Filipinas or Pilipinas? What is in a name?

Filipinas or Pilipinas?

While this issue has kept the social media abuzz and has given the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) the attention they want, changing the name without the proper understanding of “What is in a name?” will promote nothing but another superficial change.

The proposed name change is said to help invoke a better sense of history.  If that’s the case then BASIC History lessons should also tackle the etymology of “Filipinas” and how much of a despot Philip II was and how his LEADERSHIP OF ARROGANCE AND BLIND FAITH led to the defeat of the great Spanish Armada and eventually to the bankruptcy of Spain.

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Hmmm, doesn’t Philip II remind us so much of many of our political leaders since our perceived independence?

If we really want to give Philippine History the much needed relevance, then ingrain in our people our Prehispanic history, when our islands were romanticized as Ma’i, Mai, Ma-yi or Mayi in the Chinese Imperial annals Zhu Fan Zhi and the History of the Song Dynasty. Our land was known as the nation of Maidh in the Sultanate of Brunei’s royal records.

Laguna Copperplate Inscriptio

If we really want to give Philippine History the much needed relevance, then ingrain in our people our Prehispanic history…

That is the name of our islands before 1521, it is the land of a people who knew not of subjugation, who freely and fairly traded with many foreign merchants. Of a people who had their own spoken and written language as well evidenced in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription (900 AD). Of a people who had a system unbounded by politics.

Maybe if each Filipino will have a clear understanding of that rich and proud heritage maybe then, can we seriously take RESPONSIBILITY and take PRIDE of our citizenship, not through the temporal and worse not through lipservicing “Proud to be a Filipino.”

The first thing that grade schoolers are taught is that our country was discovered in 1521 by Magellan, 1+1+Magellan, glorifying the vanquished in Philippine History. What about the glory that came before that and I’m not talking about Lapu-lapu, that historic glory lives in our indigenous tribes and that is THE history that should be instilled in young Filipinos. So that we can all look beyond the temporal and value what is really important.


Until then,  many will continue to conform to a  society that looks down on those who truly uphold freedom, and those are our Muslim brothers and sisters and our indigenous tribes while they are the ones who remained steadfast in the fight against oppression and that fight is not only of the war brought upon by the foreign Imperialists but by the war waged by Imperial Manila that until now they suffer yet they continue to prevail.

SOCIAL RE-ENGINEERING can only happen if our citizens are willing to break free from the IGNORANCE.


Image courtesy of “…the inscription was a pardon from the Chief of Tondo that erased the debt of a man named Namwaran. His debt was one kati and eight suwarna, or about 926.4 grams of gold. Today in 2006, this is equal to about $18,600 Canadian. The document mentioned a few towns that still exist today: Tundun, which is now Tondo in Metro Manila and three towns in Bulakan; Pailah or Paila, Puliran or Pulilan, and Binwangan. A town in Agusan del Norte on Mindanao called Dewata or Diwata also appears in the text. Diwata is near Butuan, which has been a rich source of ancient artefacts. A place called Medang was mentioned, too, which is possibly Medan in Sumatra, Indonesia. Also, the name of Namwaran’s son was given as Bukah, a name that may have some relation to the town of Gatbuka in Bulakan. Gat is a title similar to “Sir” for a knight.”

7 Replies to “Filipinas or Pilipinas? What is in a name?”

  1. Changing just the letter of our country’s name is so superficial, that it is nothing in the end. Best accept what we are now, but we should still try to improve our character. And the history lesson is MUCH appreciated.

    1. I would always settle for the Republic of Maharlika, regardless of the political color it is associated with, Chino. BUT that goes with a caveat, that our citizens first claim being a Maharlika. It’s going to be a total re-branding and it has to start with doing away with the “alipin”/victim mentality.

  2. We should also not forget that all the islands were united and named as one country under the name of Las Islas Filipinas and named after the King of Spain, which is why historically is the official starting point as there was no Philippines before that. It’s true there were original cultures, but all the history of the country were only written from 16th century in Spanish including the national anthem. The independence from Spain is what created the Filipinos as a nation and embodies all the past, present and future. If Filipinos don’t admit the past then they won’t understand their future. Pilipinas comes from the ”americanised” name of the Philippines Islands then truncated which became Philippines. The current culture embraces all Spanish, American, Mexican, Malay and Pacific cultures, but a Filipino will always be known as a Filipino.

    1. Should we really attribute the “unification” of the islands to Spain under the Las Islas Filipinas reference, when as textbook history would have it, it was the Revolutionaries who modified Filipinas to Pilipinas, so as to lay claim over a reference that is then used exclusively by Spaniards born in the Philippines?

      I would rather take the Anthropological approach, that the group of islands was not discovered by Spain but by the ancestors of our indigenous people, and that the islands were “unified” by those who believed in Aguinaldo’s “independence” of June 12, 1898.

      Then again, how can we say that date was the onset of independence when the mock battle of Manila ensued shortly a month after of the same year?

  3. “If we really want to give Philippine History the much needed relevance, then ingrain in our people our Prehispanic history”

    Agreed. Then let’s go back to much older names. Let the government provide a pot reward for the most authentic and provable historic name of the archipelago. The more ancient, the better. And then we will move the legislative to adopt the same for the country’s “rebranding” and renaissance.

    Names are powerful. They make or break the systems they rule upon, because humans name and identify their cultures with such names. The way we live our life is largely affected by our understanding and perception of things. Names (or proper nouns) affect such perception highly, and all other actions that may emanate from such perception.

  4. Ppre-Hispanic tribes were not united (Look at Lapu-lapu, he’s not even in good friend with other visayan Datus). If Filipinas was not created and Spain did not colonized us, we could have been part of British Malaysia, Dutch Indonesia or China and will not come up with any pre-Hispanic name of the archipelago, come up with our beautiful Hispanic and Asian culture and a nation composed of 7107 islands.

    Our nationhood started when Spaniards called these islands as Filipinas and not during pre-Hispanic years where natives live in hundreds of barangays, fighting with each other, trading with each other and never treated other people from other islands as their own.

    Can you come up with Maharlika, Katagalugan, Ma-yi name without Filipinas? Thanks God we’re one country today.

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