The nation's coat of arms showing its official name in Filipino, one of its two official languages.

There have been several names of the Philippines (Filipino: Pilipinas, [pɪlɪˈpinɐs]; Spanish: Filipinas) in different cultures and at different times, usually in reference to specific island groups within the current archipelago. Even the name Philippines itself was originally intended to apply only to Leyte, Samar, and nearby islands. It was bestowed by the Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos or one of his captains Bernardo de la Torre in 1543 in honor of the crown prince Philip, later Philip II. Mindanao, which they reached first and assumed to be the greater land, they named after the reigning emperor Charles V, who was also Spain's king Carlos I. Over the course of Spanish colonization, the name was eventually extended to cover the entire chain. It has survived with minor changes. The Philippine Revolution called its state the Philippine Republic (Spanish: República Filipina). The US military and civilian occupations called their territory the Philippine Islands (Spanish: Islas Filipinas). During the Third Philippine Republic, the state's official name was formally changed to the Philippines.

Present name

The plaque in Málaga, Spain, commemorating López de Villalobos for naming the Philippines. Some sources credit his captain Bernardo de la Torre for the name instead.
The original extent of the Isla Felipina(s), covering modern Leyte and Samar
The empress Isabella with the infant infante Philip, from a 1529 portrait by Anthony of Holland.
The entrance of Prince Philip into Mantova in 1549 by Tintoretto (1579)
Portrait of Philip as king of Spain by Titian (1551)
A 1561 map of Southeast Asia by the Italian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi, using the name Philippine Island (Latin: Philippina) for Leyte but not the entire archipelago

Further information: Villalobos Expedition

The present name of the Philippines was bestowed by the Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos[1][2] or one of his captains Bernardo de la Torre[3][4] in 1543, during an expedition intended to establish greater Spanish control at the western end of the division of the world established between Spain and Portugal by the treaties of Tordesillas and Zaragoza. Having already named Mindanao for their king, the Habsburg emperor Charles V, the Philippine Island honored his son, crown prince Philip, later Philip II of Spain. The name Felipina and Islas Felipinas originally applied to only Leyte, Samar, and their nearby islands[3][4] before shifting to Islas Filipinas and spreading to the rest.[5] This was borrowed into English as the Philippine Islands soon after, a name which was used throughout America's military and civilian occupations of the archipelago.[6]

Present name in other languages

The obverse of a 1944 one centavo coin. "Filipinas" is printed on the lower ring.

The 1987 Constitution provides that Filipino and English be official languages of the Philippines. It does not contain a provision specifically designating an official name for the country; however, "Republic of the Philippines" is used consistently throughout its provisions (in English). Article XIV, section 8 of the Constitution also mandates that the constitution be also promulgated in Filipino but no such official Filipino version exists. "Republika ng Pilipinas" is the de facto name of the country used in Filipino. When standing alone in English, the country's name is always preceded by the article the.[7][8][9] However, the definite article ang does not precede the name in Filipino contexts.

The country has throughout its history been known as Filipinas. The earliest known use of Pilipinas in Tagalog was by the Katipunan in their deciphered 1892 foundational document.[10] In the 1930s, the scholar Lope K. Santos introduced the abakada alphabet for writing Tagalog which no longer used the letter F as this sound was absent and was usually pronounced by speakers of several Philippine languages as "P". The abakada alphabet also subsequently spread to other Philippine languages (which had been using spelling systems based on the Spanish abecedario). Thus, the form Pilipinas propagated and came into general use.[11] The Commission on the Filipino Language and National Artist, Virgilio S. Almario urged the usage of Filipinas as the country's official name to reflect its origin and history,[12] and to be inclusive of all languages in the country of which phonologies contain /f/, represented by the grapheme F in the present-day Philippine alphabet.[13] This policy was later undone in 2021 by the new commissioner, Arthur Casanova, for being unconstitutional. The commission now recommends the use of Pilipinas over Filipinas when communicating in Filipino.[14]

At international meetings, only 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 Philippines. The country's name in other languages is more often than not based on either Filipinas or Philippines, both ultimately rooted in the Latin Philippinae.

Language Short Form
Transliteration Long Form
(Republic of the Philippines)
Afrikaans Filippyne Republiek van die Filippyne
Albanian Filipinet Republika e Filipineve
Amharic ፊሊፒንስ Filipins ፊሊፒንስ ሪፐብሊክ Filipins Ripäblik
Arabic الفلبين Al Filibīn جمهورية الفلبين Jumhūrīyyat Al Filibīn
Armenian Ֆիլիպիններ Filipinner Ֆիլիպիններում Հանրապետություն Filippinerum Hanrapetut'yun
Azerbaijani Filippin Filippin Respublikası
Amharic ፊሊፒንስ Filipins ፊሊፒንስ ሪፐብሊክ Filipins Ripäblik
Basque Filipinetan Filipinetako Errepublikako
Bambara Filipine jamana na Filipine jamana ka jamana
Belarusian Філіпіны Filipiny Рэспубліка Філіпіны Respublika Filipiny
Bengali ফিলিপাইন Filipain ফিলিপাইন প্রজাতন্ত্র Filipain Projatôntro
Bulgarian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Cantonese 菲律賓 Fēileuhtbān 菲律賓共和國 Fēileuhtbān Guhngwòhgwok
Catalan Filipines República de les Filipines
Croatian Filipini Republika Filipini
Czech Filipíny Filipínská republika
Danish Filippinerne Republikken Filippinerne
Dutch Filipijnen Republiek der Filipijnen
Estonian Filipiinid Filipiini Vabariik
Finnish Filippiinit Filippiinien Tasavalta
Fijian Filipin Matanitu Tugalala o Filipin
French Philippines République des Philippines
Georgian ფილიპინები P'ilipinebi ფილიპინების რესპუბლიკა P'ilipinebis respublika
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 shel ha'Filipinim
Hindi फ़िलीपीन्स Filipīns फ़िलीपींस गणराज्य Filīpīns Gaṇarājya
Hokkien 菲律賓
菲律賓共和國 Hui-li̍p-pin kiōng-hô-kok
Hungarian Fülöp-szigetek Fülöp-szigeteki Köztársaság
Icelandic Filippseyjar Lýðveldið Filippseyjar
Indonesian Filipina Republik Filipina
Irish Na hOileáin Fhilipíneacha Poblacht na nOileán Filipíneacha
Italian Filippine Repubblica delle Filippine
Japanese フィリピン Firipin フィリピン共和国 Firipin kyōwakoku
Kazakh Филиппиндер Filippinder Филиппин Республикасы Filippin Respublikasy
Khmer ប្រទេសហ្វីលីពីន Filippin សាធារណរដ្ឋហ្វីលីពីន Sathéaranakrâth Filippin
Korean 필리핀 Pillipin 필리핀 공화국 Pillipin Gonghwaguk
Kurdish Filîpîn Komara Filîpînan
Lao ຟີລິບປິນ Filipin ສາທາລະນະລັດຟີລິບປິນ Sāthālanalat Filipin
Latin Philippinae Respublica Philippinarum
Latvian Filipīnas Filipīnu Republika
Lithuanian Filipinai Filipinų Respublika
Lojban pilipinas la pilipinas. zei gubyseltru
Macedonian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Malaysian Filipina Republik Filipina
Maltese Filippini Repubblika tal-Filippini
Mandarin 菲律宾 Fēilǜbīn 菲律宾共和国 Fēilǜbīn Gònghéguó
Marathi फिलिपिन्स Filipins फिलिपिन्सचे प्रजासत्ताक Filipinsce prajāsattāk
Norwegian Filippinene Republikken Filippinene
Persian فیلیپین Filipin جمهوری فیلیپین Jomhuri Filipin
Polish Filipiny Republika Filipin
Portuguese Filipinas República das Filipinas
Romanian Filipine Republica Filipinelor
Russian Филиппины Filipiny Республика Филиппины Respublika Filipiny
Serbian Филипини Filipini Република Филипини Republika Filipini
Sinhala පිලිපීනය Pilipinaya පිලිපීනය ජනරජය Pilipinaya Janarajaya
Slovak Filipíny Filipínska Republika
Slovene Filipini Republika Filipini
Somali Filibiin Jamhuuriyada Filibiin
Spanish Filipinas República de Filipinas
Swahili Ufilipino Jamhuri ya Ufilipino
Swedish Filippinerna Republiken Filippinerna
Tamil பிலிப்பைன்ஸ் Pilippaiṉs பிலிப்பைன்ஸ் குடியரசு Pilippaiṉs kuṭiyaracu
Thai ฟิลิปปินส์ Filippin สาธารณรัฐฟิลิปปินส์ Sāthāranarat Filippin
Turkish Filipinler Filipinler Cumhuriyeti
Turkmen Filippinler Filippinler Respublikasy
Ukrainian Філіпіни Filippiny Республіка Філіппіни Respublika Filippiny
Urdu فلپائن Filipāʾin جمہوریہ فلپائن Jamhūriya Filipāʾin
Uzbek Filippin Filippin Respublikasi
Vietnamese Phi Luật Tân Cộng hoà Phi Luật Tân
Welsh Philipinau Gweriniaeth Ynysoedd y Philipinau

Historical names

In addition to the Philippines, the archipelago of a country has historically had numerous other names:

Mi último adiós, original Spanish (1896, first stanza)[32] English translation[34]

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)[33]
Original Spanish lyrics[35]

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.

Uncertain names

Proposals for renaming

It was during the Third Philippine Republic when the shortened name Philippines began to appear a name that was officially adopted.[when?][47]

Since the official naming of the country as the Philippine Islands under American colonial rule and even earlier as Filipinas &c. under Spanish colonial rule, the primary reason for the country's name-change has always been "to break away from colonialism".[48] A holistically government-backed name has yet to be determined,[49] although a pan-Malay word reflecting the nation's island identity has been proposed as more appropriate, or one related to the archipelago's pre-Hispanic excellence in sailing and boat-building.[50]

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. The term has been pushed by many pro-Rizal Filipinos, however, the term itself is criticized by many as Rizal was not in favor of Philippine independence during the Philippine revolution against Spain as he believed that the Philippines was "not yet ready" to be separated from "mother Spain".[67] However, historians agree through surfaced historical documents that Rizal "believed in the supreme right of revolution" but "did not think it timely in 1896, and considered the people and the country unprepared for it."[68]

See also



  1. ^ "History of the Philippines". 2009.
  2. ^ a b Halili 2008, p. 22
  3. ^ a b Scott 1994, p. 6
  4. ^ a b "Online Etymology Dictionary". 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d "The Islands to the West: How are Philippine towns named?". Archived from the original on March 30, 2009. Retrieved May 6, 2005.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ a b "Origin of the Name "Philippines"". Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  7. ^ Zwier, Larry (November 29, 2011). "Using 'the' with the Names of Countries". Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  8. ^ Torrecampo, Rex Raymond (July 5, 2015). "Why Filipinos are Correct in Saying THE Philippines Instead of Philippines". Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  9. ^ Purdue University Online Writing Lab. "How to Use Articles (a/an/the)". Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  10. ^ Richardson, Jim (2021). ""Kasaysayan; Pinag-kasundoan; Manga dakuilang kautusan," August 1892". Katipunan: Documents and Studies.
  11. ^ Almario, Virgilio S. (2014). Madalas itanong hinggil sa wikang pambansa / Frequently asked questions on the national language (PDF). Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. p. 47. ISBN 978-971-0197-38-5. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  12. ^ "Bye Pilipinas, hello Filipinas?".
  13. ^ "Filipinas 'di Pilipinas – Almario (Ituwid ang kasaysayan)".
  14. ^ Santos, Bim (July 28, 2021). "Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino reverts to use of 'Pilipinas,' does away with 'Filipinas'". l!fe • The Philippine Star.
  15. ^ Santarita, Joefe B. (2018). "Panyupayana: The Emergence of Hindu Polities in the Pre-Islamic Philippines". Cultural and Civilisational Links between India and Southeast Asia. pp. 93–105. doi:10.1007/978-981-10-7317-5_6. ISBN 978-981-10-7316-8.
  16. ^ Joefe B. Santarita. “Panyupayana: The Philippines in Ancient India’s Geopolitical Orientation”. SEACOM Studies 2 (April 2015): 2
  17. ^ Francisco, Juan R. "Maharadia Lawana" (PDF). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ FRANCISCO, JUAN R. (1989). "The Indigenization of the Rama Story in the Philippines". Philippine Studies. 37 (1): 101–111. JSTOR 42633135.
  19. ^ a b Hirth & Rockhill 1911, p. 160, Footnote 1
  20. ^ a b "National identity". Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  21. ^ Scott 1984, p. 150
  22. ^ Hirth & Rockhill 1911, p. 162, Footnote 1
  23. ^ Hirth & Rockhill 1911, p. 160, Footnote 3
  24. ^ Keat 2004, p. 798
  25. ^ "Navegación: Exploraciones: Filipinas" (in Spanish). Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  26. ^ a b c d "Names of the Philippines at different times in history". Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  27. ^ Duka 2004, p. 55
  28. ^ Cooley 1830, p. 244
  29. ^ Spate 1979, p. 98
  30. ^ "East Visayan History". Northern Illinois University. Retrieved December 18, 2011.
  31. ^ Tope 2002, p. 7
  32. ^ a b "Mi Ultimo Adiós by Dr José Rizal". Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  33. ^ a b "Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines". The LawPhil Project. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  34. ^ "The Last Poem of Rizal". Jose Rizal University. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  35. ^ Palma, José (1912). Melancólicas : coleccion de poesías. Manila, Philippines: Liberería Manila Filatélica. (Digital copy found online at HathiTrust Digital Library on March 31, 2010)
  36. ^ Carunungan, Celso Al (December 23, 1987). "What's in a Name?". Manila Standard Today. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  37. ^ de Morga 2004, p. 298
  38. ^ Mojares 2006, pp. 174–175
  39. ^ Rizal: "Ptolemy also mentions... five Baroussai (Mindanao, Leite, Sebu, etc.)." See:
  40. ^ Makmak (February 10, 2011). "domingo: Name of the Philippines".
  41. ^ G. E. Gerini. "Researches on Ptolemy's geography of Eastern Asia (further India and Indo-Malay archipelago)". Asiatic Society Monographs. Royal Asiatic Society. 1909: 428–430.
  42. ^ Miksic, John N. (September 30, 2013). Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300_1800. NUS Press. p. 79. ISBN 9789971695743.
  43. ^ a b Sheehan 2008, p. 398
  44. ^ Mojares 2006, p. 85
  45. ^ Truxillo 2001, p. 82
  46. ^ William Henry Scott, Prehispanic Source Materials for the Study of Philippine History, ISBN 971-10-0226-4, p.83
  47. ^ World Factbook – Philippines. CIA. ISBN 978-1-4220-0227-8. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
  48. ^ "Duterte Wants to Rename Philippines in Break from Colonial Past". February 12, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  49. ^ Romero, Alexis. "'Maharlika' dropped, but Duterte still wants Philippine name change". Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  50. ^ "Would the Philippines by any other name sound as sweet?". South China Morning Post. February 17, 2019. Retrieved August 5, 2021.
  51. ^ "Should the Philippines be renamed? Historian weighs in". ABS-CBN News. June 13, 2017.
  52. ^ Guerrero, Encarnacion & Villegas 1996, pp. 3–12
  53. ^ Guerrero & Schumacher 1998, p. 95
  54. ^ a b c "Maharlika: AsianWeek". September 2, 2008. Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved July 27, 2009.
  55. ^ a b "Historian says 'Maharlika' as nobility a misconception". The Philippine Star.
  56. ^ Tan, Samuel K. (2008). A History of the Philippines. UP Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-971-542-568-1.
  57. ^ "Maharlika means noble? Not so, says historian". ABS-CBN News. February 12, 2019.
  58. ^ "Goodbye Philippines, hello 'Maharlika'? Duterte wants to rename country in break from colonial past". Bloomberg. February 12, 2019 – via The Straits Times.
  59. ^ "Palace says renaming Philippines to 'Maharlika' needs congressional action". The Philippine Star.
  60. ^ a b c "From Philippines to Maharlika? Referendum needed". The Philippine Star.
  61. ^ Tapnio, Kevyn (February 13, 2019). "What Does "Maharlika" Actually Mean?". SPOT. Summit Media.
  62. ^ "Miscellany Playing the Name Game". TIME. June 24, 2001.
  63. ^ Placidos, Dharel (February 11, 2019). "Duterte mulls changing name of the Philippines". ABS-CBN News.
  64. ^ a b Romero, Alexis. "'Maharlika' dropped, but Duterte still wants Philippine name change". The Philippine Star.
  65. ^ Sakai, Minako (2009). "Reviving Malay Connections in Southeast Asia" (PDF). In Cao, Elizabeth; Morrell (eds.). Regional Minorities and Development in Asia. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-415-55130-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2014.
  66. ^ National Commission for Culture and the Arts – A Filipino people with a strong sense of nationhood and deep respect for cultural diversity
  67. ^ Rodis, Rodel (September 2, 2008). "'Maharlika' Reconsidered". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
  68. ^ "Did Rizal Favor the Revolution? A Criticism of the Valenzuela Memoirs". The Kahimyang Project. May 26, 2014.