Lawmaker proposes renaming Philippines

  • IANS

    IANS | Manila

    June 12, 2017 | 01:25 PM
Philippines, Spanish, colonialism

(Photo: Getty Images)

A Filipino lawmaker on Monday presented a proposal to change the name of the South-East Asian country to distance itself from Spanish colonialism.

Representative Gary Alejano's proposal aims to create a "Geographic Renaming Commission" to "study the possibility and feasibility of changing the name" of the Philippines, almost five centuries after the Spanish colonisers first named the archipelago, reports Efe news.

"If we want to be truly independent, then we should throw away the bonds of colonialism by establishing our own national identity," he said.

Alejano, a former military man who was imprisoned for co-organising a failed coup against the democratic government in 2003 and later, was granted amnesty before entering politics, presented his proposal coinciding with the country's Independence Day, which is celebrated with several events in Manila and other cities.

"For our country to move forward, we should identify a name for our country that genuinely reflects our national aspirations, a name that signifies our values and self-determination," he added.

Alejano lamented that the Philippines chose "to retain the name given by our Spanish colonisers" and argued that "many other nations who were formerly under colonial yoke have reverted back to their former pre-colonised name".

If it were to be created, the commission proposed by Alejano would comprise representatives of the main Philippine organisations in the fields of history and culture and would have a year to complete the project.

Monday marks the 119th anniversary of Philippines' declaration of independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, proclaimed by General Emilio Aguinaldo, first President of the Philippine Republic.

Portuguese explorer Fernando de Magallanes declared the islands' Spanish occupation in 1521, although it was in 1542 that the explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos baptised the eastern islands of Leyte and Samar as "Felipinas" in honour of Felipe II.

The final colonisation of the archipelago began in 1565 and since then its name has undergone many changes.

The current name "Republic of Philippines" has remained since the final independence of the country from the US in 1946.