A Filipino lawmaker on June 12 suggested changing the name of the Philippines to distance the country from its history of Spanish colonialism.
House of Representatives member Gary Alejano recommended in a proposed legislation the creation of a Geographic Renaming Commission to study the possibility and feasibility of changing the name of the Philippines.
“If we want to be truly independent, then we should throw away the bonds of colonialism by establishing our own national identity,” Alejano said.
Portuguese explorer Fernando de Magallanes declared the islands’ Spanish occupation in 1521.
It was in 1542 that the explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos baptized the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar as “Felipinas” in honor of Felipe II.
The final colonization of the archipelago began in 1565 and since then its name has undergone many changes.
The current name “Republic of Philippines” has remained since the final independence of the country from the U.S. in 1946.
Alejano, a former military man who was imprisoned for co-organizing a failed coup against the government in 2003 and later, was granted amnesty before entering politics, presented his proposal coinciding with the country’s Independence Day.
“For our country to move forward, we should identify a name for our country that genuinely reflects our national aspirations, a name that signifies our values and self-determination,” he added.
Alejano lamented that the Philippines chose “to retain the name given by our Spanish colonizers” and argued that “many other nations who were formerly under colonial yoke have reverted back to their former pre-colonised name”.
If it were to be created, the commission proposed by Alejano would comprise representatives of the main Philippine organizations in the fields of history and culture and would have a year to complete the project.
Alejano is with the Magdalo Party-list group.
The proposed commission will be composed of three commissioners from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino.
For the commission, Alejano sought an initial allocation of P30 million from the General Appropriations Act.
“Ideally, the name of a country should define not only its land but also its people and patrimony. In addition, the new name must also reflect our history, culture, society, and national sentiments,” Alejano explained in his bill.
A common suggestion for the country’s new name would be Maharlika, popularized by former president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos.