The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has been hosting a beauty pageant since 1950 as part of a larger event known as the Narcissus Festival. The pageant is for young women of (at least partial) Chinese descent and the winner is crowed as the “Narcissus Queen.”


Starting in the 1950s, each new Narcissus Queen would go on a trip to Asia, where she would visit places like Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Bangkok (the places that made up what I call the “Free Chinese world”).

On September 15, 1962, The Straits Times announced that that year’s Narcissus Queen, Shirley Fong, would soon be arriving. At the time, Shirley was a studying education at the University of Hawaii.


After she arrived there was another article about her initial interview at the airport. Some reporters apparently asked her about her body measurements, but Shirley just blushed and said “Only my future husband will ever know that.”


Then on September 22, The Straits Times reported on Shirley’s departure from Singapore. This is what the report said:

“Lovely doe-eyed Shirley Fong, 19, Hawaii’s ‘Narcissus Queen 1962,’ who left Singapore yesterday after a four-day visit, said: ‘Your city is so much like my home.’”

How is Singapore like Hawaii? The report continues by saying that,

“Outstanding Singapore impression of the Hawaiian beauty queen, after a hectic program of sightseeing, shopping and eating ‘ ‘oh I love your satay. It’s like barbecue.’”


I’d never thought about that, but yea, it’s true, satay IS like barbecue. Good point!


The National Library of Singapore has digitized The Straits Times, but it puts watermarks on its scans of the paper. I have access to microfilms of this paper at the University of Hawaii, and I wanted to get better images from the microfilms, but I found that this particular reel of microfilm was badly damaged. It had more or less “melted” at some point in the past. . .

So that is something not very good about the University of Hawaii, BUT in reading about the Narcissus Queens in The Straits Times I found out that most of them have been University of Hawaii students when they became Narcissus Queens.

So at the University of Hawaii you might not be able to read a microfilm in the library but you might be able to meet the current or next Narcissus Queen on campus!