My late grandfather left Macau, China to the Philippine to find work around the year 1918-1920.

In my dad's baptismal certificate, my grandfather carries the name Leo Suening. It's also common in the Philippines to conjoin their Chinese names into one (Suen + Ing) but we are not certain.

Given that he came from Cantonese a speaking region, Candidates for possible origins are 孙/孫 (transliterations from Sun) and 吳/吴 for Ng (Ing).


2 Answers 2


Chinese in Macau are mostly Cantonese speakers. It is not uncommon for people to write last name before the first name in Chinese speaking regions.

In your grandfather case "Leo" would actually be the last name. According to British Romanization of Chinese characters "Leo" is most likely "廖" /liu6/ or 柳 /lau5/

Suening was most likely two characters written as one English word, that provided further evidence for 'Leo' (廖/柳) being the family name

Suening as Sue-Ning make more sense than Suen-Ing because 'Ning'(寧) is a very common first name

The Chinese characters for 'Leo Sue Ning' could be 廖信寧, 柳信寧, 廖迅寧, 柳迅寧, 廖迅齡 or 柳信齡 in Cantonese.

廖/柳信寧 seems to be most probable


Suening wrote:

Hi, I got my Gedmatch (DNA) results and distant relative has 梁 from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liang_(surname) is it totally different from the given above?

梁 in Hong Kong is written as 'Leung'. "Leo" might be a pronunciation from a Cantonese sub-dialect for 梁. And it is a common surname.

Therefore, 'Leo Sue Ning' could be

梁信寧, 梁迅寧 or 梁信齡

Edit 2:

This turned a bit complicated as I leaned towards the 'Leong', more and more users were added with the names of 'Liu' (劉) - list; Liu Gui Hua, XiaoxueLiu, Liu Jin Lian, Liu Li Qun, Chang Liu, John Liu, Xiaoou Liu, Liu Shun Ying, Haoshu Liu, Ismayil Liu, Liu, Liu Su Hua, Liu Gui Hua, XiaoxueLiu, Liu Jin Lian

So it could be 劉信寧, 劉迅寧 or 劉信齡 then. Both 劉 and 梁 are very common Chinese surnames. It doesn't change the fact that 'Suening' was most likely a two characters given name 'Sue Ning' mistakenly turned into a Surname in the Philippine

  • Don't you think that the OP is able to remember whether Suening or Leo is his surname? Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 6:09
  • thank you @Tang-Ho! We are also trying to request his immigration records in the Philippines if it's not destroyed during the war and online DNA matching hoping may provide leads for us to re-connect relatives in Macao.
    – Suening
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 8:18
  • @Stumpy Joe Pete In my answer , I stated Suening was most likely two characters written as one English word, that provided further evidence for 'Leo' (廖/柳) being the family name. If the OP wrote "Leo Suen Ing" then my answer would be different
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:28
  • 2
    @Stumpy Joe Pete, it is possible. Government officers often make mistake dealing with Chinese names. When I was in Hong Kong applying an I.D,I wrote my name the English way with the last name at the end "Tang Kai Ho" . The officer thought "Tang" is my last name and called me "鄧繼豪" But my name in Chinese is "何登啓" . Imagine if I didn't know Chinese, my legal name in Hong Kong would had been 鄧繼豪 now
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 21:35
  • 1
    In Canada, no one call me 'Kai' or Tang Kai' like Chinese would. They all thought Tang is my first name, so they all call me Tang and it has became my legal first name in all my I.D
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 21:44

just an update I got my yDNA (paternal lineage) results and confirmed that our family surname is '劉'. I'm still trying to figure out his given name from the paper trails. thank you a lot.

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