Human life is full of mystery. It’s easy to get caught up on mind-boggling questions every day, questions such as, how did we get here? Where are we going? What’s the meaning of life? Why on earth is Filipino spelled with an ‘F’ when there’s a ‘Ph’ in Philippines?
So how can I find out?
Bulletin board-style social news site reddit has answers—well, at least to the last question. Over 400 answers, in fact. That’s how many comments redditors made on a thread concerning the discrepancy between F and Ph when it comes to discussing Philippine things.
In case that wasn’t confusing enough, the Philippines are called “Pilipinas” by Filipino people, whose national language makes pronouncing “f”/”ph” very difficult. If you’ve ever lost sleep over this issue, don’t consider yourself unjustified, or alone.
Just tell me why..
As it turns out, these confusing differences among the names of the Philippines’ language, people, and nation are the residue of centuries of political turmoil. So many other countries have coveted and exerted influence over that modest assembly of 7,000 Pacific islands that it’s impossible to trace the Filipino/Philippine distinction to one cause, but let’s boil it down to three.
Finally, the causes
1. The people of the present-day Philippines did not consider themselves a nation, and therefore had no reason to name themselves, until Spain dubbed them las islas Filipinas during the reign of King Filipe II. Las islas Filipinas remained a Spanish colony over 300 years and was Anglicized to “Philippines” in English-speaking countries.
2. After the U.S. took the colony over during the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Anglicized name stuck, reinforced by a heavily Americanized education system.
3. A hundred years later, the Philippines, finally independent, officially adopted a modern alphabet for the Filipino (previously “Pilipino”) language that includes the Latin "f", the Spanish "ñ", and Tagalog’s "ng".
With this new alphabet, Filipino speakers can accurately express the full extent of an amazing diversity in written form. The culture of the Philippines is too phantastic to be boxed in by either “p,” “f,” or “ph.”
Every modern language reflects a fascinating past, sometimes in subtle or seemingly superficial ways. Do you know the history of yours?