July 14, 2013


I’m not much of a linguist, but I can understand why it is important to restore our country’s original name FILIPINAS.


For some people, Filipinas is the ‘modern’ name but to those who knows our country’s real history, it is our historical name. Let us not forget that people died to liberate a nation which carried that name. So I take any alteration from the original as an insult to our country’s history.


The nation’s language body,  headed by National Artist Virgilio Almario (Río Alma), apparently wanted the change ‘to promote the official and modern name of the country’. That the move was proposed by Almario makes it less surprising. He is the only mainstream and influential Filipino writer I know that advocates this move. The guy clearly has a good grasp of the history of Philippine languages.


As usual, people are quick to jump on the gun without first studying the issue. Every comment, opinion, and objection I read online were conclusions based on headlines. So many fear that the “P” would be erased from the alphabet forever! People need to calm down and have a cup of tea here — letters are not getting tossed out but some will be restored to their proper place. The Philippines would not end up as Fhilippines, nor will UP become UF, or Pinoy to Finoy! Philippines is English. The suggested change has nothing to do with how other countries call us — the ongoing discussion is all about our official name in our official language.


Just a thought: are these people opposing the return of the name “Filipinas” also against the use of “Filipino”? Because that is our demonym. So are they even slighted when majority of Filipinos refer to themselves as such? Our passports refer to us as “Filipino”, but in this same document the Department of Foreign Affairs writes the name of the country as “Pilipinas”. And yet her people are called “Filipinos”!


This is the reason why I support to just have the old name back. Enough of this “Pilipinization”. It should be FILIPINAS for FILIPINOS. Make it simple for everyone to say, follow, and remember.


The point that Almario and his supporters are trying to communicate here is that the old name “Filipinas” warrants restoration because it is ‘inclusive’ and it is —and this is something that no legislation nor movement could amend— our true historic name.


Pilipinas is based on the Tagalog ‘Abakada’ alphabet. But it was already dissolved in 1987. Now that the “F” is back, it only makes sense to bring Filipinas back. The old ‘Abakada’ alphabet was too restricted, it is not even sufficient for our other local languages — it ended up distorting these languages once written down. Imagine letters like “ñ” common in our names did not officially exist in our alphabet for decades until the abolition of the ‘Abakada’.


So why was the “P” adapted in the first place?


Well, aside from the official implementation of the ‘Abakada’ as the official alphabet, so many scholars believed that the change symbolized the transition from being ‘colonized’ to ‘independent’ . If that is the case, why not change the entire name? Pilipinas even with a “P” still comes from Rey Felipe II’s name! What difference does it make, really?


This goes to show just how shallow some of these scholars arguments are — and to think that they sit on committees that decide what becomes ‘official’ in our language is an unsettling reality. What many of us do not know is that the US neocolonial government helped formulate and promote the alphabet which replaced the Spanish-based ‘Abecedario’. But this issue deserves a separate blogpost.


Clearly, this bias against the use of ‘F’ is nothing more but hispanophobia. The restoration is despised by some camps because it harks back memories of the Spanish epoch. Well, if this is the case,  our language adopted so many Spanish words — so why stop there? And again, how about dumping the name Pilipinas altogether? Because no matter how you look at it, it is still derived from the Spanish monarch Rey Felipe II.


No one would dare, even the staunchest of nationalist historians, propose such a move today because that would erase the entire name completely. And no one wants a new name. So let’s just get the old name back and stick with it!



Additional note:


In the book “Tomas Pinpín and Tagalog Survival in Early Spanish Philippines” the author explains, “…Pinpín used the Spanish letra instead of the Tagalog titik. He listed the letters: ch, c, x, f, ll and ., j…for example: p and f are bothfricatives, but as Pinpín patiently explains, in Spanish, piel and fiel do not mean the same thing; as is the case with depender and defender, pino and fino, and so on.  In addition, the interchanging of i and e and o and u was not permitted in Spanish.” The truth is that the Spanish alphabet was closer to our ethnic languages because all of them were phonetic. That is why it was only linguistically just and coherent for the Spanish alphabet to represent most of the languages well enough for it to be adopted by our ethnolinguistic groups. Without the Spanish alphabet, just imagine how much of our local history would have gone unrecorded. So to go against “Filipinas” because it is Spanish is not only historical hypocrisy but condemning an integral component of our historical national identity.



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way ayo


I beg to differ since the official name of the country should be in the official native language.

In this situation, Tagalog is the official language. The phoneme /f/ is not in the native inventory of Tagalog, unless they know either Castilian or English or both.

Given these, the name should stay.


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