31 May 2011

Correct errors about our flag

Gemma Cruz Araneta is one of the happy recipients of  the good news bulletin straight out of the office of the President; the latest was about Flag Day, 28 May, which called all citizens to display the Philippine flag respectfully and proudly.

On AM radio stations, there were historical tidbits about the three patriotic ladies who sewed the first Philippine flag in Hong Kong, in March, 1898, at the request of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. Field reporters interviewed people and the consensus was that, the national emblem should always be on display to remind us of lives sacrificed in the struggle against colonialism.

Unwittingly, other broadcasters and local government officials perpetuated  an error committed during the centennial (1996-1998) when a set of flags made up of ten battle standards of generals of the Katipunan and the Philippine Revolution  were labeled “Evolution of the Philippine Flag.” It is about time the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (formerly National Historical Institute) rectify that  error.

While we’re at it, the Commission should  once and for all illuminate certain historical blind spots that concern the Philippine flag. For example, it would be good if Filipinos were to be reminded  that in 1907, the American colonial government passed a Flag Law that strictly prohibited the display of  our beloved flag anywhere in this archipelago,  as well as  the playing and singing of the National Anthem. That was bad news indeed; I can only imagine how my  great-grandparents, children of the Revolution and First Republic,  must have felt.

Some  years ago, the House of  Representatives, then led  by Speaker  Jose de Venecia,  coopted  as its foundation day the anniversary of that American creation called the 1907 Philippine Assembly.

Mr. De Venecia  ignored the fact  that the hottest issue then was immediate independence, the battle cry of  most of those who ran and won a seat. During riotous victory parties, the Philippine Flag was unfurled and waved jubilantly, to the chagrin of American colonial authorities.

As a result, the Philippine Flag  was proscribed the very next day by a harsh Flag Law.  However, many Filipinos particularly those in the performing arts,  defied that undemocratic  ban  in audacious and creative ways, suffering arrest and imprisonment. The law was finally lifted in 1919.
That is the flag story that no  Filipino  should be allowed to forget so I hope next  year  the President’s Office includes it in the  Good News bulletin. 
Source: Manila Bulletin




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