Name of the Philippines

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: 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 López 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

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]
  • Lei 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

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

Disputed names

Provincial names

In other languages

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.[38]

Unlike Ireland which uses the name "Éire/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.

Language Name
Transliteration Official Name
(Republika ng Pilipinas)
Afrikaans Filippyne Republiek van die Filippyne
Albanian Filipinet Republika e Filipineve
Arabic الفلبين Āl-filibiyīn جمهورية الفلبين Jāmhwayr āl-filibiyīn
Armenian Ֆիլիպիններ Filipinner Ֆիլիպիններում Հանրապետություն Filippinerum Hanrapetut’yun
Azerbaijani Filippin Filippin Respublikası
Basque Filipinetan Filipinetako Errepublikako
Belarusian Філіпіны Filipiny Рэспубліка Філіпіны Respublika Filipiny
Bengali ফিলিপাইন Filipain ফিলিপাইন প্রজাতন্ত্র Filipain Projatôntro
Bulgarian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Catalan Filipines República 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
Croatian Filipini Republika Filipini
Czech Filipíny Filipínská Republika
Danish Filippinerne Republikken Filippinerne
Dutch Filipijnen Republiek der Filipijnen
English Philippines Republic of the Philippines
Estonian Filipiinid Filipiini Vabariik
Finnish Filippiinit Filippiinien Tasavalta
French Philippines République des Philippines
Georgian ფილიპინები P’ilipinebi ფილიპინების რესპუბლიკის P’ilipinebis respublikis
German Philippinen Republik der Philippinen
Greek Φιλιππίνες Filippínes Δημοκρατία των Φιλιππίνων Di̱mokratía to̱n Filippíno̱n
Haryanvi फ़िलिपीण Filippínn फ़िलिपीण गणराज्य Filippínn Gannrājya
Hebrew פיליפינים Filipinim הרפובליקה של הפיליפינים Ha'republika Filipinim
Hindi फ़िलीपीन्स Filipīns फ़िलीपींस गणराज्य Filīpīns Gaṇarājya
Hokkien 菲律賓
菲律賓共和國 Huili̍ppin kiōnghôkok
Hungarian Fülöp-szigetek Fülöp-szigeteki Köztársaság
Icelandic Filippseyjar Lýðveldið Filippseyjar
Indonesian Filipina Republik Filipina
Irish Na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha Phoblacht na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha
Italian Filippine Repubblica delle Filippine
Japanese フィリピン Firipin フィリピン共和国 Firipin kyōwakoku
Khmer ប្រទេសហ្វីលីពីន Filippin សាធារណរដ្ឋហ្វីលីពីន Sathéaranakrâth Filippin
Korean 필리핀 Pillipin 필리핀 공화국 Pillipin Gonghwaguk
Latin Philippinae Respublica Philippinarum
Latvian Filipīnas Filipīnu Republika
Lithuanian Filipinai Filipinų Respublika
Macedonian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Malaysian Filipina Republik Filipina
Maltese Filippini Repubblika tal-Filippini
Marathi फिलिपिन्स Filipins फिलिपिन्सचे प्रजासत्ताक Filipinsce prajāsattāk
Norwegian Filippinene Republikken Filippinene
Polish Filipiny Republika Filipin
Portuguese Filipinas República das Filipinas
Romanian Filipine Republica Filipine
Russian Филиппины Filipiny Республика Филиппины Respublika Filipiny
Serbian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Sinhala පිලිපීනය Pilipinaya පිලිපීනය ජනරජය Pilipinaya Janarajaya
Slovak Filipíny Filipínská Republika
Slovene Filipini Republika Filipini
Spanish Filipinas República de Filipinas
Swedish Filippinerna Republiken Filippinerna
Tamil பிலிப்பைன்ஸ் Pilippaiṉs பிலிப்பைன்ஸ் குடியரசு Pilippaiṉs kuṭiyaracu
Thai ฟิลิปปินส์ Filippin สาธารณรัฐฟิลิปปินส์ Sāthāranarat Filippin
Turkish Filipinler Filipinler Cumhuriyeti
Ukrainian Філіпіни Filippiny Республіка Філіппіни Respublika Filippiny
Vietnamese Phi Luật Tân Cộng hoà Phi Luật Tân
Welsh Philipinau Gweriniaeth Ynysoedd y Philipinau

See also


  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. 1 2 3 4 The Islands to the West: How are Philippine towns named? at the Wayback Machine (archived March 30, 2009)
  5. 1 2 Hirth 1911, p. 160, Footnote 1
  6. 1 2 "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. 1 2 3 4 "Names of the Philippines at different times in history". Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  13. "History of the Philippines". Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  14. 1 2 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. 1 2 "Mi Ultimo Adiós by Dr José Rizal". Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  21. 1 2 "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. 1 2 "Origin of the Name "Philippines"". Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  25. Guerrero, Encarnacion & Villegas 1996, pp. 3–12
  26. Guerrero & Schumacher 1998, p. 95
  27. 1 2 3 "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. Rizal: "Ptolemy also mentions... five Baroussai (Mindanao, Leite, Sebu, etc.)." See:
  34. 1 2 Sheehan 2008, p. 398
  35. Mojares 2006, p. 85
  36. Truxillo 2001, p. 82
  37. William Henry Scott, Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History, ISBN 971-10-0226-4, p.83
  38. Bye Pilipinas, hello Filipinas?

Printed sources

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