The Rong island (Dragon island) is the ancient name of Tan Long ward, My Tho City, Tien Giang Province which is among the four sacred elements ones: "Long (Dragon) - Lan (Unicorn) - Quy (Turtle) - Phung (Phoenix)" floating in the middle of Tien river. According to Gia Dinh Citadel Records, the Dragon island has appeared in 1788 with its shape like a dragon, so when King Gia Long (Nguyen Anh) step foot here, he named Long Chau or Dragon Ball island.
Despite of its appearing in 1778 but until 156 years later (in 1944), people has started to present here; this used to be home to people suffering from leprosy brought by the French colonialists and was completely isolated with other healthy people for medical treatment. The French colonialists built in the end of the eastern area's island a leper hospital which called leper camp at that time. In 1945, when the Japanese defeated the French colonialists, they took lepers to Quy Hoa leprosy camp (Quy Nhon) and the Dragon Island was left empty. After the successful of August Revolution, this island began to welcome residents in two provinces My Tho and Ben Tre to live and settle and it officially named on the map as Phu Long hamlet, Xuan Dong commune, Cho Gao district, My Tho province. During the two resistance wars against French colonialism and American imperialism, the Dragon Island became the revolutionary base of Xuan Dong commune at first and later My Tho town. Despite its late establishment, the people of the Dragon Island are proud to have contributed a part of their efforts and blood to the liberation of the country. After the South of Vietnam was completely liberated, the Dragon Island was officially established an administrative unit with the name of Tan Long commune, including 4 hamlets: Long Thuan, Long Ha, Long Hoa, Long Binh (now Tan Thuan, Tan Ha, Tan Hoa, Tan Binh quarter).
According to the words of the seniors who were attached to the Tan Long land, the Dragon Island those days was still a very wild place; the whole commune had only a tiny red stone road running from the beginning to the end of the island named Cui road; the earthen paths cut through the island like a fish bone connecting from hamlet to other ones. The life of the people at that time was mostly self-sufficient and engaged in animal husbandry, small and scattered agriculture; commerce and services have been underdeveloped, with more than 70% of the population being poor.
Mr. Thai Ngoc Ho, former Secretary and Chairman of the People's Committee at the beginning of Tan Long commune's establishment, said that the activities of the government at that time mainly dealt with administrative issues, while the policy of the Party cell was to mobilize the people to reclaim and restore the land, to boost the production of animal husbandry, cultivation and fishing. With the condition of locating in the four sides of rivers, although the distance from the island to My Tho town is just over 300 meters on a Tien river's branch, Tan Long is no different than a remote and secluded rural area.
Experiencing not only many ups and downs of history but also many difficulties, hardships and challenges, Tan Long' Party Committee, authorities and people step by step to strive steadily. Mrs. Vo Thi Hon, an adult cadre from the first day of its establishment, former Party Secretary from 1993 to 2003 excitedly said: "Starting from a low, backward, underdeveloped economy, Tan Long has really made a significant stride since the Party set out to innovate. With the attention and assistance of the My Tho City' Party Committee, People's Committee, many public welfare works and infrastructure have been invested in new construction. Most notably, the North route running from the beginning to the end of the island is expanded, parallel to the newly built Southern route. With the motto of "State and people do it together", horizontal roads are opened and concretized making Tan Long's face renewed day by day.
However, it was not until 1990, when Tan Long' Party Committee, authorities and people was determined and unanimous to contribute effort and money to pull the high voltage line across Tien river, the Dragon Island began to boom. With the presence of electricity, industries were racing to develop, GDP increased by 10.5%, poverty rate declined, income per capita increased each year. In particular, there were the well-developed in fishery logistics services; ice production factory along with ship repairing and building facilities formed and operated in tandem with raft fish farming on Tien river were invested. All created the strong and high economic efficiency. On the way of development, Tan Long was extremely excited, and unanimously carried out the campaign "All people unite to build cultural life in residential areas" and become the first cultural commune in My Tho City. Therefore, the commune was converted into a ward of My Tho City.
That day is far away and now, if there are conditions to visit Tan Long Ward, no one will think that this place was once considered a remote and secluded countryside even though the distance from the island to My Tho town is just over 300 meters on a Tien river's branch. Mr. Le Van Nghiep, Party Secretary of Tan Long Ward, is proud to share that: "Our most feared when living in an island is the landslides in the area near the bank. However, they are gone now because the embankments have been built in the western bank and the eastern side of the island with the cost of over 36 billion dong. Recently, embankments on the north and south sides continue to be constructed with the cost of over 50 billion dong. Not only those, the administrative center, cultural house was built newly with the cost of 10 billion dong; new Tan Long kindergarten and Primary School were built newly with the cost of 5 billion dong for each school. The North and South roads are running throughout the island along with 7 horizontal roads have been concretized with flat surface. The ward has not only met the national standard for universalization of preschool, primary school, junior high school but also adapted the national standard for health care and had got the title of "the urban civilization ward" in 2014. The material and spiritual life of the people has been constantly improved; the poverty rate has decreased to only 1.8%.
To demonstrate the change in the area of the Dragon Island, Mr. Le Van Nghiep, Party Secretary of the ward, took us on a tour. It was unexpected, the concreted roads were flat and airy with green, clean and beautiful landscape; the administrative center, cultural house was spacious; orchards specializing in greenery, laden with fruits, hammer market, crowded boats; many villa houses have sprung up; the waves hit the banks like a song. To replace the conclusion, we would like to quote Mr. Le Van Minh, over 90 years old this year, who used to be the Vice Chairman of Tan Long Commune's Fatherland Front Committe: "In the past, there was a dream that nobody could think that, on the land of Dragon Island, there would be many more villa houses and public facilities as they are today…".