MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Philippine government, under the leadership of Mindanao-based Rodrigo Duterte, is now making another proposal that has members of the Conservative Party in a panic mode. Over the last couple years, history has seen a strong nationalism in the Philippines, marked by Hispanophobia, even Christianophobia.
One of those is the re-naming of many of the Philippines' cities (especially those in Mindanao), either back to their ancient names or named after a historical ruler. More than six major cities have already had their names changed, Datu Mampaalong (formerly Malaybalay), Datu Abedin (formerly General Santos) and Kumalarang (formerly Isabela) to name a few.
Now the Philippine government is issuing a proposal: change the name of the country's capital city, back to "Selurong", the name of an ancient city-state that existed where modern-Manila is located today.
To be fair and honest, the Conservative Party got what they wanted, or at least some of what they wanted: Spanish is now an official language in the Philippines, joining Filipino, English and Malay as the list of official languages. Schools can now teach in Spanish, newspapers and television stations are now offering Spanish-language broadcasts.
However, it seems to end there, and it rather seems like a trade. Looking at the viewpoint of a Hispanophobic nationalist it comes down to this: we'll make Spanish official, but we'll remove every bit of its influence that we can.
The island of Mindanao, as well as the neighboring Sulu Archipelago are the only two island groups in the Philippines that have abandoned Spanish terminology. For example, "Lanao del Sur" is now "North Lanao" or "Misamis Oriental" is now "East Misamis" and etc. Despite this, Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole is one of Mindanao and Sulu's most spoken languages.
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAMES "SELURONG" AND "MANILA"
While Selurong is evidently an ancient name, the name Manila is no invention of either the Spanish and American colonists.
The name Selurong is that of an ancient thriving kingdom that existed where modern-day Manila sits. It has been recorded to originate from the 1500s, and once a Hindu settlement, Islam was introduced when Sultan Bolkiah of Brunei occupied it. The Bruneian invasion of Selurong converted its rulers to Islam, particularily Rajah Sulayman III, perhaps one of the most famous rajahs from ancient Manila.
The term Manila itself forms from the Tagalog coagulation may nilad, meaning "there is nilad here". Nilad is the name of shrub that grew in the area. It was eventually corrupted into Maynila, where the name Manila evolves from.
This is but a mere proposal, and no decision has been made yet. Should the name be changed, perhaps you'd be reading "SELURONG, PHILIPPINES - " before the beginning of newspapers articles. Proponents of the name change argue that it would be embracing the Philippines' native and Malay-influenced history. Opponents argue that Manila has already become a very symbolic name for the Philippines.