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The symbols on the white triangle of the Philippine flag are
rayed sun and three stars in gold. The sun represents the dawning of a
new era of self determination that was desired in 1897 (when the flag
was first designed) after the Spanish-American war and the US promise
independence, which was granted in 1946. The 8 rays on the sun
stand for the 8 provinces that rose in revolt against Spanish rule in
the late 19th century. The 3 stars stand for the 3 principal geographic
areas of the country, Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.
To complete the symbolism of the flag, the red stripe represents
and bravery and the blue stripe is for noble ideals. The white triangle
stands for the Katipunan, a revolutionary organization that led the
revolt against Spain and the color white represents peace and purity.
This flag is unique in that in peacetime, the blue stripe is uppermost
but during wartime, the red stripe is on top.
Ref: Smith 1976
Dave Martucci, 7 January 1998
The flag was first designed by General Aguinaldo in 1897
during his exile in Hong Kong. It was adopted on 19 May 1898 (Kindersley, 1997).
Aguinaldo's army defeated the Spaniards at the Battle of Alapan on 28
May 1898. The flag saw it's first action that day. 28 May is recognized
as Flag Day in the Philippines. On 12 June 1898 the Philippines
declared independence from Spain and so began the First Philippine
Republic. Based on Melchor
(1998) and Kindersley
(1997). On 14 Oct 1943 the flag was re-established Smith (1975). This was
the date the Second Philippine Republic began (a puppet government
under the Japanese). Just like the U.S., the Japanese had outlawed the
flag during the earlier period of their occupation.
Gene 'Duke' Duque, 25 September 1999
General Provisions, Section I, Article XVI:
The flag of the Philippines shall be red, white and blue, with a sun and three stars as consecrated and honored by the people and recognized by law.
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 General Emilio Aguinaldo, then President of the Revolutionary Government and sewn at 535 Morrison Hill, Hong Kong 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 P. 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 30, 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 place 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, then 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.
The Philippine flag has remained basically unchanged since it
was designed shortly after the Spanish-American War of 1898 (but see
our page on the history of the
flag). I just checked Smith
(1975) and the date of 12 June 1898 is given as the date it
was first hoisted. It may have been used prior to the war by Philippine
insurgents, but I don't have any data on that.
Nick Artimovich, 16 April 1997
According to "The Republic of the Philippines," The Flag
Bulletin, Number 132 (1989), the Philippine flag was proclaimed as that
of the Republic in 1898 and was flown even after US annexation. The US
outlawed the flag in 1907 but were forced to recognize it in 1920. It
was flown alongside the US Flag until the Japanese occupation in 1941.
The Japanese were forced to revive the flag in 1943. It became the
Philippine National Flag in 1946. [More details can be found on our
page on the history of the flag.]
Jan Oskar Engene, 9 March 1998
The eight rays on the flag represent the eight original
provinces: Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija,
Pampanga, and Tarlac. All of these provinces still exist today except
for one: Manila lost its status as a province, even though it still
exists as the independent city that people know as the capital of the
Philippines. Much of the former province of Manila (capital:
Mariquina, present-day Marikina City) became part of the
District of Morong (which became the province of Rizal in 1901 under
the American colonial administration). This may be the reason why many
sources, especially in the Philippines, replace 'Manila' with 'Rizal'
or even 'Morong' in the list. Minor changes to administrative
boundaries since 1896 have also taken place, but more or less the other
7 provinces correspond to their present counterparts. For further
discussion, see Philippines - historical flags of 20th Century.
Jay Allen Villapando, 16 June 2008
From the book "Julio Nakpil and the Philippine Revolution" we can conclude
that Feliciano Jocson was the designer of the Philippine flag.
Wim Schuurman, 15 January 2019
The Department of Education has recently issued guidelines on
the proper use of the Philippine flag. Most of them are based on RA 8491 on the proper display
and use of the Philippine flag, on the singing of the national anthem
and the prohibited acts on its use. Section 12 of the law states that
"when the Philippine flag is flown with another flag, the flags, if
both are national flags, must be flown on separate staffs of the same
height and shall be of equal size." It also directs that "the
Philippine flag shall be hoisted first and lowered last." The law also
states that "if in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the
right (left of the observer). Since the flag is commonly displayed in
schools, offices and stages or platforms, the law also dictates that
"the flag shall be at the left (facing the stage) or the left of the
office upon entering.
Prohibited acts involving the Philippine flag are as follows:
Tribune", 16 January 2008
Ivan Sache, 18 January 2008
From the document, "Comparative Appearance, Measurements and Color of
the Flag of the Philippines" (obtained by Juan Manuel
Villascán in the Philippines embassy in Mexico City); Pantone
and CMYK values from Album
des Pavillons (2000); RGB values from Daniel Broh-Kahn:
The cable number corresponds to the definitive color defined
in America, 10th edition, Color Association of the US. These are the
current, 1998 specifications mandated by law.
Manuel L. Quezon III, 20 April 2002
The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics (Flags
and Anthems Manual London 2012) provides recommendations for national flag
designs. Each NOC was sent an image of the flag, including the PMS shades, for
their approval by LOCOG. Once this was obtained, LOCOG produced a 60 x 90 cm
version of the flag for further approval. So, while these specs may not be the
official, government, version of each flag, they are certainly what the NOC
believed the flag to be.
For Philippines: PMS 286 blue, 193 red, 122 yellow. The vertical flag is the horizontal version reversed and turned 90 degrees clockwise, white at the top, blue to the left.
Ian Sumner, 11 October 2012
The flag has the unique ability to display a state of war of
the country. It does
this according to the orientation of the blue and red panels: if the
blue panel is above the red, the Philippines is at peace, in the red
above blue indicates a state of war. In the vertical position, blue on
the right means war and opposite means otherwise.
Marco Pineda, 26 July 1995
Smith75 says (pg.273) "Whenever the Philippines is at war the red stripe is flown at the top of the flag, the reverse of its normal position." As a reference, the following is cited "The Philippine National Flag" by Pedro A. Gagelonia (Manila, Dept. of Education, 1963)
The Flag Bulletin, Number 132 (1989) had an article entitled "Republic of the Philippines" in a section entitled "Recent Flags." Footnote 5 states "The Philippines is unique in having its national flag officially flown upside down when the country is at war. Executive Order No. 321 of 12 June 1950, section 1, paragraph 4, states that 'the Flag, if flown from a flagpole, should have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top at time of war ....' The tradition, however, is much older: the first Philippine presdient, Emilio Aguinaldo, claimed that in the 1898-1899 War of Independence 'our National Flag had been hoisted with a red stripe up' (quoted on p. 52 of 'Our Country's Flag and Anthem' by Emanuel A. Baja [Manila:1930])."
In the same article it is stated "In late August 1987 disaffected military men attempted a coup against the Aquino government under the leadership of Colonel Gregorio 'Gringo' Honasan. At the bases which they briefly controlled the national flag was flown upside down, in its wartime position.* Likewise, the Philippine national flag as worn on the front of their shirts by many soldiers was displayed with the red stripe on the top. The coup was suppressed.
"* 'Rebel Troops Attempt to Topple Aquino,' 'The Natal
Dave Martucci, 18 April 1997
The flag with the red stripe above is more properly the war
flag and ensign; that is, upon a state of war or declaration of war,
the national flag is flown upside down. This was so from 1899-1901
(Philippine-American War) and 1941-45 (World War II); to make things
more complicated, while the Philippine Commonwealth flew the flag
upside down from Dec. 8, 1941 until the surrender of Japan, the
Philippine Republic (est. Oct. 1943 under Japanese sponsorship) only
did so from 1944 when it proclaimed a state of war with the USA and
Britain. The flag has also been flown upside down during coup attempts
by military rebels in 1987 and 1989.
Manuel L. Quezon III, 10 November 2002
The unique nature of the Philippine flag presents a problem in
the use of terms in the FIS usage
symbols, particularly those which are for use by the military
(represented by the third column of usage symbols). Strictly speaking,
it would be inappropriate to call the flag used by the Philippine
military during peacetime a 'war flag' and a 'war ensign.' The
'wartime' Philippine flag (the one with the red stripe on top) should
also be denoted as
. This is because
when war is declared by the president, civilians, the state and the
military all use the wartime flag. It is the only official flag to be
used in land and at sea when the country is officially declared in a
state of war.
Jay Allen Villapando, 1 July 2005
image from Rudy Asercion
[Click here for a larger image: 370 kB]
Assistance is requested regarding a very old hand made Philippine flag
that was shown to me privately several weeks ago. I probably would not
have paid much attention to this old flag except my curiosity was
aroused when I saw a sword owned by a Captain Rheinhold Richter of the
1st California Volunteer Infantry in the same collection. US Military
records reveal that the sword was presented to a Lieutenant Rheinhold
Richter by Battery C Artillery Regiment on 12/4/1893. Captain Rheinhold
Richter was the first American Officer killed in the Philippines on
August 4, 1898
According to Mr. Peter Fries who was employed in 1980 as the secretary of the trustees of the Veterans War Memorial Building, the flag I saw was given to Ted Roosevelt by Commodore Dewey and it became a part of a presidential collection that was first exhibited at the Worlds Fair and at the Panama Exposition in San Francisco.
The flag is made of silk or satin with a white triangle containing a
sunburst of golden rays at the center, there is a star at each angle of
the triangle, an upper stripe of dark blue, and a lower stripe of red.
The face of the cloth is glossy but dull on the other side. This flag
must be of extreme historical importance or it wouldn't be
included in this collection of US Military trophies.
I am aware of the controversy regarding the original Philippine flag and my concern is to preserve this aging flag should it prove to be authentic. I will appreciate feed backs from credible research organizations or individuals.
I am the person to contact regarding this inquiry, at rudyasercion [at] yahoo.com.
Rudy Asercion, 16 August 2004
image by Manuel L. Quezon III
Background information is available on the
"The Coat of Arms of the Republic, approved by Commonwealth Act No. 731, was the beginning of heraldic tradition in the Philippines where before there was none. What followed thereafter was the implementation of Executive Order No. 310 s. 1940 issued by then President Manuel L. Quezon creating the Philippine Heraldry Committee to make studies and recommend the adoption of coat of arms for the different government offices, semi-government corporations, provinces and chartered cities. President Quezon, in issuing E.O. No. 310, created the Philippine Heraldry Committee to make studies and recommend ways and means for the adoption of coat of arms of the different government institutions, set the pattern of symbols to be used reflecting physical or geographical considerations, significant emblazonry as well as supporting documents, orders or grants. To ensure that the coats of arms of the Republic are manifestations of the ideas and ideals of the offices or the people concerned, the Philippine Heraldry Committee, from the year of its reconstitution on January 7, 1946 to June 30, 1973, encouraged all concerned to submit the designs and the symbolism of the design of their coat of arms limiting the work of the Heraldry Committee to putting in the correct heraldic phraseology the designs submitted for an office, province or city. The Heraldry Committee through the technical staff prepared the final design with the heraldic description for the approval of the President of the Philippines. By coursing through the Office of the President the approval of all representative coats of arms, the duplication of particular symbols was avoided by various offices since most of these coats of arms were used for corporate or administrative seals to authenticate public documents.
The [...] Coat of Arms of the Republic [...] was approved on July 15, 1950.
As a symbol of the State, the coat of arms of the Republic represents three historical phases — Philippines, Spanish and American. The Philippine symbols are shown in the chief part of the coat of arms. These are the three mullets (5-pointed stars) and the eight-rayed Philippine Sun “in rayonnet” on the heraldic point of honor. The three five-pointed stars indicate the solidarity of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The eight rays of the sun represent the provinces of Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Morong, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite, which were declared under Martial Law by a Decree of the Spanish government during the revolution of 1896. The three stars and the sun are one and inseparable. The national colors are preserved in tinctures of white (chief and heraldic points of honor); red (dexter base) and blue (sinister base). The Spanish symbol is found on the dexter base (right side) of the seal. The Lion Rampant was taken from the Royal Spanish Flag used by Legazpi in the actual occupation and colonization of the islands. The American symbol is the American bald-headed eagle displayed on the sinister base (left side) looking towards the dexter side, which is the peace side. The eagle, often called the King of Birds, has been considered throughout the ages as the symbol of supreme authority and power [...]."
Ivan Sache, 22 February 2009
A statue honouring the Philippine national flag (only the flag is painted in
full colour) can be seen at
http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2915249710028972814LKDiRc. Titled “Three
Ladies and the First Philippine Flag, University of the Philippines, Quezon
City, Philippi”, this Webshot photo was uploaded by “maryan54” on 18 Sep 2008.
Further comments: “UP Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines - The Philippine flag was designed by Emilio Aguinaldo (1st President of the Republic) who commissioned 3 ladies to sew the first flag in Hong Kong: Marcela and Lorenza de Agoncillo (mother and daughter) together with Josefina Herbosa de Natividad (niece of Jose Rizal, our National Hero).”
Napoleon Abueva, the sculptor:
where we read “1996 – Three Women Sewing the First Philippine Flag, also known as Tres Marias Plaza, at the UP Donors’ Garden, as part of the centennial celebration of the 1896 Philippine Revolution”.
Jan Mertens, 16 March 2010