Dear brothers and sisters,
Ông Tạ – Mr. Tạ is the name of a person (thầy thuốc nam), a market (chợ Ông Tạ), a T-intersection (ngã ba Ông Tạ – junction Cách Mạng Tháng Tám and Phạm Văn Hai today) and the whole large area around chợ Ông Tạ (chợ Phạm Văn Hai today), in Saigon.
The strange and rare thing is that the geographic name Ông Tạ was used while Ông Tạ was still living. And the name was given by the local people, not by the government.
Ông Tạ is the nickname of Mr Trần Văn Bỉ, an herbal medicine man, who often provided healing services to the poor. He was born 1918, in Mỹ Tho. As a young man, he studied herbal madecine in a pagoda on Ba Den Mountain (Tay Ninh). After that, he built a small pagoda and started giving prescriptions to poor patients who came to him. Actually, he helped anh Hoành “defeat polio” when anh Hoành was 15. (Xem Chiến thắng sốt tê liệt)
People in Saigon and even in neighboring provinces such as Long An, Dinh Tuong (Tien Giang now)… also came to him. Most of them were poor. He died 1983 and was buried in his garden.
(Info from plo.vn).
The other day, we had to do some work in the area. When we stopped by a vegan foodstand (cơm chay) to get some drink, we saw a beautiful house with a big yard, behind the stand. So we asked the stand owner: “Is this your house?” She said: “No, I only sell here and help clean the yard and the pagoda. This is Ông Tạ’s house.” Wow, wow, we had just by chance run into the house of a legend. What a day!
The lady then went into a long story about Ông Tạ’s life. We listened with fascination. After that, I asked her for the permission to take some pictures of the house.
Here they are, to share with you all.
Have a nice day.
Phạm Thu Hương