Here's a very interesting and touching interview that Barbara Yung's ex-boyfriend from Holland did for ND Daily. There's actually a part 2 to this post (see Translator's Notes at the end of this post), which I will be posting up later on. Meanwhile, hope that this interview gives everyone more insight into Barbara as a person.
ND Daily’s exclusive interview with Barbara Yung’s ex-boyfriend Rob: “She is a person who is willing to give up everything for love”
Source: Nan Do Daily News
Earlier this month (June), Rob – the ex-boyfriend of late actress Barbara Yung (翁美玲) – suddenly became a popular search topic on the Internet. The main reason for this is because 3 years ago, Rob started working on a memorial website to commemorate his ex-girlfriend Barbara – the project was finally completed in April of this year (2012). The website -- which chronicles Rob and Barbara’s ‘Cambridge love story’ through many priceless pictures and stories from their years together in England – stirred up many fond memories of the actress for fans and visitors to the site.
In many people’s hearts, Barbara will always be their favorite ‘Wong Yung’. Though her career in the entertainment industry was very short, it was still glorious and unforgettable. She entered the industry in 1982 after participating in that year’s Miss Hong Kong pageant. The next year, in 1983, her memorable performance as ‘Wong Yung’ in TVB’s Legend of the Condor Heroes《射雕英雄传》shot her to instant fame and along with it came endless opportunities to film series, perform at events, sing, host, etc. In May of 1985, at the height of her career, Barbara suddenly decided to end her life – she was 26 years old. Almost immediately after Barbara’s suicide, her boyfriend at the time, actor Kent Tong (湯鎮業), became an instant target of ‘attack’ by shocked fans and audiences, many of whom made the assumption that Barbara killed herself because of issues in the couple’s relationship.
For many years, these ‘assumptions’ cast a tragic light on Barbara’s love life – every time the topic of Barbara’s relationships would come up, Kent Tong’s name would inevitably be mentioned. Therefore, when Rob’s existence as Barbara’s ex-boyfriend became known, many people were surprised and astonished. Even though Rob and Barbara’s relationship also did not last, the many stories from their 5 year ‘Cambridge love story’ touched many people’s hearts. At the same time, these glimpses into her life in England also presented to the world a different side of Barbara that was previously ‘undiscovered’ by audiences. As some of her fans stated: “reading these stories was like peeling an onion – each story revealed a part of Barbara that most audiences did not know, bringing us closer to the ‘real Barbara’ in the process.”
In addition to re-acquainting ourselves with Barbara, Rob’s existence also evoked feelings of curiosity about him among fans and the Media alike. What kind of a person is Rob in real life? How much ‘sweat and blood’ was put into the 3 year production of his website in Barbara’s memory? With the 30 years that have passed, how are the memories of their relationship so vividly and clearly ingrained in his brain? Were there any regrets in their relationship? Towards this woman whom he had once loved deeply, what are his feelings now? Why did Barbara’s last words of “Darling, I love you” leave a feeling of regret in his heart? So many unanswered questions prompted us [ND Daily’s reporters] to ‘cross borders’ and reach out to Rob in Holland for an interview.
From the time the interview was scheduled to when it was completed, it took nearly a month. During the process, Rob had expressed hesitation at one point – he explained to ND Daily’s reporter that prior to this, he had never done any interviews before. Even though he was contacted by many Media outlets recently requesting interviews, he expressed that he hopes to maintain a low profile as much as possible. In the end, he only agreed to accept interviews with 2 Media outlets – one is a Chinese Media outlet in his home country of Holland and, very fortunately, the second one is this interview with us (ND Daily).
In his response back to us, Rob wrote: “I responded to all of your questions truthfully – nothing at all was concealed.”
Regarding his website: Never thought that it would receive the massive attention it did
Thanks to the Internet and social media, Rob and Barbara’s love story became known to the world.
In December 2009, Rob did a small experiment on-line. He wanted to see how much information there was about him online, so he did a quick search and was amazed to find that there was actually quite a lot of info about him on the Internet. This made him wonder – how much information would there be about people who existed prior to the dawn of the Internet (and social media)? The first person that came to mind for him was Barbara Yung, who had already passed away decades ago: “I couldn’t believe what I saw! I read some stuff about Barbara in Wikipedia and subsequently started to read some of the things written about Barbara by fans on their sites. I noticed that there was no information whatsoever about my relationship with Barbara on any of the Internet sites. Therefore, I wrote to a few websites and told them that I had some memories and old pictures to share, but never received any responses. I also noticed that in recent years, there wasn’t much new information regarding Barbara being released -- in fact, some of the websites [dedicated to her] didn’t even exist anymore! I assumed that with all the years that have passed, everyone had probably already forgotten Barbara.”
During New Year’s, Rob and his family decided to create a video clip commemorating Barbara – his dad dug up a lot of old photographs of the couple, which Rob included in the clip, then uploaded it to the Internet with the title ‘A Love Story That No One Knew About’. Afterwards, the fansites that he had written to previously voluntarily contacted him – many of them emailed him inquiring about his memories of Barbara and that’s when he started recording the memories of their relationship down on paper. That was the year 2010 – coincidentally, it was also the 25th anniversary of Barbara’s death.
Throughout the past 3 years, Rob has been recounting the story of his relationship with Barbara via pictures on his website. When the website was still in its infant stages, the few pictures he had uploaded were already being re-posted to other sites. By the time he finally completed his website in April 2012, he had already added dozens more photos, including a few more ‘intimate’ ones where he and Barbara were holding hands or kissing. The couple’s love story slowly started to spread to various Chinese websites and with that, various Media outlets started reporting on his website, making it known to a lot of people. The site quickly garnered an overwhelming number of hits, to the point that the servers the website was on could no longer support it, causing the site to freeze up and become inaccessible. On June 6th, Rob had to shut down the website in order to performance maintenance on it and re-opened it a week later.
Q and A
ND: Throughout the course of creating this website, what were some of the feelings that you experienced?
Rob: It was a very happy feeling – it felt as though I was transported back to those days. When the rest of my family was asleep, I started writing down the stories – in the silence of the night, my memory went back 30 years and everything started coming back very clearly. I felt like I had entered a movie.
ND: As a medical student, creating websites probably wasn’t a strength of yours, right?
Rob: I’ve never had any experience creating websites. When I was working on this site, I actually had a week off, so I asked one of my neighbors and he gave me some advice on how to go about doing it.
ND: How did you arrange the time to work on the website? Did it interfere with your job and regular family life?
Rob: No, it didn’t interfere much. I would pretty much wait until Sunday night each week and work on the website while the rest of my family was asleep. Of course, I would check the website everyday for abusive and insulting comments from people – which unfortunately happened more often than not – and sometimes, I would end up having to delete those comments. I don’t mind people criticizing me or being opposed to what I’m doing, but I do mind when people post comments that are overly disrespectful.
ND: Many of the pictures on the site are still in such good condition. We’re curious how you were able to maintain them like that for so long? Did both you and Barbara keep a set of the same pictures?
Rob: I really have to thank my father, who passed away last year. He’s a person with a very orderly lifestyle, which extended to maintaining family photos and keepsakes. He was very good about marking down the time/date and location on every single photo we had in the family and then storing them in a safe place. Barbara never kept copies of the photos because she was afraid that her mother would find out about our relationship, which would’ve definitely caused a lot of issues.
ND: It’s obvious that you put a lot of effort into creating this website. In addition to the old photographs, you had also returned to the same places the two of you visited and took new pictures as well, right?
Rob: Yes, I went back and re-visited some of the places, mainly because I had many beautiful memories there. Some of the places I had actually revisited with my friends from England – it was great because they were able to re-live some of those beautiful memories as well.
ND: Through your writings, you chronologically recorded the various stories between you and Barbara. Many of the writings are very detailed – is this your first time doing such long writings?
Rob: Sometimes, I do write in my journal, especially during the days when I’m off. I also enjoy writing letters – on occasion, some of my friends might receive a long, detailed letter from me. In the last few months though, I haven’t had time to do it anymore.
ND: Do you remember the first day that your website officially went public?
Rob: After I published my website, I checked back frequently to see if people were able to find it. It was very exciting! I remember the very first comment on the site was from Carina, who is my contact from Barbara’s fan club in HK, praising the work that I had done. To a certain extent, I feel this would help people have deeper memories of Barbara because they went through similar experiences as her and not merely remember her as ‘that beautiful actress’. I feel that she [Barbara] would have been proud of me!
ND: It took you 3 years to complete the website. Besides taking up a lot of your time and energy, did it also cost a lot of money?
Rob: I did not hire any professionals to help with the site. In the past, the website didn’t cost too much money because I would use the least expensive server I could find that was able to accommodate 200 hits [people visiting the site] per day. But last month, with the overwhelming increase in people visiting the site, the server ended up crashing. I had to work with a company that provided a larger capacity server – the service package is excellent, but unfortunately, I have to pay a large sum of money every month to maintain the server. That’s one of the reasons why I added a section to the website for donations.
ND: Were you expecting the massive number of visitors to the site? Did the enthusiasm of netizens visiting the site exceed your expectations?
Rob: In the past, I would do a posting on the website every Wednesday and there were a few people who consistently followed the stories – but after the stories were completed, the number of visitors were less frequent. Based on my research of Barbara’s life in HK, I would consistently update my site with various types of information, including translated articles, links to radio and television interviews, etc. I had never thought that Barbara would continue to remain so popular even today, as she passed away close to 30 years ago and her acting career was very short-lived – only 2 ½ years or so. For the website to receive such massive attention is completely beyond my imagination.”
Memories: When her family tried to end the relationship, she protested with her life
Through his writings, photographs, and video links, Rob tried the best he could to record the story of his relationship with Barbara Yung. Rob writes in English, however each time, he would ask his friend to help him translate his writings into Chinese and then publish both versions so that non-English speakers would have the chance to read his writings as well.
The clarity with which Rob remembers the details of his relationship with Barbara is astonishing. Their story started when they first met back in 1976. Even though Barbara’s family was vehemently opposed to it, the 2 of them insisted on starting a relationship – throughout the 5 years they were together, their lives were blissful, but at the same time, they had to carefully protect the relationship that they knew might not last in the long term. Their romantic days at Cambridge, their apprehensive New Year’s rendezvous, their blissful Italy trip, their comical ‘walking the dog’ experience, their ‘perfect and romantic’ engagement ceremony, the dreaded meeting with the parents, the 2 painful and heartwrenching breakups…..Rob recorded all of these experiences in great detail – even some of the conversations that they had were recorded at great length. Rob expressed that even he is unable to understand how he is able to remember everything with such great clarity.
Rob’s description of Barbara is a woman who is beautiful and outstanding, yet sensitive and fragile; she’s also very willful, gets jealous, and knows how to ‘pretend’ when circumstances warrant – when someone tries to get in the way of her love relationship, she can be determined to the point of sacrificing her life to ‘protest’ it.
Barbara once told Rob that she hopes when the two of them are 50 years old, they can be like Rob’s parents – still holding hands, hugging, and madly in love with each other. Unfortunately, even such a romantic love story could not survive the harshness of reality, as the couple eventually broke up. Rob states: “Looking back, not being able to keep in contact with each other for fear of disturbing each other’s current lives was the biggest mistake that the two of us made.”
Indeed, this is an optimistic thought to ponder: if the two of them had not broken up, or, if the two of them had kept in touch after they broke up, how would things have turned out?
Q and A
ND: Of all the stories that you told of your relationship with Barbara, which one is your favorite?
Rob: My favorite is the ‘Almost Discovered’ story, mainly because I very clearly remember every single minute from that moment – imagine how I felt lying underneath the blanket, holding my breath, and hearing the footsteps of Barbara’s mother coming up the stairs….whenever I write about or recall that moment even now, I can still feel the sweat on my skin from the nervousness. (At that moment, my oldest daughter would ask me: ‘Dad, why are you smiling like that?’)
ND: What about Barbara attracted you the most?
Rob: Her unconditional love. I have never encountered such a woman as her who was so willing to sacrifice everything for love.
ND: In one of your writings, you mentioned that one impact Barbara had on you was that you became more energetic and proactive. Any specific examples?
Rob: At that time, I wasn’t ambitious and would just muddle my way through life – the only thing I cared about in life was whether I was happy. In comparisons, Barbara was a lot more serious and she had a lot more life experience – at the time, in addition to going to school, she also worked at a place that sold fish and chips. She taught me that people are not always as they seem on the surface. In the past, I would believe pretty much every single thing that people told me, whereas Barbara was more cautious and suspicious about things. For example, one time when we were walking down the street in London, a stranger approached and asked if I wanted to go drinking at a bar with him – I thought ‘why not?’ – luckily, Barbara convinced me that going out for a drink with a stranger was not a good idea. Of course, she was right.
ND: 30 years may have passed, but you still have beautiful memories of your life with Barbara. Do you regret breaking up with her?
Rob: Both of us knew that being together wouldn’t work out in the future. But I actually didn’t find out until recently how unhappy her life was after we broke up. I feel regretful and guilty for not keeping in touch with her after we broke up.
ND: Any regrets in the relationship itself?
Rob: No. If you guys were able to see all the efforts we had put in to be together, you would understand why. I feel that we already did everything we could have at that time. In terms of the tremendous effort that we had put towards our relationship, I don’t feel anyone can criticize us in that area.
ND: Ever thought that Barbara would choose a career in acting? After you found out she became an actress, were you surprised?
Rob: I was very surprised! If she had chosen to become a model, then no, I wouldn’t be surprised, but the fact that she chose to go into acting definitely surprised me!
ND: When you two were dating, were you able to see that she had acting potential?
Rob: I was never aware that Barbara had acting potential and she never expressed to me that she was interested in acting. I feel that in Legend of the Condor Heroes, she did a good job playing the character.
ND: Have you ever thought about what would’ve happened if you and Barbara had never broken up?
Rob: If we were still together, we definitely would have been married already, as Barbara would not have accepted it otherwise. I feel that we would still be very intimate, as my girlfriend and I still hold hands and hug even now. To me, that kind of thing is a normal part of a relationship. If we had not broken up, I am absolutely sure that my life right now would be very different because Barbara and I have very different personalities, whereas my current girlfriend and I have very similar personalities. With the differences in our background and personalities, I can’t imagine how we’d be able to raise children or start a business together, or even resolve cultural differences and family issues. I don’t feel that we would be arguing all the time, but it’s inevitable that one person would need to give in and compromise – I’m afraid that person would most likely be me, since Barbara has a stronger personality than I do.
What if: “If I had a chance to meet Kent Tong, I believe we would have a lot to talk about”
In 1985, Rob received a letter from his friend DI. In the letter, DI told him about Barbara’s death and how when he was visiting the grave of a friend’s grandmother in Cambridge, he happened to come across Barbara’s grave. In the subsequent weeks, Rob constantly felt sad and at a loss – he expressed that his sorrow was because the woman he had once loved is gone forever. In his writings, it’s obvious that Rob has beautiful memories of his relationship with Barbara that are difficult to part with – asked what his current feelings are towards Barbara, he replied that he felt pity, regret, and also a bit of guilt: “because she truly deserved to have a happy life!”
Q and A
ND: Recently, when you politely rejected an invitation to be interviewed by a HK magazine [FACE Magazine], you had included in your email response: “When I heard that Barbara had committed suicide, I actually was not surprised.” Based on your understanding of Barbara, do you feel that she is the type of person who tries to avoid reality?
Rob: The reason I said that was because back in England, I had already gone through the experience of Barbara trying to commit suicide once before [by taking sleeping pills]. I know that if she had to endure huge emotional pressure, she most likely would have chosen suicide as her way to avoid having to face it. Those who read my writings will discover that emotionally, Barbara is a very fragile person. When it comes to her love relationships, she is willing to sacrifice everything – if she were ever to feel that my love and consideration for her was any less than what it was, she would feel very uncomfortable and also get very emotional.
ND: On May 14th, 1985, Barbara was discovered dead in her home due to the poison from the gas fumes. At the time, she had left a ‘note’ on her calendar that merely said ‘Darling, I love you.’ In one of your stories, you had mentioned this and didn’t understand why she would write down those words in English. Do you feel those last words were meant for you? Or do you wish that they were?
Rob: I don’t know why she wrote those words in English. When I was first told about it, my first reaction was: ‘No! I hope those words weren’t meant for me!’ I started to look through all the information about her life to see if I could find anything about her having another English-speaking boyfriend after we broke up, but I couldn’t find any. I definitely hope that those words were not meant for me because that would imply that all this time, she was not able to let go of our relationship – if that were the case, it would make me feel extremely guilty because she absolutely deserves to have a happy and joyous life.
ND: What are your feelings toward Barbara now? Do you still have feelings of love toward her or just feelings of cherishing her memory?
Rob: Neither one actually – I feel regret that she was not able to experience the joys of family life like I’m experiencing now. I truly did love Barbara at one point, but later on, I found a new love relationship and discovered a different type of joy. I hoped for the same for her. To be honest though, she will always have a place in my heart, a place that will always be reserved for her.
ND: After Barbara’s death, the general public placed most of the blame on her boyfriend at the time, Kent Tong…were you aware of that? What are your thoughts on this?
Rob: I did read up a bit about Kent Tong – I don’t know him personally, so I don’t have any comment toward him. But I suspect that he probably did not know how fragile Barbara was emotionally because she most likely did not tell him about her life in England or about our past relationship. I don’t mind meeting him – I believe we would have many things we could talk about. If he were able to share about his relationship with Barbara on my website, that would be even better.
ND: Initially after you two broke up, you did write some letters to each other. If there were mailmen who could deliver letters to her in Heaven, would you still write to her now? If so, what would you say to her?
Rob: Yes, I definitely would write to her – the same kind of long, beautiful letter! I would also have her visit my website so we could re-live the beautiful, happy memories together.
ND: Based on everything that you’ve done for Barbara, it’s apparent that you’re the type of person who cherishes relationships. From your writings, we understand that right now, you have a steady girlfriend, and 3 lively, cute daughters – your family life is very harmonious and happy. Currently, what is your view towards love and marriage?
Rob: I believe that if you truly love each other and guard each other, not getting married won’t have much impact. To me, marriage just helps provide a ‘guarantee’ to those who may find it difficult to guard each other otherwise. In reality, I’ve already witnessed many examples of marriages breaking apart and ending in divorce.
*** TO BE CONTINUED****
[TN: After the interview, Rob shared some more memories of Barbara and recounted a few more stories that he had never shared before on his website (those stories are being told for the first time in this interview). The additional stories as well as the reporter’s concluding comments will be included in a follow up (part 2) to this article.]
2009年圣诞节，R ob在网上做了一个小实验。他想看看自己在网上有多少公开的信息。结果网上显示了他不少的信息，这让他感到吃惊。随后，他又开始思考，互联网产生前的人会不会也有信息？他首先想到的是离世多年的翁美玲，“我都不敢相信自己看到了什么。我读到了Wikipedia上的一篇关于B arbara的文章，然后我开始在网上读影迷的文章及浏览他们的网站。我留意到网上没有任何有关我们关系的文字。于是我给一些网站写信，说我有一些回忆和照片，但没有回音。我注意到近期不再有新的消息发表，一些网站甚至不再存在。我猜想这么多年过去了，Barbara已被遗忘了。”新年期间，R ob和家人决定做一个回忆翁美玲的视频，R ob的父亲找到了许多的照片。R ob将视频命名为“无人知道的爱情故事”，然后发布在网上。之后，R ob先前联系过的影迷会主动联系他，有影迷发邮件问他关于翁美玲的记忆，他开始记录下相关的故事。那年是2010年，正好是翁美玲逝世25周年。
三年以来，R ob在网上以图文并茂的方式，持续地更新他与翁美玲之间的故事。网页最初成立时，他上传的相片已开始在网上流传。直至今年4月，R ob表示整个网站已完成，还加载了不少图片，其中有不少是他和翁美玲的牵手或接吻的亲密照。两人的故事开始在华人网络广泛地流传开来，多家媒体对R ob及其网站进行报道，不少人都知道该网站。网站迅速地涌入了大批访问者，这让支撑网站运营的网络服务器难以招架。网站濒临瘫痪，让人一度难以进入。6月6日，因为过于庞大的访问量，R ob不得不关闭网站，从而进行技术调整，一周后才再次开放。
他笔下的B arbara美丽出众、敏感脆弱，会任性会吃醋还会伪装，爱情受阻挠时，她可以决绝到以死抗议。生前的她曾对R ob说，希望两人在50岁时能如R ob的父母般牵手、搂抱，依然挚爱对方。可惜动人故事终抵不过残酷现实，两人终究以分手收场。R ob说：“现在回头看，没能够保持联系，害怕介入对方的生活，是我们犯的最大的错误。”
1985年，R ob收到了朋友D I的来信。D I在信中告诉了他Barbara的死讯，以及在去英国剑桥郊外探望朋友的祖母墓地时，恰巧看到了Barbara的墓碑。接连的好几周，R ob都处于非常难过、失落的状态，他说他的悲伤是因为曾经爱过的人已经永远离开了。R ob在字里行间都透露着对这段恋情无限的怀念和不舍，问现在的他对Barbara是怎样的一种情感？他说有惋惜、有愧疚，“因为她值得拥有幸福快乐的生活！”
南都：1985年5月14日，Barbara被发现在家中因煤气中毒而身亡。当时她在日历牌上留着一句话“D arling，I love you（亲爱的，我爱你）”。你在故事的结尾处也提及此事，不解为什么她用英文写下了这句话。你觉得这句遗言是她为你而留的？还是你希望如此？