P and F defect: Changing the official name from ‘Pilipinas’ to ‘Filipinas’

I’d think twice about changing the “official name” of the Philippines to “Filipinas”. Try doing an image search on the word “Filipinas” in Google and you will find what the term generally connotes. Not very flattering, to say the least. Certainly the results of that Google image search will not be consistent with the goals of the Philippine Government’s Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (Commission on the Filipino Language) which came up with this newest brainwave to change the official name of the country to “Filipinas.”

One of the results of an image search on Google for 'Filipinas'
One of the results of an image search on Google for ‘Filipinas’
In its Resolution 13-19 dated the 27th May 2013, the Commission put forth the notion that “Filipinas” is the more “modern” term that should be replacing the more popular “Pilipinas” as the country’s official name. It also articulates a goal of progressively phasing out the use of “Pilipinas” in all government institutions’ names and, presumably all communication artifacts such as logos and letterheads. The resolution recognises that the use of “Pilipinas” in public communication artifacts came about largely during a time when the Tagalog alphabet lacked the letter “F”.

Having been educated at a time when this F-less alphabet was in effect, it comes as news to me that the Tagalog alphabet has had an “F” for some time now. One wonders though how the Filipino’s renowned P’s and F’s defect in her speech came about despite this lack of a letter “F” back then. The new level of confusion revolving around those two letters that this new resolution introduces to our bulol society will certainly give new meaning to our P’s and F’s Defect!

This latest head-scratcher of a resolution comes at an interesting time considering that the word “Filipinas” has come to be mainly used for referring to Filipino females. Filipino women don’t exactly enjoy the most spotless of reputations abroad. Just recently a mail-order-bride racket run by South Koreans and Filipinos was reportedly busted in the outskirts of Manila. The report cited how the appeal to Filipino women of being matched by an agency to a foreign husband stems from the promise of “a prosperous life”.

“We have rescued 29 (Filipino women) who were duped into promises of an instant wealthy life thru marriage with Korean gentlemen although in most cases, they ended up in the losing end after becoming victims of grave abuses,” [Chief Superintendent Reginald Villasanta, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission] said.

Consider too that more than 52 percent of the overseas foreign workers (OFWs) deployed abroad that the Philippine economy depends on are females — i.e., Filipinas — the issue of many of these falling victim to prostitution and human trafficking rackets has also recently been highlighted after officials of the Philippine Government’s foreign services in Jordan were implicated in such a scandal.

In another incident involving Filipinas, ten of them working as “guest relations officers” in Malaysia were recently reported “rescued” by Malaysian police on the request of the Philippine embassy there. An all-too-familiar story is behind how these Filipinas ended up in their predicament…

The Embassy said the Filipinas were originally recruited to work as service crew in Baila Me Karaoke bar in Bintulu, Sarawak but ended up working as GROs.

“The Filipinas were forced to work beyond regular work hours without regular salaries and only earning from the ‘commission’ they receive on drinks offered to customers,” said the embassy.

It said the 10 Filipinas arrived in Malaysia last February 6 “through irregular channels.”

Perhaps what all this is telling us is that there are really more important problems out there that require the sort of strong collective wherewithal to act upon that is a monumental challenge to muster as it is even without the added confusion — and distraction — of trivial initiatives like changing the official name of the country. Quite ironic, indeed, that the fundamental issues surrounding the Philippines’ image problems overseas that centre around perceptions of its women could be exacerbated by an initiative that presumptively seeks to strengthen our national identity.