Indonesians, here’s how to spell the name of your neighbour, the Philippines

Let’s admit this. I mean, apart from the fact that our TV shows are crap, getting to write the Philippines in correct spelling could be tricky to many foreigners — but I don’t understand why many of its neighbours, including my beloved Indonesia, find it difficult to utter the name of my country — when in fact Bahasa Indonesia has an easier term for it: Filipina.

I often get into arguments for trying to correct Indonesians every time they say Filipin instead of Filipina — or even worse, Pilipin. Who taught these people to murder the correct spelling of my country? I wouldn’t have qualms in correcting their spelling – but you know I just don’t find it fair that they judge me when I incorrectly spell words like tempeh (instead of tempe) and fitna (instead of fitnah). They say those two words don’t represent anything. So, hey, why not also call them out for mentioning a name of a country that does not exist? For sure, I am an orang Filipina. Not Orang Filipin, neither Orang Pilipin.

so, here’s a guide on how to use the name of my country correctly:

The Philippines 

The country is called The Philippines because the term refers to the 7,107 islands that form into one country. Therefore, to say Philippine means referring to one island, but of course each island has its own name so nobody uses Philippine instead when using it as an adjective. Which leads me to the next item…

Philippine is an adjective

As such, use the term Philippine to describe a noun, for instance…

Philippine economy

Philippine citizen

Philippine passport

But wait, the demonym for people who come from the Philippines is Filipino.

Mick Basa is a Filipino journalist

Although it’s also correct to use Philippine as it is an adjective to describe a noun. So…

Mick Basa is a Philippine journalist

Filipinain the Philippines (or among westerners), refers to a female Filipino citizen

Which is why many Filipinos who come to Indonesia accept the wrongly spelled Filipin because when you say they’re Orang Filipinait feels like you’ve just castrated them. But legitimising a country’s wrong spelling to save one’s masculinity is bullshit!

Filipina is the Philippines’ correct spelling for Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Malaysia.

While Pilipinas  is the Philippines’ correct spelling for the Filipino language, on the other hand, the Spaniards call us Filipinas (but since time immemorial we cannot pronounce the F, we wrote down Pilipinas in the lexicon).

Pinoy is a nickname for Filipino people. And because it’s a nickname, it’s virtually exclusive among Filipinos. A foreigner calling a Filipino Pinoy sounds like a classmate calling his friend the nickname his parents call him since before he was circumcised.

Still confused? Just remember these two:

F I L I P I N A = Bahasa Indonesia / Malaysia

P H I L I P P I N E S = Bahasa Inggris

I know it’s confusing, and you’re not the only one.


But I’m sure nobody likes being called Indon.



One thought on “Indonesians, here’s how to spell the name of your neighbour, the Philippines

  1. I understand your frustration. But the Filipinos are not the only ones having to bear patience at seeing us slashing the final vocal. Indonesians have a lazy habit of omitting the last vowel of many country names and those new ‘vocabularies’ have made their ways into the conversations as colloquial terms. Here are a few examples:

    Singapura > Singapur
    Australia > Australi
    Italia > Itali

    Some other names are even butchered further:

    Malaysia > Malay
    Amerika > Amrik

    By all means, calling you Orang Filipin simply helps us identifying you quicker and it does NOT make you less respectable in our eyes (unlike the derogatory term of Indon). Still, I’m sorry if you feel offended in any way.

    Greetings from Bekasi. 🙂

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