By Corina Oliquino| FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA – A measure released a day before the celebration of the 119th Independence Day of the Philippines, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano pushed for a commission that will rename the Philippines and “to conduct a comprehensive study for an appropriate name that we shall call our nation.”
House Bill 5867 or “An Act Constituting a Geographic Renaming Commission to Rename Our Country” aimed to create a commission that would focus on the renaming of the Philippines. It was filed last June 07 and was released on June 11 to coincide with the celebration of Philippine independence on June 12.
“If we want to be truly independent, then we should throw away the bonds of colonialism by establishing our own national identity. 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,” Alejano said in a press statement.
“Many nations formerly under colonial yoke have reverted back to their former pre-colonized name because gives them a sense of national pride and identity as a free people,” Alejano added.
According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Alejano asked, “How can the Philippines assert its independence?” According to the solon, it would help if Filipinos embrace their national identity and throw away the “bonds of colonialism.”
Further, Alejano noted that the proposed “Geographic Renaming Commission” is tasked to come up with a new name for the Philippines within a year of its establishment and is also tasked to submit its recommendations to the President within a year of its life span or establishment.
The report also noted that the proposed commission will be manned by three commissioners from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino (KWF).
Under House Bill 5867, a secretariat will be formed to provide technical support for the office and will be authorized to create technical committees and “engage the assistance of experts and professional advisors.”
Through his proposal, Alejano required an initial allocation for the proposed commission of Php30-million from the General Appropriations Act.
According to Rappler, Alejano is a member of the opposition bloc in the Lower House and a party-list representative by the Magdalo group.
In March, Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against President Duterte but was junked by the House of Representatives due to a majority of the president’s allies in the Lower House.
Recently, Alejano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (a former soldier and Magdalo member) filed a supplemental complaint to the International Criminal Court against Duterte and his bloody illegal drugs campaign that resulted in accusations of extra-judicial killings.
Rappler through their official Twitter account also conducted a poll asking if they agreed to the proposal renaming the Philippines, 87 percent of the respondents said “no” to the idea while 7 percent said “yes” and 6 percent said “maybe.”
“The reason for renaming our country is to throw away the vestiges of colonialism, to establish our national identity, and to define how our nation, our people, and our national language will be addressed internationally,” reported CNN Philippines.
The article also noted that the first attempt to rename the Philippines was in 1978 as filed by Batasang Pambansa member Eddie Ilarde.
Under Parliamentary Bill 195, Ilarde proposed to rename the Philippines “Maharlika” or “nobly created” in English but according to a report by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), it was widely criticized due to its association with former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos who favored the name.
The Philippines adapted its name after King Philip II of Spain in the 16th century.
“Various colonizers came over which muddled our identity as a people and nation. Felipenas, Filipinas, Pilipinas, Philippines — which of these is the correct name of our country? It is high time for us to have a name which befits us and is universal to all,” Alejano told GMA News.
“Ideally, the name of a country should define not only its land, but also its people and patrimony. In addition, the new name must also reflect our history, culture, society, and national sentiments,” Alejano explained.
National identity more than a name
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), Filipino historian Xiao Chua said that he was “quite open” to the idea of renaming the Philippines but also “ambivalent” to the proposal because of the hurdles it will face along the way.
In the interview, Chua explained that both the names “Pilipinas” and “Philippines” were just translations from the original Spanish name “Filipinas.”
Chua explained that the Philippines can adapt a dual name since a lot of countries have it – according to Chua, “English or western name and a name by the citizens themselves.”
Also, Chua noted that there have been proposals to rename the Philippines as early as the time of Andres Bonifacio.
The renowned Filipino hero suggested the name, “Haring Bayang Katagalugan” in which Chua explained that the recommendation drew flak because of “connotations of regionalism.”
“…but what Bonifacio actually meant was “taga-ilog” in general (people by the river),” Chua explained to ANC.
“Lahat ng tumubo sa sangkapuluang ito, Bisaya ka man, Ilokano, etcetera ay taga-ilog. Kasi in Austronesian, taga-ilog is maritime culture. ‘Haring bayan’ is democracy,” Chua explained.
When asked if he agreed with the government’s proposed measure, Chua said that he would prefer a variation of Bonifacio’s recommendation, “Republika ng Haring Bayan.”
“You can have a very weird name but you’re very sure of your identity. National identity is not just the name but the wholeness of the culture we imbibe with ourselves. Hindi lip service,” Chua said in his interview with ANC.
“We talk about love of country? You cannot love someone you do not know. Love of country comes with knowing it and you know it through history,” Chua added.