Our country’s flag is the singular most important symbol of our sovereign country.
I have fond memories of how we, as a people respected and honored our national symbols, especially our flag and our national anthem. In grade school as well as in high school, every morning of each school day before going to our respective classrooms, the entire school population would congregate in front of the flag pole for flag raising ceremonies. This happened EVERY SINGLE DAY.
With our right hand on our chest, we would proudly sing “Lupang Hinirang” (the correct title of our national anthem, and not Bayang Magiliw as many young people now think) as our country’s flag was slowly hoisted up the pole. This was followed by our solemn recitation of “Panatang Makabayan,” our oath as citizens of the Philippines. To this day I can still recite this oath, the deep meaning of which has been instilled in my generation’s mind, never to be forgotten. Our flag proudly fluttering in the air, a symbol of a free and sovereign people, was a sight to behold.
After the closing of each school day, several students in Boy Scouts’ uniforms would slowly bring the flag down, and fold it in the correct manner that it should be folded while taking care that it should never touch the ground. It would then be brought to the school’s flag custodian to be carefully stored, ready for use for the following morning’s ceremonies.
You would never see a tattered or faded flag anywhere, it was unheard of. The flag and the national anthem were accorded utmost respect.
If one happened to be out on the streets and the national anthem was playing, one would stop and stand still until it was finished. Traffic aides would signal oncoming vehicles to stop and would only allow them passage after the playing of the anthem.
In my youth, the celebration of the declaration of Philippine independence was always big. Weeks before the 12th of June, the Philippine flag would be displayed. Flags would line major thoroughfares, and parks; buildings, both public and private would display the flag; private homes would bring theirs out; cars and even public utility vehicles would have small flags tied to their side mirrors. The country’s colors, red, white, and blue were everywhere. We were a proud people.
Others may say that these small things are unimportant, and I will beg to disagree. When you see the flag ceremoniously hoisted up and respectfully brought down every day, when you sing the national anthem daily, and when you recite Panatang Makabayan regularly, love of country and respect for its symbols are developed. These small ways of showing appreciation for the country’s emblems become a habit and come naturally. To this day, whenever the national anthem is played, I stand up with my right hand on my chest and sing, yes, sing the anthem.
I am proud to belong to this generation that has been brought up to respect and honor our flag. After all, this national symbol came to be because of the sacrifices of the many thousands of our revolutionists who fought two giants, Spain and America. We owe our independence to our valiant forefathers and mothers.
Our flag was designed by no less than the first president of the republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo and was made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo with the help of her daughter, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Dr. Jose Rizal’s niece, Delfina Herbosa de Natividad.
Gen. Aguinaldo came back to the country on May 17, 1898 to resume the Philippine revolution after Spain reneged on the terms of the Biak na Bato treaty. On May 28 after his arrival, arms and ammunition they bought (using the Biak na Bato money) for the revolution’s use arrived in a port in Alapang (now Alapan). Spanish forces came to confiscate the arms and this resulted in the Battle of Alapan won by the Filipino patriots. To celebrate this victory, Aguinaldo decided to show the jubilant people the Philippine flag for the very first time.
Two weeks later, on 12 June 1898, the same flag was formally unfurled to the public during the declaration of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite. This was also the very first time that the Marcha Nacional Filipina (now Lupang Hinirang), composed by Julian Felipe, was publicly played. I can only imagine how jubilant and proud the people were to see and hear for the very first time these most important symbols of their beloved country! It must have been glorious to be Filipino particularly on that day.
May 28 to June 12 have become the Flag Days under Republic Act No. 849. Section 26 states, “The period from May 28 to June 12 of each year is declared as Flag Days, during which period all offices, agencies, and instrumentalities of government, business establishments, institutions of learning and private homes are enjoined to display the flag.”
Presently, the country is faced by many serious challenges from within and without. Our sovereignty is again threatened with our territories being disrespected, invaded even. We have just witnessed how Supreme Court Justices trampled upon the Constitution to oust the Chief Justice using an illegal quo warranto petition. We have a de facto dictatorship where one man, the President, is in full control of all three supposedly co-equal and independent branches of government. Our people continue to get killed without due process. Critics of the administration are harassed, imprisoned, or removed from office. The vice presidency is threatened.
More than a century ago, Filipino revolutionists sacrificed their lives for the independence and freedoms we now enjoy. But the very same freedoms are now under attack. It is time to show LOVE OF COUNTRY. It is time to stand up and fight for our people’s rights, to defend democracy, and our country’s sovereignty.
Flag Days are upon us. One way to show patriotism is by prominently displaying our flag. Proudly hoist our colors as a symbol that the Filipino people is sovereign. Just like in Alapan and Kawit where Gen. Aguinaldo and his men hoisted our flag in full defiance of the powers that be, we are now called to defy and oppose tyranny and foreign invasion. Fly our flag to say that we are protecting our rights, and the rights of our children and the future generations.
We are a nation of heroes. SA MANLULUPIG, DI KA PASISIIL.
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