Sunnyvale’s Lo Wong Chang’s official date of birth is May 4, 1921. But each year, her actual birthday lands on the fourth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. This year, Chang turned 100 years young on June 13. Her family brought her cake, roast duck and zongzi. (Some Chinese people eat zongzi, comprised of sticky rice and other ingredients wrapped in bamboo leaves, to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival.)
Chang was born in Shanghai, China. She came to America in 1976 and settled in Sunnyvale in 2002.
Chang’s late husband, Pao En, born in 1911, lived past 100. He passed away about 10 years ago. With Pao En, Chang has four children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Andrew, Chang’s son, translated for Chang, who speaks Chinese and some English.
“My parents met when my father took my mother and some of her friends to take a college entrance exam,” Andrew said. “This was before World War II. At that time, my father and mother were separated, and they communicated with letters. When my father visited Shanghai as a soldier, he located my mother and they got married. They got married in 1938 or 1939.”
“My mother went from Shanghai all the way to Sichuan during the Sino-Japanese War,” Andrew continued. “After the Japanese surrendered the war in 1945, my mother went back to Shanghai with my father. They stayed there until the Communists took over and then the whole family went to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, that was when my mother’s youngest child, my sister, was born. My mother gave birth to three sons in China and one of them included me. When my mother came to the United States, she had to learn English and take the citizenship exam in English.”
According to Andrew, jobs Chang held in Asia included being a teacher and the educational director of a school. Chang was also a writer and had written novels with essays and commentaries about current events in the world and her personal philosophies.
During her spare time, Chang practices wai dang gong, a series of physical movements that benefit the body. According to Andrew, wai dang gong is translated to mean “outside medicine work.” Chang also likes to read and write. In her earlier years, Chang did Chinese paintings and sewed. With affection, Andrew remembered how Chang used to sew his pajamas. Nowadays, she mends clothes.
When asked about what advice she has for others from her 100 years of life experience, Chang responded, “Try to remember the good things about different people. Try to forget about the bad things that people have done. That’s how you have peace of mind. Think of the good stuff. Don’t dwell on the bad stuff.”
“It’s always great to celebrate the birthdays of our residents, especially in reaching the important milestone of 100 years,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, who gave Chang a certificate to recognize her birthday. “I want to congratulate Mrs. Chang on reaching the century mark and for being a longtime member of Sunnyvale’s community.”