By Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Kamalaysayan Writers and Speakers

(June 1996)

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NDEPENDENCE DAY, it has been habitually called. That's the twelfth day of June every month, and it is usually greeted with the conspicuous display of the Philippine flag in various sizes and materials. But, it was only on the days leading up to "Independence Day" this year, or more precisely, in the last few weeks, that I saw entire clusters of dozens upon dozens of standard-sized cloth flags in many public buildings and areas, a direct result of May 28 having been declared a year earlier by President Ramos as Philippine Flag Day.

For those of us who have not been obedient to government when it insists that June 12 is Independence Day, because we refuse to ignore the important qualifier in Aguinaldo's "Acta de Independencia" defining our status as independent only from Spain but a protectorate -- "under the protection of the Mighty and Humane North American Nation" -- we have had reason to celebrate June 12 as "National Flag and Anthem Day." 

We therefore agree to the display of the Flag in government buildings and plazas and by many, many citizens in their own homes, vehicles and hands. But what I saw last June 12 was an overabundance of flags fluttering from a veritable forest of intercrowding flagpoles. The sheer number of those flags thus clustered had the effect of devaluing each one. 

Because the flags are not displayed in private places, it does not represent a big number of citizens honoring our tricolor on their own volition; rather, it displays an overzealousness on the part of government functionaries who are out to please superiors all the way to Malacaņang at whatever price (how much does each flag cost?), and still the effect is a devaluation of the flag itself, that is devalued to the level of buntings. Dinaan sa dami, nabakya tuloy!  There has also been this order, with a bill filed alongside, to the effect that the blue field in the flag should be of a lighter shade. The aim is to make it more faithful to how Aguinaldo had ordered it designed.

Actually, if we are to be "historically faithful" to the Aguinaldo flag, we have to remember that it provides for only eight rays in the prominently located Sun, representing only eight of the more than a dozen provinces that first rose up against Spain in and right after August 1896, the number eight having been taken by Aguinaldo from the coverage of the martial law proclamation of Spanish Gov. Gen. Ramon Blanco (otherwise, why not first seven, or first nine, or first twelve?). Bonifacio's Katipunan Sun-flag had an indefinite number of rays, indicating the inclusion of all "Tagalogs," which the Katipunan officially defined as "all who are from this archipelago...therefore, be one a Visayan, Ilocano or a Pampango he is a Tagalog just the same".

Okay, so there are those three stars that supposedly represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, as we have come to understand these three stars to mean. However, in the Aguinaldo flag, the three stars officially represented Luzon, Panay and Mindanao. So, do we really want to be historically- accurate, faithful to Aguinaldo's design (and designs?)? I mean, really?

These divisive aspects of the Aguinaldo flag have been part of the reason why many of us have had the tendency to reject this flag and propose changes. But we of Kamalaysayan have not supported the proposals for such changes; not yet anyway (we want to focus on changing the kalooban first through the propagation and broad adoption of the Katipunan's Kartilya ). After all, generations upon generations of Filipinos have loved this flag, some generations even spilling much blood for it, for this flag, for this Philippine flag with the dark-blue field, this "historically-inaccurate" Philippine flag. Not Aguinaldo's divisive one with the light blue field.

(Kamalaysayan Media Service)

Read also Rudy Liporada's article on his touching experience with the Philippine Flag. Click here .



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