Tsinoys who carry the surname 趙 (Zhao in Mandarin, Tio in Hokkien, Tiu in Canton) is a minority among the Philippine Chinese. Yet in China, 25 million Chinese people have this surname… Making 趙 the 8th most populous there.
The origin of 趙 is dual: it is based on a place in China, as well as the raising and training of horses. It is said that the distant ancestor of 趙 was an heir of the legendary emperor Zhuan Xu (顓頊) by the name of Bo Yi (伯益). The 9th generation grandson of Bo Yi was Zhao Fu (趙父), famous for raising and training horses.
During the West Zhou (西周) dynasty (1100-771 BC), Zhao Fu acquired and trained eight steeds which he then dedicated to Emperor Zhou Mu Wang (周穆王). Zhao Fu always harnessed the carriage with these eight horses when the emperor went hunting and traveling.
One day, while on a journey that took him far from home, the emperor learned that a rebellion led by Xu Yan Wang (徐偃王) had erupted at the capital.
The emperor was quite worried because it would take time to return to the city. It is said that Zhao Fu was able to make the horses cover 1,000 li (里 or 1.5 km) a day, so the emperor could rush back to the capital and suppress the rebellion.
With his great contribution, Zhao Fu was not only conferred with a manor named Zhao City (趙城) in Shanxi province, but was given the use of the city’s name as his own.
It is also noteworthy that Zhao was one of the seven states during the Warring States (475-221 BC) founded by Zhao Ji (趙籍). The Zhao state lasted 182 years.
And finally, Emperor Zhao Kuang Yin (趙匡胤) established Song Dynasty (960-1279) which lasted 320 years with 18 emperors. — First published in Tulay Fortnightly, Chinese-Filipino Digest 22, no. 24 (May 18-June 14, 2010): 5-6.