‘Three Stars and a Sun’: How the PH flag came to be

Its been two days after the celebration of the 118th anniversary of our independence from the Spanish colonizers, but we think its not too late to discuss the Philippine Flag came to be.

Last Sunday, in line with the celebration of our Independence Day, Facebook posted a greeting with our flag’s color reversed in symbolism of state of war. Upon the criticism of netizens, Facebook officials clarified that it was an honest mistake.


Incidents involving people disgracing our national flag enrages Filipinos. Maybe because we were taught early on the importance of treating the national flag with respect and reverence.

We stand attentively and put our hands over our hearts and look up at the flag during flag ceremony – then we see our older schoolmates putting down the flag before the end of the class and folding it carefully and meticulously.

You ask why? Let us look into the history of the most important symbolism of our identity, freedom and independence – upon knowing, it may give you the perspective why we respect our national flag..

Comparing the Philippine flag to others, aside from its vibrant colors, one more unique aspects of it came to mind: In state of peace, the color blue is positioned above of the red color, and when we are in a state of war, the opposite took place wherein the red occupies the upper section of the flag.

The flag’s conception goes long way back to 1989 in Hongkong, commissioned by General Emilio Aguinlado. It was on the battlefield of Alapan, Imus, Cavite on May 28, 1989 the flag was first unfurled by the Philippine Revolutionary Army on their victory against the Spaniards. On June 12, 1989, it was officially presented by Aguinaldo to the public on the balcony of his house in Kawit, Cavite. To remember this time period, today we celebrate May 28 to June 12 as National Flag Days.

The sun symbolizes the burning passion of the revolution. Its eight rays represent the provinces who raised arms to topple the Spanish regime – Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Laguna and Batangas. The color blue symbolizes peace and prosperity, while red for war and the blood of the heroes. The three main divisions of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, are represented by three stars on each side of the triangle.

The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office did some digging on the subject. The colors white, blue and red were adopted from the star-spangled banner of the Americans, who since the end of the 19th century forged an alliance with the Philippines.

The sun came from a masonic symbolism of knowledge, prominently used by the Katipunan in their flags, though the mythical face on the sun was now omitted.

Since our Independence, the flag with red on top was used only three times: when it was waved during the Battle of Alapan for the very first time, during World War I, and at the height of World War II.

From www.gov.ph
From www.gov.ph

Next time you sing Lupang Hinirang while staring at the Philippine flag, recall those 118 years of history embedded on its very cloth, a remnant of the past that continues to inspire us for the years to come. (Luke Godoy)

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