Filipino, not Philippino/Philipino?

I’m pretty sure that a native of the Philippines is called a Filipino. I still remember that when I was in grade school, we used Pilipino until Cory Aquino became the president. The term for the people, language and the school subject became “Filipino” while the name of the country in English is still “Philippines.”
Why do we spell “Filipino” and not “Philippino”? I don’t know the answer. I just noticed from my constant visit and participation in forums frequented by foreigners that they usually refer to the people of the Philippines as “Philippino” or sometimes even “Philipino”. What’s amusing is that sometimes even a doctorate degree holder from a first rate university in a first world country doesn’t know the proper spelling of “Filipino.”
I was just reading an article on Korea Times when I saw this:

Individual Koreans can be nice to a poor Philipino or a hungry Bengali. But as a nation, and a public, Korea is also known to be very rude and indifferent to those from poor countries.
Source: Koreans are Individually Kind but Collectively Rude

That made me search whether “Philipino/Philippino” is another way of spelling “Filipino.” The Urban Dictionary defined it as the “dumbass’ way of spelling Filipino.” Anyone who could shed light on this?


  1. this is an article from I think this touches your question a bit
    Filipino? Tagalog? Pilipino?
    The basis for the Philippine national language is Tagalog, which had primarily been spoken only in Manila and the surrounding provinces when the Commonwealth constitution was drawn up in the 1930s. That constitution provided for a national language, but did not specifically designate it as Tagalog because of objections raised by representatives from other parts of the country where Tagalog was not spoken. It merely stated that a national language acceptable to the entire populace (and ideally incorporating elements from the diverse languages spoken throughout the islands) would be a future goal. Tagalog, of course, by virtue of being the lingua franca of those who lived in or near the government capital, was the predominant candidate.
    By the time work on a new constitution began in the early 1970s, more than half the Philippine citizenry was communicating in Tagalog on a regular basis. (Forty years earlier, it was barely 25 percent.) Spurred on by President Marcos and his dream of a “New Society,” nationalist academics focused their efforts on developing a national language — Pilipino, by that time understood to be Tagalog de facto. Neologisms were introduced to enrich the vocabulary and replace words that were of foreign origin. A much-remembered example is “salumpuwit” (literally, “that to support the buttocks”) for “chair” to replace the widely adopted, Spanish-derived “silya.” Such efforts to nativize the Philippine national language were for naught, however, since words of English and Spanish origin had become an integral part of the language used in the everday and intellectual discourse of Filipinos.
    This reality was finally reflected in the constitution composed during the Aquino presidency in the latter half of the 1980s. The national language was labeled Filipino to acknowledge and embrace the existence of and preference for many English- and Spanish-derived words. “Western” letters such as f, j, c, x and z — sounds of which were not indigenous to the islands before the arrival of the Spaniards and the Americans — were included in the official Filipino alphabet.
    The aforementioned evolution of the Philippine national language is taught as part of the school curriculum in the Philippines, such that when you ask a Filipino what the national language of the country is, the response is “Filipino.” In the same way that there are English (composition, literature…) classes in American elementary, secondary and tertiary schools to teach the national language of the United States, there are Filipino classes (not Tagalog classes; Filipino literature classes, not Tagalog literature classes) in Philippine schools.
    So what is the difference between Filipino and Tagalog? Think of Filipino as Tagalog Plus. Filipino is inclusive of the contributions of languages other than Tagalog. For instance, it is quite all right to say “diksyunaryo” (from the Spanish diccionario) in Filipino, whereas a Tagalog purist (or someone stuck in the “Pilipino” era) might insist on a native Tagalog word like “talatinigan.” It is also more politically correct to refer to Filipino, not Tagalog, as the Philippine national language. For Filipinos from other parts of the country, Tagalog is not their first language; they learn to speak Filipino because it is constitutionally the national language and taught in schools.
    In practical terms, most people, especially Filipinos overseas who have come to realize that foreigners favor “Tagalog” to refer to the Philippine national language, don’t strictly differentiate among the words Filipino, Pilipino and Tagalog, and have learned to adapt to how Americans or Canadians perceive the meaning of each word. That is why when you go to a bookstore in North America, for example, you are more likely to find a “Tagalog (or Pilipino) dictionary” than a “Filipino dictionary.”
    Postscript: Philippino, Philipino and other such misspellings are unacceptable and are jarring to Filipino eyes. Remember: Filipino is the noun that refers to the Philippine national language and to the Philippine people (Filipinos); it is also an adjective to describe people, things and such from the Philippines (the other adjective being Philippine). The country itself is called the Philippines (currently the Republic of the Philippines; formerly, and actually still, the Philippine Islands) in English, Las Islas Filipinas or simply La/Las Filipinas in Spanish, and Pilipinas in Filipino (Tagalog).
    Cultural Note: Although the word “Filipino” is acceptable in Filipino (the Philippine language), most Filipinos will still say Pilipino when referring to a Filipino person while speaking in Filipino/Tagalog.
    For example: “Ako ay Pilipino.” (“I am Filipino.”)
    Why? Primarily because a “p” sound is easier for a Filipino to pronounce than an “f” sound. In fact, even though the letters c, f, j, x, z, etc. have formally been included in the Philippine/Filipino alphabet, there is still an overwhelming tendency to transliterate foreign words into native pronunciation forms.

  2. This is what I’ve learned and what I’ve been practicing.
    Filipino = pertaining to the language
    Pilipino = pertaining to the nationality
    My professor told us that Tagalog is only one of the major languages that forms the Filipino language.

  3. Thanks for sharing this.
    We have a street here in Houston and it’s spelled
    Philippine wc bothers me sometimes as I pass the exit on the toll road.
    Here we refer to ourselves as flips which upset the older generation.
    I like saying pinay, instead.

    1. the korean word for Philippines is 필리핀, and i thought that’s quite odd too..

  4. i think the “Pilipino” is the local version (tagalog) of the international standard “Filipino”. They refer to the same thing which is the National language.
    Filipinos (or Filipino if singular) on the other hand refers to the nationality.
    So in this case, “Filipino” may connote 2 different meanings. Language and Nationals/Citizens.
    It is often common that the term used to address the citizens of a certain country as well as their national language is almost the same (at least the for rootword).
    The existence of dialects such as Tagalog, Bisaya etc is a different thing.
    Portugal- the people are called Portuguese and their national language is also called Portuguese. But they too have dialects such as Carioca, Acoriano etc.
    France- the people are called French and their national language is also called French. Now they have dialects classified as Canadian French, Angolan French etc.
    The French and the Portuguese people will also have a term which is the same as the official one but spelled and pronounced in their language in the same way that we call Filipino as Pilipino in Tagalog.
    The actual issue here is this.
    Why most foreigners are confused on how to spell the word “Filipino/Filipinos” right?
    Maybe because they are too preoccupied with the word “Philippines” so they often mistakenly spell it in that same way even if referring to the citizens themselves. I dont know

  5. from my experience this is very true. back in the philippines, my husband and i were friends with koreans already. they were very nice to us that’s why i always wondered why my Filipino friends had and still have very strong feelings against koreans in general. fact is, they based their antagonism on their experiences towards koreans… who were undeniably rude. but that doesn’t discount the fact that the koreans we know are very nice to us.
    to this day, i have not been a recipient of rude behaviour from koreans but i have witnessed a very good korean friend and her family looking down on Filipinos in the Philippines when they were there for a vacation. how do i reconcile that contradicting behavior? i was totally turned off!
    if Philippines and Filipinos are generally perceived to be poor, Koreans are generally perceived to be rude. they are not apologetic abut that… and they are rudely very defensive of how they are as a people. the koreanovelas being shown at home play a great part in building up korea and koreans so much so that people back in the philippines think korea is a dream place hahahha… others dream of having a korean prince. Foreigners see and experience that very defensive attitude which borders on rudeness:-) Extreme nationalism on the works!
    wendys last blog post..International Women’s Day

  6. hi aJ. from my previous work, one abstractor of current events really got upset when the term “Flips” she read from an international article was actually referring to Filipinos… one officeworker researched on it and he said there was nothing to be upset about or there wasn’t any offense meant in the article…
    i told her we also call my brother named “Philipp” “Flip”–my brother doesnt get offended at all cause when you pronounce Philipp really fast, it will still sound like “Flip”…
    I just hope it won’t be used as a standard shortcut for “Filipino” or “Pilipino” or “Philippino”.. it would sound really funny… like when you introduce yourself to foreigners “Hi I’m Juan dela Cruz. I’m a Flip.”…

  7. @ Wendy
    I think the title itself of that article reflects the gist of your comment, which is of course true and to which i undeniably agree.
    to all..
    Generalizing a certain group of people using someone’s limited experience is irresponsible. I have my own share of the “good” and “ugly” side of Koreans in general, and what i can say is that i agree with the idea that “Koreans are individually kind but collectively rude”. But im very sure many Koreans will react to this title in a bit irrational way, since most of the time they are overtly sensitive with regards to their image as a nation and as a race.
    The same with us Filipinos (not Philippinos). Nobody can generalize us, since in the end we are all individuals. As ive said many many times, what we are as a person is a product of whatever nurturing, experience, environmental exposure, biological signature etc that we had in the past. Though there may be some terms that we can ascribe to pinoys collectively, still it doesnt apply to all. It may be good or bad traits, but in the end…think whether it really applies to you as a person and as an individual, and better stop being too emotional whenever you read bad comments regarding pinoys, or to certain groups where you are classified as such (like your religion, your ethnicity, your job classification, etc). In the same way, dont be too flattered whenever you see some comments )or receive)that Filipinos (or you) in general is hospitable, pretty/handsome, good in english (this is abused many times), smart etc especially if these remarks were made to address a large group collectively.
    One thing i noticed about Koreans (limited to those i met), they are very fond of describing things about Korea and Koreans excessively. Very exaggerated i think. Words and terms such as ” the best in the world”, “very popular”, “no. 1”, “only in Korea”, “most XXX” etc. I had many arguments with many Koreans in the remarks section of the Korea Times because of this. And it makes me feel sad, whenever i see this kind of attitude to some Pinoys too.
    Since we are living in the modern age, so think logically, and enjoy it.
    Stop generalizing, stop this non-sense extreme nationalism and stop dreaming. Be logical, be rational and act.
    Lets not think like frogs who grew up in a well, thinking that the frogland is nowhere else but that well alone. That in reality, if one frog will dare to explore, there is a BIGGER world outside and other species of frogs as well.
    Ooh im OOT already. Sorry

  8. i think Philippe’ is the French version of Felipe, and Philip is the english version. But they (Ruy Lopez de Villalobos) have to use and reword it as “Filipinas” not “Felipinas” so our country was called “Las Islas de Filipinas”

  9. Generalization is an evolutionary hangover, so to speak. Our ancestors need not stare at a sabertooth for 5 minutes to verify if it indeed is a sabertooth or a sweet cat running after them. They just need to see the protruding canines and generalize from that physiological sample that something vicious is after them. Of course, they could sample its fur, if seen through the bushes. Anyhow, generalization could be good or bad, smart and stupid, life or death. This is applicable to cultural conflict and survival.
    Elliots last blog post..Learn Korean

  10. The Philippine government really did a disservice to the Filipino people by confusing them when to or not to use Filipino or pilipino. Follow this simple rule of thumb and you won’t be wrong – when talking or writing in english, use F. When talking or writing in tagalog or maybe any local language, use P.
    And don’t get me started on tagalog(Filipino) as the sole language in the country and all the others mere dialects, the idiots! Ilocano, Cebuano, Pangalatok,and tens of other local “dialect” are languages as much as tagalog/filipino.

  11. I remember there was a proposal long ago (esp from our moro brothers) to change the name of our country from “Philippines/Pilipinas” to Republic of Maharlika (something like that). If that would be the case, then we will call ourselves “Maharlikans” (sounds like Mohicans :))

  12. @ Raf
    “by confusing them when to or not to use Filipino or pilipino”
    – Thats true. All of us are confused actually 🙂 Btw , ill remember your rule of the thumb. Im a Filipino, Ako ay Pilipino.
    “”tagalog(Filipino) as the sole language in the country and all the others mere dialects, the idiots! Ilocano, Cebuano, Pangalatok,and tens of other local “dialect” are languages as much as tagalog/filipino””
    —I think nobody will dare to claim that tagalog is the sole language and all the others as mere dialects. I dont want to test the ire of our Waray and Ilocana sisters as well as brothers 🙂
    i dont know if this Wikipedia article is right, but here’s an entry
    “Tagalog is one of the major languages used in the Philippines. It is a basis for the Filipino language, which is the principal language of the national television and radio, though broadsheet newspapers are almost completely in English. It is the primary language of public education. As Filipino, it is, along with English, a co-official language and the sole national language.[2] Tagalog is widely used as a lingua franca throughout the country, and in overseas Filipino communities.[3]
    2.Andrew Gonzalez, FSC. “Language planning in multilingual countries: The case of the Philippines”. SIL International.
    3. “New center to document Philippine dialects”. Asian Journal Online. Retrieved on 2008-10-25.
    So i guess if Tagalog is a language, then its dialects would be “Tagalog of Manila”, “Tagalog of Batangas” “Tagalog of Marinduque” etc. I can only speak Tagalog, but i admit that whenever i talk to someone from Batangas for example, i encounter terms that are very unfamiliar to me such as “Maasbok” for maalikabok or mausok and “sipit” for tsinelas hehe. Some sort of variants.
    Same with Visayan language, the dialects would be the “Visaya of Cebu, and nearby islands” etc. i dont know anything about this language actually.
    The language i like most is Ilonggo. super lambing 🙂

  13. Hello everyone…I would like to comment on Wendy -re-Korea is a dream place and also dream of Korean Prince.I think this is true to people who has not been anywhere but the Phillipines and they believe so much of what they see on Television.I was introduce to Korean telenovelas when I
    was bedridden for a while and from boredom started flipping the channels and true you can get hooked and I even went to the extent of getting a private tutor to learn Korean so I don’t have to look at subtittles.
    I never asked my friends what nationality they are and
    true some of them are Koreans and I never was treated rudely by anyone of them.I think it does not matter what nationality you are….Americans,Germans,Canadians etc…There are always rude people,It is how you present yourself….I Think…

  14. We should not downplay the influence culture has on individuals. You see, we don’t have any qualms if Filipinos are branded as “hospitable” and associated with other such laudable traits. It’s culturally expected that if you go to the Philippines, more or less, you’ll get treated like a guest should be. And as you know, expectations are not always true. Still, they do help us adjust, behaviorally speaking, to reality after being bitten by it. That’s why I don’t think making generalizations is stupid, lock stock and barrel.
    Elliots last blog post..Learn Korean

  15. @pinay 2
    I agree with u. Even in our own country, there are so many rude people. Discrimination is all over, its not only in Korea.
    And (as a person) people will usually perceive you in different ways. e.g. Many people think im rude (while some people dont), but i respect their opinion though, besides i dont really care whether another person is dumb, non-sense, gay or smart, cool, friendly whatever. As ive said we are all individuals. Disagree with the opinion, but respect the right of that person
    Well i agree also that Korea is not a dream place (at least in general). Some people are still head over heels in love with anything about Korea (and will do everything to come or return here), but its their life anyway.
    Regarding the idea of finding your Korean prince, well i guess a Filipino prince is better or worth considering (right Wendy? 🙂 )
    Of course i know many people here are at least lucky that they were able to find a korean prince and now living a happy (princess) life with them . Unfortunately, this may not be the case for many.

  16. “”That’s why I don’t think making generalizations is stupid, lock stock and barrel.””
    Of course its not. Describing it as stupid is an overkill. It has its shares of good and bad, but we have to weigh one against the other. The main point here is generalizing a group of people using someone’s limited experience. Maybe purist will say its only applicable to negative connotations, seriously for me it doesnt matter.

  17. Arvinsign:
    You like bursting Wendy’s bubble, doncha? lol. I never thought you’re posting replies from Korea. I’ve been there myself, though only for a year. I so regret not paying serious attention to Korean culture when I could have done it in situ.
    Elliots last blog post..Learn Korean

  18. KOrea is in my list of must see Country..I even thought of
    finding a job and leave there for a while…I am always interested on new adventures…getting to know different
    culture especially their food…

    1. hi pinay2! you should come and visit korea… then charge everything later to experience 😉

  19. @Betchay…My Korean Teacher and I are planning to come maybe for the summer..But If I come I don’t want to stay just for a few weeks or so…you really can’t get much experience for those few weeks….in progress…..hehehe

  20. my two cents on the “PHILIPPINO” term
    it’s not taught in the Western World to use FILIPINO to mean anything that comes from the Philippines. thus they came up with that word which is coined from the word Philippines, thinking something along the lines of German from Germany. 😉

  21. I do find it grating on my nerves when I read “Philippino”. In this era of globalization, it makes me wonder if the writer was living in some kind of underground nuclear shelter(kinda like Brendan Fraser in the “Encino Man”)to be unfamiliar with the correct word to use. However, I would have to agree that some Koreans can be rude. But maybe they don’t mean to be. Maybe to them, they don’t think they’re being rude. It just seems that way to a foreigner’s eyes because of the cultural differences. Also, some of their sensitive behavior I think comes from their pride as a nation…how they have managed to preserve their language and culture (despite invasions from China & Japan), how they have remained a fairly homogenous people (but that’s changing now because of “international marriages”)and how they became a developed country in just a few decades after being ravaged barren by the war. They were also a hermit kingdom for many years, unexposed to foreign influences. Which is so different from the Philippines where we’ve been exposed to many influences (Western and Eastern). And even in the Philippines itself, our culture is so multifaceted, we embrace and are proud of our diversity. So, I guess this could be why some Filipinos are considered “hospitable”.

  22. I wish that you help me to discover the meaning of the follow word : INUPLAKAN. So, I have dreamed with this one. I look out on the net and only reference is a book from Mary Patawig – Things to Learn – .Nor translator could goal that. Sorry my very poor english. I just want to known what this word does mean. If you depend on the whole phrase: “Ya inuplakan nan adolnah nan way pohdon an ahina pangilamutan ” Is that pilipino or tagalog ?
    Very thank you.
    Teresópolis City

  23. I don’t agree that we are a dumbass…..
    thats all i want to say, spell it all you want but we have BRAINS!

  24. I never thought it like this:
    Filipino = pertaining to the language
    Pilipino = pertaining to the nationality
    but now I know better.

  25. The simple answer, linguistically, is from the Spanish language influence. Spanish has no “ph.” Spanish would use “f” wherever English uses “ph” for the “f” sound. Therefore, rather than Philipino, it would be Filipino. Spanish also uses no double letters, except for “rr” (a longer rolled “r” sound) and “ll” (which is pronounced like the English consonant “y,” as in “tortilla”–pronounced tor-tee-yah.) So all of the consonants are single ones.

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