Maharlika means noble? Not so, says historian

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 13 2019 07:46 AM | Updated as of Feb 13 2019 07:47 AM

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Maharlika class are not rulers - historian

Contrary to some people's opinions, the "Maharlika" does not mean "noble", a historian said Wednesday after President Rodrigo Duterte floated the idea of replacing the name of the Philippines with this term. 

Maharlika means "free man" but was mistranslated to refer to members of the aristocracy, said Dr. Rolando Borrinaga, a historian from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. 

Members of the maharlika do not participate in politics, unlike the datu class of rulers, he told radio DZMM. 

Maharlikas are also different from the Timawa or freed slaves, he added. 

Duterte, who often shuns the Philippines’ Spanish colonial roots, earlier this week said changing the country's name into "Maharlika" will pay tribute to its “Malay” identity. 

The Philippines was named after Spain's King Philip II in the 16th century, when the country was still a Spanish colony. Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos coined the name “Las Islas Filipinas” for the archipelago. 

Former Sen. Eddie Ilarde proposed through Parliamentary Bill 195 that the name of the Philippines be changed to Maharlika. 

Former President Ferdinand Marcos also used "Maharlika" in faking his military records during the World War 2, according to US Army investigators.

He claimed to have commanded a group of guerrillas known as the "Maharlika Unit", but according to the New York Times, various Army officers rejected his requests for recognition of the unit between 1945 and 1948, calling his claims "distorted, exaggerated, fraudulent, contradictory and absurd."

Army investigators finally concluded that Maharlika was a fictitious creation and that ''no such unit ever existed'' as a guerrilla organization during the war." 

DZMM, 13 January 2019