POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 5 July 2013, Friday

Ain’t Nobody Got Time Fo’ That

            Changing “Pilipinas” to “Filipinas” – is this something we should do? Seriously.

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) passed a resolution last April 12 implementing the change of the country’s name by one letter, in line, they said, with the country’s history and development as a nation.

Signed by KWF Chairman and National Artist Virgilio S. Almario and ten other commissioners, the resolution provides that the spelling revision be reflected on all material bearing the country’s name, such as seals, stationery letterhead, and notepads, and I suppose, also on stamps, signage, passports, currency, and quite a lot of other things that will cost a lot of money to change.

In an article he wrote for Diyaryo Filipino in 1992, Almario says we are confused about our national identity because we have three names for our country.

“Philippines,” he says, is what the “American imperialists” called our country. “Pilipinas” was used when the “abakada” alphabet, sans “f” and a few other letters, was adopted. “Filipinas,” however, was the original name given to our islands by the Spanish explorer Villalobos in 1543, after King Felipe II of Spain. He adds that the Philippine revolutionaries never used “Pilipinas” either.

Almario admits there is cost involved in implementing such a change, but it is worth it, he said, for the practical and historical benefit we would derive from “uniting” under “Filipinas.”

Copies of the resolution flooded the Internet, eliciting mostly negative remarks, ranging from the serious to the tongue-in-cheek:

Toni Espiritu, on the 400-year confusion about our national identity: “Ang laking problema ito! Mag-aapat na daang taon na mula ng “madiskubre” tayo ng mga banyaga,hindi pa rin natin alam ang pangalan ng bansa natin…”

Tok, on the choice of one colonial name over another: “LOL. “Filipinas” daw dahil yun ang bigay ng Espanya. Wag daw “Philippines” kasi pinapakita daw ang pagkakasakop sa atin ng Amerika. Ang labo ng logic nun ah, so ibig sabihin ba ok lang masabi na nasakop tayo ng Espanya kesa masabing nasakop tayo ng Amerika?”

Kilig Buddy on pronunciation: “Hindi ako agree sa “Filipinas”.. eh di magiging “Finoy” tayo…hirap na hirap nga ako mag pronounce sa letter “F” eh…”

What this KWF resolution is really making us do is confront the colonial mentality embedded in our psyche. So deeply is this entrenched that an entire commission would think that the name given to us by colonizers (“Filipinas”) is still preferable to one that we adapted and made our own (“Pilipinas”) or even one that we invent ourselves, a name free of the associations of otherness and oppression.

But if we are going to change our country’s name, why stop with one letter and still perpetuate the memory of the colonizers, whose yoke our forebears threw off with blood, sword, and fire?

Political scientist Nathan Quimpo says in his paper “Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality, and Ethnocentrism” that from their origins, “Philippines and Filipino are colonial names, and as such, are contradictory to the term ‘nationalism.’ Simply on the basis of the colonial roots of ‘Philippines,’ it can already be argued that the country’s name should be changed.

“Indeed, many former colonies have discarded their colonial appellations and adopted titles that are of more indigenous or un-colonial derivation: Burkina Faso, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and Zimbabwe.”

Several attempts were made in the past to change the name. Marcos tried to make “Maharlika” happen. Other suggestions were “Rizaline Islands,” “Bayani,” and “Luzviminda”. None of these took.

It seems our ideas of nationhood, of selfhood, are still fluid and we are as far as ever from coming up with an indigenous name, much less reaching a consensus on one.

Should taxpayers’ money now be spent to change one letter in our country’s name, money that could be better spent on social programs and infrastructure that our people badly need, to immortalize the memory of a colonial monarch?

Is this a priority we need to address now? Ever? Poet German Gervacio wrote a poem recently, “The Name Game,” a riff off the ‘80s hit by Laura Brannigan; its ending is a succinct summing up: “OK. Let’s do Pilipinas! #p?f?p?f?pftttt? hindi. ngalan. ang. problema. ng. bayan.”

We have bigger problems to solve. The stock market has plummeted from a series of record highs, the economic boom has yet to trickle down to the 27 percent of the population living in poverty, and China is rattling its sabers in its bid to expand its territory into our waters.

Changing a “p” to an “f” for hundreds of millions of pesos?

Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.


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