Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
PHOTO BY ARCHIVE
DUBAI – How about renaming the Philippines Maharlika? Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte voiced out the thought as he visited a Muslim-majority province in the country.
“Someday, let’s change it,” Duterte said on Monday after distributing land titles in Buluan, Maguindanao. Maharlika is a Filipino word used to describe nobility.
“Marcos was right. He wanted to change it to Maharlika because that’s a Malay word,” the president said, referring to the sentiments of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The Philippines was named after Spanish King Philip II and was colonized by Spain for 350 years.
The Maharlika, in pre-colonial times, were noble class warriors. The name was used by Marcos to promote nationalism when he put the Philippines under martial law.
On Tuesday, Duterte’s spokesman said the president has no formal plans to change the country’s name.
“He is expressing an idea again as usual,” presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters during a weekly press briefing.
Panelo said it is up to the Congress to enact a law to change the country’s name, and then submit it for public approval in a referendum.
When asked why Duterte thought of renaming the Philippines, Panelo said it might be the president’s way of “asserting our national identity.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday backed Duterte’s proposal, saying that the name “Philippines” is a constant reminder of Spain’s King Philip II and the country’s colonial past.
“I may have to agree with PRRD on the possibility to change our country’s name. Philippines will always remind us of King Philip II of Spain, our colonizer for three centuries,” Lacson said in a message to reporters.
“While the colonization brought out the best in our ancestors and taught us their valiance and heroism, those 300 years also influenced our culture and attitude as a people and which we cannot claim as originally our own,” he added.
Lacson said Maharlika, without the politics involved, “sounds like truly ours”, noting that he would be “proud to be a Maharlikan.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, said that renaming the country would entail “too many implications.” GAD/Expat Media
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