Monday, December 15, 1997

Name: Lawrence "Larry" Ing
St. Louis College
Chinese historian, artist, actor

Heart of Hawaii's Chinese

The Chinese Citizen of the Year award often goes to an outstanding businessman or philanthropist.

But Lawrence C.W. Ing is neither of these things.

Those who know Larry Ing, however, will tell you that he has been as valuable as anyone else to the local Chinese community.

Ing perhaps is best known nowadays as the "Ramblin' thru Chinatown" columnist for the Downtown Planet, and as a longtime guide with the Chinatown-Walk-A-Tour.

What those outside of the Chinese community don't realize, friends say, is that Ing has had his hands in nearly every civic organization that has anything to do with Chinatown or Chinese-Americans -- about 40 groups before he started losing count, according to Ing.

He is so connected that three organizations nominated him for Chinese Citizen of the Year.

"He's been a community worker for the 50 years I've known him," said Hin Chiu Lau, a friend. "He's just like a termite. A lot of the things he does nobody sees."

Ing's friends also know him as a noted historian of local Chinese history and an accomplished self-taught artist.

Lau said Ing's knowledge of Chinese culture has also served him well. As one of the founders of the Miss Chinatown program, Ing taught contestants nuances of Chinese culture like serving tea and kowtowing, Lau said.

Ing said that as a lifelong bachelor with fewer family obligations than many others, he's been able to spend more time delving into community life.

Ing said he started as a columnist in the 1940s when he chronicled the activities of local Chinese for the now-defunct Hawaii Chinese Journal. When that publication folded, the Downtown Planet picked him up.

He doesn't consider himself a talented writer or reporter but feels he succeeds as a columnist because "I always like to talk story with people.

"I'm not the type to associate with the big-gunners," he said. "I socialize more with the low-profile people. That's my style because I like to make friends with everybody."

Sun Hung "Sunny" Wong, another longtime Chinatown leader, agreed. "He mingles, he's a good mixer -- and a good listener."

Following his retirement as a Gaspro salesman in 1977, his long love of Chinatown led him to become a tour guide with the United Chinese Society's Walk-a-tour. "He got a bullhorn and walked around every day with the tourists," Lau recalled.

Even today, Ing said, he goes to Chinatown up to three times a week to catch up on the world he grew up in, one that is rapidly changing before his eyes.

"People have a better place to shop now," Ing said. "We're getting away from the slum and bad influences that were associated with Chinatown through the years."

The United Chinese Society will honor Ing at a luncheon Dec. 27.

By Gordon Pang, Star-Bulletin

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