PH or PHL: But what’s in a name?

OUR elders, including those who are now residing in the United States of America (US), used to call our country PI or Philippine Islands. Now, PI stands for the unprintable acronym of p….g ina!

But when America declared “freedom” for Filipinos, our name was changed to RP or Republic of the Phiippines although the more appropriate abbreviation should have been RIP, uncanny as it may sound to some people.

Lately, the United Nations Organization (used to be UNO but further abbreviated to UN like the US which used to be USA) rearranged the Philippine label from RP to Ph, not to be confused with the term personal hygiene for women experiencing pubic problems.

This must be the reason why some other newspapers prefer to call the Philippines Phl instead of ph.

But what’s in a name? A rose cannot be as sweet by any other name that is why many countries whose proper names had been mangled by western colonizers have now changed their new names to reflect their own identity.

It seems only the Philippines find extreme happiness in calling itself the Philippines, a group of islands the Spanish invaders named for King Philip of Spain, one of the ruthless rulers of Spain.

But the word Philippines was not intended for the satisfaction of the Indios but for the Spanish immigrants who found home through foul and barbaric means.

The Indios were also the natives of Mexico in contrast to the white Mexicans who originally came from Spain.

The Americans similarly called the other natives as Indians for they all thought they came from India Sad to say, there was no effort to correct the name of the Philippines as there appeared to be no such collective name for this country.

Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos tried to replace it with Maharlika meaning noble or royal blood but he was quite unsuccessful. He was successful though in changing Maharlika Sauna Bath in the famous Quezon Ave. strip to Maalikaya Massage Parlor or something to that effect.

Luzviminda (for the three major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) could have been more acceptable but the present rulers of our archipelago are not in a hurry to rediscover the islands.

The UN (formerly UNO has, as of 2005, has 191 member-nations, one of the Timor Leste that used to be called East Timor.

The USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) was changed to Soviet Russia and then to Russian Federation.

Siam became Thailand and Malaya, Malaysia. Vietnam’s old name was French Indo-China with it shared with Cambodia while Burma became Myanmar. Cambodia, further, was changed to the Khmer Republic, then back to Cambodia and back to Cambodia. The name was changed again to Democratic Kampucuea and in 1990, back to Cambodia.

Every nation is trying to correct at least its name, but not the Philippines where everybody wants to  become white. Raul Valino


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