Filipino or Pinoy

What is the name for the people of the Philippines? It is not Filipino or Pinoy.

Do you get confused by the term for the people of the Philippines? Are they Filipino, Pilipino, Pinoy or should it be Philippino as they are from the Philippines? The truth is none of them are correct.


We can rule out Pinoy because it is a slang term that started in the USA by Filipino-Americans and originally referred to Filipino-Americans.

Spelling confusion

The confusion in spelling comes about because of three languages becoming intertwined. Tagalog (pronounced tah-GAH-log) Spanish and English.
When the Spanish arrived in the Philippines it was not a single nation, it was split into many autonomous chiefdoms each having its own name. It was the Spanish that decided the Islands should have one name and they decided on Las Islas Filipinas in honour of Prince Philip who later became King Philip II.


Philip is the English version Felipe, but it was not English speakers that were first to spell it with PH. That came about because in the early days of the Spanish colonial period there was no standardized spelling, so people spelt words in different ways. Books written in the 16th century spelt it in many ways including Piliphinas, Philipinas, Philippinas and Filippinas.

The English Translation of Las Islas Filipinas is “The Philippines Islands.” After WWII they dropped “Islands” from the name hence the reason it is now called “The Philippines.”


The Spanish called the locals “Indios” when they arrived. Spanish born in the Philippines were called “Filipino” and this is how the name came about, it was not used for the indigenous inhabitants of the Islands. So the People of the Philippines are not Filipinos.

Suitable English type of naming like Philippinian, Philippine and Philippian does not sound right so we must presume that is why English speakers used the Spanish word Filipino.


In Tagalog, there is no F sound and this is the reason why the Tagalog alphabet has no F, This is also true of the many other languages in the Philippines. So when they developed a national language based on Tagalog things became very confusing.

Anyone that has spent time in the Philippines will have noticed that nearly every Filipino has a problem knowing if they should pronounce a P as F when they come across it in a word. As there is no F sound in Tagalog it should be pronounced as a P. So Filipino in Tagalog become Pilipino and that is the way it should be pronounced.

The name of the language was Pilipino and the people called themselves Pilipino and Pilipina.

The Americans that ruled the country at the time carried on using the English names for the country and the people. It is this fact that caused the confusion, the people that decided to use Tagalog as a national language were calling the country Pilipinas while their American rulers were calling it the Philippines.


There probably is not a true name for the people of the Philippines.
If there ever was a name for them it has been lost in history.
They are not Pinoy as I pointed out that means Filipino-American.
They are also not Filipino as many of them might have some Spanish blood but they are not Spanish born in the Philippines.
The name they gave themselves when they developed their own language was Pilipino for men and Pilipina for women, both pronounced with a P sound. So these are probably the names that should be used for the people of the Philippines.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “What is the name for the people of the Philippines? It is not Filipino or Pinoy.”