Name of the Philippines

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For description, see Philippines.
The nation's Coat of Arms showing its official name in Filipino, one of its official languages.

The name of the Philippines (Filipino/Tagalog: Pilipinas [pɪlɪˈpinɐs], Spanish: Filipinas) is a truncated form of The Philippine Islands, derived from the King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century. During the expedition of Ruy Lopez de Villalobos to the Islands, Spanish sailor Bernardo de la Torre used the name Las Islas Filipinas in honour of the then-Prince of Asturias, originally referring to the islands of Leyte and Samar.[1][2] Despite the presence of other names, the name Filipinas (Philippines) was eventually adopted as the name of the entire archipelago.

The official name of the Philippines, however, has changed throughout the course of its 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, 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.[3]

Historical names[edit]

The Philippines was named in the late 1500s after Philip, Prince of Asturias (1527-1598), later Philip II of Spain and other territories (1556-1598).
  • 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).[8]
  • 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).[9] It was said that these islands had contacts with Chinese traders from Canton (Guangdong) as early as 982 AD.[5][6]
  • Liu-sung was the name given by the Chinese to the present-day island of Luzon, originated from the Tagalog word lusong, a wooden mortar that is used to pound rice. When the Spanish produced maps of the Philippines during early 17th century, they called the island Luçonia which was later respelled as Luzonia, then Luzon.[10]
Mi último adiós, original Spanish (1896, first stanza)[20]English translation[22]

Adios, Patria adorada, region del sol querida,
Perla del Mar de Oriente, nuestro perdido Eden!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante más fresca, más florida,
Tambien por tí la diera, la diera por tu bien.

Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed,
Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost,
With gladness I give you my Life, sad and repressed;
And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best,
I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.

"Lupang Hinirang", official Filipino lyrics
(1958, rev. 1960s, first stanza)[21]
Original Spanish lyrics[23]

Bayang magiliw,
Perlas ng Silanganan
Alab ng puso,
Sa Dibdib mo'y buhay.

Tierra adorada,
hija del sol de Oriente,
su fuego ardiente
en ti latiendo está.

Proposed names[edit]

  • While exiled in Japan, former revolutionary general Artemio Ricarte proposed the name República Rizalina ("Rizaline Republic") and had already drafted a constitution for this attempt at a revolutionary government.[28]

Disputed names[edit]

Provincial name[edit]

Name in other languages[edit]

Given that it has two official languages, the country also possesses two official names as stated in the 1987 Constitution. In Filipino, it is officially called Republika ng Pilipinas, while it is named the Republic of the Philippines in English. 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 Commission on the Filipino Language and National Artist, Virgilio S. Almario urges the use of Filipinas as the country's official name to reflect its origin and history.[36]

Unlike Ireland which uses the name "Eire/Ireland" to identify itself in international meeting, 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 country's boundary.

In many Philippine languages such as Tagalog, "Pilipinas" is used, while some other languages, including Ilocano, use "Filipinas".

Though the name Philippines is the official name that is used by the country's government for international and domestic businesses, numerous major languages of the world still use their own translation or transliteration of the name Philippines to refer to it.

TransliterationOfficial Name
(Republika ng Pilipinas)
AfrikaansFilippyneRepubliek van die Filippyne
AlbanianFilipinetRepublika e Filipineve
ArabicالفلبينĀl-filibiyīnجمهورية الفلبينJāmhwayr āl-filibiyīn
AzerbaijaniFilippinFilippin Respublikası
BasqueFilipinetanFilipinetako Errepublikako
BelarussianФіліпіныFilipinyРэспубліка ФіліпіныRespublika Filipiny
BengaliফিলিপাইনFilipainফিলিপাইন প্রজাতন্ত্রFilipain Projatôntro
BulgarianФилипиниFilipiniРепублика ФилипиниRepublika Filipini
CatalanFilipinesRepública de Filipines
Chinese菲律賓 (Tr.)
菲律宾 (Sp.)
Fēilǜbīn菲律賓共和國 (Tr.)
菲律宾共和国 (Sp.)
Fēilǜbīn Gònghéguó
CroatianFilipiniRepublika Filipini
CzechFilipínyFilipínská Republika
DanishFilippinerneRepublikken Filippinerne
DutchFilipijnenRepubliek der Filipijnen
EnglishPhilippinesRepublic of the Philippines
EstonianFilipiinidFilipiini Vabariik
FinnishFilippiinitFilippiinien Tasavalta
FrenchPhilippinesRépublique des Philippines
GermanPhilippinenRepublik der Philippinen
GreekΦιλιππίνεςFilippínesΔημοκρατία των ΦιλιππίνωνDi̱mokratía to̱n Filippíno̱n
HebrewפיליפיניםFilipinimהרפובליקה של הפיליפיניםHa'republika Filipinim
Hindiफ़िलीपीन्सPhilipīnsफिलीपींस गणराज्यPhilīpīnsa Gaṇarājya
HokkienHuili̍ppin OR Lūsòng (呂宋)菲律賓共和國Huili̍ppin kiōnghôkok
HungarianFülöp-szigetekFülöp-szigeteki Köztársaság
IcelandicFilippseyjarLýðveldið Filippseyjar
IndonesianFilipinaRepublik Filipina
IrishNa hOileáin FhilipíneachaPhoblacht na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha
ItalianFilippineRepubblica delle Filippine
JapaneseフィリピンFiripinフィリピン共和国Firipin kyōwakoku
Khmerប្រទេសហ្វីលីពីនFilippinសាធារណរដ្ឋហ្វីលីពីនSathéaranakrâth Filippin
Korean필리핀Pillipin필리핀 공화국Pillipin Gonghwaguk
LatinPhilippinaeRespvblica Philippinae
LatvianFilipīnasFilipīnu Republikas
LithuanianFilipinaiRespublikos Filipinai
MalayFilipinaRepublik Filipina
MalteseFilippiniRepubblika tal-Filippini
Marathiफिलिपिन्सfilipinsफिलिपिन्सचे प्रजासत्ताकfilipinsace prajāsattāk
NorwegianFilippineneRepublikken Filippinene
PolishFilipinyRepublika Filipin
PortugueseFilipinasRepública das Filipinas
RomanianFilipineRepublica Filipine
RussianФилиппиныFilipinyРеспублика ФилиппиныRespublika Filipiny
SerbianФилипиниFilipiniРепублика ФилипиниRepublika Filipini
SinhalaපිලිපීනයPilipinayaපිලිපීනය ජනරජයPilipinaya Janarajaya
SlovakFilipínyFilipínská Republika
SpanishFilipinasRepública de Filipinas
SwedishFilippinernaRepubliken Filippinerna
Thaiฟิลิปปินส์Filippinสาธารณรัฐฟิลิปปินส์Sāthāranarat Filippin
TurkishFilipinlerFilipinler Cumhuriyeti
UkrainianФіліпіниFilippinyРеспубліка ФіліппіниRespublika Filippiny
VietnamesePhilippinCộng hoà Philippin
WelshPhilipinauGweriniaeth Ynysoedd y Philipinau

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scott 1994, p. 6
  2. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  3. ^ World Factbook — Philippines. CIA. ISBN 978-1-4220-0227-8. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  4. ^ a b c d The Islands to the West: How are Philippine towns named? at the Wayback Machine (archived March 18, 2008)
  5. ^ a b Hirth 1911, p. 160, Footnote 1
  6. ^ a b "National identity". Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  7. ^ Scott 1984, p. 150
  8. ^ Hirth 1911, p. 162, Footnote 1
  9. ^ Hirth 1911, p. 160, Footnote 3
  10. ^ Keat 2004, p. 798
  11. ^ "Navegación: Exploraciones: Filipinas" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Names of the Philippines at different times in history". Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  13. ^ "History of the Philippines". Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  14. ^ a b Halili 2008, p. 22
  15. ^ Duka 2004, p. 55
  16. ^ Cooley 1830, p. 244
  17. ^ Spate 1979, p. 98
  18. ^ "East Visayan History". Northern Illinois University. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 
  19. ^ Tope 2002, p. 7
  20. ^ a b "Mi Ultimo Adiós by Dr José Rizal". Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines". The LawPhil Project. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "The Last Poem of Rizal". Jose Rizal University. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  23. ^ Palma, José (1912). Melancólicas : coleccion de poesías. Manila, Philippines: Liberería Manila Filatélica.  (Digital copy found online at HathiTrust Digital Library on 2010-03-31)
  24. ^ a b "Origin of the Name "Philippines"". Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  25. ^ Guerrero, Encarnacion & Villegas 1996, pp. 3–12
  26. ^ Guerrero & Schumacher 1998, p. 95
  27. ^ a b c "Maharlika: AsianWeek". 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  28. ^ Rodis, Rodel (2 September 2008). "‘Maharlika’ Reconsidered". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  29. ^ Carunungan, Celso Al (December 23, 1987). "What's in a Name?". Manila Standard Today. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  30. ^ de Morga 2004, p. 298
  31. ^ Mojares 2006, pp. 174–175
  32. ^ a b Sheehan 2008, p. 398
  33. ^ Mojares 2006, p. 85
  34. ^ Truxillo 2001, p. 82
  35. ^ William Henry Scott, Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History, ISBN 971-10-0226-4, p.83
  36. ^ Bye Pilipinas, hello Filipinas?

Printed sources[edit]