Maharlika?
(The Freeman) - February 22, 2019 - 12:00am

There are good reasons to junk the colonial name of this country. But why of all options Maharlika?

In my Tagalog-English dictionary by Rev. Fr. Leo English of 1986 maharlika means ‘noble, aristocratic’. And kamaharlikaan means nobility and mga maharlika means people of noble rank. An example underlines that: Ang mga hari at prinsipe ay kabilang sa maharlikaan. Kings and princes belong to the nobility. Pagkamaharlika means noble birth, noble rank. A sentence illustrates the word: Ang pagkamaharlika ay hindi kasinghalagang kabanalan: Nobility is not so precious as virtue.

Filipinos of socioeconomic classes C to E are not aristocratic and do not want to be of noble rank. They are happy to live a decent life. Only the people of Class A like Ferdinand Marcos and family may be happy to be called of noble birth. Nobility is heritable, so it applies also to our plutocratic lawmakers and political dynasts. But that is only 0.1% of the population. Or 1% for classes A and B together.

Also the claim of historian Xiao Chua that maharlika originally meant “free person” does not change much, because the highest-ranking free persons were the datus, the rich. Today most Filipinos are not free. They are exploited by the rich and subject to coercion and duress.

Names of countries are derived from geological features, characteristics of inhabitants, location on the globe and names given by colonizers, as in the case of the Philippines.

This nation is an island world. What name can be derived from that fact? Isla is out of the question for it is a European word. But pulo is Tagalog and ‘dami’ means ‘many’. That makes Damipulo as new name for this nation. Not bad!

Let me try to find a characteristic describing all Filipinos: friendly. Tagalog: kaibigan, mabait, magiliw, maawain: The islands of friendly people: Pulo-ibiganan, Pulomabaitan…? Somewhat self-complacent!

This archipelago is situated in southeast Asia, consequently southeastern islands: Pulo habagatan-silanganan? Bayan Timog-silangan? Much too long and unwieldy!

Last attempt: The first words of the national anthem: Bayan magiliw: amiable, lovable land, country, nation. Bayangiliw? Why not?

Lupa ng araw: Land, nation, country of the sun. Lupangaraw. Yes, sunshine is a major feature here.

Lupang hinirang, rootword ‘hirang’: Chosen, elected among many, a chosen by a lover or sweetheart, a darling. Synonyms: irog, mutya, mahal.

Mutya: amulet, charm, pearl, jewel, the one and only. After all, my favorite name for this country is Lupamutya.

But Clark Green City as capital of Lupamutya? Another colonial remnant! Green: lunti, baguhan. That makes Bayanglunti. The foreign investors will get accustomed to it and invest despite the foreign-sounding name.

Erich Wannemacher

Lapu-Lapu City

COLONIAL MAHARLIKA
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