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Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Rose Pak - 
1947 - 2016
R. I. P.

Rose Pak has left us -  with her passing -  Rose Pak has left a vacuum. Who will fill the vacuum? Those of us who are proud of her legacy!

 It will be difficult to fill the vacuum - the powerful connections she had - talking directly to anyone with power in San Francisco - to make good things happen - quickly.

The many Chinese - who spoke Cantonese and those that spoke Mandarin - she heard them.

 More - she took care of them. Many tears will be shed all over Chinatown - and all for good measure.

Rose Pak has left a legacy -  years after she is laid to rest at the age of 68.

 The thousands she touched - all these many years - will proudly state and remember - the good things she did - her stellar achievements too many to count. 

To the thousands ordinary children, women, and men - she touched - they will remember her most.

Those that welded immense power - and befriended Rose Pak - in San Francisco - she was a trusted - friend.

Among them Art Agnos, Willie L. Brown Jr., Gavin Newsmen - the many movers and shakers that count in San Francisco.

Rose Pak had an uncanny ability to facilitate - open the door for others to make good things - happen.

While she observed with a keen sense of loving and nurturing -  the progress made by those she helped - watching carefully over them - from  a distance - making one comfortable - prodding them to do well .

Among them - many a Mayor, many a politician, many a person - owe their status - doing well for themselves - to Rose Pak.

When men in Chinatown held power - she ruled the men - speaking her mind - and her strong voice was heard - loud and clear. 

She took on issues - and stood her ground -  she wanted to win and do right - and when she did not - she took it personal.

When some figured that the Freeway by the Embarcadero should  be demolished in 1989 - she wanted to fix it - so that Chinatown would continue to have access. 

She thought more about her community - and want people to come and share their wealth and good with the Chinese at good old San Francisco's - Chinatown - with the many restaurant and stores with all sorts of goods.

When it was decided to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway - leading to SF Chinatown - she did not have anything to do with those responsible.

Years later to realize - she had to move on - and those who she did not speak for years - reconciled with her and her life went on.

Rose Pak's tenacity and fortitude stems from her Catholic education in Macau and Hong Kong. Her faith in God - but also very hard work - she was very intelligent - but more had an uncanny way to find solutions to many problems.

When she was 17 she received a scholarship to attend the San Francisco College for Women - in 1972 she earned her Master's Degree at the Columbia School of Journalism.

Rose worked for a time with The New York Times - and then decided to come to her beloved San Francisco - to work for the then San Francisco Chronicle - the first female Chinese to do so.

After 8 years she left the SF Chronicle to become a civic leader - some one that understood her people.

Someone who was well educated - knew  the ways of those that were corrupt - the movers and shakers. She could handle those corrupt - as only could - making them pay their fair share.

San Francisco Chinatown has a long history - and with it the blatant discrimination.

At one time this racist City and County of San Francisco - wanted to burn down SF Chinatown.

Blaming the Chinese - holding the Chinese responsible for anything and everything that was a nuisance. 

Rose Park knew about this first hand about this sordid history -  was in a unique position to fight for her people - and for anyone in San Francisco who was an underdog.

Rose Pak held a job at the Chronicle and did pretty well.

However, deep in her heart she wanted to do better by her people.
She decided to represent them - be their voice - lead her on the frontline.

She listened well to the many atrocities committed against her people. She could relate to the sufferings, the trials and tribulations.

Rose Pak was born in Hunan, China and had to flee to Hong Kong and Macau with her family - after her father who was a businessman died.

When you spoke to her - you always felt that she was in charge.

Smart and savvy she had a joke or two to crack - just to lighten you up. Then it was all about business - something that had to be complete - she was focused - laser beam focused - and did well.

Always left you feeling comfortable - that no task - however difficult - could not be done - on her terms - she was willing to lend a helping hand.

Her work to save Chinatown Chinese Hospital is well known to all. She always knew that the Chinese from Chinatown were special to her - and as such deserved the best.

If she had lived a few weeks more - she would be alive to cut the ribbon - and hear the kudos from so many present.

In fact two weeks ago - she was well - well enough to state that if Mayor Edwin M. Lee - the man she put in office - did not open up Stockton Street - to allow free flow of traffic into Chinatown - she would block City Hall.

That blockade did not happen. 

I was at City Hall today - hoping the flag would be flown at half-mast - and guess what - Rose Pak - sent a signal to Mayor Edwin M. Lee - the flag at City Hall was flown at half-mast - a singular honor - in the name of the one and only one - Rose Pak.

Back to the opening to Chinatown Chinese Hospital - she insisted - as only she could - that only after the first patient was admitted to the SF Chinatown Chinese Hospital - she would agree to cut the ribbon.

As we all know that did not happen. Such were the thoughts she had - always putting others - in front of herself. Yet standing for other on her - well tested and vetted - terms.

I count myself as an advocate and have had many encounters with Rose Pak. 

At this time we would be remiss not to mention Dr. Espanola Jackson - both were tenacious.

 Both had the best interests of San Franciscans - but also of those in the own back yard - Dr. Espanola Jackson for those in the Bayview but always reminding those that knew her - that she once lived in Chinatown.

Rose Pak defending and working hard for her SF Chinatown - but again and again others from all over San Francisco would go to her for help.

The many Chinese who make their abode in Visitation Valley in District 10 - the many other Chinese who makes their abode in the Sunset in District 4 - you get the picture.

Rose Pak had close ties to the People's Republic of China - and was not shy to defend the Chinese government on many occasions.

The conflict with the Diaoyu Island and in 2008 opposing a Resolution by the SF Board of Supervisors criticizing the Chinese government for the Tiananmen Square massacre and so on.

Closer to home Rose Pak saw it fit to oppose the Falun Gong banning the group in 2004 from participating in the San Francisco -  City's annual Chinese New Year's Parade.

It has been over the year - that some of us have been deeply concerned about the health of Rose Pak.

A heavy smoker - know for lighting her cigar at times - this habit took a heavy toll on her health.

Some months ago - it was touch and go - but then Rose Pak flew to China to receive kidney.

 Over 300 people - including some dignitaries were there to receive her at the San Francisco Airport on the arrival from China.

We are going through some difficult times - with Mayor Edwin M. Lee - letting down the people and that included Rose Pak who made it possible for Mayor Edwin M. Lee - to do good - but he keeps biting the hand that feeds - him.

A bronze bust must be installed at City Hall - even though Rose Pak was not a politician - she did more than all the other politicians - to serve with humility - her Chinese community and others as well.

Rose Pak was unique -  San Francisco City Hall - can accommodate this concept and idea - to place a bronze bust at City Hall - for all to see and remind them.

There was this woman - Rose Pak - a strong Chinese woman - who did her best to serve - those who needed - help most.

With the passing of Rose Pak - the civic leaders that contribute so much to our neighborhoods - more the advocates - carry a heavy heart - the work is not easy - and more when there is no compensation.

San Francisco Chinatown has lost a light - a bright light - that shed light where there was - abject darkness.

Mayors Art Agnos, Willie L. Brown Jr., Gavin Newsom, many other politicians owe a lot to Rose Pak.

The Tongs that for years helped the Chinese Families played an important role - Chinese Clubs that too care of their own.

The history of Chinatown is a long one - tied to Angel Island where for years- many Chinese men were incarcerated.

 Not because they committed any crime - but just because they were Chinese - despised by many in the City and County of San Francisco. They lingered there for years - and then the day came when they were permitted to come to San Francisco - which for years - they saw just a few miles away from their place of incarceration.

I count many Chinese - among my dear friends - they know who they are - too many to name. Rose Pak did what she did - as best as she could - today City officials - others - will remember her legacy.

Saturday, September 24 there will a Catholic mass at Old Saint Mary's - a Church that Rose Pak frequented.

The last time around I was attend a funeral mass at Old Saint Mary's Church - John Lignite's passing away.

 I just happened to seat in front of Rose Pak - when it came time to exchange the greet " Peace of Christ be with you " - I turned back - and behold offered my " greeting to Rose Pak ".

Next to me was Jae Ryu who should remember that day.

Rest in peace Rose Pak - you have ended your journey.

Now, it is left to us all - to complete the many jobs left undone - always remembering that it is compassion and fortitude - serving those that need help most - serving them with humility - that matters most. R.I.P.