Who is Philip II of Spain for whom our country was named?

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

We were colonized and had no say on what we should call ourselves and our country. Some may laugh say so what? What’s in a name? A lot of things. But we are only now just waking up to it. Giving it a name was the first act of colonizing. The name condemned us as colonized. Therefore I  agree with those who want to change the country’s name.

The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain when the Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos, arrived in our islands in 1542. And it is not even all the islands which comprised  the country of islands as we now know it.

What was named in 1542 as Felipinas was just   the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then-Prince of Asturias. According to historians,  the official name of the Philippines has changed several times in the course of its history so it is not about an singular act of changing the name of our country if we were to do it today.

As sourced from Steven Muzik, Travel Expert (www.thehungrysuitcase.com) the Philippines owes its name to King Philip II of Spain.

The name has everything to do with the Spaniards as conquistadores even if they knew nothing about the Islands they were conquering.

With the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, in 1521 after “discovering” the  islands would it be given a name.

Magellan because of his ignorance of what peopled these islands was killed. The people he found in them were against religious conversion.

So it shows that he underestimated the character of the people living in the island. He and the rest of the conquerors from West were not aware that the people there had been trading and shaping their own lives with their own beliefs and culture.

He was killed while attempting to convert a local ruler to Christianity. Magellan’s crew, mostly Spaniards, spread interest in the islands back in Spain. The Chinese, the Malayans and the Muslims were in trade not in conquest.

In 1543, before a permanent Spanish colony had been settled on the islands, explorer Ruy López de Villalobos presumptuously named the two islands of Leyte and Samar as Las Islas Filipinas (The Philipine Islands). Over the next 300 years, the Spanish would colonize the additional islands we now know as the Philippines. The entire archipelago would come to be known under this name.

And who is “Philip”?. He was king for a while: 1554-1598. So by the time his name was given to our islands. He was no longer king.

So, if you’re carefully following the dates, at the time that the Philippines was named, he wasn’t yet king. He was just the Prince of Asturias. When he was King, Spain reached the height of its power. Historians write that he mismanaged  the Spanish Armada, when he tried to invade England. It was at this time that England overtook Spain in its conquests.

The son of Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain Charles V and Isabella of Portugal, Philip was called “Felipe el Prudente” (“Philip the Prudent”) in Spain; his empire included territories on every continent then known to Europeans, including his namesake the Philippines.

So our country was named after the King of Spain who was at the height of his power. This is sometimes called the Spanish Golden Age. The expression “the empire on which the sun never sets” was coined during Philip’s time to reflect the extent of his dominion.

During Philip’s reign there were separate state bankruptcies in 1557, 1560, 1569, 1575, and 1596. This was partly the cause of the declaration of independence that created the Dutch Republic in 1581. On 31 December 1584 Philip signed the Treaty of Joinville, with Henry I, Duke of Guise signing on behalf of the Catholic League; consequently Philip supplied a considerable annual grant to the League over the following decade to maintain the civil war in France, with the hope of destroying the French Calvinists.

A devout Catholic, Philip saw himself as the defender of Catholic Europe against the Ottoman Empire and the Protestant Reformation. He sent a large armada to invade Protestant England in 1588, with the strategic aim of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England and the establishment of Protestantism in England.

He hoped to stop both English interference in the Spanish Netherlands and the harm caused to Spanish interests by English and Dutch privateering.

Philip was described by the Venetian ambassador Paolo Fagolo in 1563 as “slight of stature and round-faced, with pale blue eyes, somewhat prominent lip, and pink skin, but his overall appearance is very attractive.” The Ambassador went on to say “He dresses very tastefully, and everything that he does is courteous and gracious.”[4] Besides Mary I, Philip was married three other times and widowed four times. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

I can understand why President Duterte and Marcos before him should want to change the name of the Philippines. It contradicts the spirit on how to decolonize the Philippines in name and in practice.

It will not be easy to do that but the question is whether it would be good for the country to change. Some of the difficulties mentioned were it would require a new law and the public’s approval in a referendum.

In a speech delivered in Maguindanao Duterte said former president Ferdinand Marcos was right in calling for a change in the country’s name to Maharlika, noting that the name “Philippines” has colonial origins.



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