Kill 'Pilipinas,' language commission says

FOR UNITY. The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino wants to discard the use of 'Pilipinas' to refer to the country. File photo by Roy Lagarde

FOR UNITY. The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino wants to discard the use of 'Pilipinas' to refer to the country.

File photo by Roy Lagarde

MANILA, Philippines – To unite Filipinos through a better sense of history, the country's language commission has decided to stop using the name “Pilipinas” to refer to the country, and to use the name “Filipinas” instead.

Ipinapasiya, gaya ng ginagawang pagpapasiya ngayon, na ibalik ang gamit ng 'Filipinas' habang pinipigil ang paggamit ng 'Pilipinas' upang mapalaganap ang opisyal at modernisadong katawagan ng bansa na kumikilala sa kasaysayan at pag-unlad ng pagkabansa nito,” the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) said in a resolution dated April 12, which is going viral this weekend.

(We resolved, as we hereby resolve, to revive the use of “Filipinas” while stopping the use of “Pilipinas” to promote the official and modern name of the country, which recognizes its history and national development.)

National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, who chairs the KWF, has pushed for the use of “Filipinas” for over two decades. Almario believes "Filipinas" should even be the country's international name.

In its resolution, the KWF then proposed the following initial moves: 

The commission, however, clarified this is not mandatory, especially for institutions established before the letter “F” was acknowledged in the Filipino alphabet.

(Read the KWF's full resolution below.)

'Confusion' over 3 names

Explaining the resolution, the KWF website linked to a piece by Almario in 1992. The article, “Patayin ang 'Pilipinas' (Kill 'Pilipinas'),” was published in Diyaryo Pilipino, a Filipino-language broadsheet that Almario published and edited.

In the article, Almario said the country has 3 names: “Filipinas,” “Philippines,” and “Pilipinas.”

He said the country should use “Filipinas,” the country's original name from Spanish colonizers, who named their new colony after Spanish King Felipe II. He said heroes such as Marcelo H del Pilar, after all, used the name "Filipinas."

He also said using 3 different names contributes to “national confusion.”

Hindi tayo magkaisa kahit sa pagtawag lamang sa ating sarili. Ang panukala ko, panahon na para magkaroon tayo ng opisyal na pangalan para sa ating bansa’t republika, at tulad ng inumpisahan ng Diyaryo Filipino, dapat tayong kilalanin sa buong mundo bilang 'Filipinas,'” Almario said.

(We fail to unite even in what to call ourselves. My suggestion is, it's time to have an official name for our country and republic, and as Diyaryo Filipino initiated, we should be known around the world as “Filipinas.”)

He added: “Unang dapat burahin ang 'Philippines.' Tatak ito ng patuloy na pag-iral sa ating utak ng pananakop ng Amerikano. Hindi nila ito nagawa sa Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Chile, at ibang dating kolonya ng Espanya.”

(The first thing we should eradicate is “Philippines.” This is symptomatic of American colonialism prevailing in our minds. They failed to do this in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Chile, and other former colonies of Spain.)

Almario, former dean of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Arts and Letters, admitted it is costly to shift to "Filipinas." He said it may also be awkward to call UP, for example, as the University of Filipinas.

He said this will therefore need "systematic and gradual change." For the KWF chair, however, it is clear that calling the country "Filipinas" is a step forward. – Rappler.com 

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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