by Rayos del Sol, Samantha R.


The Philippine National Flag has been a companion to us Filipinos, since the day we waged a revolution against the Spaniards in 1896-1898, to the time we carried out a war against the Americans starting in 1899 and when we resisted the Japanese occupation of our nation. Our flag is an image of our national unity, hope and love for freedom. It is the result of our nation’s long struggle for sovereignty and bears the valiant deeds of our heroes and those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our independence, thus making it an important emblem of our nation.[1]

The story of our national flag popularly known as the “The Sun and Stars” can be traced to the second phase of the revolution when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo came up with the idea of producing a flag and an anthem that would unite and signify the new nation. Gen. Aguinaldo personally sketched the design of the flag while he was in exile in Hong Kong. He gave the design of the flag to Doña Marcela Agoncillo, who at that time, was residing in Hong Kong. Doña Agoncillo, together with her daughter Lorenza and Delfina HerbosaNatividad,completed the sewing of the flag for five days. Gen. Aguinaldo then went back to the Philippines on the 17th of May 1898 aboard the U.S.S.McCulloch; with him was the newly sewed flag, which was delivered to him.The flag as described had a triangle that symbolized hope for equality, the red stripe for patriotism, the blue stripe for peace, justice and truth, the sun with eight rays for the first eight provinces declared under a state of war by the Spanish Governor General, and the three stars to represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.[2]

The new flag was first waved on May 28, 1898 near the port of Cavite Nuevo after the Battle of Alapan.  On May 28, 1898 around 2000 arms and 200,000 supplies of bullets were shipped to the port of Cavite for the revolutionary forces in the small barrio called Alapang, which now part of Imus, Cavite. When the Spaniards heard the news about the shipment they sent estimated forces 270 soldiers to confiscate the said arms but the local revolutionists responded by protecting the arms. This resulted in a battle. The bloody battle between the Spaniards and the local revolutionists lasted from 10 o’clock in the morning until 3 in the afternoon. In the end the Filipinos claimed victory they marched cheerfully to the headquarters of Gen. Aguinaldo, taking with them their Spanish prisoners. Gen. Aguinaldo felt that it was the right time to display the flag that he brought from Hong Kong, thus, unfurling the flag to celebrate the victory of the Filipinos over the Spanish forces. [3]

The flag, however, was formally waved in public on a Sunday afternoon, 12th of June 1898, after the reading of the proclamation independence of the Philippines from the Spaniards; the flag was waved from the window of the house of Aguinaldo in Kawit.

The Philippine flag has gone through several struggles throughout its existence, from being a symbol of a free and sovereign nation during the inauguration of the Philippine Republic of 1899 in Malolos Bulacan, to that of a beleaguered nation fighting a stronger enemy from taking its hard-won freedom from 1899 to 1913. During the American occupation, the Flag Law of 1907 was implemented prohibiting the display of the Philippine Flag anywhere.[4] The Filipinos exerted efforts to have the Flag Law repealed, gaining victory on October 24, 1919 when Gov. Gen. Harrison signed Act No. 2871 formally lifting the Flag Law.[5]

On November 15 1935, during the Commonwealth Period, Pres. Manual Quezon issued Executive Order No. 23 containing the description and specifications of the National Flag of the Philippines. [6] All this came to naught during the Japanese occupation when the display of the Philippine flag was once again prohibited. The Japanese military administration cooperated with Pres. Jose P. Laurel in hopes of winning the cooperation of the people, establishing a government under occupation. This government known as the Second Philippine Republic, was allowed to fly the national flag was again.[7]

The Third Republic of the Philippines was inaugurated on the 4th of July 1946, the American flag was lowered and Pres. Manuel A. Roxas raised the Philippine National flag amidst the signing of the National Anthem. [8] For many years, the Filipinos celebrated Independence Day on the 4th of July, even as June 12 was celebrated as Flag Day under Proclamation No. 146 issued by Pres. Elpidio Quirino. But in 1962, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal declared that the Philippine Independence Day and the Flag Day were to be celebrated on June 12.[9] After three years, Flag Day was moved to May 28 in commemoration of the Battle of Alapan under Proclamation No. 374 of 1965 signed by Pres. Diosdado Macapagal.[10] In 1994, Pres. Fidel Ramos issued Executive Order No. 179 ordering the prominent display of the National Flag from May 28 to June 12 of every year.

Indeed, our flag tells a lot stories; it has witnessed the struggles and sacrifices of Filipinos who fought their way to freedom. In turn, we, the younger generation, are expected to give importance and pay respect to our National Flag as the embodiment of our nation’s history and Filipino identity.



Lugos, Modesta, and Sonia Zaide. The Philippine National Flag and Anthem. Quezon City: All-Nations Publishing Co., Inc., 1997. (accessed May 15, 2013).

Pugay, Chris. “The Controversial Philippine National Flag.”National Historical Commission of the Philippines. (accessed May 22, 2013).

Reyno, Cielo. “Celebrating Two Battles and A Patriot’s Legacy.” National Historical Commission of the Philippines. (accessed May 25, 2013).


* Samantha R. Rayos del Sol, OJT at NHCP under RPHD and currently taking up History at De La Salle University Manila

[1]ModestaLugos and Sonia Zaide, The Philippine National Flag and Anthem (Quezon City: All-Nations Publishing Co., Inc., 1997), 4.

[2] Chris Pugay, “The Controversial Philippine National Flag,” National Historical Commission of the Philippines, http://nhcp.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=3. (accessed May 23, 2013).

[3]CieloReyno, “Celebrating Two Battles and a Patriot’s Legacy,” National Historical Commission of the Philippines, http://nhcp.gov.ph/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=761. (accessed May 25, 2013)

[4]Ibid, 25.


[5]Pugay, The Controversial Philippine National Flag.

[6]Lugos and Zaide, The Philippine National Flag and Anthem, 29.

[7]Ibid, 30.

[8]Ibid, 35.

[9]Ibid, 36.

[10]Reyno, Celebrating Two Battles and a Patriot’s Legacy.