Names of the Philippines
The name Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas [pɪlɪˈpinɐs]; Spanish: Filipinas) derives from that of the 16th-century Spanish king Philip II, and is a truncated form of Philippine Islands. During the expedition of Ruy López de Villalobos to the region, the Spanish sailor Bernardo de la Torre bestowed the name Las Islas Filipinas on the islands of Leyte and Samar, in honor of the then Prince of Asturias (heir to the Spanish throne). Despite the existence of other names, Filipinas ("Philippines") was eventually adopted as the name of the entire archipelago.
The official name has, however, changed throughout the course of the Philippines' history. During the Philippine Revolution, the state officially called itself República Filipina, now referred to as the First Philippine Republic. From the period of the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War until the Commonwealth period, United States colonial authorities referred to the Philippines as the Philippine Islands, a direct translation of the original Spanish. It was during the American Period that the name Philippines began to appear, a name that was officially adopted.
In addition to the Philippines, the islands have historically had numerous other names.
- Ma-i. According to the Zhao Rugua's (趙汝适) book Zhu Fan Zhi (诸蕃志) written around the 13th century during the Song Dynasty, there was a group of islands found in southern South China Sea called Ma-i (麻逸, Pinyin: Máyì). The islands groups were later invaded and renamed and identified by the Spanish to be the island of Mindoro. This was further proved by Ferdinand Blumentritt in his 1882 book, Versuch einer Ethnographie der Philippinen (An Attempt to the Study of Ethnography of the Philippines) that Ma-i was the Chinese local name of present-day Mindoro. On the other hand, historians claimed that Ma-i was not an island, but all the south of South Sea islands groups and Manila itself, which was known to be an overseas Chinese settlement which was in constant contact with the Chinese mainland as early as the 9th century AD.
- Ma-i consists of the Sānzhōu (三洲, "Three islands") group of islands: Kia-ma-yen (卡拉棉, Calamian), Bālāwàng (巴拉望, Palawan) and Pa-ki-nung (布桑加, Busuanga).
- Aside from Sānzhōu, Ma-i also consists of the islands of Pai-p'u-yen (巴布延, Babuyan), P'u-li-lu (波利略, Polillo), Lim-kia-tung (林加延, Lingayen), Liu-sung (呂宋, Luzon) and Li-ban (盧邦, Lubang). It was said that these islands had contacts with Chinese traders from Canton (Guangdong) as early as 982 AD.
- Liusung was the name given by the Chinese to the present-day island of Luzon. It originated from the Tagalog word lusong, a wooden mortar that is used to pound rice. When the Spanish produced maps of the Philippines during the early 17th century, they called the island Luçonia which was later respelled as Luzonia, then Luzon.
- Las islas de San Lázaro (St. Lazarus' Islands). Named by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 when he reached the islands of Homonhon in Samar (now Eastern Samar) on the feast day of Saint Lazarus of Bethany.
- Las islas de Poniente (Islands to the West). Another name from Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 when he learned that the Las islas de San Lázaro also included Cebu and Leyte islands. However, various sources claimed that Magellan was not the one who renamed the area, but his chroniclers instead. The name came from the fact that the islands were reached from Spain en route approaching the left part of the globe. Conversely, the Portuguese called the archipelago Ilhas do oriente (Islands to the East) because they approached the islands from the east of Portugal in the late 1540s.
- Las islas Felipinas (Philippine Islands/Islands belonging to Philip). Named by Ruy López de Villalobos in 1543 to Samar and Leyte, honoring the Prince of Asturias, the then Philip II of Spain.
- Caesarea Caroli was the name given by Villalobos to the island of Mindanao when he reached the sea near it. This was named after Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire (and I of Spain).
- The southern island of Sarangani was renamed by Villalobos as Antonia, in honor of Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, the Viceroy of New Spain who commissioned Villalobos expedition to the Philippines.
- Villalobos also named the littoral zone between the islands of Samar and Leyte as Tendaya.
- Las islas Filipinas, or simply Filipinas (Philippines). Vernacular corruption of Las islas Felipenas; irrevocably became the archipelago's name.
- Pearl of the Orient/Pearl of the Orient Seas (Spanish: Perla de oriente/Perla del mar de oriente) is the sobriquet of the Philippines. The term originated from the idea of Spanish Jesuit missionary Fr. Juan J. Delgado in 1751. In his last poem Mi último adiós, Dr. José Rizal referred the country with this name. In the 1960 revision of Lupang Hinirang, the Philippine national anthem, the Tagalog version of this phrase was included as the translation from the original Spanish.
|Mi último adiós, original Spanish (1896, first stanza)||English translation|
Adios, Patria adorada, region del sol querida,
Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed,
|"Lupang Hinirang", official Filipino lyrics
(1958, rev. 1960s, first stanza)
|Original Spanish lyrics|
- The Philippine Islands. This was the anglicized form of the original Spanish name, used under direct American rule and the succeeding Commonwealth Era.
- Maniolas. According to Fr. Francisco Colin in 1663, a Jesuit cleric and an early historian of the Philippines, Maniolas was the name used by Claudius Ptolemy to refer to the group of islands south of China (i.e. Luzon). Colin quoted Ptolemy's writings speaking about the Maniolas islands, which is probably Manila. This theory was further supported by José Rizal and Pedro A. Paterno. Rizal also said that the country was recorded to Ptolemy's maps when a sailor named Hippalus told him the existence of "beautiful islands" in southeastern Far East. However, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera rejected this notion on his 1910 book, Notas para una cartografia de Filipinas (Notes for the Philippine Cartography).
- Baroussai. Along with Maniolas is the Baroussai which was also quoted from Ptolemy. Barrousai is believed to be the Visayas with Mindanao, thus, composing majority of the now Philippine archipelago. Some scholars however have identified Baroussai with Barus in Sumatra.
- Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר) is a region of islands mentioned in the Bible, most famous for its wealth. Accounts mention that King Solomon received the riches of the region every three years. At the emergence of the hydrography of Spanish colonies in Asia in the early 17th century, Dominican Gregorio García wrote that Ophir was indeed located in the Moluccas and the Philippines. In 1609, Juan de Pineda wrote a diverse collection of literature relating Biblical accounts of Solomon, Ophir and the islands. Former Prime Minister Pedro A. Paterno said in one of his works on conjectural anthropology that Ophir is the Philippines because the scented wood Solomon received from Ophir also exists in the Islands. This notion was however, later dismissed by modern historians as merely alluding and comparing the Philippines' position to the Spanish economy with that of Ophir to Solomon's kingdom—the sudden discovery and colonisation of the Islands bringing wealth and prosperity to the realm.
- Tawalisi, was an ancient kingdom in Southeast Asia reached by explorer Ibn Battuta. He reached the kingdom when he left Sumatra and headed towards China. According to the historical accounts of the explorer, he met Urduja, a legendary warrior princess from Pangasinan. However, according to William Henry Scott, Tawilisi and its warrior-princess Urduja are "fabulous, fairy-tale, fiction".
- Haring Bayang Katagalugan (Sovereign Tagalog Nation). Andrés Bonifacio's suggested name for the Filipino nation, intended to be governed by the 1896–1897 Republika ng Katagalugan (Tagalog Republic), although unrecognized by non-Tagalog Filipinos. The name drew flak because of connotations of regionalism. A historian claimed that Bonifacio's usage of "Katagalugan" was not meant to demean other ethnic groups as the word itself meant "people of the river", from the word "taga-ilog", which supposed to represent the ocean-faring ancestors of all Philippine ethnic groups. This was later used by Macario Sakay for his 1902–1906 government that was suppressed by the Americans.
- Kapatiran ("Brotherhood"), or its semi-equivalent Katipunan ("Assembly"/"Gathering").
- Luzviminda. A portmanteau of the first syllables of the country's three major island groups: Luzon; Visayas; and Mindanao. The term has sometimes been interchanged with Luzvimindas, due to the territorial claim of the country on eastern Sabah in Borneo.
- Mahárlika (Sanskrit: mahardhikka (महर्द्धिक), "freeman"). In Pre-Hispanic Philippines, the mahárlika was the common Tagalog term for freedmen, not for the royalty. The maharlika were the largest sector of society, and included warriors, artisans, artists, and others. Unlike the rulers, maharlika did not participate in politics. In 1978, then-president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos supported a House Bill mandating the country's renaming to Mahárlika under military rule. Marcos claimed that Mahárlika was the name of the guerilla force he allegedly led during World War II. This was later proven as a Marcosian hallucination and fabrication, as testified by an Army investigation which "found no foundation" for the late dictator's claims. Eddie Ilarde, who filed the bill, wrongfully stated that Maharlika connoted royalty and wrongfully translated the term as "nobly created". In the book, "Vocabulario de la lengua tagala", the term translates into "alipin na itinuring na malaya" or "a slave that was treated as free". Historians noted that in some accounts, the term means "big phallus" or "large male genitalia". The bill did not pass since the term was seen by numerous ethnic groups as "imperial in nature". The proposal was revived by populist president Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, but the name was dropped a month later. The name change is still supported by the government, although a new name has yet to be determined.
- Rizalia. Named after Filipino patriot José Rizal, in a similar fashion to Bolivia being named after Simón Bolivar.
- República Rizalina ("Rizaline Republic"). While exiled in Japan, former revolutionary general Artemio Ricarte proposed the name and had already drafted a constitution for this attempt at a revolutionary government. The term has been pushed by many pro-Rizal Filipinos, however, the term itself is criticized by many as Rizal was not in favor of Philippine independence during the Philippine revolution against Spain as he believed that the Philippines was "not yet ready" to be separated from "mother Spain". However, historians agree through surfaced historical documents that Rizal "believed in the supreme right of revolution" but "did not think it timely in 1896, and considered the people and the country unprepared for it."
Basis for name-change
Since the official naming of the country as Philippines under American colonial rule, and even earlier as Filipinas (or similar names) under Spanish colonial rule, the primary reason for the country's name-change has always been "to break away from colonialism". A holistically government-backed name has yet to be determined, although a pan-Malay word reflecting the nation’s island identity has been proposed as more appropriate, or one related to the archipelago's pre-Hispanic excellence in sailing and boat-building.
In other languages
The 1987 constitution provides that Filipino and English be official languages of the Philippines. The constitution does not contain a provision specifically designating an official name for the country; however, "Republic of the Philippines" is used consistently throughout its provisions (in English). Article XIV, section 8 of the constitution also mandates that the constitution be also promulgated in Filipino but no such official Filipino version exists. "Republika ng Pilipinas" is the de facto name of the country used in Filipino. When standing alone in English, the country's name is always preceded by the article the. However, the definite article ang does not precede the name in Filipino contexts.
The country has throughout its history been known as Filipinas. In the 1930s, the scholar Lope K. Santos introduced the abakada alphabet for writing Tagalog which no longer used the letter F as this sound was absent and was usually pronounced by speakers of several Philippine languages as "P". The abakada alphabet also subsequently spread to other Philippine languages (which had been using spelling systems based on the Spanish abecedario). Thus, the form Pilipinas propagated and came into general use. The Commission on the Filipino Language and National Artist, Virgilio S. Almario urges the usage of Filipinas as the country's official name to reflect its origin and history, and to be inclusive of all languages in the country of which phonologies contain /f/, represented by the grapheme F in the present-day Philippine alphabet. In many Philippine languages such as Tagalog, Pilipinas is used; while some other languages, including Ilocano and Chavacano, use Filipinas.
At international meetings, only the English name usually appears to identify the Philippines (e.g., when there are meetings in the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in this setting. This is also the tradition even if the meeting is held within the Philippines. The country's name in other languages is more often than not based on either Filipinas or Philippines, both ultimately rooted in the Latin Philippinae.
(Republic of the Philippines)
|Afrikaans||Filippyne||Republiek van die Filippyne|
|Albanian||Filipinet||Republika e Filipineve|
|Amharic||ፊሊፒንስ||Filipins||ፊሊፒንስ ሪፐብሊክ||Filipins Ripäblik|
|Arabic||الفلبين||Al Filibīn||جمهورية الفلبين||Jumhūrīyyat Al Filibīn|
|Armenian||Ֆիլիպիններ||Filipinner||Ֆիլիպիններում Հանրապետություն||Filippinerum Hanrapetut'yun|
|Belarusian||Філіпіны||Filipiny||Рэспубліка Філіпіны||Respublika Filipiny|
|Bengali||ফিলিপাইন||Filipain||ফিলিপাইন প্রজাতন্ত্র||Filipain Projatôntro|
|Bulgarian||Филипини||Filipini||Република Филипини||Republika Filipini|
|Catalan||Filipines||República de les Filipines|
|Dutch||Filipijnen||Republiek der Filipijnen|
|Fijian||Filipin||Matanitu Tugalala o Filipin|
|French||Philippines||République des Philippines|
|Georgian||ფილიპინები||P'ilipinebi||ფილიპინების რესპუბლიკა||P'ilipinebis respublika|
|German||Philippinen||Republik der Philippinen|
|Greek||Φιλιππίνες||Filippínes||Δημοκρατία των Φιλιππίνων||Di̱mokratía to̱n Filippíno̱n|
|Haryanvi||फ़िलिपीण||Filippínn||फ़िलिपीण गणराज्य||Filippínn Gannrājya|
|Hebrew||פיליפינים||Filipinim||הרפובליקה של הפיליפינים||Ha'republika shel ha'Filipinim|
|Hindi||फ़िलीपीन्स||Filipīns||फ़िलीपींस गणराज्य||Filīpīns Gaṇarājya|
|Irish||Na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha||Poblacht na nOileán Filipíneacha|
|Italian||Filippine||Repubblica delle Filippine|
|Kazakh||Филиппиндер||Filippinder||Филиппин Республикасы||Filippin Respublikasy|
|Korean||필리핀||Pillipin||필리핀 공화국||Pillipin Gonghwaguk|
|Macedonian||Филипини||Filipini||Република Филипини||Republika Filipini|
|Marathi||फिलिपिन्स||Filipins||फिलिपिन्सचे प्रजासत्ताक||Filipinsce prajāsattāk|
|Persian||فیلیپین||Filipin||جمهوری فیلیپین||Jomhuri Filipin|
|Portuguese||Filipinas||República das Filipinas|
|Russian||Филиппины||Filipiny||Республика Филиппины||Respublika Filipiny|
|Serbian||Филипини||Filipini||Република Филипини||Republika Filipini|
|Sinhala||පිලිපීනය||Pilipinaya||පිලිපීනය ජනරජය||Pilipinaya Janarajaya|
|Spanish||Filipinas||República de las Filipinas|
|Swahili||Ufilipino||Jamhuri ya Ufilipino|
|Tamil||பிலிப்பைன்ஸ்||Pilippaiṉs||பிலிப்பைன்ஸ் குடியரசு||Pilippaiṉs kuṭiyaracu|
|Ukrainian||Філіпіни||Filippiny||Республіка Філіппіни||Respublika Filippiny|
|Urdu||فلپائن||Filipāʾin||جمہوریہ فلپائن||Jamhūriya Filipāʾin|
|Vietnamese||Phi Luật Tân||Cộng hoà Phi Luật Tân|
|Welsh||Philipinau||Gweriniaeth Ynysoedd y Philipinau|
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