David Ho is a Taiwanese AIDS researcher famous for pioneering the use of protease inhibitors in treating HIV-infected patients. Picture: David Ho at a ceremony receiving an honorary science doctorate from Taiwan's Yang Ming University. (File Photo/Chen Yi-cheng)
Picture: David Ho's parents, Paul Ho (right) and Sonia Ho (left) on their wedding day. Ho's parents have greatly influenced him. (File Photo/David Ho and Bookzone)
"I owe whatever I have achieved to my father," said David Ho, a member of the Academia Sinica and a globally known researcher of AIDS, while launching the Chinese version of his late father's biography, "Paul Pu-ji Ho: A Chinese American Saga".
"My father was a trail blazer who showed me the way and led me to progress," he said.
According to the biography, Paul was born in 1919 to the family of a landowner in Shonglin, Jiangxi Province, in central China. He later studied at Zhejiang University during the second Sino-Japanese War; he received his bachelor's degree at the end of the war.
He then moved to Taiwan to work as a middle-school teacher in 1947, two years after the end of the Sino-Japanese War. Then the Chinese civil war became raging, which prevented him from returning to the mainland, where he had left his wife and three children.
Speaking about the marriage of his parents, David said that after living alone in Taiwan for more than ten years, "my father met my mother, who was one of his former students at the Changhua Girl School. Later, they got married."
He said that their marriage did not receive the consent of his mother's parents at first because of the division at the time between the Taiwanese and Chinese refugees who had arrived in Taiwan after the second Sino-Japanese war.
"He was accepted by his parents-in-law only after my mother gave birth to me," David added.
"I was born in 1952 in Taichung. Five years later, my father left his home in Taiwan to take a ship to the United States for further studies."
"As he worked his way through an American university, he sent money back to Taiwan every month, while trying to settle down in his new country. Eight years later, he brought my mother, my younger brother and me to Los Angeles."
"I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for my father during those eight years when he lived separately from us. It was not easy for my mother either, as she had to take care of my brother and me all by herself. Also, after moving to Los Angeles, she had to take up odd jobs to bring in additional income to help my father run our home."
"Today,Taiwan's people don't need to go abroad to get a first-class education, but during my father's time, it was considered a big opportunity to study in the United States and I would certainly not be what I am today if my father hadn't brought me to the United States," David said.
"Sometimes, your life becomes different just because you take a different turn. That's the way life is. The story of my father is a reflection of modern Chinese history and is an example of how hard the Chinese have had to work to establish themselves in the United States."
In 2008 and 2009, Paul and his family took a trip to Shonglin in Jiangxi and Changhua in Taiwan to see their old homes.
"Some members of my family, including my youngest brother, were born in the United States, and this trip allowed them and, of course, me to understand the long, hard journey my parents had to undertake before they ended up in the United States."
"My father taught us, with examples, how to be tough when things got tough. That, I am certain, will help us, my brothers and my children, weather any adversity we face in the future."
Paul Pu-ji Ho died in 2009 at the age of 90.
David Ho 何大一
Pu-ji Ho 何步基