The Ling family invited friends and family members to a small gathering last week at Papiamento restaurant, to debut their coffee-table book: Ling Legacy, a Journey of Family, Food and One Happy Island.

The book was introduced by Sharlene Starke, daughter of the late, and dearly remembered, Yolanda Ling. Sharlene reported proceeds from the sale of the elegant publication will go to the Jordan Ling Foundation, a family-run nonprofit dedicated to awareness and promotion of mental health.

The book took a long time to write, it was an evolutionary project. Ingrid Ling started talking about it in 2014, and began collecting materials. She even asked me to write a chapter about my relationship with the beloved food market, as a contribution to the project.

Son Dustin Ling writes in the forward: This book is a labor of love by the entire Ling family to document their truth, hardship, and triumphs across four generations, three continents, two centuries and one singular focus — namely to live life with love for one another.

The book documents the Lings from 1910 to 2012. It starts by tracing the journey of Ling Chao Yang and his wife Ling Sue Lan, from rural China to Aruba. While Chao Yang intended to escape poverty by immigrating to Surinam, in 1938 he continued to Aruba, with a good head for business and the ever-present ambition to offer his family a better life.

That first part of the book is laid out incredibly well, thanks to the efforts of a US editor, Willy Wong, who traced the journey of the Ling patriarch, through newspaper clippings, the Canadian Government records and the passport that brought Ling by steamship from Hong Kong, to Vancouver, then by rail to the Atlantic, and on board another ship to Demerara in British Guiana, ultimately to land in Dutch Guiana, present day Surinam. The journey took months, and the Patriarch endured insufferable travel conditions, but he was determined, thus firing up the inseparable love affair between the Lings, Aruba, and Food, then, in short supply.

The chapter about Aruba is really very well done. Aruba is described as a land of opportunity and a place Ling was no longer just a guest, but instead could feel at home.

The book goes on to recount that at the end of the second world war Sue Lan, the Matriarch, was able to join her husband here. Jimin, the couple’s oldest son, saw his father for the first time when he was 21.

Stories like that, of sacrifice and suffering, are difficult to comprehend in a world ruled by speed. The beginning of the 20th century required courage, faith and patience, and the Ling’s were blessed with plenty of that.

In the Next Generation chapter, we get to meet the Ling siblings, and learn about the expansion of their business, from San Nicholas, uptown to Oranjestad and to Eagle, revolutionizing the food business and our food consumption in the process. We get to meet employees, the tourist community, vendors, distributers and partners, in colorful photographs and easy-flowing narration — compliments to writer Rosalie Klein.

The photographs are amazing, many of them from the NEWS a popular English newspaper, then.

As the Lings’ business dedicated itself to innovation, the community here was treated to spectacular fireworks every year, a great variety of multicultural foods, and above all, special relationships with the Ling family members, going beyond the obvious.

Really well done. The book dives deep and is very revealing. As the Lings raise their kids in the store, they realize that the next generation drifted apart from retail to explore other personal options, and they make a decision to sell.

At the Papiamento reception, Clifton Ling got to teach us all a lesson in history as he presented the book to his audience, gathered under the trees in the garden.

He thanked Aruba’s National Archive, a valuable resource of pictures and information, and manager Raymond Hernandez had the honor to receive the first copy!

The book’s closing chapter, dedicated to the late Jordan Ling, is very touching


For foundation information


Having sold the store after 62 years of success, the family expressed its gratitude and appreciation to the Aruba community and many of its visitors, for their unwavering support during the span of six decades of family and food.


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July 15, 2021
Rona Coster