By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(December 1995)

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 HAVE  REPEATEDLY been approached, as executive  director  of  the Kampanya  para sa Kamalayan sa Kasaysayan asking me  to support  a renewed  campaign to change the name of our country to  "Maharlika."   Way  back last August, I was asked to join a signature campaign  for the  inclusion  of  a  9th ray  in  the  national  flag.  Although KAMALAYSAYAN shares  the respective views of  the  patriots  behind these  campaigns regarding the defects in our present national  name and flag, we have had our reasons not to join or officially  support these  campaigns.  (Actually, there is a third proposal that  I  have heard  in  the  last  half year: change  our  national  anthem  with Nakpil's Marangal na Dalit.)

We  do  share the view that there are defects  in  the  present national  name and flag. And we welcome public discussions  on  them because they contribute to the heightening of the people's sense  of history for which mission I had founded Kamalaysayan as an organization more than five years ago. Yes, the defects are embedded in the very histories of these most important national symbols.

The proponents of adopting the name "Maharlika" point out  that we  have  continued to be named after a Spanish  monarch  when  many countries around us have already reverted to their precolonial names (Zimbabwe, Srilanka, etc.). They say it is unfortunate that the name "Maharlika," carrying the Asia-based values of nobility and spirituality, has been rejected by the people because of its identification to the deposed dictator, much like rejecting Dahil Sa Iyo completely and with finality just because it became the favorite song of that dictator's wife.

This  issue  has  not  been getting as  much  attention  as  it deserves, probably because of the same Dahil sa Iyo syndrome that it has had to suffer.

Those who would agree to give this matter some thought  instead of summarily dismissing the entire topic away are invited to read on and  discover some surprising information just a few weeks  after  I myself did...

It was fairly recently that I learned of the background of this royal personality whose name we have always been quite familiar with. Some months back, I had described him with the adjective, "mediocre," which I realized soon afterwards to be a gross under statement, tantamount to judging the brutal former dictatorship in the Philippines simply as "inept."

From world history, especially in the annals of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church, we have all read about the infamous Inquisition, the  type  of  campaign  that  practically  painted  out  the  words intolerance, self-righteousness, bigotry, brutality, barbarity,  and all  their  synonyms on the walls of the great  churches,  using  as paint  the blood of its victims whose only sin and crime  was  being suspected  of  not  sharing  the faith  of  the  criminals  in  holy vestments.  The  Inquisition will forever remain a blackeye  in  the history not only of institutionalized religion but in the history of humanity itself.

There  was this monarch of Spain whose name I had  not  earlier connected at all to this dark chapter in the Lifestory of humankind, but  who, I was to learn late last year, had figured prominently  in its  brutality. This monarch's first act on the throne was to  order an   "auto-da-fe," . And this is far more violent than the bloody  and treacherous  attacks perpetrated by terrorists in our country,  even that one in Ipil.  

The victims of the "auto-da-fe" were not dozens, not even  just hundreds, but thousands upon thousands of "Moriscos" or "Moors," the Arab-speaking   Muslims  who  inhabited  the  Spanish  province  of Andalucia. The victims were all burned at stake. The same king  also caused the beheading of thousands of Protestants in the  Netherlands and in various parts of Europe held by what he called "heretics" and "agents of the devil."

Add  to these horrifying facts the following items: he and  his father, his predecessor at the throne, had both looted Rome and were eventually excommunicated by the Catholic Church under Pope Paul  IV in 1552; he died of a disease then euphemistically called a  "social disease" but is now known as venereal disease, due to his "way  with the women." He was known to have had several wives and mistresses on record.

Can  you  guess who this despicable creature was who  ruled  as King  of Spain? His name: King Philip II. Guess which nation,  that can  be  proud  of  its  very  own  heroic  heritage  and  glorious precolonial history, was named after him!

No  wonder Bonifacio and his comrades in the Katipunan  refused to  perpetuate that name when they were birthing our nation  at  the outbreak of the 1896 Revolution, and chose instead "Tagalog" a  name that reflected the tropical archipelagic nature of our country.

Truly  the issue deserves more serious and responsible  discussion  among the citizenry. But among those who agree  strongly  that the  name Pilipinas has to go (and I include among the  reasons  the point  that  it sounds, not quite  accidentally,  like  "alipinas"), there have been various proposed replacements. Maharlika is only one of them.

Some would bat for "Katagalugan," which was the name chosen  by Bonifacio  and  the Katipunan to refer to the people of  the  entire archipelago, highlighting our country's being a tropical archipelago where most of the people live near bodies of water. There are  those who  want  the name "Kapatiran," emphasizing  the  Katipunan-vintage metaphor  of the nation as family. There are other  suggestions,  including "Katipunan" itself, which would stress on unification.

Like the discussions on the flag, and especially on the  question  of national language, discussions on our nation's name can  be come overcharged, emotional, even messy. If we do not have a healthy attitude regarding disagreements, such discussions can even be  centrifugal  and divisive. We of Kamalaysayan prefer to place  our  own focus  on changing our kalooban first, on attaining  that  healthy attitude towards ourselves and one another.

We  have been doing it through the propagation, for  widespread adoption, of the Kartilya ng Katipunan . Resolving the disagreements on our national symbols can follow, within the context of deeper unity and predisposition to further unite.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)

Read also Nathan Gilbert Quimpo's  in-depth research  article on our country's name. Click here .



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