The Philippine Flag: Emblem of our Nation

The flag symbolizes freedom and patriotism, and nothing comes close in evoking nationalistic sentiments than seeing our flag flying high together with flags of other nations in international gatherings, during the fights of boxer Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, beauty pageants and other international events. Prior to the second phase of the Philippine revolution, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo went to Hong Kong to seek the help of Marcela Agoncillo in making the Philippine flag. Gen. Aguinaldo wanted to have our own national flag and national anthem; he believed that these two elements would inspire our men to fight against the colonizers, leading to the attainment of our freedom. Together with Lorenza, daughter of Marcela and Delfina Herbosa Natividad, niece of Jose Rizal, Marcela made the flag of the Philippines following the design of Gen. Aguinaldo. After five days, they handed over the flag to Gen. Aguinaldo before he boarded the McCulloch on May 17, 1898 on his way to the Philippines.

Before the declaration of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, the Philippine flag had already been waved in other parts of the country. On May 28, 1898 Gen. Aguinaldo waved the Philippine flag in Cavite City in connection with the victory of the Filipinos in the Battle of Alapan in Imus, Cavite on the same day. This became the historical basis for declaring May 28 as National Flag Day.

After the ratification of our independence in 1899, Gen. Aguinaldo in his speech in Malolos, Bulacan explained the meaning and symbolism of our national flag. According to him the flag “it has three colors, three stars and a sun, the meaning of which are as follows: the red color is symbolic of Filipino courage; the blue carries an allegorical meaning that all the Filipinos will prefer to die before submitting themselves to the invader; the three five pointed stars indicate the solidarity of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and allude to the islets and rocks falling under their jurisdiction; and lastly, the eight beams of the sun stand for the eight provinces of Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite”

Filipinos proudly waved our flag symbolizing our freedom from three hundred years of oppression by the Spaniards.   Hostilities broke out between the Philippines and the United States in 1899. Gen. Aguinaldo together with other revolutionaries fought against the new colonizer. Unfortunately, Gen. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans two years later, and swore allegiance to the United States. With the defeat of the Filipinos, the country was placed under American colonial rule.

Americans stressed that they came here to help the Philippines and be friends with Filipinos. But the words of the Americans belied their actions. They created laws that strongly asserted the supremacy of the United States over the Philippines. The Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 1696 better known as the Flag Law of 1907, forbidding the Filipinos to use or display the Philippine national flag, the Katipunan flag and other revolutionary flags anywhere, even inside their homes. It was brought about by the victory party parade of the Nacionalista party, during which the Katipunan flag was more prominently displayed than the United States’ flag2, making it appear small compared to Katipunan flag. The Americans feared public display of Philippine flags would provoke more uprisings against them.

Anger stirred in the hearts of Filipinos, many of them objecting bitterly against the Flag Law. According to them, the Flag Law violated the fundamental principle of freedom of expression.  

 For many years, Filipino lawmakers attempted in various ways to repeal the law but they failed, the change came only when Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison recommended that the Flag Law be repealed, the distrust between the Americans and Filipinos no longer existed. This prompted Senator Rafael Palma to sponsor Senate Bill No. 1, repealing the Flag Law of 1907. On 24 October 1919 the bill was passed as Act No. 2871 and signed by Gen. Harrison, thus lifting the ban on the Philippine flag.

Since then, various laws had been made and passed to venerate our national flag, culminating with the Republic Act 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines mandating the proper use of our national flag.

 The Philippine flag is more than a piece of cloth. It is part of our legacy from our forefathers who shed blood and life to attain our independence. The Philippine flag is made up many bitter memories of Filipinos under the colonization – memories of abuse, oppression, and discrimination that eventually paved way to the formation of our nation. The Philippine flag reminds us to strive to be true Filipino living in democratic and sovereign country. 

The period from May 28 to June 12 of each year is declared as Flag Days, during which period all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of government, business establishments, institutions of learning and private homes are enjoined to display the flag.
Executive Order No. 179 in 1994 mandated the eminent display of the National Flag in all, public buildings, government offices and official residences in commemoration of the first unfurling of the Philippine Flag on Philippine soil on May 28, 1898. The Philippine flag was first unfurled after the Battle of Alapan, where the Philippine Revolutionary Army lead by Aguinaldo defeated the Spanish Army on May 28, 1898. This day is recognized today as National Flag Day.
Furthermore, Section 7 of RA 8491, An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines, provides that "The flag shall also be displayed in private buildings and residences or raised in the open on flag-staffs in from of said buildings every April 9- Araw ng kagitingan; Labor Day on May 1; National Flag Day on May 28 to Independence Day on June 12; Heroes Day on the last Sunday of August; Bonifacio Day on November 30; and Rizal Day on December 30; and on such other days as may be declared by the President and or local chief executives."

Properly Display of the Philippine National Flag
If flown from a flagpole, its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war;
If in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the left (observer's point of view) in time of peace, and the red field to the left (observer's point of view) in time of war.If in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the left (observer's point of view) in time of peace, and the red field to the left (observer's point of view) in time of war.

The National flag shall be displayed in all public buildings, official residences, public plazas, and institutions of everyday learning throughout the year.
It shall be permanently hoisted, day and night, throughout the year, in front of the following:
Malacañang Palace;
Congress of the Philippines building;
Supreme Court building;
Rizal Monument in Luneta;
Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City;
Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit;
Barasoain Church Historical Landmark in Malolos City;
Marcela Agoncillo Historical Landmarkl in Taal;
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier;
Libingan ng mga Bayani in Makati City;
Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion in N.Cemetery;
and all International Ports of entry.
*The National Flag of these sites shall be properly illuminated at night.

If planted on the ground, the flagpole shall be at a prominent place and shall be of such height as would give the National Flag commanding position in relation to the buildings in the vicinity. The flagpole must not be of equal height or higher than the Independence Flagpole at the Rizal Park, Manila (107ft).
When the National Flag is flown with flag or flags of other countries, the flags must be of equal size and on separate staffs of the same height. The National Flag shall be hoisted first and lowered last.
When displayed in a row of house flags, the National Flag shall be in front of the center of the line or on the left (observer's point of view) of the row. The house flags should be arranged in alphabetical order, by precedence or by protocol order from left to right (the observer's point of view).
When displayed in a row or in a parade with flags of other countries, the National Flag shall be on the left (observer's point of view) of the other flags. The flags of other countries should be arranged in alphabetical order from left to right.
When in a parade with house flags, the National Flag shall be in front of the center of the first line. The house flags should be arranged in alphabetical order, by precedence or by protocol order from left to right (the observer's point of view).
When displayed in a semi-circle of flags with other countries or house flags, the National Flag should be at the center.
When displayed in a circle of flags with other countries or house flags, the National Flag should be flown on the flagpole facing the main road (point of reference- Kilometer 0, Rizal Park, Manila); or in front of a monument; or the main entrance of the building.
If the National Flag is displayed indoors on a flagpole, it shall be placed at the left of the observer as one enters the room or flat against the wall;
From the top of a flagpole, which shall be at a prominent place or a commanding position in relation to the surrounding buildings.
In a suspended position from a rope extending from a building to a pole erected away from  the building;
Flat against the wall vertically with the sun and stars on top;
Hanging vertically in the middle of a two-way traffic road, the blue field should be pointing east, if the road is heading south or north and if the road is heading east or west the blue field should be pointing north; and
Hanging vertically at the sides or middle of the one-way traffic road, the blue field should be at the left of the observer.
The National Flag shall be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning on all the buildings and places where it is displayed, as provided, on the day of the official announcement of the death of any of the following officials:
The President or a former President, for ten (10) days;
The Vice-President, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the Senate and
        the Speaker of the House of Representatives, for seven (7) days;
Cabinet Secretaries, Associate Justices of  the Supreme Court, Members of the Senate and
       House of Representatives, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
       Director-General of the Philippine National Police, or equivalent in rank, for five (5) days;
Heads of National Government Agencies, including Government Owned and Controlled
       Corporations and Government Financial Institutions, or equivalent in rank, for three (3) days;
The Commanding Generals of the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Army and the Flag
      Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy, or equivalent in rank, for three (3) days;
Governors, Vice-Governors, city and municipal Mayors, city and municipal Vice-Mayors, for
       three (3) days;
Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panglungsod and Sangguniang
       Bayan, on the day of interment;
Veterans of the previous wars, Barangay Chairmen and the Barangay Councilmen, on the
      day of interment;
Former National or Local Government Officials, appointed or elected, other than those
       specified above, on the day of interment, within their former respective territorial jurisdictions
       and by resolution of  their respective Sanggunians;
Regional Directors, Superintendents, Supervisors, Principals, Teachers and other school
      officials, on the day of interment and by order of the proper school authorities concerned;
Recipients of medals, national orders and decorations, on the day of interment and by order
      of the President or the Congress; and,
Other persons to be determined by the Institute, for a period of less than seven (7) days.

The National Flag, when flown at half-mast, shall be first hoisted to the peak for a moment then lowered to the half-mast position.  The National Flag shall again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

The National Flag shall also be flown at half-mast during the death anniversary of heroes and heroines, calamities or grave adversity of national or  international solemnity as ordered by  the Office of the President, as may be recommended by the Institute.
The National Flag shall be permanently hoisted at half-mast day and night throughout the year and in all memorial cemeteries dedicated to war veterans. The National Flag of these declared sites shall be properly illuminated at night.
Mausoleo de los Veteranos de la Revolucion, North Cemetery, Manila
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, Metro Manila

The National Flag may be used to cover the caskets of the honored dead of the military; veterans of previous wars; national artists; and of civilians who have rendered distinguished service to the nation, as may be determined by the local government unit concerned.

Flags of the Revolution
The Flag of the Revolution. The three Ks stood for Kataastasang Kakagalanggalangang Katipunan or Most High & Most Sacred Society
Bonifacio’s Flag.  First used at the Cry of Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896.

An early version of the Katipunan Flag.  It has the 3 Ks arranged in an equilateral traingle
Magdiwang Flag.  Magdiwang chapter used this flag up to the time the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed.

Flag with only one “K” at the center.  All version had a red background to denote the revolutionary character of the Katipunan
First Official Revision.  The first official revision of the flag took place after the 1897 Naic conference presided by Aguinaldo.

Llanera’s Flag. Design was derived from the Katipunan initiation rite using a black hat, white triangle & the letters Z,Ll, B.
Gregorio del Pilar’s Flag.  The design was patterned after the flag of Cuba, then in revolt against Spain.

Pio Del Pilar’s Flag. Bandila ng Matagumpay.
The Present Flag.  The present flag has adapted features of all the previous Katipunan flags.

The History
The idea of coming up with a new flag was reached during the preparation of the second phase of the Philippine Revolution. It was personally conceived by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the Revolutionary Government and sewn at 535 Morrison Hill Road, Hongkong by Mrs. Marcela Marino Agoncillo - wife of the first Filipino diplomat Felipe Agoncillo, with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Mrs. Delfina Herbosa Natividad, niece of Dr. Jose Rizal and wife of Gen. Salvador Natividad.
The flag was made within five days and handed over by Mrs. Agoncillo to Gen. Aguinaldo before the latter boarded the American dispatch boat, McCulloch on May 17, 1898 on his way to the Philippines.
The revolutionists originally planned the hostility against the Spanish Forces on May 130, 1898 but a bloody encounter ensued between the Filipino Forces and Spanish marines on May 28 at Bo. Alapan, Imus, Cavite where the Philippine Flag received its baptism of fire and blood. Gen. Aguinaldo hoisted the flag as a sign of victory against Spain.
On June 12, 1898, the Philippine Flag brought from Hong Kong was unfurled for the first time at the historic window of the Aguinaldo Mansion in Kawit, Cavite as the country's Independence was being proclaimed before the Filipino people.
During the American regime, the display of the Philippine Flag in any places was prohibited and it provided severe punishment for violators. The prohibition was lifted eleven years later and reverence to the Philippine flag was allowed by virtue of an Executive Order which declared October 30, 1919 as "Philippine Flag Day." Though authorized and venerated during this historic occasion, the flag, however, had minor discrepancies.
On March 25, 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon. issued E.O. No. 23 prescribing the technical description and specification of the Filipino Flag. It was followed by other directives assigning the National Historical Institute as the authority in Philippine Vexillaries and Heraldry.
Prohibited Acts
To mutilate, deface, trample on, cast contempt, or commit any act or ommission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the National Flag or over its surface;

To dip the National flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute;

To use the National Flag:

 1. As drapery, festoon, tablecloth;

 2. As covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects;
 3. As pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;

 4. As a staff or whip;

 5. for unveiling monuments or statues; and,

6. As trademarks, or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs.
To display the National Flag:

 1. Under any painting or picture;

 2. Horizontally.  It shall always be hoisted aloft and be allowed to fall freely;

 3. Below any platform; or,

4. In discotheques, cockpits, night and day clubs, casinos, gambling joints and places of vice or
where frivolity prevails.

To wear the National Flag in whole or in part as a costume or uniform;

To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisement, or imprint of any nature on the National Flag;

To print, paint or attach representation of the National Flag on handkerchiefs, napkins, cushions, and articles of merchandise;

To display in public any foreign flag, except in embassies and other diplomatic establishment, and in offices of international organizations;

To use or display or be part of any advertisement or infomercial; and,

To display the National Flag in front of buildings or offices occupied by aliens.

When flown from a flagpole, the flag should have its blue stripe on top in time of peace and red on top in time of war.

The flag should not be displayed on horizontal position or hung fastened by its fly. The fly portion of the flag should be free to move.

When displayed vertically, the triangle should be on top. The blue field should be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace, and the red field to the right (left of the observer) in rime of war.

When displayed over the middle of a street, as between buildings or post, the flag should be suspended vertically with the blue stripe pointing to north or east.

When a number of flags are grouped and displayed from stationary staffs, the Philippine flag should be in the center at the highest point or at the right of the other flag.

The Philippine National Flag must not be smaller than the others.

When flown with flags or pennants of organizations on the same halyard (for special occasion only), the Philippine flag should be at the peak.

When displayed with another flag from crossed staff, the Philippine flag should be on its right side (left side of the observer), and its staff should be over the staff of the other flag. Two Philippine flags should never be thus displayed.

When the national flag is borne in a parade with other flags or of other nations, it should always be in front and in the center of the line of the other flags.

When used on a speaker's platform without the staff, it should be displayed vertically and placed above and behind the speaker. It should never be used to cover the speaker's desk or to drape over the front of the platform.

When mounted on a platform, the flag should be placed on the presiding officer's right and a bit in front, as he faces the congregation. Other flags should be on his left. However, when it is displayed on a level with the congregation, it is placed on the right of the congregation.

The flag should be flown from a staff when displayed on a float.

The flag should not be used as part of or as a whole of a costume.

When the flag is flown at half-mast t symbolize mourning, it must first be raised t full mast, allowing it to fly there for a moment before bringing it down to half-mast. To lower the flag at sunset or any other time when ordered, it must again be raised to full mast before it is brought down;

It should be in accordance with R.A. # 849 s.  1998.

When the flag is displayed on a small staff or in a parade, mourning is indicated by attaching black ribbon to the spearhead, allowing the ribbon to fall naturally.

When used to cover a casket, the triangle should be over the head and the blue stripe over the right side of the body. The flag should not touch the ground, except as authorized under R.A. 3934 s. 1964.

The flag should not be used as curtain or drape. Use buntings of blue, white and red. The blue color in the bunting should be at the top or at the point of honor and it must be equally in width.

On national holidays and on historical and special occasions as the President or local chief executive may proclaim, the Philippine Flag shall be displayed in all public and private places, buildings including residences.

April 9 - Araw ng Kagitingan
May 1 - Labor Day
May 28* - Flag Day
June 12 - Independence Day Last Sunday of August - National Heroes Day
November 1 - All Saints Day
November 30 - Bonifacio Day
December 30 - Rizal Day

Executive Order No. 179, s. 1994 prescribed the prominent display of the National Flag from May 28 to June 12 in all practicable places and homes.
The flag should not be displayed in cockpits, dance halls and centers of vice.
The flag should not be used as unveiling material in unveiling ceremonies.
Tattered, faded or worn-out flags should be replaced immediately. They should be disposed off or destroyed privately, preferably by burning

Conduct of Flag Raising & Lowering Ceremonies

All government offices, including national or local government units and institutions, shall henceforth observe the flag raising ceremonies every Monday morning and the flag lowering ceremony every Friday afternoon.
These include private establishments which fly the National Flag on the flagpole in their compound.
Primary and Secondary schools and other institutions of learning shall observe the flag ceremony as ordered by the Department of Education and/or the Commission on Higher Education.

The observance of the flag ceremony shall be simple and dignified.

During the flag raising ceremony, the assembly shall stand in formation facing the National Flag.  At the moment the first note of the National Anthem is heard, everyone in the premises shall come to attention; moving vehicles shall stop.  all persons present shall place their palms over their chest, those with hats shall uncover, while those in military, scouting, security guard, and citizens military training uniforms shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations, which salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem.

The same procedure shall be observed when the National flag is passing in review or in parade.
During the flag lowering, the National Flag shall be lowered solemnly and slowly so that the flag shall be down the mast at the sound of the last note of the National Anthem. those in the assembly shall observe the same deportment or shall observe the same behavior as for the flag raising ceremony.

 This guide came from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

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