高 (Gao, Ko) in the Philippines

First published in Tulay, Fortnightly Chinese-Filipino Digest 24, nos. 15-16 (January 17-February 6, 2012): 5.

The surname 高 (Ko in Hokkien, Gao in Mandarin) ranks 19th among Chinese surnames in China, and 24th among Chinese in the Philippines. Gao was first used as surname in China by Lü Fu (呂服), the son of the sixth generation grandson of King Qi Tai Gong (齊太公) of State Qi (齊) (770-476 BC).

When Lü Fu retired from his high court position to avoid a future power struggle among the brothers, his elder brother, King Qi Wen Gong (齊文公) conferred upon him the Gao territory. He changed his surname Lü (呂) and became Prince Gao (公子高).

The most prominent Ko in the Philippines is Ko Cho Lu (高祖儒), but his English or legal name is Ralph Nubla Sr.

Nubla was the president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. in 1966-1970 for two terms and sat again in 1981-1985 for another two terms; making him the only president who occupied that position with the most number of terms.

Dr. Ralph Nubla, Sr.

He distinguished himself by accepting once more the cudgels of the leadership of the Federation in a period of crisis: the turbulent years during the rule of former President Ferdinand Marcos, especially after the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

And since our country is promoting Pinoy Time being on time, an anecdote about Nubla is worth mentioning here.

When Nubla scheduled his first directors’ meeting during his first term as president of the Federation, he decided to call off the said meeting right after opening it because quorum was not met on time.

The directors who came in late were surprised to learn that the meeting had already been cancelled. From then on, they learned their lesson to attend meetings on time. And after that incident, the directors’ meeting began on time and quorum was met as scheduled.

The surname Ko does not have an exclusive family association, but joined four other surnames to form a five-surname family association Liatsan Family Association in the Philippines (菲律濱烈山五姓聯宗總會).

The other surnames of this family association are Co (許), Lo (盧), Lü (呂), Ji (紀).