Monday, May 28, 2007

The story of the Philippine flag

THE Philippine flag is the ultimate symbol of our democracy and sovereignty. It stands for the collective resistance of the Filipino nation against its oppressors, past and present, in the battle for freedom and national identity. The Philippine flag also symbolizes unity among the Filipino people, bridging all economic, social, educational and geographic distances that separate us all.

To celebrate the meaning and purpose of the Philippine flag, the period of May 28 up to June 12 was declared National Flag Days, in accordance with RA 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. And there’s no better way to celebrate this national symbol than to explore its evolution and history.

The early version of the Philippine flag was the banner of the Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan (KKK) or Most High and Most Sacred Society. The background is red and the letters are color white. The first design contains three “K”s aligned horizontally. It was called the Flag of the Revolution. In the second design, the three “K”s were arranged in an equilateral triangle. The third design contained only one “K” at the center. The red background stands for the revolutionary character of the Katipunan.

The next version of the Philippine flag was used by Gen. Mariano Llanera in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. It’s called “Bungo ni Llanera” because it contained a skull with crossed bones. The flag has a black background and according to stories, Llanera derived the design from the Katipunan initiation rite which uses a black hat, white triangle and the letters Z, Ll and B.

Pio del Pilar’s flag or Bandila ng Tagumpay was used on July 11, 1895 and has stood witness to many battles. It has a red background and a white triangle with three “K”s in each corner and a rising sun in the center. The sun has eight rays, representing the eight provinces that revolted first.

The next version, Bonifacio’s flag, was made by female members of the Katipunan before the revolution. It was used in the Cry of Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896 and on the Battle of Pinaglaban in San Juan del Monte seven days later.

The Katipuneros of Cavite, particularly the chapter led by Gen. Aguinaldo, used the Magdiwang flag. They used this up to the time the Pact of Biak-na-Bato was signed.

The first official revision of the Philippine flag took place after the 1897 Naic Conference presided by Aguinaldo. The background was red and the sun at the center of the flag has a face. Gregorio del Pilar’s flag was the first to use three colors -- red, blue and black. The design was said to be patterned after the flag of Cuba, which was in revolt against Spain during that time.

The present flag has adapted features from the previous versions of the Philippine flag. The first model of the present Philippine flag was sewn by Marcela Agoncillo, her daughter Lorenza and Mrs. Delfina Natividad, niece of Rizal. The flag was made at the Agoncillo residence in Hong Kong at the request of Gen. Aguinaldo. He brought the flag back to country on May 19, 1898, in time for the proclamation of our independence.

Gen. Aguinaldo waved this flag six weeks after the Battle of Manila Bay, along with the proclamation of Philippine Independence and the playing of the national anthem. On March 25, 1936, Pres. Manuel L. Quezon issued an executive order setting the standard size and colors of the flag.

It is in remembrance of our heroes and our fight for freedom that we celebrate National Flag Day and Independence Day every year. The Philippine flag, as the symbol of the Filipino nation, is revered and celebrated as a way of thanking our heroes for their efforts.

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