Fact checks about countries

FACT CHECK: No plans to rename the Philippines


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FACT CHECK: No plans to rename the Philippines
There are currently no bills in either house of Congress seeking to rename the country after a biblical place

Claim: The Philippines will be renamed Ophir, after a place mentioned in the Bible.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made in the title and thumbnail of a YouTube video posted by KAPATID AVINIDZ. The video has gained over 25,000 views and 1,600 likes as of writing.

The video’s title reads: “OMG! PANGALANG PILIPINAS DAPAT NANG PALITAN AT BAGUHIN!”  (OMG! The name Philippines should be replaced and changed!)

Its thumbnail bore the text: “PILIPINAS, WOW! PAPALITAN NA?” (Philippines, wow! Will [the name] be changed?)

The bottom line: There are no bills filed in Congress seeking to change the name of the Philippines. The misleading video does not show proof to support its claim, only featuring a clip of Santa Rosa City Representative Dan Fernandez suggesting that the Philippines be named after a biblical place called Ophir.

Privilege speech: On July 31, Fernandez delivered a speech during the so-called privilege hour, during which a lawmaker can “speak on any matter of national interest.” In his 24-minute speech, Fernandez theorized that the Philippines could be the biblical place Ophir, described as a region abundant with gold and other precious materials.

As supposed proof, Fernandez claimed that the Philippines has the second largest gold deposit in the world after Africa. This is false; according to data from the World Gold Council, the Philippines had 159.84 metric tons of gold as of the second quarter of 2023. The latest data shows that the Philippines ranks 27th in the list of countries with the most gold reserves.

Implying that Ophir might be a more fitting name for the Philippines, Fernandez said: “When we learn to know ourselves, we will be known in the entire world as Ophir and we will know that we are the sons of the living father, but if not, we will continue to be ignorant just what the Spaniards wanted.” 

Rappler has fact-checked this claim. No evidence indicates that the Philippines is the “Land of Ophir” mentioned in the Bible. 

From Philippines to Maharlika: Under previous administrations, there were suggestions to change the Philippines’ name to Maharlika, which means “nobly created.”

Article XVI, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states that the country’s name could be changed only upon ratification by the people in a national referendum. Andrei Santos/Rappler.com

Andrei Santos 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.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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