Dare to Ask: Why does Filipino start with an "F," and
Philippines with a "Ph"?
By Phillip Milano
The Florida Times-Union
Why does "Filipino" start with an "F," while "Philippines" starts with a
"Philippines" is anglicized, while "Filipino" is probably in Spanish (Spain
colonized the Philippines).
Sadhbh, 15, white female, Ireland
Because that's the proper spelling in the country's language. Philippines is
an Americanized spelling.
Chibi, 28, female, Houston
Ebonics for the lazy learner.
Thelma, 58, white, Horse Shoe, N.C.
The language spoken in the Philippines is Pilipino (note the absence of the
h). The people are Filipinos (men) and Filipinas, also without the h.
Mary, 42, white, Atlanta
Because it's a Spanish word. I don't think there are any Ph combinations in
the Spanish language.
Ron, Stockton, Calif.
Because the country is officially Filipinas, after the Spanish, who
"discovered" it in 1521.
A. Urbanes, Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
The Philippines (after King Philip) was under the control of Spain for more
than 400 years. That explains the extensive Spanish influence on the country by
way of customs, clothing, language, spelling, words and even names of the
natives. Philippines is the English word for Filipinas (Spanish then, now
changed to Pilipinas). This applies also to the word "Filipino".
Wally, Toronto, Canada
If we're talking English, then yes, it's the Philippines. But it's also been
called, among other things, Tawalisi, Las islas de San Lazaro, Las islas de
Poniente, Las islas Felipenas and Las islas Filipinas.
It all depends on who was running things at the time, and where they were
from. Explorer Ferdinand Magellan did claim the islands for Spain in 1521,
giving it the name "Filipinas" (Spanish for Philippines), deriving it from King
Philip II of Spain.
But, according to M. Paul Lewis, editor of "Ethnologue," a reference volume
that catalogs all known living languages, the country is called "Pilipinas" in
Tagalog, a language spoken by a big chunk of people there that doesn't
distinguish between the "f" and "p" sounds.
"Filipino," which is Spanish, refers to the island's inhabitants. But wait,
it also refers to the country's official national language (the Philippines
gained independence from the U.S. in 1946), which is based on Tagalog and some
of the island's other 170 or so languages.
To make matters a bit more confusing, the official language was once called
Pilipino, but in the 1970s it was changed to Filipino to recognize the "f"
People who speak English couldn't come up with anything different that they
wanted to call Filipinos (like "Philippine," for example) so they also latched
on to "Filipino" -- even though they still use the English "Philippines" to
refer to the country itself.
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