Sunday, 27 October 2019

Philippines Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time I cast my net a little wider. As English place names share some links to other tongues it would be interesting to see if any of the elements contributing to our place names could be found elsewhere. Continuing an alphabetical tour of the world and a look at the largest the Philippines' cities.

Quezon City takes its name from its founder, Manuel L. Quezon, 2nd President of the Philippines. It became the nation's capital in 1948, replacing Manila which returned the compliment in 1976 but Quezon City remains the largest in terms of population.

Manila comes from the Filipino may nila meaning 'where indigo is found'. Several plant species can be used to produce this colour dye, and undoubtedly one or more were once found here.

Davao City comes from the indigenous Bagobo language and named from the Davao River, itself having three slightly different names depending upon which dialect is spoken. Despite the differences the meaning largely remains the same in 'a place beyond the high grounds'.

Caloocan is from the Tagolog language where kalook lookan means 'innermost area'.

Cebu City comes from the Cebuano word sibu 'trade' and has clearly also given the people their name. Previously the area was known as Sugbu, itself describing the region as 'scorched earth' or perhaps 'great fire'.

Zamboanga City is the Spanish pronunciation of the earlier Somboangan itself meaning 'mooring place'.

Taguig comes from the Tagalog mga taga gilk and means 'rice thresher'.

Antipolo was named after the tipolo or 'breadfruit tree' which grows in great numbers hereabouts.

Cagayan de Oro is from the Spanish and speaks of 'the river of gold'.

Paranaque has several suggested origins. Most popularly said to be from a local feature used to locate the mouth of the river and thus from palayag or 'point of navigation'.

Dasmarinas was named after the 7th Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, Gomez Perez Dasmarinas. He served from 1590 to 1593when his son Luis Perez Dasmarinas took over until 1596. The surname means 'of the shore'.

Valenzuela took the name of Pio Valenzuela, a physician and leading member of the Katipunan, a secret society who fought against colonial Spain.

Bacoor is said to remember when the Spanish first arrived and they asked the name of the place. The man they spoke to, who was constructing a bamboo fence, misunderstood and answered bakood 'bamboo fence'.

General Santos took the name of the former commander of the Philippine Army, General Paulino Santos.

Las Pinas is named for - well it depends whether you think it means 'pineapples' or 'the rocks'.

Makati is the Tagalog makati or 'ebbing' as in the tide.

Bacolod comes from bakolod, the Old Ilongg for 'hill, rise'.

Muntinlupa is the smallest of the cities with a population in excess of half a million at the last census. Three possible origins here: either referring to 'topsoil', the card game played by locals when the Spanish arrived, or a reference to the mountainous country.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.


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