It isn’t everyday that someone celebrates turning 100. So, when Constance Choong turned 100 last October, her seven children decided to throw her a birthday bash like no other. They invited family and friends from all over the world and more than 300 guests turned up, flying in from Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore to honour Choong’s milestone birthday.
In a tribute to his mother, Daniel Chan Weng Kay put together a 20-minute slideshow which he titled, “The remarkable life of Constance Choong”, in which he gave a comprehensive account of his mother’s life.
Choong was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1919 and received her education at the Pudu English Girls School (now SMK Perempuan Pudu). She went on to become a teacher and taught English at the Yuk Sam Chinese School in KL for 15 years until she resigned “to look after my children”.
In her speech at her party, Choong thanked her guests and said she was ready to “begin my life at 100”.
“I am honoured that all of you have come from far and near to celebrate this amazing milestone with me. This event is special as it happens only once in 100 years.
“For me, 100 years went by quickly as I was kept busy as a daughter, sibling, student, teacher, wife, mother of seven children, grandmother and now great grandmother.
“You may ask me how it feels to be 100. Well, of course I feel very, very happy to reach 100. Life is full of ups and downs but you can choose to be happy. Today, I found a new level of happiness. I am thankful to God for his graciousness to me and to all of you for your love and kindness. I feel very privileged to share this moment with you,” said Choong who is still in good health.
In an interview with The Star three years ago, Choong said that the secret to a long, happy and healthy life was to “eat in moderation ... less sugar and very little salt”. She also emphasised the importance of “being contented, positive and forgiving”.
“The best vitamins are your friends,” she said in the interview.
The centenarian and her husband, Chan Kum Leong (who passed away in 2004 at the age of 87) have seven children (five boys and two girls), 12 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
“In her lifetime, mum has gone through the World War II, experienced a fire, a big flood and the May 13 riots,” said Chan.
“Mum, you are indeed a woman of substance and we are all very proud of you. You are a wonderful mum and a doting grandmother and great grandmother. Your upbeat nature and loving personality is truly an inspiration and we love you to the moon and back,” said Chan.