October 27, 2010 in Featured
By RUDY D. LIPORADA
Lately, there has been much ado about the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. Going beyond the anthem, there should be, to me, much more ado about the Philippine flag, really.
Twice, I choked about this Flag.
First was when I flew from Zambia to the Philippine consular office in Nairobi, Africa. I was to renew my Philippine passport. After my flight, I had to ride a bus and alight two blocks from the consulate. Walking towards the office, I saw a speck flying on a pole from the distance. As I approached, the piece of cloth became more recognizable. Within me welled an emotion as I approached the pole with the cloth on its zenith fluttering majestic against the azure skies.
I sobbed as I touched the pole. For four years, I have not seen the Philippine Flag. Its flapping with the wind was music to my soul. It was as if my whole being as a Filipino, my missing my motherland, my missing my culture, everything that I have become were all rolled into one gargantuan emotion that exploded within my chest. There, in front of the consular office, I never had my chest heaving so hard from sobbing and I was unashamed.
Second was when I took my oath and pledged allegiance to become a citizen of the United States. I choked on the words denouncing any other flag and embracing the huge United States flag that was displayed at the oath taking wall. It was like a part of me, my past, was being torn apart as I pledged to be US citizen.
The overwhelming emotions that swelled within me at those times welled from what had been embedded in me since my elementary days – to love this flag, that this was an essence of my being a Filipino.
Question is: what has this flag really done for me?
I had to fly my whole family to Zambia and work there for four years because this flag had nothing to offer me better to keep me in the Philippines. Underemployed, I and my wife had to seek better opportunities away from our relatives, from our culture – to suffer the encumbrances of an unknown culture. We also sought means to come to the United States which provided much more to prepare a better future for our children.
And I believe that this is true for most Filipinos who also left the motherland.
History of the Present Filipino Flag
In my elementary days, I was imbued with the symbolisms of the Philippine Flag. Blue, for patriotism and justice, red for courage and blood spilt for freedom and independence, white for purity and peace. The white triangle stood for equality; the sun stood for independence; the rays for the eight provinces that initially fought against Spain, and the three stars for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
However, the flag was designed by ilustrado Emilio Aguinaldo while in exile in Hong Kong. It evolved from when he split from the Katipunan as leader of the Magdalo faction of Cavite. His faction even judged the founder of Katipunan, Bonifacio as incompetent to continue leading the revolution because Bonifacio was not educated enough. Eventually, he had Bonifacio killed after a kangaroo judgment that the Katipunan founder was a traitor.
So much for symbolisms of unity.
To emphasize, it was a far departure from the original flag of the Katipunan which also had three Ks for Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng Mga Anak ng Bayan. The act of evolving another flag is a clear abrogation of the original intent of the revolution and disrespect for the highest and most respected association of the children of the nation.
The Aguinaldo flag was embroidered at 535 Morrison Hill in Hong Kong by Mrs. Marcela Marino Agoncillo, wife of Felipe Agoncillo, with the help of her daughter, Lorenza and Mrs. Delfina Herbosa Natividad, niece of Dr. Jose P. Rizal and wife of General Salvador Natividad.
Done in five days, Aguinaldo brought it to the Philippines in time for his proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898 at Kawit, Cavite at the behest of the Americans for him to establish a dictatorial government. The proclamation document was signed by 98 personages who witnessed the phrase therein that included “under the protection of the Mighty and Humane North American nation.” Thus, Aguinaldo placed the so called First Philippine Republic as a mere protectorate of the United States. Moreover, the United States, Spain, or any country did not recognize this declaration.
So much for real independence.
Aguinaldo declares war against the US
When the US did not recognize his presidency, Aguinaldo’s forces faced-off with American forces in tense situations and on February 4, 1899, the Filipino American war ensued.
Due to the superior firepower of the Americans, Aguinaldo ordered his men to switch to guerilla warfare. He himself and his regiment were pushed from his bailiwick to the northeastern part of Luzon in Palanan, Isabela. He passed through several provinces till he reached Palanan in Isabela.
With his flag, Aguinaldo was not able to gather support from the people in the provinces he had to run through. He was a general on the run with only his loyal troops for the entire duration of the war.
To facilitate the capture of Aguinaldo, the Americans organized a Macabebe contingent from Pampanga to pose as rebels wanting to hook up with Aguinaldo. They pretended to have captured American troops and were bringing them to Aguinaldo’s camp in Palanan. When they were in close quarters with the sentries, they overwhelmed the Filipino guards and captured Aguinaldo on March 1902. Thereafter, though, not all revolutionaries laid down their arms and continued fighting, organized opposition against the American troops abated.
Thus, it could be said that the Flag of Aguinaldo failed to rally Filipinos against the Americans because it failed to really stand for real independence which should be cherished and fought for. It failed to instill unity because it was inspired by ilustrado bearings that killed not only the original intentions of the revolution but the leader and founder of the revolution, Bonifacio, himself. It carried with it the spirit of one who surrendered initially to the Spaniards, and one who failed to see clearly the intentions of the American imperialists. It carried with it the vacillations of Aguinaldo who exhorted Filipinos to lay down their arms when he surrendered to the imperialists who he then praised as protectors of the Philippines.
The meaning of the Philippine Flag today
To this day, although we are emotionally attached to the Filipino Flag, its symbols remain as mere symbols signifying nothing. Most Filipinos love it because it was ingrained to be loved until one has to embrace another flag, like the United States flag because the latter provides a better life. Although the Philippine flag should ingrain love of country, one readily leaves when the opportunity presents itself.
Moreover, its symbols do not depict the realities of Philippine society. Its triangle does not reflect equality among the Filipinos where justice is not applied reverently when those politically and socially influential are at odds with those in the lower strata of society. Blue for patriotism was limited only to Aguinaldo’s patriotism with regard to declaring himself president but under the protectorate of the United States which did not even recognize him. Red for courage cannot be said a trait of Aguinaldo who surrendered to the Spaniards, was on the run for practically the length of Philippine American war, and later on praising the Americans when he was finally captured. Red for blood spilt would not include Bonifacio’s who Aguinaldo ordered executed for being convicted to be a traitor to the revolution which Bonifacio started. The sun does not really shine for independence of the June 12, 1898 proclamation nor are we now economically and socially independent. The eight rays stand for regionalist attitudes where only those perceived to have initiated the revolution are incorporated in the rays. The stars are taken to be mere symbols as a token to enjoin the other Filipinos of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao where Mindanao wants to secede.
For so many countries that fought independence, the Philippines is among a few that did not adopt the flag of the revolution as its national flag. A revolutionary flag is a symbol of unity in the struggle for independence.
If the Katipunan was not subverted, we could have a red flag with three Ks flying as our national flag.
So, today, although Filipinos are emotionally attached to the present Philippine Flag, the Philippines remains to be a divided nation, in poverty, and in continuous turmoil. The present Philippine Flag fails to be a rallying flag for true progress for the majority of the Filipinos.
Truly, like most products made from Hong Kong, the present Philippine Flag is fragile, if not, symbolically, already dilapidated.
We need another flag the majority of the Filipinos could really rally around for true progress for the majority of the Filipinos. # nordis.net