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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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.
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 LatinPhilippinae.
In addition to the Philippines, the archipelago of a country has historically had numerous other names:
Ma-i. According to the Zhao Rugua's (趙汝适) book Zhu Fan Zhi (诸蕃志/諸蕃誌) written around the 13th century during the Song dynasty, there was a group of islands found in southern South China Sea called Ma-i (麻逸, HokkienPOJ: Mâ-i̍t, MandarinPinyin: Máyì). The islands groups were later invaded and renamed and identified by the Spanish to be the island of Mindoro. This was further proved by Ferdinand Blumentritt in his 1882 book, Versuch einer Ethnographie der Philippinen (An Attempt to the Study of Ethnography of the Philippines) that Ma-i was the Chinese local name of present-day Mindoro. On the other hand, historians claimed that Ma-i was not an island, but all the south of South Sea islands groups and Manila itself, which was known to be an overseas Chinese settlement which was in constant contact with the Chinese mainland as early as the 9th century AD.
Liusung (呂宋, HokkienPOJ: Lū-sòng, MandarinPinyin: Lǚsòng) was the name ascribed by the Chinese to the present-day island of Luzon. It originated from the Tagalog word lusong, a wooden mortar that is used to pound rice. When the Spanish produced maps of the Philippines during the early 17th century, they called the island Luçonia which was later respelled as Luzonia, then Luzon.
Las islas de Poniente (Islands to the West). Another name from Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 when he learned that the Las islas de San Lázaro also included Cebu and Leyte islands. However, various sources claimed that Magellan was not the one who renamed the area, but his chroniclers instead. The name came from the fact that the islands were reached from Spain en route approaching the left part of the globe. Conversely, the Portuguese called the archipelago Ilhas do oriente (Islands to the East) because they approached the islands from the east of Portugal in the late 1540s.
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.
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.
Maniolas. According to Fr. Francisco Colin in 1663, a Jesuit cleric and an early historian of the Philippines, Maniolas was the name used by Claudius Ptolemy to refer to the group of islands south of China (i.e. Luzon). Colin quoted Ptolemy's writings speaking about the Maniolas islands, which is probably Manila. This theory was further supported by José Rizal and Pedro A. Paterno. Rizal also said that the country was recorded to Ptolemy's maps when a sailor named Hippalus told him the existence of "beautiful islands" in southeastern Far East. However, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera rejected this notion on his 1910 book, Notas para una cartografia de Filipinas (Notes for the Philippine Cartography).
Baroussai. Along with Maniolas is the Baroussai which was also quoted from Ptolemy. Barrousai is believed to be the Visayas with Mindanao, thus, composing majority of the now Philippine archipelago. Some scholars however have identified Baroussai with Barus in Sumatra.
Ophir (Hebrew: אוֹפִיר) is a region of islands mentioned in the Bible, most famous for its wealth. Accounts mention that King Solomon received the riches of the region every three years. At the emergence of the hydrography of Spanish colonies in Asia in the early 17th century, Dominican Gregorio García wrote that Ophir was indeed located in the Moluccas and the Philippines. In 1609, Juan de Pineda wrote a diverse collection of literature relating Biblical accounts of Solomon, Ophir and the islands. Former Prime MinisterPedro A. Paterno said in one of his works on conjecturalanthropology that Ophir is the Philippines because the scented wood Solomon received from Ophir also exists in the Islands. This notion was however, later dismissed by modern historians as merely alluding and comparing the Philippines' position to the Spanish economy with that of Ophir to Solomon's kingdom—the sudden discovery and colonisation of the Islands bringing wealth and prosperity to the realm.
Tawalisi, was an ancient kingdom in Southeast Asia reached by explorer Ibn Battuta. He reached the kingdom when he left Sumatra and headed towards China. According to the historical accounts of the explorer, he met Urduja, a legendary warrior princess from Pangasinan. However, according to William Henry Scott, Tawilisi and its warrior-princess Urduja are "fabulous, fairy-tale, fiction".
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". A holistically government-backed name has yet to be determined, 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.
Haring Bayang Katagalugan (Sovereign Tagalog Nation). Andrés Bonifacio's suggested name for the Filipino nation, intended to be governed by the 1896–1897 Republika ng Katagalugan (Tagalog Republic), although unrecognized by non-Tagalog Filipinos. The name drew flak because of connotations of regionalism. A historian claimed that Bonifacio's usage of "Katagalugan" was not meant to demean other ethnic groups as the word itself meant "people of the river", from the word "taga-ilog", which supposed to represent the ocean-faring ancestors of all Philippine ethnic groups. This was later used by Macario Sakay for his 1902–1906 government that was suppressed by the Americans.
Kapatiran ("Brotherhood"), or its semi-equivalent Katipunan ("Assembly"/"Gathering").
Luzviminda. A portmanteau of the first syllables of the country's three major island groups: Luzon; Visayas; and Mindanao. The term has sometimes been interchanged with Luzvimindas, due to the territorial claim of the country on eastern Sabah in Borneo.
Mahárlika (Sanskrit: mahardhikka (महर्द्धिक), "freeman"). In Pre-Hispanic Philippines, the mahárlika was the common Tagalog term for freedmen, not for the royalty. The maharlika were the largest sector of society, and included warriors, artisans, artists, and others. Unlike the rulers, maharlika did not participate in politics. In 1978, then-president and dictatorFerdinand Marcos supported a House Bill mandating the country's renaming to Mahárlika under military rule. Marcos claimed that Mahárlika was the name of the guerilla force he allegedly led during World War II. This claim would later be disproven, as testified by an Army investigation which "found no foundation" for the late dictator's claims. Eddie Ilarde, who filed the bill, wrongfully stated that Maharlika connoted royalty and wrongfully translated the term as "nobly created". In the book, "Vocabulario de la lengua tagala", the term translates into "alipin na itinuring na malaya" or "a slave that was treated as free". Historians noted that in some accounts, the term means "big phallus" or "large male genitalia". The bill did not pass since the term was seen by numerous ethnic groups as "imperial in nature". The proposal was revived by populist president Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, but the name was dropped a month later. The name change is still supported by the government, although a new name has yet to be determined.
Malaysia. Filipino politicians also suggested adopting the name for the country. A bill in the Senate was presented in 1962 to change the name of the Philippines to Malaysia, but leaders of the nationalist movement of the modern state would adopt the name while the bill was in Congress.
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". 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."