王 (Ong) in the Philippines

With a family tree that has stretched over 3,100 years, it is no wonder that the Chinese surname 王 (Ong in Hokkien, Wang in Mandarin) is the second most populous surname in China.

More than 50 million people in China bear this surname.

Furthermore, the migration of the Wang family to Fujian in the early 10th century marks the entry of the Han people and their civilization into this southern province, from which most of the Chinese in the Philippines originated.

王 literally means king. Wang clan members are descended from the royal family in ancient China. In China’s history, there are 14 emperors and kings of this surname.

Like the surname 李 of last issue, the origin of Ong involves an incident with the last emperor and tyrant of the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) Emperor Zhou (紂).

Bi Gan (比干) was the emperor’s uncle. Zhou had him and many of his family members killed because of his sharp admonishment against the tyrant.

But one of his sons, Yi (翼), escaped with his wife and son to the forest in the mountain and concealed their real name and identities. Clan members helped Yi transfer and bury his father Bi Gan’s remains to their hiding place.

In 1046 after the Shang Dynasty fell, the emperor of the new dynasty Zhou (周), Zhou Wu Wang (周武王), ordered soldiers to look for Bi Gan’s heirs because he wanted to confer a title to the good official of integrity.

When Yi was found and brought to the emperor, he explained how people protected them by telling outsiders that they were of the Ong family although they knew the real identities.

They gave Yi’s family a new surname Ong because of their royal relations. Thus, the new emperor Zhou Wu Wang conferred the new surname to Yi, and Yi became Wang Yi (王翼).

But, actually, the original surname of Yi and Bi Gan was Zi (子). So, Wang Yi became the first Ong in China.

From Henan (河南) province, Wang Shen Zhi (王審知) moved south and established the kingdom of Fujian and became King of Fujian or Min Wang (閩王).

This is actually a turning point in Fujian’s history, Wang Shen Zhi is known as the ancestor of the Ongs in Fujian province. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 22, no. 10 (October 20-November 02, 2009): 5.