At a glance
- Claim: It was Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who gave the name “Philippines” (or any earlier version of it) to the country.
- Rating: FALSE
- The facts: It was Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos who in 1543 coined the name “Las Islas Felipenas” (which later became Filipinas) in honor of Philip II, who was then heir to the Spanish throne.
- Why we fact-checked this: This claim has been made multiple times, including online and in real life. Sources of the claim include a February 11, 2019, speech by President Rodrigo Duterte, a video from the YouTube channel “KAPATID AVINIDZ,” and a number of Facebook pages.
On January 7, 2020, a video from the YouTube channel “KAPATID AVINIDZ” claimed that it was Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, who gave the name “Philippines” to the country. It cited a speech delivered by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 12, 2018, in Kawit, Cavite. As of writing, the video has 357,183 views.
Duterte did make this claim, but not on the date mentioned in the video. He said Magellan gave the name “Philippines” to the country in a speech on February 11, 2019, when he led the ceremonial distribution of Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Maguindanao.
He said: “Philippines. Philippines because it was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip. Kaya pagdating ng ulol, ginawang Philippines. Pero okay na ’yan. Balang araw palitan natin.” (Philippines. It’s called the Philippines because it was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip. So when the fool got here, they named it “Philippines.” But that’s okay. One day, we will change it.)
The claim that Magellan gave the Philippines’ name is false.
The name “Philippines,” or any earlier version of it, did not come from Ferdinand Magellan. It was Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos who in 1543 coined the name “Las Islas Felipenas” in honor of Philip II, who was Prince of Asturias and heir to the Spanish throne at the time of Villalobos’ expedition. Over time, the name would become “Filipinas” or “Philippines.”
Multiple sources that contain information about Villalobos’ naming of the Philippines after Philip II include the following:
- The reference work The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803 by historian Emma Helen Blair, edited and annotated by historians Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson (so it came to be also known as “Blair and Robertson” in Philippine scholarship); the links with the information are for Volume I covering 1493-1529 and Volume II covering 1521-1569.
- The Philippine history textbooks History of the Filipino People and Introduction to Filipino History by historian Teodoro A. Agoncillo.
- Articles by historian Ambeth Ocampo on Inquirer.net on April 6, 2011, June 3, 2016, October 11, 2019, and March 17, 2021.
- An essay in the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) website, “Philippine Bibliographies,” by Rosa M. Vallejo.
- An essay in the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) website, “Filipinos to be called ‘Rizalines,’” by Quennie Ann J. Palafox.
- An essay in the Official Gazette containing information about the Philippines.
Also, Philip II was born in 1527, so he wasn’t even born yet when Magellan arrived in the Philippines in 1521. The ruler of Spain to whom Magellan offered his services and who eventually funded his expedition was King Charles I of Spain, who reigned from 1516 to 1556. He was the father of Philip II, who was king of Spain from 1556 to 1598.
Magellan, however, gave the name “Islas de San Lazaro” (Archipelago of St. Lazarus) to the Philippines.
Aside from Duterte’s speech and the video on YouTube, the claim that Magellan named the Philippines can also be found in several Facebook pages, such as “Robin Padilla ng Mindanao,” “Ramadan Daily,” “LABAN PINAS,” and “Qur’an and Hadith.”
Rappler has fact-checked the YouTube channel “KAPATID AVINIDZ” at least once before. – Percival Bueser/Rappler.com
Percival Bueser is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.
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