Family ties

Family ties
I’LL BE BACK, MOM! Bao Mai waves goodbye to his mother, Xuan-Loan Lu, as he leaves her house in Norwalk.

SANG H. PARK, FOR THE REGISTER

Family ties
HELPING OUT: Bao Mai, right, and his siblings help his parents in various ways. Quang Mai, 71, left, and Xuan-Loan Lu, 58, get help with their bills during this visit from Bao. SANG H. PARK, FOR THE REGISTER

The Orange County Register

In the Vietnamese culture, there is a saying: “Nuoi con de nho.”

“Raise your children to rely on them.”

Even in the U.S., where new generations of Vietnamese-Americans grow up not knowing how to speak the language, they know that phrase. It is uttered at family gatherings and overheard in phone conversations so that through the years, it becomes ingrained.

As the children grow older, parents around the dinner table might brag about their son or daughter’s successful career, followed by frank discussions of how their children help financially. It is not unusual for adult children in Asian families to contribute money to their parents on a monthly basis to help pay for their parents’ mortgages and other living expenses.

“It is the ultimate symbol of gratitude that a child can show to his parents,” said Cal State Fullerton professor Son Kim Vo, who has taught courses on Asian-American families and the Vietnamese-American community. “In the Vietnamese culture, it shows the complete cycle of a family. Parents raise their children, and now the children give back.”

The mantra resonates with Bao Mai, 32, of Santa Ana. He and his siblings all pitch in to assist their parents, who live in Norwalk.

“It’s just expected in our culture,” said Mai, who uses the name Steven. “Our parents raise us and then we help take care of them now that we have good careers. It’s the right thing to do.”

Monthly checks of $150 or $300 from each child are not uncommon amounts given to parents. Often it’s not because the parents are in dire financial straits, but because it’s a matter of family duty.

“We do it without even thinking and without our parents even having to ask,” said Trent Nguyen, 34, of Garden Grove. “My mom lives in Texas and I only see her once or twice a year, but I send her $200 a month.”

At the age of 24, Cuong Nguyen began paying for his parents’ mortgage for a house. He started his own business and, at one point, owned six cell phone retail stores to generate enough income to support himself and his parents.

“Helping them out financially has only motivated me to succeed and make a better living for myself,” Cuong said.

Cuong, who is now 27 and owns a long-distance phone service company, has recently purchased a home next door to his folks in Westminster. His parents work part-time, and, Cuong said, he pays for half their mortgage.

“They raised me, and I want to help and repay them back somehow,” he said. “And it makes me feel good that I can lessen their financial burden.”

Not everyone can afford to follow suit.

“I barely make enough money to cover rent and my student loans,” said Mary Hoang, 29, of Fountain Valley, who is of Chinese-Vietnamese descent. “I used to give (my parents) $200 to $300 a month, but it was killing me so I had to stop. They haven’t said anything to me but I know they must think I’m a slacker.”

For a while last year, Mai was laid off from his computer engineer job at Hewlett-Packard and couldn’t give his parents a portion of his earnings. Still, he plunked down about $6,000 to buy them a vacation package to China.

“Right now I may not be able to pay for their monthly mortgage or living expenses, but I try to pitch in other ways,” Mai said.

Mai’s two younger sisters have since taken over their parents’ mortgage.

“Both my sisters are more successful than I am; one is a pharmacist and the other is a physician’s assistant, so they’re OK with taking care of that,” he said.

For Asian-Americans who don’t or can’t give their parents money, the pressure mounts. Growing up, Jin Kim’s mother told him: “It doesn’t matter how much money you earn, it’s how much respect you pay your family.”

“In the Korean culture, it’s customary for children to give their parents their first paycheck,” said Kim, 31, of Irvine. “But I didn’t do that. I was a starving college student at the time!”

Kim says he knows plenty of peers in their 30s and 40s who basically support their parents in every financial way. A few weeks ago, while Kim was visiting his mother in Korea, she brought up the topic in a roundabout way.

“She tried to do the comparing thing by mentioning how her friend’s son just bought her a car,” said Kim, a real estate developer. “I feel the pressure, but I don’t feel obligated right now. Maybe in six to 10 years I will.”

There’s even a running joke that follows the Vietnamese saying of raising children to rely on them later.

“That means you should have lots of children so there will be more money and support later,” said Mai, laughing.

Mai and others said that they don’t expect their future children to support them financially, but added that if their children were to offer, they wouldn’t refuse.

Among those who do give their parents money, there is another half-joke that those who give the most money receive the most love from their parents.

“In a weird way, it is kind of like buying the parents’ love and approval,” Mai said. “I don’t want to say it, but it’s true.”

Tracy Pham, 34, of Garden Grove, said it can raise feelings of resentment among siblings.

“My two sisters make way more money than I do, so they can afford to give my parents more,” said Pham, a hairstylist. “So, in my parents’ eyes, I know I’m not respected as much as my other sisters, and I feel like I can never measure up.”

Her father, Duc Tran, 62, of Santa Ana, dismissed the notion.

“I don’t think that is true,” the retired tailor said. “Her mother and I feel very happy and lucky to have children who are so good to us.”

Contact the writer: knguyen@ocregister.com or 714-796-2298

Click to see larger image
THE organisers are calling it the ‘return of the prodigal… poker son’.
Most people here would not have heard of 65-year-old Singapore-born Willie Tann – one of world poker’s famous faces – simply because there have been no legal card game events here before.

 
Mr Tann has been in the restaurant business, the hot towel business and a bookmaker, but he has made a better living as a poker player

But this could soon change with the first Asian Poker Tour here from 12-17 Nov.

Singapore’s first legal high-stakes poker tournament will be held at the Meritus Mandarin Singapore, with a guaranteed prize pool of at least US$1 million (S$1.6m), to be shared by the final six players..

It is organised by a local company, Capital Events, in conjunction with Betfair (a London-based registered bookmaker and betting exchange) and the Singapore Tourism Board. (See report on facing page.)

For Mr Tann, who’s based in England but still visits Singapore once in a while, it will be a chance to finally showcase the skill and stone-cold ‘poker face’ he has honed over 46 years of playing the game to a Singaporean audience.

Last year, in poker’s version of football’s World Cup – the World Series of Poker – he won US$188,335 and an 18-carat gold bracelet from a one-day event with a buy-in of US$1,000 (the fee players have to pay to enter the main event).

A professional, now sponsored by Betfair, he couldn’t be contacted last night.

But in an interview with UK betting magazine Inside Edge last month, he talked about his life.

He was born in Singapore in 1941, and gambling was not in his parents’ plans for him.

They had high hopes when they sent him to London in 1960 to study law.

But law wasn’t exactly on his mind as he gambled often, and then tried becoming a bookmaker.

He owned a Chinese restaurant in Soho for a couple of years in the 1970s and ran a company supplying hot towels to Chinese restaurants all over London.

But poker was his calling.

ENGLISH VILLAGE

With a total career earnings of almost US$1 million from poker, he lives comfortably some distance out of London in a small village in Hertfordshire called Bovingdon.

There, tudor houses, churches and greenery are more common than casinos.

It’s a world away from London, and definitely from Singapore.

He also has a family away from poker.

As the former law school dropout told Betfair Poker’s website: ‘I’ve been married for almost 30 years now. I have one son who went through Westminster and Oxford, and is now a lawyer himself.’

Well, at least he fulfilled his parents’ dream… through his son.

Mr Tann told the same website: ‘I started playing poker with my fellow students in house games.

‘I was winning a lot of money and so I stopped playing with them, and started playing in ‘spielers’ (casinos) all over London.

‘I thought I could make a better living playing poker. I’ve been in a few other businesses, the restaurant business, the hot towel business, and I’ve been a bookmaker at the race tracks.

‘But poker had always kept me going.’

But it also ‘broke’ him many times as he would spend his ‘earnings’ to enter tournaments and lose.

Once known as the Dice Man, then The Governor, the former No 1 European poker player in 2004 now prefers the nickname Mr Miyagi.

Mr Miyagi, from the 1980s movie The Karate Kid, was the wise old trainer and mentor of young Daniel-san, who spoke philosophically while maintaining a humble profile.

Mr Tann banks on his experience to offer advice on Betfair’s poker website.

Mr Oliver Bowen, 23, Betfair Games’ press officer, said: ‘Willie Tann is famous and respected here in the UK gaming scene. So I guess many Singaporeans will now start to hear more about him and recognise him as the face of the Asian Poker Tour, since he was born in Singapore.’

Mr Joseph Wong, 39, a businessman and director of Capital Events, was the prime mover behind the idea for Singapore’s first legal poker tournament.

He told The New Paper last night: ‘This has nothing to do with the upcoming integrated resort plans for Singapore. This poker tournament will be independent, an annual event.

‘I travel overseas often, and I realise poker’s exploded in the West. Gone is the seedy image associated with it as there’s more emphasis on the skill and psychology of pitting a player against another, as opposed to you playing against the house, which almost always wins.

‘And it’s great that Willie Tann will be returning to Singapore to play the game he could never play here legally all those years.

‘The return of the prodigal poker son after 46 years, I guess…’

  Posted on Sun, May. 07, 2006



By Nerissa Pacio
Mercury News
There is one piece of advice Chloe Dao would give to aspiring Asian-American artists: “Don’t listen to your parents.”

That is, after all, how the 34-year-old Vietnamese-American refugee became a successful fashion designer, entrepreneur and winner of last season’s “Project Runway,” the Bravo channel’s popular reality series that takes place in New York’s fashion world.

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Dao, whose traditional parents urged her from a young age to become a doctor, despite her call to fashion, “I love my mom and dad. But you have to follow your dreams. You have to live for what you want to do.”

Dao, who lives in Houston, was in San Jose recently making an appearance at the Museum of Quilts and Textiles’ opening of its latest exhibit, “Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age.”

Wearing a layered green chiffon cocktail dress and open-toed platforms that boosted her 4-foot-11-inch frame to just over 5 feet, Dao toured the gallery of traditional Vietnamese garments with her mother, Hue Thuc Luong.

A crowd of about 50 people, mostly from the local Vietnamese arts community, eagerly greeted Dao, who later took center stage for a Q&A about her stint on reality TV and her flourishing career. Many of the guests, dressed in colorful ao dais, snacked on fresh spring rolls and took photos of the guest of honor.

“I’m the superstar of the Vietnamese community right now, the golden child, and it’s very cool,” says Dao of her newfound role model status. “When I talk to young people, I tell them I’m living proof that this is what it’s about in America. There are so many career opportunities here — you should let your passion lead you. My mom jokes around saying, `You literally defied my wishes, and now look — you’re popular!’ ”

Dao not only followed her dreams, but she’s also living them with her win on “Project Runway.”

The victory gave her $100,000 in seed money toward her own clothing line, an apprenticeship with the design team at Banana Republic, a spread in Elle magazine and a $24,000 Saturn Sky Roadster. It has also presented a flurry of national media attention and increased traffic into Lot 8, the Houston boutique that carries her designs, co-owned by her sister and business partner, Sydney Dao.

“Things haven’t drastically changed, but they’re not exactly the same,” Dao says. “People recognize me now. I have to brush my hair when I go out of the house.”

The cult show, which is now casting its third season, is a behind-the-scenes look into the fashion industry. It follows a group of aspiring designers in various creative challenges. In each episode, a panel of industry insiders — including designer Michael Kors, supermodel Heidi Klum and Elle magazine fashion director Nina Garcia — deems who did the best job and eliminates the weakest contestant.

Dao’s memorable designs and professionalism kept her in the running week to week, Garcia says. “She was very consistent with her work. It was always impeccable and always delivered. I don’t remember one episode where she didn’t make a good impression.”

The show has attracted a loyal following because “it’s about genuine talent,” Kors says. “It’s not about eating bugs.”

It also mimics the fickle and harsh reality of the fashion business, he adds.

“It’s really about each challenge. You could be floating along doing well, but if you do something that’s just not right — then it’s goodbye.”

Since the series ended for the season, Dao has been hard at work creating an online sales business for her boutique, negotiating a pending deal for a line of special-edition jeans with a yet-to-be-named premium denim company, and making rounds on the press circuit.

She has appeared on the “Today” show with Katie Couric and has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, People, Forbes and Lucky magazines, among others. Still, Dao has made it a point to stay true to her roots.

The weekend after her appearance in San Jose, she spoke at a conference on women in leadership at the Vietnamese American National Gala in San Francisco.

“Vietnamese people aren’t afraid of hard work,” Dao says. “It’s how we have succeeded in this country. Ultimately, it’s why our parents came.”

Born in Laos, Dao, her parents and seven sisters fled the war-torn country and spent time in a Thai family prison before moving to Dallas in 1979 with sponsorship from an uncle. A year later, the family settled in Houston, where her parents owned dry cleaning, food service and tailoring businesses. Seeing her parents’ example instilled a solid work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit in her, she says.

So far, Dao’s drive has paid off. What began as an after-school hobby of making jewelry, Barbie outfits and her own prom dress evolved into a full-fledged fashion design career.

She opened her boutique, named after the eight Dao sisters, in 2000 and is already planning for an expansion. She’s also working on more of her own designs, which she’ll sell in Lot 8.

But even after racking up accomplishments — from a degree in pattern-making from the Fashion Institute of Technology to an eight-year run working at fashion houses in New York to her “Project Runway” win — Dao says she still has a ways to go.

Everything is next,” Dao says. “I’m working on my next collection. I’m dying to do a sportswear collection. Eventually I could do menswear. You’ll definitely see me in fashion for a long, long time.”


Contact Nerissa Pacio at npacio@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5827.

Ignoring parents

July 8, 2006

 

June 13, 2006

THREE out of four childcare centre workers use child-rearing practices that go against what some parents demand.

A new report reveals that although carers ask parents how they want their children cared for, they are often unable to put the requests into practice, resulting in many clashes over cultural expectations.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies said there were often wide differences between parents and childcare workers over discipline, toilet training and the value of “messy play”.

Childcare workers are more likely to encourage children to develop independence in dressing and feeding themselves, going against the wishes of some parents.

The need to conform with childcare accreditation standards and ensure children were not left out of group activities made it difficult for workers to meet the desires of many parents.

   

The study looked at the child-rearing practices of different cultural groups and found Vietnamese parents wanted their children to begin toilet training as soon as possible.

Somali and Vietnamese parents did not want their children involved in messy play involving things such as sand and water because they considered it dirty.

Somali families wanted childcare workers to feed their children and Vietnamese families wanted their children instructed in counting and writing, not play.

Childcare workers told study authors Kelly Hand and Sarah Wise that it was difficult to ban some children from messy play because they could not understand why others in the group were allowed to have the experience.

Meanwhile, parents are getting conflicting advice on how to claim the 30 per cent childcare rebate.

An Australian Taxation Office pamphlet issued to parents last week tells parents they must keep receipts to claim the rebate.

But the ATO’s website tells parents they can use information from the Family Assistance Office.

BY JOHN R. IRBY

TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Wednesday, July 5, 2006


BACK PAGE
THE NUMBERS: How many Asian-Americans are in the Richmond area?

When Brian Nguyen gets down on himself, he reads the message on his sneakers: RIP David.

<a href=”http://ads.mgnetwork.com/RealMedia/ads/click_nx.ads/timesdispatch.com/news@Left3?x”><img src=”http://ads.mgnetwork.com/RealMedia/ads/adstream_nx.ads/timesdispatch.com/news@Left3?x&#8221; border=”0″></a>

“It reminds me to play harder,” he said

A rising junior at J.R. Tucker High School, Nguyen, 16, lives for basketball. His brother, who played basketball at James River High School, died four years ago at the age of 18. According to Brian, peer pressure led to drugs and other complications and David took his own life.

But David’s support of Brian lives on, and the 6-4 center expects to play varsity for the Tigers next season.

“The reason I got into basketball was because my brother wanted me to play,” Brian said. “He wanted me to play to make my parents happy and to see me do something. He made it to college, but he failed . . . drugs and stuff . . . he didn’t want me to do that.”

. . .

Nguyen hopes to graduate from high school and college, then get a good job and support his parents. Those kinds of dreams fit the Asian stereotype of the model minority. But Nguyen doesn’t fit the stereotype of some Asian groups being genetically smaller and only able to challenge in sports that feature quickness and agility, such as soccer.

While some stereotypes may have at least a partial basis in fact, many do not. Just ask Nguyen.

“Not that many [Asians] play basketball, most play soccer or track . . . but don’t judge us, everyone is different,” Nguyen said. “I don’t think about race. Black, white, whatever, we’re all just playing sports.”

Asian-Americans playing sports in the Richmond metro area, however, are a silent minority. Some believe stereotypes, prejudice and bias still must be overcome.

“I’m Filipino. There’s a stereotype saying all Asians are the same, but Asians in this area come from many countries,” said Gerry Quindoza, a vice president at SunTrust Bank. “Filipinos, Koreans and Japanese might be smaller, but Chinese are not. Look at Yao Ming. He’s 7-foot-6.”

Quindoza, who has played sports most of his life, came to Richmond in 2003 from Hampton Roads. He believes Asians face subtle scrutiny in sports.

“Some people haven’t educated themselves. They might subconsciously perceive something that is not true. It’s more of a matter of ignorance or unconscious bias, not racism.”

Quindoza said that while basketball is big in the Philippines, he hasn’t seen nearly as many Asian-Americans playing the sport in this area as he has in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. “Some play tennis and golf, but you don’t see many playing basketball, football and baseball.

“Soccer is big with the Indian, Pakistani and Korean populations. But with the second generation, there is increasing interest in all sports.”

. . .

Soccer has been the most noticeable of sports played by Asian-Americans in the area, underscored by a large annual tournament the past three years.

“We had six teams – China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Thailand and India,” said Dave Duong, event organizer and chair of the committee for the Asian American Society of Central Virginia. “Soccer is our primary sport, followed by ping-pong.”

Duong said each of the six teams had 22 players. He believes soccer is popular for two reasons. First, it is “played in the streets” of the 17 countries he says Richmond’s Asian-Americans are from. Second, soccer is not as physically demanding as football. Ping-pong, he says, is popular because it is inexpensive to play.

He doesn’t believe Asian-Americans in area high schools face scrutiny, even though coaches can have expectations for various sports.

“I think coaches can have a prototype in any sport,” said J.R. Tucker Athletic Director John Carroll. “But any unconscious bias goes by the wayside when a coach finds a kid who can maximize the effectiveness of the team. Every coach wants to win.”

Darrell Jenkins, athletic director at Deep Run High School, agrees. “Our coaches want to be as successful as possible. We are looking at ability. They are looking for bigger, stronger, faster, but that isn’t tied to ethnicity. They just want the best athletes.”

Asked if Asian parents encourage their children to play sports, Quindoza said, “I think they push them more toward academics. Sports are not a primary focus for Asian parents.”

He said, however, he will encourage his 2½-year-old son to play golf, basketball and baseball and that his 5-year-old daughter likes soccer and already is playing tennis.

“Second-generation Asian-Americans are different than first-generation,” he said. “I was talking to a . . . guy who called the second generation ‘confused.’ ” Confused, in the sense, he said, that later generations of American immigrants no longer just are interested in sports of their home country, but are becoming Americanized in overall sports interests.

Brian Nguyen is not sure about his basketball future. If he has a chance to play in college, he says he will take it. For now, however, he understands he will continue to face peer pressures to change and possibly conform, just like his brother David.

“My friends smoke and they want me to do it, but I won’t. I wasn’t real close to my brother [because of the age difference], but I listened and looked up to him.”

Now he looks down to reconnect with his brother and focus on the future.

This story can be found at: http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1149188939137&path=!sports&s=1045855934844

Go Back

NERISSA PACIO
San Jose Mercury News

SAN JOSE, Calif. There is one piece of advice Chloe Dao would give to aspiring Asian American artists: “Don’t listen to your parents.”

That is, after all, how the 34-year-old Vietnamese American refugee became a successful fashion designer, entrepreneur and winner of last season’s “Project Runway,” the Bravo channel’s popular reality series that takes place in New York’s fashion world.

“Don’t get me wrong,” says Dao, whose traditional parents urged her from a young age to become a doctor, despite her call to fashion. “I love my mom and dad. But you have to follow your dreams. You have to live for what you want to do.”

Dao, who lives in Houston, was in San Jose recently making an appearance at the Museum of Quilts and Textiles’ opening of its exhibit, “Ao Dai: A Modern Design Coming of Age.”

Wearing a layered green chiffon cocktail dress and open-toed platforms that boosted her 4-foot-11-inch frame to just over 5 feet, Dao toured the gallery of traditional Vietnamese garments with her mother, Hue Thuc Luong.

“I’m the superstar of the Vietnamese community right now, the golden child, and it’s very cool,” says Dao of her role-model status. “When I talk to young people, I tell them I’m living proof that this is what it’s about in America. There are so many career opportunities here — you should let your passion lead you. My mom jokes around saying, `You literally defied my wishes, and now look — you’re popular!’.”

Dao not only followed her dreams, but she’s also living them with her win on “Project Runway.”

The victory gave her $100,000 in seed money toward her own clothing line, an apprenticeship with the design team at Banana Republic, a spread in Elle magazine and a $24,000 Saturn Sky Roadster. It has also presented a flurry of national media attention and increased traffic into Lot 8, the Houston boutique that carries her designs, co-owned by her sister and business partner, Sydney Dao.

“Things haven’t drastically changed, but they’re not exactly the same,” Dao says. “People recognize me now. I have to brush my hair when I go out of the house.”

The cult show, which is now in production on its third season, is a behind-the-scenes look into the fashion industry.

It follows a group of aspiring designers in various creative challenges. In each episode, a panel of industry insiders — including designer Michael Kors, supermodel Heidi Klum and Elle magazine fashion director Nina Garcia — deems who did the best job and eliminates the weakest contestant.

Dao’s memorable designs and professionalism kept her in the running week to week, Garcia says. “She was very consistent with her work. It was always impeccable and always delivered. I don’t remember one episode where she didn’t make a good impression.”

The show has attracted a loyal following because “it’s about genuine talent,” Kors says. “It’s not about eating bugs.”

It also mimics the fickle and harsh reality of the fashion business, he adds.

“It’s really about each challenge. You could be floating along doing well, but if you do something that’s just not right — then it’s goodbye.”

Since the series ended for the season, Dao has been hard at work creating an online sales business for her boutique, negotiating a pending deal for a line of special-edition jeans with a yet-to-be-named premium denim company, and making rounds on the media circuit.

She has appeared on the “Today” show with Katie Couric and has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, People, Forbes and Lucky magazines, among others.

Shortly after her appearance in San Jose, she spoke at a conference on women in leadership at the Vietnamese American National Gala in San Francisco.

“Vietnamese people aren’t afraid of hard work,” Dao says. “It’s how we have succeeded in this country. Ultimately, it’s why our parents came.”

Born in Laos, Dao, her parents and seven sisters fled the war-torn country and spent time in a Thai family prison before moving to Dallas in 1979 with sponsorship from an uncle.

A year later, the family settled in Houston, where her parents owned dry cleaning, food service and tailoring businesses. Seeing her parents’ example instilled a solid work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit in her, she says.

So far, Dao’s drive has paid off. What began as an after-school hobby of making jewelry, Barbie outfits and her own prom dress evolved into a full-fledged fashion design career.

She opened her boutique, named after the eight Dao sisters, in 2000 and is already planning an expansion. She’s also working on more of her own designs, which she’ll sell in Lot 8.

But even after racking up accomplishments — from a degree in pattern-making from the Fashion Institute of Technology to an eight-year run working at fashion houses in New York to her “Project Runway” win — Dao says she still has a ways to go.

“Everything is next,” Dao says. “I’m working on my next collection. I’m dying to do a sportswear collection. Eventually I could do menswear. You’ll definitely see me in fashion for a long, long time.”

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