Bits of Trivia About the Philippine Flag

By: Manolo Quezon  |  We Filipinos (should) all know that the Philippine flag is unique in that it flies its flag upside down (with the red on top) when the country is in a state of war. Well, to celebrate the 111th declaration of Philippine Independence, listed below are a few other bits of trivia about our Three Stars and a Sun (watawat) that you probably don’t know.

  • The Philippine flag, according to Republic Act No. 8491 (the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines), is supposed to have its length to be twice as its width. I’ve seen flags where the dimensions are in the ratio 1:√3 (which, while I personally find more aesthetic, is illegal) such that the diagonals of the equilateral white triangle lie on the lines connecting the opposite corners of the flag.
  • While we generally know that the three yellow stars represent the island groups of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, did you know that one of the stars originally represented only the island of Panay according to the Acta de la proclamación de la independencia del pueblo Filipino (i.e., the Philippine Declaration of Independence)? I guess the concept of island groups was not yet known then since Panay was included as one of the “three principal islands” of the Philippines.
  • The same declaration states that the red, white, and blue colors of the flag was inspired by the American flag. This bit of fact would probably drive anti–U.S. imperialists into conniptions.
  • The shade of blue used in the original flag was supposed to be the same as the Cuban flag. Over the years the blue took on various shades from sky blue to navy blue. RA 8491 now prescribes it to be “royal blue”.
  • The first ever Philippine flag was made in Hong Kong by Marcela Agoncillo, wife of Felipe, who is the first Filipino diplomat.
  • The flag was banned during the American occupation starting from 1907 until 1919 when the law that banned its display was repealed.

More information about the Philippine national flag can be found at its Wikipedia article or in this article by Manolo Quezon.


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