Acronyms in the Philippines

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Acronyms are very popular in the Philippines.

Pedantic discussions on the differences between abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms is non-existent since for most Filipinos, all are acronyms whether or not the acronym is spelled out or spoken like a word.

Geography is one area prone to acronyms. Many times, when a group of places is formed, instead of coining a descriptive term for the group, an acronym that stands for the individual places is created.

A premiere example in the Philippines is Luzviminda. This is an acronym that stands for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the three island groupings of the country. Luzviminda is actually used as a name for many Filipino women.

Another example in the Philippines is the region CALABARZON. This is a region consisting of the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon. During the late 1990s, these Southern Tagalog provinces were targeted for development due to their proximity to Metro Manila. A descriptive name for these provinces might have been Greater Manila Development Area, but legislators and policy makers decided on the CALABARZON acronym. This name was still used when Southern Tagalog was split into two regions in 2001. The region containing the remaining provinces in Southern Tagalog was also named as an acronym, MIMAROPA, which stands for the provinces: Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.

Another example is CAMANAVA. CAMANAVA stands for Caloocan City, Malabon City, Navotas, and Valenzuela City—all located in Metro Manila. The name was created to refer to the flood-prone areas in the metropolis. A descriptive name, if an acronym was not chosen, would be Northwestern Metro Manila.

Acronyms are not only prevalent in geography. Almost all government agencies and institutions, virtually every political party, most TV stations, many companies, and a large percentage of educational institutions are often referred to by their acronyms. In addition hundreds of non-governmental organizations, student organizations, cooperatives, and foundations are also named with acronyms in mind. Many times, the acronym is first chosen before creating a phrase that will fit that acronym.

Most banks in the country are more known by their acronyms, to the point that people no longer can recall what the acronym stands for. The Bank of the Philippine Islands, the largest and oldest bank in the Philippines, is known as BPI. Other banks include Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Acronyms also abound in educational institutions. The top four universities in the country, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University-Manila, University of the Philippines, and University of Santo Tomas are more known by their acronyms: ADMU, DLSU, UP, and UST respectively (although DLSU and ADMU are also known simply as La Salle and Ateneo). Other universities that are more known by their acronyms include Saint Louis University (SLU), Centro Escolar University (CEU), National University (NU), Far Eastern University (FEU), and University of the East (UE). Mapua Institute of Technology, while usually known simply as Mapua is also referred to as MIT, which the institution uses as a subtle way to say that the Mapua is comparable to the MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Many business owners also use acronyms in their company names. The name of the popular clothing company, Bench, is actually an acronym for the company's president, Ben Chan. The AMA chain of computer schools derives its name from the initials of the company's founder: Amable M. Aguiluz.

Acronyms are often used in product advertisements. The number one beer in the country, San Miguel Beer, is frequently known as SMB. In a recent blitz of TV commercials, San Miguel Corporation (itself known as SMC) marketed their beer by creating slogans whose acronyms are SMB. Examples include Sarap mag-beer (It's fun to drink beer) and Sarap maging barkada (It's fun to have friends).

In political campaigns, many candidates names become acronyms stating their political platforms. A particularly stilted political acronym used was the slogan used by the People Power Coalition (PPC) in the 2001 senatorial elections: VOT FOR D CHAMPP. The slogan is an acronym that stands for the names of the 13 senator candidates fielded by PPC. The 11 administration senators who voted YES to block the opening of the second envelope during Estrada's impeachment trial were called "Jose's Cohort": Jaworski, Osmeña, Santiago, Enrile, Sotto, Coseteng, Oreta, Honasan, Ople, Revilla, Tatad.

Acronyms are even used to name TV shows. Popular noontime variety shows like SOP and ASAP have appropriated common acronyms as the name of the TV show. Other shows that are also referred to by their acronyms are Magandang Gabi Bayan (MGB), Magandang Tanghali Bayan (MTB), and the defunct Alas Singko Y Medya (ASYM).


List of Philippine acronyms



Political Parties


Companies and Commerce

Educational institutions


  • NAMFREL - National Movement for Free Elections
  • HUKBALAHAP - Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (People's Army Against the Japanese)
  • MILF - Moro Islamic Liberation Front
  • BLISS-Bagong Lipunan Improvement of Sites and Service
  • PCAC-Presidents Action Committee on Axial Currents

* Acronym pronounced by spelling out.

** Acronym pronounced partly by spelling out.

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