Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tracing The Roots By Younger Generations

On Saturday 20 September 2006 I gave a talk about our great grandfather, Chew Joo Chiat at my home. Many relatives were invited but only my nephew Andrew Chew and his sister Dawn  were present. I gave him the book “Joo Chiat a living legacy” before he left.

In November 2006 I  gave Andrew our family tree website to kindle his interest in tracing his roots.

                                       Andrew Chew

It took 8 years from 2006 to 2014 for the seed I planted to germinate.

On 19 October 2014 Andrew wrote to me:

Hi Uncle Philip 

Its been a while, how have you been? Recently there's a urge for me to trace back my roots as well. For a start, I think it is good for me to pay respect to our ancestor. Understand that you had been to Joo Chiat's grave before. Do you know how I could get there? (I only have a brief outline of a map I found online)

I replied 

Hi Andrew, it's a pleasure to show you Chew Joo Chiat's grave. It is at Bukit Brown Cemetery. l was there in August 2014 with my son and his family from US. Contact me when you are ready. Get more relatives to come along if they are interested.

We fixed the date Saturday 29 November 2014 to visit Chew Joo Chiat’s grave. He told me 6 other relatives would be visiting too. We arranged to meet at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange. 

On the appointed date I was surprised to see a dozen relatives including 2 of my cousins. They were 4th 5th and 6th generations of Chew Joo Chiat. We boarded bus service No. 157 which took us there. 

At Bukit Brown Cemetery everybody was happy walking on metal road until they reach the foot path that led to Joo Chiat's grave. We could see large tyre tracks of truck. It was muddy with puddles of water here and there. We moved very carefully forward until we reached the marker. We walked up the slope a short distance and was glad to see our ancestor's grave. It was my first attemp leading such a big group at BBC.

                                                   At Toa Payoh bus interchange

Walking towards the cemetery 

Inside cemetery ground

Chew Joo Chiat's grave

At Chew Joo Chiat's grave

On the way out of the foot path.

The group wanted to explore the area and Dominic who was there to assist me took them to see Ong Sam Leong'grave.

                                                    Ong Sam Leong's grave

We were fortunate that the weather was kind to us. After we left the cemetery ground  there was a heavy rain.

Comments below were collected by Andrew Chew and forwarded to me on Wed 3rd Dec 2014.

Just to consolidate on our thoughts after visiting the grave:

Joanne Lim: It's a great feeling to gather with our different generations to visit and pay respect to our great great great grandfather tomb and understand the history.

Lillian Chew: Today after visiting my great grandpa, I feel very happy and also give the chance give to meet my cousin, nephew and niece. We chat and laugh together and have our lunch together.

Mei Yan: A very enjoyable trip. Meet up with cousins and pay respect our great great great great grandfather.

Joseph Lim: It's a fruitful experience for the younger generations like us to learn more of our ancestor and the root of our origin.

Andrew Chew: Thinking on how our ancestor came to a foreign land and settled down, live and died here. It's nice that the descendants are able to visit the grave, each living and continue the path forward.

Ivy Chew wrote: helo thank you Philip. It was good  to meet the other relatives really unfamiliar. Thanks for arranging the trips and meetings. Look forward to the book.

Bellra Chew: Really thankful to Philip uncle fo  bringing us to visit our ancestor grave and sharing his knowledge with us. It's a very meaningful experience to be able to hear stories of the past and learn to appreciate our roots.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chris' Family Tracing Their Roots

My son Chris and his family arrived here from California on Wednesday 9th July 2014 for a month’s holidays. The next day I was taken aback when he told me that they wanted to visit Chew Joo Chiat’s grave. I was lost for words. It was my joyous moment that my son had shown interest in his roots.
We arranged to visit Bukit Brown Cemetery on Saturday 12 July 2014. I visited the site many times and was quite confident of finding my great grandfather’s grave easily. I remembered a ‘No Entry’ sign board and a foot path beside it. When we arrived at the site I noticed the scenery there was different compared to before. Previously the foot path was narrow, wet and soggy, and both sides of the path were covered with trees and thick foliage (picture 1). That day the foot-path was dry and well-trodden. There was less foliage and a few graves at the sides of the foot-path were visible (picture 2). Chew Joo Chiat’s grave, a double tomb up the slope could not be seen from below.  

                                                picture 1

picture 2

I was disorientated by the change of scenery and had problem finding the grave. We walked to and fro the foot-path a number of times plus climbing up a few slopes. I was very sure of the ‘No Entry’ signboard and the foot-path beside it. Fortunately I remembered an additional clue. Along the foot-path on the left hand side was a tree trunk with a patch of red paint. My great grandfather’s grave was directly opposite it on the right hand side. We found the tree with the red paint (picture 3). The girls were tired and waited at the foot path. I and Chris walked up the slope directly opposite the tree. Within a minute we saw Chew Joo Chiat’s double tomb. We could not find it earlier because we were facing the wrong side of the grave. Furthermore, the tomb was completely covered with vegetation except for the front tombstones. 

picture 3

Chris announced the good news to the girls and led them to the site.

picture 4, 5 & 6

All of us were very happy and smiling. Chris said “mission accomplished”. We took a few pictures standing beside Chew Joo Chiat’s  tomb (picture 7 & 8). It was our momentous hour discovering and getting connected  to our roots as the 4th, 5th and 6th generations.

                                          picture 7 & 8

Picture (9) shows the double tomb. The tomb on the left belongs to Chew Joo Chiat’s second wife Tan Quan Neo who was a Peranakan. For some reason she was not buried in the tomb reserved for her.     Instead, I found her grave at another location quite a distance away from the double tomb.

                                             picture 9