President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday expressed his agreement with the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' supposed plan to change the country's name from the Philippines to Maharlika.
The Philippines was named after the Spanish monarch Philip II. The archipelago was a Spanish colony for centuries until it became a US protectorate in 1898.
“Philippines because it was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip. Kaya pagdating ng ulol ginawang Philippines. Pero okay na ‘yan, balang araw palitan natin,” Duterte said in a speech in Buluan, Maguindanao.
“Actually, tama si Marcos. Panahon ni Marcos, tama talaga si Marcos. Gusto niya palitan [ng] Maharlika, the Republic of Maharlika because maharlika is a Malay word and it means more of a concept of serenity and peace,” he added.
In 1978, former Senator Eddie Ilarde filed Parliamentary Bill 195, seeking to change the name Philippines to Maharlika.
The proposal was criticized due to its association with Marcos, who had claimed to have formed a guerilla unit of the same name during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s.
In June 2017, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano filed a bill which seeks the creation of a commission that would look into changing the name of the Philippines.
Under House Bill 5867, Alejano proposed the creation of a “Geographic Renaming Commission” which would “study the possibility and the feasibility of renaming our country.”
The lawmaker said the possible name should “appropriately address and define us as a people and nation.”
Alejano said that renaming the country would rid it of the vestiges of colonialism, establish the national identity and define how the nation, people, and national language would be addressed internationally.
He also said that many countries that were former colonies had “reverted back to their former pre-colonized names as it gives them a sense of national pride and identity as a free people.”
The bill is still pending before the committee level.