Remember that 'Malaysia' is a name that referred to the geography, society, culture and people in the late 1800's to early 1900's of what is now called Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Brunei, Sulu archipelago, Mindanao, Philippines, Timor Leste and Indonesia.
After Duterte’s 'announcement' a few days back, many people became language analysts, trying to get the meaning and origin of the word ‘Maharlika’. President Duterte said it's a Malay word that refers more to the ‘concept of serenity and peace'. Some people who don’t like the change to Maharlika only want to connect and preserve the country’s Christian links. They want to connect the name to the arrival of Christianity to what is now called Philippines, Anglicised version of the original Hispanic name Las Islas Felipinas, as the Catholic Church would be celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines by 2021. Some believe Maharlika refers to 'nobility', 'warrior class', 'nobly created', 'royalty', ‘big phallus’, and 'freemen', which many believe to be part of the ancient heritage of a people from a pre-Hispanic period. Some dispute the reference to nobility or being noble, because noble in Tagalog is dugong bughaw, which is actually just a translation from the term 'blue blood' or sangre azul from Spanish.
Others believe that Maharlika comes from the word Maha (great) and Likha (create) in Tagalog. In Sanskrit, Likha means writing. But I believe Maharlika has a connection to Mahardika’ (Merdeka to the Malay), a Tau Sug root word which means 'freedom'. Notice that all words mentioned above have related meanings. Indeed, if people have freedom, they are freemen. Their freedom would even make them feel like they’re being nobles or warriors. And when they fight to redeem their freedom, they have 'balls', which are linked to 'phalluses'.
As I mentioned in my Facebook postings, I didn’t find any credible resource that supports Maharlika being a ‘big phallus’. What I found instead is the word Mahaligga, which means ‘having a great male organ’ or ‘great phallus’. The word comes from the two words Maha (great) and Ligga (phallus). There is also a claim that Maharlika originated from lingam, which I find inaccurate and has no connection with arlika or lika or whatsoever if it is detached from Maha. According to the dictionary, Lingam in Hinduism is ‘a symbol of divine generative energy, especially a phallus or phallic object as a symbol of Shiva’. It comes from a Sanskrit word which is literally a ‘mark of sexual characteristic’. Meaning, it has no connection to Maharlika at all, although its sound is similar to Maharligga. Ligga, Arlika, and Lika are different from one another. Lika means ‘a beautiful Georgian girl’. It is what you use to call someone you like or respect. Meanwhile, Arlika is described as ‘something that can contribute to sensitivity, creativity and idealistic qualities of the nature of men that could be expressed in a variety of literary or artistic fields’.
Someone asked me which one comes first, Sulu or Maharlika. I replied that the Sulu archipelago was a country that has its own territory or statehood. If the meaning of Maharlika is ‘freemen’ and ‘noble’ and ‘freedom’, it is the people and their souls or beings that are Maharlika. The Tau Sug used to say, Mahardika' sambil pa ginhawa baran (freedom includes the soul and body).
And if Maharlika only means noble to the Tagalog, to the Tau Sug it is called balbangsa. The Tagalog also believe in the concept of a being or a soul, which they call diwa. In Tau Sug, the soul is called ginhawa, and in Malay, jiwa.
For me, if people can relate more to Maharlika than to Philippines or Pilipinas, then it would make sense to adopt. Better to follow what is in people’s soul and being. This was how people lived in those times. Perhaps there are positive psychological effects to them if they are referred to as Maharlika. But the Tau Sug will remain true to their own identity, keeping their heritage as the people of the Sulu archipelago that have been living with sea currents, regardless of whichever countries they become citizens in.
I love you, peace. Let's sail together. Layag Sug!