A JAPANESE man, who had hoped to meet the Singapore girl whom he had a crush on 40 years ago and could never forget despite the passage of time, finally had his wish fulfilled this week, thanks to Facebook and Lianhe Wanbao.

Seiichiro Isoda, managing director of an international food company now based in Singapore, met Yvonne Chua again on Sunday in the lobby of Furama Riverfront Hotel at Havelock Road, reported the Chinese evening daily.

That is the hotel where they first met in 1976, then called Novotel Apollo Singapore, when she was an 18-year-old cafe waitress, her very first job, and he, a 15-year-old spending his New Year holiday here with his mother.
Despite the lapse of 40 years, he immediately recognised Ms Chua when she appeared on Sunday with her family members, and rushed out from the restaurant, where he had been waiting, to greet her, reported Wanbao.

Ms Chua froze for a moment but she quickly recalled his face in the Oct 2 Wanbao article about his search for her.

“I was surprised. I’ve changed so much, yet he could recognise me,” the managing director of a logistics company told Wanbao.

“Although it has been 40 years, her bright eyes and sweet smile are the same as before,” said Mr Isoda.

The two communicated in English for two hours, sharing about their lives and looking at the photos they took together in 1976.

That year, he saw her twice, first in the cafe when she was serving drinks to customers, and then the next day when they specially met up in the lobby for the photo-taking, which was secured by his mother as he could not speak English then.

Photo: Lianhe Wanbao

However, to his regret, he could not remember her name and he had not got her address and number.

His effort to find Ms Chua during his posting here by a bank from 1994 to 2000 was futile as he had no clue to start with.

Then, last year, he was again posted to Singapore, and this time he resorted to Facebook to disseminate his story.

A friend, who saw the post, linked him up with Wanbao, and three days after the report was published, the newspaper received a call from Ms Chua’s daughter.

Fearing that the meeting would generate gossip, Ms Chua originally did not agree to it, but her husband urged her to show up, saying he was moved by Mr Isoda’s sincerity and perseverance.

Mr Isoda said his dogged search for Ms Chua also had the blessing of his wife, who often heard him praise the looks and serene charms of the “most beautiful girl” he has ever met.

“If I were a Singaporean, I would certainly have tried to seek her hand,” said Mr Isoda.

Now he hopes only that he could remain in contact with Ms Chua, who is a grandmother of three children.

“But I never regret spending so many years looking for her,” he said.

– Asiaone