year with 5 Teochew songs to start your day?
As the result of torrential rains on 29 and 30 August, extensive areas in the Teochew region were afflicted by floods. In some worst hit parts in Teoyor (潮陽 ) and Pholeng (普寧) districts, water-levels reached up to 2 metres and entire towns and villages were covered under water. Watch the Gaginang spirit in action as communities across Teochew mobilised themselves wasted no time to step forward selflessly evacuate and provide relief to tens of thousands of families trapped by the deluge. Teochew nang, Gaginang!
This video, produced by a popular radio show of Shantou Radio & Television (STRTV, 汕頭電視台), strings together nearly 40 Teochew nursery rhymes.
Many of the nursery rhymes were written back in the times of an agricultural society and may be unfamiliar even to daddy or mummy. However, they could well be happy childhood memories of Ah Gong and Ah Ma, so more good reasons for big family-get-togethers.
The first made-in-Teochew movie to be screened soon nationwide in China in recent times. Video uploaded for entertainment purpose.
Update:amendments made to reflect the correct pronunciations of the following surnames - 韋, 顏, 史, 藍, 戴, 方, 倪, as well as additions of other surnames 單/单, 區/区, 查 and 費/费. Special thanks to our reader Lee Kheng Nguan for his contributions.
The social life of a Teochew centres around his/her extended family. This is something many of us living in big modern cities can be unused to.
One of our greatest fears is to be "ambushed" by a group of uncles or aunts whom we have not seen for a while, and being caught tongue-tied not remembering how to address them. But fret not. Getting the correct address for almost any relative can be real simple (yes!!!), if we keep by these ten basic rules....
By anecdotal accounts Teochew women are highly desired in China as ideal marriage partners. They are reputed for being gentle in character, imbued with strong family values and capable in managing the household. This is statistically supported by divorce rate of around 2 percent in Swatow in recent years, which is lower than most parts of the country and certainly a mere fraction of figures in Western societies. But what shapes the fine Teochew woman? Insights into letters written over a half a century ago by the Teochew husbands working abroad to home are instructive.
Since The Teochew Store was formed, we have received numerous requests for help from fellow Gaginangs to locate their ancestral village. Depending on the leads provided, we were able to assist many, but for others it is more difficult because some places have been renamed or now fall behind a different boundary line, other communities are unlisted on maps or the internet, or even when a place is found, there remains uncertainty if its residents have the same surname.
Fortunately the Shantou University (STU) Library has built a khieu-phue database (僑批數據庫) allowing keyword search for meta-data of some 70,000 pieces of khieu-phue (or "migrants letters", which were correspondences sent together with money remittances by Teochews living in Southeast Asia to their homes in Teochew), receipts and return letters. The site URL is http://app.lib.stu.edu.cn/qiaopi/index.aspx.
Teochew Documentary: Letters of A Family On Two Shores - Two-Part Documentary on the Teochew Letters
"... the true value of the Teochew Letters can only be unlocked by the people they are addressed to. Individually, every set of letters tell the stories and struggles of a family in a moment of history. But put together, all of them express the purpose and meaning of life to every common man - to seek the betterment of life for the ones who love us, and to pass this dream to the children after us."