10 Little-Known Facts About the Philippine Flag

Was it really light-blue?


(SPOT.ph) Like the Philippines’ tumultuous past, our flag has its share of controversies and headlines. This includes the evolution of its design, the many changes to its much-contested shade of blue, and even the whereabouts of the original flag that Aguinaldo once unfurled in Cavite.


This Independence Day, we round up some interesting facts about our national flag’s history.



June 12, 1898 wasn't the Philippine flag's first rodeo.

The Philippine flag was first unfurled during a skirmish between Filipino troops and Spanish forces in Alapan, Cavite on May 28, 1898. The same flag was presented at Aguinaldo's residence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 during the proclamation of independence.


The first Philippine flag showed an anthropomorphic eight-rayed sun.

Yup, with eyes, lips, and all! It was only in 1919 when Aguinaldo's flag was modified. The sun no longer had the (weird) face.


The Philippine flag shares elements from the Cuban and Puerto Rican flags.

All three countries sought independence from the Spanish empire towards the end of the 19th century. Cuba's lone star flag was first hoisted in 1850 when Narciso López carried out a failed coup attempt to liberate the country.


The flag's shade of blue was widely contested.

It could be periwinkle blue or baby blue! (Kidding!) Aguinaldo's flag colors came from the flag of the United States of North America "as a manifestation of our profound gratitude towards this Great Nation," the Philippine Declaration of Independence said. This means that it should be navy blue. Other historians, however, insist that shade of blue used in the Cuban flag should be followed—it was after all, the inspiration behind our revolution. Other written accounts claim that it's sky blue, while historian Ambeth Ocampo said the actual color is pale sky blue, which was the color of the silk cloth available at the time. This was laid to rest in 1998 when the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines was enacted and reverted the color from navy to royal, which was used during the Commonwealth.



Marcos tried to change the flag's colors

In an Executive Order, former president Ferdinand Marcos pointed out the "the shade of the color blue [of the original flag] was lighter than the present dark blue being used in the making of Philippine flag." This change in color from navy blue to light blue proved unpopular and was explicitly rejected after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.



Philippine flag from 1985 to 1986


It took five days to finish the first Philippine flag.

Aguinaldo hand-delivered his design of the flag to Doña Marcela Mariño de Agoncillo while the general was in Hong Kong after the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato in 1897. With the help of her eldest daughter Lorenza M. Agoncillo and Jose Rizal's niece Delfina Herbosa Natividad, they went on to work day and night on the first Philippine flag. It was delivered personally to Aguinaldo on May 17 before he came back to the Philippines.


No one really knows were the original flag is.

Aguinaldo said in an incident report to Captain Baja on June 11, 1925 that the original Philippine flag was lost somewhere in Pangasinan during the Filipino-American war. Other reports said that he lost the flag in Nueva Vizcaya. But Marcela M. Agoncillo, daughter of Doña Marcela, claimed that she saw the original flag in 1919 and that this was deposited in the bank of Monte de Piedad. This was later transferred to the Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio City by order of Cristina Aguinaldo-Suntay. Others insist that this was just a replica. The younger Marcella had a replica made of the original flag that she previously saw, and this is now in the custody of a relative named Evelyn Del Rosario Garcia. The two, however, slightly differ in shade. There's also another flag in the Baguio museum which the Aguinaldo-Suntay family calls Aguinaldo's battle flag—which bears a striking resemblance to Marcella's replica. It’s highly possible that the flag that the younger Marcela recalls seeing was that of the battle flag.



Number eight is not random.

The eight rays of the sun on the flag symbolizes the eight provinces—Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Laguna and Batangas—"which declared themselves in a state of war almost at the very start of the uprising” during the Philippine revolution. In the 1970s, Rep. Sultan Omar Dianalan of the 1st District of Lanao del Sur petitioned for the addition of a ninth ray to stand for Muslim Filipinos while others proposed that a crescent be placed beside the sun to stand for the Philippines' pre-colonial past.


The three stars don't represent Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The Philippine Declaration of Independence, which was publicly read in Spanish by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, said that the three stars on the Philippine flag represent the "three principal islands of this archipelago—Luzon, Mindanao, and Panay in which the revolutionary movement broke out."


"Lupang Hinirang" was not the first national anthem.


Andres Bonifacio commissioned Julio Nakpil to compose an anthem for the Philippines while they were encamped in Balara in November 1896. The piece was titled "Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan." Despite this, Aguinaldo asked composer Julian Felipe on June 5, 1898 to write a national hymn, and this became the "Lupang Hinirang" that we know today. (Not “Bayang Magiliw,” Tito Sotto!)

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