Yvonne Tan was born in Kualar Lumpuar, Malaysia in September 1980.She was a fortune baby, as Mother Jessica was chanting whilst she was pregnant with Yvonne. Jessica struggled as a solo parent, often working in menial jobs, whilst bringing up her daughter.
As a result; Yvonne spent a large part of her early life with her Grand-Mother, whilst her Mother was working. Jessica Phuang met Jeffrey Goh and together they decided to immigrate to New Zealand in March 1988, to make a new life for themselves. Once they were established in Auckland, Jessica called for her daughter to also come to New Zealand.
Yvonne was barely 8 years old, and did not really like the new country at first, so many things were different.
Slowly Yvonne began to adjust to life while her Mother and Jeffrey worked hard in their respective careers to make a new home for themselves in New Zealand.
Yvonne went off to school, first to the Mt.Eden Normal Primary School, then to Auckland Normal Intermediate School and finally to Epsom Girls Grammer. Yvonne then went onto Tertiary Studies, completing a first year at Auckland University of Technology studying for a Bachelor of Social Science.
The following year, Yvonne completed a one year course at the South Sea Film and TV school. This was more to Yvonne’s liking and she flourished in the atmosphere of acting and drama.
An earlier, initial exposure to the film industry had been a minor role in the Cybil Shepherd TV movie; “Which Way Home,” which was completed in 1991.
This movie featured many SGINZ members acting in minor roles, as well as some of the younger members having major roles. “Other roles were to follow and Yvonne appeared in many different Shorthand Street episodes, Xena the Warrior Princess, Market and finally Orange Roughy..
Yvonne may always be remembered for her TV role, as the person fronting the Maggi Noodle soup song. This TV Advert featured Yvonne acting as a young Japanese girl, coming to New Zealand to study English and experience life with a New Zealand home-stay family.
Her appearance was just great, but I was never too sure about her typically Kiwi accent which was a little off-putting, because she was meant to be a non-English speaking Asian, newly arrived. This is perhaps a most enduring image of Yvonne Tan, her freshness and crispness, the energy and vitality of youth, anything was possible!
In July 2005, Yvonne had her first CT Scan, which confirmed the presence of a Brain Tumor. An operation to remove the problem happened about one week later. Within six weeks, the tumor had returned, and a further operation followed, with radiation therapy as well. The tumors were deep-seated and very aggressive and finally the Doctors would not operate anymore. All this was deeply upsetting for Yvonne as well as for Jessica and Jeffrey, and the matter certainly upset their lives, as they struggled to understand what was happening.
Yvonne lapsed into a coma for the last three days of her life. Jessica intuitively understood that this was to be the final stage of her daughter’s eventful life, and wrote a short message to the SGI Members. Saturday, the 10th of June my Family visited Yvonne in the Hospice.
She was in a coma, But her good eye was open and staring into the middle distance. She was also breathing strongly and steadily, in rhythm.
About 8.00PM, I took my leave of Yvonne Tan, expecting to return in a couple of days. Jessica telephoned me at 10.30PM, and informed me that Yvonne had passed away at 10.20PM. I was shocked; everybody knew that it was going to happen, but not so soon.
Yvonne had always been an extremely determined person. She was initially diagnosed as being ‘Gone by Christmas’ Yvonne’s extreme opposition to this scenario and the support of the members delayed her departure by at least six months, but the end was inevitable.
Yvonne attended the "Christmas in the Park 2005 Party " (Domain Auckland) together with her family
During her lifetime, Yvonne had made a considerable contribution towards cultural activities for the SGI Youth in the Auckland area.
She was also involved with the New Chanters movement in Auckland, and continued to attend these meetings for as long as she could. She was also assertive and articulate and never afraid to express her opinion about anything at all. These characteristics may well be genetic and most of the SGINZ Members are also aware of her Mothers contribution towards New Zealand Kosenrufu activities over the many years that the family has been in this country.
Yvonne Tan’s funeral at the SGINZ ( Soka Gakkai Internation New Zealand) Culture Centre in Auckland, Saturday morning; 17 June 2006, was an event. It set a precedent, it was the first funeral service held in a Kaikan in New Zealand. It was a celebration, a festival of song and dance, with an Austin Powers theme, which Yvonne had requested, just prior to her death.
Many Policemen in uniform also attended the event, Jessica’s work colleagues were out in force !
The celebration was capped off by a very moving video-ed message from English actor; Orlando Bloom.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent Jessica Phuang a beautiful message of commiseration on the death of her daughter,Yvonne Tan.
Therefore we can only understand Yvonne’s premature demise, in terms of Buddhism. Her life was a mission, which she completed and then her it was over. She was a very bright star in the filament, she illuminated the heavens with her youthful energy and vitality and then she was gone. She had everything except time.
Yvonne was never destined to suffer old age and sickness, and the meaning of her short life is clearly to encourage all of us Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike to look again at what we as mortal beings must face, each time we are born. We need to accept and appreciate sickness, old age and finally death, because this is the reality of the human existence.
Yvonne will be reborn again into this world; this is a cornerstone of our faith, our belief. We may not recognize her, but she will be reborn again into a Buddhist family. She will be reborn as a healthy individual, and sometime over the next few years you may recognize a young child, or then again it may just be your imagination playing tricks with your mind. But rest assured, Yvonne will be back, somehow, somewhere, soon.
Wrote By Fred Parsons