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“Filipinas”?

July 5, 2013

I can’t quite wrap myself around the decision of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) to declare that the new name of the Philippines in “Filipino”, that dialect of Tagalog, is “Filipinas”. I also can’t understand the furor over this decision.

People have been wondering about a lot of earthshaking phenomena related to this decision, including, but not limited to:

  1. The naming of the University of the Philippines. People on the Overheard at UP page are kind of debating if “UF” (or, closer to our current pronunciation of the abbreviation, “U-Fi”) would sound good. Of course it wouldn’t, but Iskos/Iskas are having a field day making fun of this possibility, which, I’d grant, is real because it is the national University and requires a formal name in “Filipino”.
  2. The possible change of names for places in the Philippines that start with the letter P. “Fampanga”? “Fangasinan”? Some people say this is a possibility. Of course it is not, but “filosopos” (orthography in this word not related to the decision) are having a field day deriving words like “Falawan”, “Fanay”, and others.
  3. Historical revisions in textbooks and other educational tools. The main opposition to this name change stems from the supposition that it would be per se an historical revision, that we might fall into the error of loving the Spanish colonizers more – having restored the F that is a testimony to their influence on us, that we might be on the nub of changing our narrative of the Spaniards from a people who raped our daughters to a people who graciously gave us European blood even out of wedlock, and other such things. Of course these things will not happen, but people who oppose this are having a field day because they know most of the people disagree. Including myself.

Yes, I do disagree with this decision as well. It’s a waste of time.

There are people who point out, and rightly so, that the KWF has other, more important stuff to do than produce scratch-paper material such as this. The KWF cannot change the name of this country, because it is not constitutionally mandated to do so. We know that the very name of the country is part of the Constitution, and therefore only a constitutional change will effect this.

What the KWF is effectively making is only a suggestion to Congress; but it is still one stupid suggestion.

Not because the Pambansang Samahan sa Linggwistika at Literaturang Filipino (PSLLF) says it will “once again, though symbolically, subdue [the Philippines] to Spain, of which Philip II was once king”. This, coming from a bevy of “linguists” and literature “experts”, is irresponsible.

Firstly: the English name still has the name of this king.

Secondly: as they submit, the orthographic change is because “the country’s alphabet” does not have the phoneme /f/, not because they wanted to oust King Philip from the nomenclature. If we could even ignore that certain Philippine languages do have this phoneme and that ignoring that fact as the PSLLF does is another act of stupidity, that is.

Thirdly: the country they are talking about has good diplomatic and cultural ties with the Philippines, meaning it has long gotten over the fact that we defeated them in the wars of independence. We ain’t North Korea, yo.

So why do I say the KWF suggestion is a stupid one?

Because nothing will change. Whether “Pilipinas” or “Filipinas”, our country still has high unemployment and underemployment, little agro-industrial infrastructure, few good government and social leaders, a society in shambles, people fending for themselves without any civic consciousness, and lots of unfulfilled potential.

Why doesn’t the KWF try to improve the lot of the regional languages, instead of pushing for one hegemonic language based on Tagalog? Lots of work there, I guess.

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